Jenny Jones '04: The ETP program at UVA opened my eyes up to the complex intersections between science, policy and culture. As an ETP student, I developed a yearning for a balanced and deep understanding of environmental problems, and the interdisciplinary training has positively shaped my personal and professional life since graduation. In all I do, I find myself looking for and finding connections between diverse events or concepts, and I attribute that invaluable skill to my undergraduate experience. The ETP program illuminated so many ways of thinking and career options that were new to me. I am returning to UVA to study Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, fields I was exposed to through the ETP program, and am excited to continue to study and work with the themes that captivated me as an ETP student.
Colin Peppard '03: During my time at the University, I struggled to find a path of study that fit with my interests. After switching majors several times, the ETP program was created, and became the perfect home for my ambitions. The ETP professors taught me how to approach environmental problems by uniting information from multiple sources in different fields. Four years after graduating, I work on public policy for an environmental advocacy group. My environmental policy goals often require political solutions, which rarely are black and white. The ETP experience that I've carried forward has allowed me to look at problems economically, ethically, politically, and scientifically, making my case to different groups based on their specific interests and motives. I use the things I learned in ETP classes every day, uniting the pieces into a coherent strategy that can accomplish real world results.
Christoph Herby '05: ETP is one of the few majors that doesn't just lead to a job; it leads to a lifestyle. The principles and manner of thinking I learned in ETP come into play every day for me. The ETP mentality factored significantly into my founding of a small sustainable transportation company: Happy Rickshaw. Nothing makes me happier than pedaling around town, breathing fresh air with a cab full of giggling passengers.
Bevin Moeller '04: The main effect that the ETP major has had on my life is in my every day thinking about the impact of our culture and my own personal impact on our environment. I am more aware now of the problem of overconsumption, which was the problem ETP seemed to identify as the root of our environmental problems as a society. So I recycle, reuse everything as much as possible, limit my exposure to advertising, refuse to own a car, etc.
Professionally, the ETP major led me to pursue work in the organic grocery field, which was an eye opening education in itself. I am not currently employed in a capacity related to ETP, but I sure do think about all that stuff we learned. ... I'm out here in Madison, Wisconsin, but I could see myself trying to work at the EPA in D.C. at some point. Maybe other former ETP people are already working there.
The ETP classes I took on sustainability and consumption altered my buying habits and have ultimately lead me to a less materialistic lifestyle. As a consequence I am debt free and can fit all my worldly possessions in a single bedroom apartment.
Andrew D'Huyvetter '05
I was a dual Environmental Science and ETP major and graduate in 2005. I went into the Urban and Environmental Planning program in the School of Architecture at UVA and obtained my masters degree in 2007. Right now I’m working for The Onyx Group in Alexandria VA as an Urban Planner/Federal Planner/GIS Analyst. My work in federal planning has mostly involved military base planning for the army and navy in the Washington DC area. My projects have ranged from area development plans, to regionally integrated land use master plans, and even to an alternative transportation plan for an army base. Military planning has recently incorporated sustainability into their overall vision, and it has actively reached projects on the ground. ETP’s interdisciplinary exposure has helped me balancing the needs of military operations, security, and environmental objectives for my federal clients. I obtained LEED AP status in 2008 and am actively incorporating sustainability into federal and military planning. Looking back from undergrad it’s a little unexpected, but exciting! ETP gave me a great foundation for where I am now.
Dan Shean '05
I am a recent graduate of the UVA School of Law and a 2005 graduate of the College, where I majored in Environmental Thought and Practice (ETP). As I prepare to clerk for a federal judge in the coming year and then practice environmental law, I fully appreciate the breadth of practical knowledge and experience that the ETP program provided me.
The interdisciplinary nature of ETP allowed me to explore environmental problems from numerous angles and take classes from a variety of departments across the University, including Urban and Environmental Planning, Environmental Science, History, Politics, and Economics. The comprehensive nature of the interdisciplinary program benefitted my studies and experience in the law school: not only did my ETP coursework help me hit the ground running in my environmental law coursework at UVA Law, it also helped me view real-world environmental problems and issues in a much more informed light during my internships with the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.
