The geological and environmental sciences are broad, interdisciplinary fields of science that deal with all aspects of the natural environment and the interaction of humans with the natural environment. Environmental and geological scientists work on a wide range of environmental issues including the utilization and conservation of natural resources; sustainable development in both developed and developing countries; the investigation and remediation of ground water and soil contamination; brown field restoration; the mitigation of the destructive forces associated with hazardous geologic and meteorological events; the utilization of energy resources; climate change and global warming; environmental policy; environmental health and toxicology; environmental education and environmental law.
We are living in unprecedented times. The world’s population is growing at an exponential rate driving up the demand for natural resources. Perhaps even more important is the rapid growth of the middle class in such places as China, India, Brazil and Russia. The increased wealth of the middle class is also driving up the demand for natural resources and energy, since this new middle class now has disposable income that is being used to buy luxury items. This increased demand for natural resources and energy has raised concerns over the finite nature of these resources, the negative environmental impacts of harvesting these resources, the technological advances needed to economically recover these resources from remote locations and the availability of an educated work force to supply industry with workers who can address these concerns.
Several recent natural disasters around the world have been a harsh reminder that many people live in dangerous areas. The Sumatra-Andaman Tsunami in December of 2004 and the Earthquake in Haiti in January of 2010 caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and left many more injured and homeless. In light of these natural disasters and the need to supply a growing world population with the natural resources they need, Touro College has invited a team of geologists and environmental scientists to join with our administration in fostering a top level Environmental Science Master's Program. The Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences will lay the groundwork for this program. As explained below, we have a number of programs, both planned and already in place, to service the entire college, its students, faculty and administration.
Touro College’s Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences will be an invaluable resource for all students wishing to dedicate their studies to the geological and environmental sciences and will give them the tools necessary to address the environmental problems that face us today. In the New York metropolitan area, there are currently 14,036 students enrolled in Touro College, including a substantial number of minority students. Many of these students will go on to careers as teachers in the New York City public school system and will significantly influence our next generation.
Touro College’s Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences will also sponsor a continuing education program serving corporate and government workers wishing to learn more about the environmental issues pertinent to their careers. As part of The Center’s master plan, Touro College wishes to outfit The Center’s laboratory with state of the art geological and environmental testing equipment. In addition to this, The Center will establish a scholarship fund for its students. The intent of Touro College is to use The Center as a platform for geological and environmental education, research and to host professional conferences on both environmental and geological issues. Touro College has established a five year plan to build an environmental and geological laboratory and library and to establish a scholarship fund to help students, wishing to study these fields of science, achieve their goals.
An extensive geological and environmental science library has recently been acquired (see Gerald M. Friedman Geological Library and Museum below). Now the main objective going forward is to fully equip the laboratory with state of the art geological and environmental testing equipment, computers and computer software and to create the scholarship fund.
One of the critical aspects of The Center’s work is to serve as a “thought leader” on issues that are critical to environmental concerns. With this in mind, a professional conference series will be conducted by The Center that will focus on timely geological and environmental issues. Specific topics will be conventional and alternate energy resources, fresh water resources, sustainable development and environmental health and toxicology. This professional conference series will bring together research professionals, business leaders, policy makers and students to exchange ideas and information about these issues and to try to determine the best course of action to address these issues. The first of our professional conferences will be held this spring in New York City. This conference will highlight the recent hydrocarbon discoveries and hydrocarbon potential of Israel and the eastern Mediterranean area.
The Touro College Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences intends to work closely with the numerous other programs and schools that exist throughout the Touro system in order to reinforce interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration. The Center plans to target this effort in several areas Touro College’s Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences will be a platform for students who want to practice environmental law, or help shape environmental policy in the political arena. These students will find that having a technical background in these fields of study will give them a competitive advantage over their peers when they are employed by a law firm, or enter politics.
Touro College’s Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences will be a platform for students who want to work in the fields of environmental health or environmental toxicology.Students at Touro College’s School of Osteopathic Medicine will be well served by having a background in these areas, since chronic exposure to environmental toxins has an adverse effect on the body’s organs and may reduce the body’s ability to heal itself.
Touro College’s Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences will be a platform for business students who want to know more about the economics of finite natural resources, renewable and conventional energy resources and sustainable development. Touro College is in close proximity to the United Nations. The United Nations Division of Sustainable Development (DSD) database will be a rich source of information and case studies on sustainable development and is a potential partner for student projects and theses. Touro College’s Center for Geological and Environmental Sciences will be a platform for education majors wishing to teach geology and environmental science. A strong technical background in the geological and environmental sciences, coupled with a strong background in education will be vital assets for future geology and environmental science teachers. Many of the students who receive their teaching degrees from Touro College go on to careers as teachers in New York City serving economically disadvantaged students.