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Welcome

Dr. Stolz and Dr. Kabala
Dr. John F. Stolz and Dr. Stanley J. Kabala

Welcome from Our Directors

Message from Dr. Stanley J. Kabala
Associate Director and Professor

"Change began in the early 1990s when corporations realized that environmental protections could save, or even make, money..."

It is engaging to think back over how the field of environmental affairs has evolved since the inception of CERE's Environmental Science and Management master's degree program in the early 1990s.  Congress had just passed the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, embodying in law the new idea that the way to protect environmental quality was not the then standard practice of controlling (that is, treating) pollution at the end of the pipe or stack, but rather to prevent the generation of pollutants at their source.  New terms abounded:  pollution prevention, waste minimization, source reduction, and cleaner production, all of them implicitly recognizing the remarkable idea that pollution prevention might actually pay.  This reflects a marked change in view.  Since the emergence of modern environmentalism in the U.S. at the turn of the 1970s, environmental protection had meant regulation, and regulation had meant cost, which made for political and legal resistance.  Up until the late 1980s environmental policy was characterized by confrontation.  Change began when corporations realized that environmental protections could save, or even make, money.  This view took formal shape in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development-the Rio Conference-where corporations announced the theme of their role in what is now known as sustainable development.  It was to be "eco-efficiency"-doing more with less, which would allow our economies to both prosper and grow while drawing on smaller quantities of natural resources and generating less pollution.  It seemed the answer was at hand:  we need not cut back on our consumption, for technological advance would take care of both resource depletion and pollution; confrontation, whether political or social, was moot.

Well, now we find ourselves in the year of Rio +20.  What has happened?  Three very big factors are now in play.  There are now over 7 billion of us on the planet; those of us in the rich countries consume at rates much higher that we did in 1990, much less 1970, when we first noticed the problem, and many more billions of us in developing countries are creating the wealth to enable them to consume at near North American, or at least European, levels.  We now know that to support such large and growing demand, eco-efficiency will not be enough.  Some things we make and use are so toxic that even the small quantities we'd release operating at high efficiencies pose to great a risk.  Consider PCBs, dioxin, organochlorine and organophosphate pesticides and other endocrine disruptors, mercury from power plants.  Some things we plain didn't worry about in 1970-and only faintly in 1990-now loom so large that some fear they are out of control.  Consider carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.  Scientists tell us that the Earth's biophysical systems are under stress.  Consider ocean acidification, the decimation of global fisheries, the nitrogen cycle, and loss of biodiversity. 

How are we to respond to the litany of threats, all becoming more and more definite as we study them?  The only logical course of action is to stop doing what is causing the harm.  In the case of toxics, the response is to not use them, to replace them with non-toxic alternatives.  Enter Green Chemistry.   In the case of carbon dioxide, it is to cease, or greatly diminish our burning of coal, oil, and natural gas.  Enter renewable energy.  In the case of exceeding the limits of natural systems, it is to pull back on exploitation.  Enter mutual forbearance.  Is this a tall order?  Is it simply too tall?  We must remember three things.  First, we really have no choice.  Our current path of world development will damage the very natural systems on which our material well-being depends.  Second, we have the technological and educational wherewithal to make the change we need.  And we have the skills in management and government to manage the transition.  How's that for a triad?  Environment, science, and management.  Let's get down to work.

Message from Dr. John F. Stolz
Director and Professor

"A lot has changed since that first class of Environmental Science and Management students started back in the fall of 1992..."

Welcome to the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University. The academic year 2012-13 marks our 20th year of preparing environmental professionals. A lot has changed since that first class of Environmental Science and Management students started back in the fall of 1992. Today, sustainability and the triple bottom line are guiding principles in the corporate world.  Global climate change and carbon footprint now provide the impetus for greenhouse gas emissions inventories. Energy generation is more than ever, a central environmental issue; whether it's clean coal or unconventional natural gas and oil extraction. What hasn't changed is CERE's commitment to stay at the forefront of environmental education. In addition to our traditional masters degree program in Environmental Science and Management (ESM) and certificate programs in Environmental Science and Environmental Management, we now have a Conservation Biology track for the masters and an undergraduate BS in Environmental Science.

CERE has always been about people and we consider our students part of a much larger family. We work hard to ensure each has a chance to achieve their potential. That means faculty mentoring and advisement and opportunities for research for the undergraduates and internships and work experience for the graduate students. The science faculty are tenured professors in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, with active research laboratories. The adjunct faculty are working environmental professionals who bring their expertise and first hand experience to the classroom. Our over 400 alumni constitute a network of working environmental professionals.

Pittsburgh is an ideal place to study environmental issues in an urban setting. Situated at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers it is home to a plethora of corporations and environmental firms. It is home to environmental organizations such as Penn Futures, Penn Environmental, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Rachel Carson Heritage Foundation (Rachel Carson grew up not too far from Duquesne University in Springdale, PA), the National Aviary, and RiverQuest. And it provides ample opportunities for field and lab research. CERE has ongoing ecological restoration projects at Wingfield Pines, Sycamore Island, and Murphy's Bottom. Laboratory based studies include chromium speciation, arsenic in drinking water, environmental estrogens, and fish population genetics, with students having direct access to state-of-the-art instrumentation in the Bayer School. Whether it's participating in a green house gas emissions inventory, sampling for water borne contaminants, or teaching middle school kids on Explorer, it's easy to get involved.

As we look ahead to the next twenty years it may be hard to predict what the top environmental priorities will be. One thing is for sure, we at CERE will continue our commitment to providing the best possible education and opportunities for our students.