Sustainability Seven: Joanna Goger, ENSP Senior Lecturer & Sustainability Studies Minor Co-Director

Joanna Goger has been lecturing on Environmental Science and Policy for almost a decade.  She was a lead facilitator at the Sustainability Fellows Workshop and helped UMD’s Sustainability Minor blossom.  Goger is featured in our "Sustainability Seven" not only because of her passion for the environment but also for the work she’s done to spread sustainable knowledge to countless undergraduate students.  

1.) You’re currently the co-director for the Sustainability Minor on campus through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the School of Public Policy. What peaks your own personal interest in terms of sustainability as an educator?

I started my career as an environmental lawyer and I have been teaching in the ENSP program full time for 8 years. Dr. Bruce James, the former director of ENSP and a mentor of mine, was instrumental in creating the Sustainability Studies Minor. I think one of the primary goals of the Minor was to find a way for students to integrate concepts of sustainability into their coursework in any major. I think that is really important and one of the reasons I am excited to be involved. It provides an opportunity for me to work with students and faculty from many different majors on campus.


2.) What are students learning through the Minor and what separates that from a traditional STEM education?

The students have to take five courses for the Minor. They take the Introduction to Sustainability anchor course, PUAF/AGNR 301, and then they have to take other courses from three areas: science and technology, policy and institutions, and social and human dimensions. I would argue that in a traditional STEM education, students might not see as much of the policy or the social/human dimensions of sustainability. The Minor provides students with a multifaceted/multidisciplinary education because of the integration of other dimensions beyond science.

3.) Do you believe that sustainability will become more prevalent in all industries within the coming years?

I do. I think that it already is. Most major companies have some sort of sustainability office or environmental compliance office that is guiding their activities and decisions. I think it has become the norm. We are also seeing a growth of undergraduate sustainability majors and sustainability minors as well as a growth in graduate programs around the U.S and globally.

4.) How would you say the University of Maryland is doing as a whole in terms of creating a more green and sustainable  environment, and how do you think that it could improve?

I think the Office of Sustainability is doing amazing work. We in ENSP are so impressed with some of the projects that they are working on, everything from solar to the water fountains, and the ways that they want to make university air travel carbon neutral. I am amazed. They are on the cutting edge of sustainability across college campuses.  The office’s grant program is also making the campus greener while involving students, a win-win.

5.) The Do Good Institute through the School of Public Policy has provided students with a platform to create projects that will create positive change for others, and this year we saw some projects involving sustainable practices such as recycling. Do you think that we will continue to see more projects innovating sustainable practices in the future?

I do! It is interesting because someone had actually mentioned the Do Good Institute to me recently when we were thinking about ways that we could come up with good project ideas for our ENSP Capstone course. I didn’t know that the Institute was embarking on sustainability projects but it is great to hear.  It will help to highlight the environmental aspects of the Public Policy program.

6.) How can students become more involved in promoting sustainability on campus and in their personal lives?

I think that there are numerous opportunities for students to promote sustainability on campus and in their personal lives. In addition to enrollment in the Minor and applying for grants from the Office of Sustainability, students can also work as a Sustainability Advisor through the Office of Sustainability.  For students that are interested, I would highly recommend that option. It’s taking what they learn and actually going out and doing it and teaching others about it. 

7.) The Minor has a multitude of different students in the program from different majors across campus, what are some of the most unique majors?

I would say some of the most unique would be Theater, Supply Chain Management, and Astronomy. It shows the excitement and interest in sustainability that exists across campus. 


By Hannah Crook, Communications Intern, Office of Sustainability