My ETP major was an invaluable part of my undergraduate experience at UVA, and I am certain that there are many other College graduates out there that feel the same way. As the nation and world continue to grapple with the social, political, and economic dimensions of environmental problems, the ETP program is essential for the training of future environmental leaders--- politicians, lawyers, scientists, businessmen and women, and economists alike.
Ben Rottenborn '03: Majoring in ETP was one of the best decisions I made during college. It wasn't until my fourth year that the program came into existence, and I am so fortunate that it was available when I was still at Virginia. In the years since, especially working in an environmental law clinic during law school, I've drawn on my ETP experience countless times.
The ETP major allowed me to indulge my dual interests in the areas of science and law/policy. I had always wondered why I felt drawn to two so seemingly different subjects, but the ETP program helped me realize the commonality between the two, which I can only attempt to articulate as follows: Science and justice (law &policy) are very close relatives. The former attempts to explain the way things are, and the latter fights for the way things should be.
But both science and justice constantly seek the truth, which I believe is the common denominator between the two, and without which we would have neither. Whether it was during a geology field trip, a religion and the environment class, or Professor Thomson's capstone seminar, the ETP major compelled me to search for the truth - the scientific truth about the way things are, and the broader, ethical truth about the way I think our world, including our human footprint, should be. In that way, the ETP major allowed me to study my two keen interests, and in doing so, to bridge the gap between science and policymaking to achieve practical results on environmental issues.
As a practical matter, the ETP major was enormously helpful to me during work I conducted on cooling mechanisms of California coastal power plants. The work involved a lawsuit on behalf of an environmental organization against a large power company, and a broader legislative effort to convince the California Water Resources Control Board to enact new regulations that better protected marine life. It required understanding of the underlying science as well as the various goals of environmentalists, businesses, and legislators. Drawing on my ETP background, I was able to realize the legitimacy of each set of goals, even those with which I did not agree.
Ultimately, I worked to find the solution that best served the client but that also provided a workable, sustainable alternative for the corporations and the State of California. Without an ETP background, the understanding of the scientific and social issues involved would have been infinitely more difficult. In short, I am so thankful for the ETP program and cannot imagine my college experience without it. Professor Thomson remains the most influential teacher I've ever had, and the classes I took as part of the program continue to stand out as some of the most formative and interesting ones I've ever taken. I can only hope today's ETP students appreciate how lucky they are to be enrolled in such a program. Thanks for the opportunity to share some thoughts about the great value the ETP major has been to me.
Benson Gabler '04: Congratulations ETP Class of 2007! It is crazy to think that you were all just first years when I was receiving my diploma. Man, time flies. Now three years out, it is fun to reflect on my time in the ETP program. What I love most about ETP is that it's a major with a mission – to train the next wave of environmental leaders. It instills within its graduates a desire to improve the current state of the world. By providing a broad-based education, it allows us to approach these issues from a number of ways. Some of us focus on scientific discovery, while others work on policy enactment, educational outreach, and business solutions. At the crux of the major is the notion that environmental problems need to be addressed from multiple perspectives. As graduates, we take on these different approaches, while sharing the common vision of a more sustainable future.
So far in my career, I have been taking the direction of trying to create synergy between the environmental movement and the corporate world (which I recognize has traditionally been an oxymoron). After graduation, I worked for Dr. Michael Braungart, co-author of Cradle to Cradle, at his firm in Hamburg, Germany, which is committed to helping corporations redesign products to be either recyclable or biodegradable. Most recently, I consulted with the GreenBlue Institute in Charlottesville, developing material fact sheets for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and assisting the launch of the CleanGredients database, which facilitates the manufacturing of greener cleaning products. I am currently a first-year in a joint MBA and Master of Environmental Management (MEM) degree program at Yale University, concentrating my work on corporate environmental strategy and green product development.