The summer prior to my freshman year here at Florida Tech, I received a phone call from a school official asking how my summer was going, if I had any questions and if there was anything they could help me out with. The first thing I asked was, “could you enroll me in the sustainability minor?”
Ever since elementary school, I’ve been fascinated with earth and environmental science and I wanted that to carry over to my collegiate studies. My senior design project in high school was to evaluate the feasibility of making a homemade wind turbine to power a battery to charge electronics. I knew that to succeed in the field of business, you must be well versed in many different aspects of the world around you. Knowing how to be a good environmental steward would encourage practice of what’s called the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line follows the pursuit of economic profit, social goodwill and consideration for the environment. Florida Tech is on a short list of universities in the U.S. that offer programs in sustainability. It really played a factor into why I came here.
I began my sustainability adventure with an Introduction to Sustainability course my freshman year taught by Professor Ken Lindeman, Ph.D. Being a business major, this was initially just a chosen science elective. I enjoyed the class and was impressed by how passionate and knowledgeable he was about the subject. That week I happened to also be looking for a work-study position and I received an email from his secretary advertising openings in his office as a research assistant. Since my intake of environmental science was drastically reduced when I came to college, I was looking for something more and this seemed to suit. I promptly emailed back with my resume and set up a time for an interview. Lucky enough for me, I got the job and have been working there ever since.
Lindeman went to Florida Tech as an undergrad and played on the school’s basketball team. He received a Master’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico’s Department of Marine Sciences and then a Ph.D. from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami. He’s been a consultant for the likes of the Smithsonian, NOAA, National Geographic, the U.N. and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (among many others). He’s been awarded and managed over 20 major grants totaling over $3.5 million. His published literature includes over 65 articles, co-authored books, chapters in books, and several science/policy contract assessments. One of his true passions lies in fishery management. Lindeman works closely with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the snapper, seabream & grunt specialist group. Needless to say, this guy has a lot of experience!
Over the course of the last three and a half years, I’ve gotten to know Lindeman pretty well and have seen firsthand just how dedicated he is to the subject of sustainability. Our work together has included developing the sustainability program here at Florida Tech. This past year, the correct channels were navigated to bring about a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainability. Our sustainability web presence has also improved greatly through the development of a sustainability portal on our university’s website. I was initially brought on to aide in the development of the Virtual Climate Adaptation Library (VCAL). VCAL is an online database that compiles articles and reports related to sea level rise and climate adaptation as it is seen throughout the world. Currently, we have compiled over 1,500 articles and that number continues to rise.
Lindeman is the face of sustainability on this campus, and seeing the program grow as it has from just a minor to include major research and now a major field of study, he’s done a fantastic job thus far. The future looks bright for sustainability on this campus. I encourage you to consider adding a minor in sustainability to your studies, or even a dual major with it.
If you do decide to pursue sustainability studies, I’ll leave you with some advice from Lindeman:
“Understanding fundamental principles of system dynamics can allow for deep examination of underlying challenges in sustainability. Using systems science to decompose complexity can identify opportunities to redirect systems in more sustainable long term directions.”