New Online Master’s Degree Integrates Study and Practice of Sustainability, Health and Engineering

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The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering at USD launches a new and unique transdisciplinary program dedicated to addressing the greatest challenges to human and planetary health.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Overcoming the dire challenges of climate change, rising inequity, social injustice and global threats to human health is going to require new approaches from the leaders, activists and innovators of tomorrow.

This summer, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering will launch a 100% online Master of Science in Engineering, Sustainability, and Health degree program (MESH). The MESH program introduces a new approach which reaches across disciplines to foster innovative transdisciplinary solutions for issues relating to food, waste, water and energy in a manner that is equitable and just for all communities. This program differs from sustainable/environmental engineering or public health and engineering programs found at other universities, as it promotes the cooperation of all three factors: sustainability, engineering and health.

This program is open to students from around the world and from a variety of backgrounds, both STEM and non-STEM, whether newly graduated or career professionals.

“Who we’re looking for,” says Dr. Caroline Baille, the Academic Director of the program and Professor of Integrated Engineering, “are visionaries who are determined to make a substantive, positive difference for planetary health. We want to foster a holistic understanding of what we think of as ‘sustainability’ to better comprehend the long-term impacts of the work we do within the human-built world.”

The 20 month program is completely online and designed to be convenient for both students and career professionals who are passionate about sustainability and planetary, environmental and human health. The program is open to those who are looking for a way to achieve just outcomes for their communities or even to launch their own initiatives for global health and environmental justice.

Applicants to the MESH program are not expected to be practicing engineers or have a technical or scientific background. The program’s co-director Dr. Paul Kadetz, Professor of Practice in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering at USD explains:

“The difference between this program and other similar programs, is that this program is not just for engineers or environmental scientists — it’s for people who want to work together toward sustainability and how to achieve this in an innovative way outside of their traditional disciplinary silos. This program offers a space for students to co-create, and pushes them outside of their comfort zones, to really ‘think outside the box’ of their disciplines.”

This “transdisciplinary” approach is designed to be a knowledge creation and innovation program as much as it is about knowledge sharing. Students will be invited to examine global challenges from multiple lenses across disciplines – predominantly related to engineering, sustainability and health – in order to develop new ways of understanding planetary challenges and to critically consider the current ways these problems are being conceptualized.

Students will work alongside others in a project-based, cross-learning environment guided by faculty with experience in areas including environmental justice, data and ethics, civil engineering, global and local health care and energy management. Applicants are welcome from backgrounds and professional experience in areas including, but not limited to:

  • STEM fields of all kinds
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Planning and Sustainability Studies
  • Sociology
  • Peace and Justice Studies
  • Medicine, Nursing and
    Allied Health Professions
  • Social Work
  • Political Science
  • Engineering
  • Public, International and Global Health
  • Development Studies and Global Development
  • Environmental Science
  • Anthropology
  • Management and Leadership
  • Architecture and Urban Design

The online format of the MESH program makes it possible for students from any location across the globe to access coursework, class resources and log into their virtual classroom. The curriculum and requirements are designed to be convenient for those who have working or family commitments, so they can pursue this degree while taking care of other responsibilities.

Students wishing to apply for the summer semester must submit their applications by April 11th. Classes will begin on May 10th and will take place over 20 months. The Master of Science in Engineering, Sustainability, and Health is a 30-unit project-based program and concludes with a capstone project that requires students to develop and present either a model and feasibility study or a proposed change to their own practice and/or the practice of others, in addition to an assessment of the impact of this change.

“In engineering we tend to favor treating the symptoms of the disease rather than address the cause,” says Dr. Baillie. “We want to be able to better define the problems that plague us, while being careful not to cause more problems than we solve. At the same time, practitioners from health and environmental disciplines are looking for ways to solve problems in different ways. We need to work together to find new ways of thinking and acting”

The goals of the MESH program align directly with the mission of the University of San Diego. Dr. Baille explains,

“What drew me to the University was its commitment to providing students with the means to make positive change within the world. Our program is true to those values, and provides a way for changemakers and disruptors to truly innovate, to challenge the status quo and create a world that works for all.”

If this new online program aligns with your desire to take positive action for a just and sustainable future that truly values the health of all, an enrollment advisor is available to discuss the opportunity. Reach out to start a conversation today.

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