Mediterranean island to serve again as home for JMU master's program

by Eric Gorton


Following a year-long hiatus to restructure, an environmental master's degree program offered in partnership with the University of Malta will restart in September.

Applications for the one-year program that is taught in Malta are being accepted through Feb. 15, said Dr. Maria Papadakis, a professor of integrated science and technology and the new director of the program.

Called Sustainable Environmental Resources Management in the past, the program has been renamed Environmental Management and Sustainability. In addition to a shortened name, the structural changes have shortened the time to complete the degree from 18 months to 12 months, running from September of one year to August of the next.

"We are allowing them to select aspects of this curriculum to build a coherent area of expertise. We still have a holistic introduction, but with depth in a particular area." — Dr. Maria Papadakis.

"What we are trying to do is make it a true one-year immersive accelerated master's program," Papadakis said. "I think the most significant change is moving from a mandatory research master's thesis to a capstone project, which is more consistent with a professional master's degree."

A master's thesis will still be offered for students who wish to pursue research or go on to a doctoral program, Papadakis said.

Another significant change is fewer required courses. Previously, students were required to take five courses in environmental sustainability and management. Under the new structure, all students will take freshwater resources management — "because it's a critical issue everywhere in the world," Papadakis said — and pick from two of the other four: industrial ecology; energy conservation and sustainability; biodiversity conservation planning; and food resources security.

"We are allowing them to select aspects of this curriculum to build a coherent area of expertise. We still have a holistic introduction, but with depth in a particular area," Papadakis said.

Students also will be required to take geographic information systems and statistical analysis, but they will also have a number of electives to choose from to build essential skills for working in environmental resources management careers. Among the choices are environmental impact assessment, survey methodology, life cycle analysis, software applications and advanced GIS.

While the program is intensive — "It's a full-time job. Basically, the benefit is you get a master's degree in a year instead of two years," Papadakis said — there will be time for sightseeing and enjoying the surroundings. "It's a Mediterranean island and we want people to enjoy that," she said.

The degree requires 42 credits and includes a week-long field study in the Italy's Tuscany region.

Papadakis said there is room for 18 students and 15 would be an ideal average. More information about the program can be found on its website.

Published: Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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