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BHSU adds master's in sustainability, secondary education

SPEARFISH -- Black Hills State University will expand its graduate degree programs to seven, after approval Wednesday from the state Board of Regents to offer master's degrees in sustainability and in secondary education.

The secondary education program would be provided through distance technology, with 35 students expected to enroll next fall. BHSU already provides certification courses for secondary (high school) teachers.

The sustainability program would be delivered via on-line courses and possibly some face-to-face classes at the university centers in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

University officials foresee a blend between sustainability and the master's in strategic leadership that already is offered on-line.

Areas of emphasis would be reducing dependence on non-renewable resources and consumer products, increasing use of recycling and renewable products when practices make economic sense, environmental laws and regulations, and general ecology.

"It's just an area of huge interest," Rodney Custer, the provost and vice president for academic affairs at BHSU, told the regents. Regents president Kathryn Johnson of Hill City marveled a bit.

"A few years ago was there a job sustainability in the title? Probably not," she said. Environmental sustainability programs have spread quickly at South Dakota's campuses.

In 2010, a minor in sustainable energy systems was developed at South Dakota State University with a Department of Labor grant. Last December, the regents approved a bachelor's degree in sustainability at the University of South Dakota.

In May, a bachelor-level minor in sustainability engineering received the OK from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. BHSU officials expect 15 students in the sustainability master's program starting next fall, with enrollment growing to 38 within the next four years.