Chatham University

Sustainability & the Environment

A vision for sustainability

Further advancing its goal to create the United States’ second free–standing school dedicated to investigating and solving sustainability issues for the 21st century, Chatham University announced it has selected David M. Hassenzahl, Ph.D. as the founding Dean of the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment (SSE). Dr. Hassenzahl will help the University leadership shape the mission and curriculum for SSE as well as the development of Chatham’s 388–acre Eden Hall Campus in Richland Township, Pa., where the School eventually will be headquartered.

According to Dr. Hassenzahl, "the opportunity to build a new program like the SSE is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am honored to have been selected for this role. The SSE will build on Chatham University’s long–standing commitment to bettering social, environmental, and economic conditions–the foundations of sustainability. I am excited about the faculty and community I am joining, and look forward to a rewarding and productive future."

Dr. Hassenzahl’s research, outreach and teaching focus on incorporating scientific information and expertise into public decisions, with particular emphasis on the management, interpretation, and communication of uncertainty. He has spent the last two and a half decades addressing subjects as diverse as climate change, energy, toxic chemicals, and public health from this perspective. In addition to numerous papers and essays, he is the coauthor of several books, including "Should We Risk It?" (Princeton University Press) with Daniel M. Kammen; "Environment" (J. Wiley and Sons), with Peter Raven and Linda Berg, and, most recently, "Visualizing Environmental Science" (J. Wiley and Sons), with Linda Berg and Mary Catherine Hager.

Dr. Hassenzahl is a Senior Fellow of the National Council for Science and the Environment, through which his climate change education efforts are supported by the Nation Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Prior to joining Chatham, he served recently as Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Recognition for his work includes the Society for Risk Analysis Outstanding Educator Award, the UNLV Outstanding Department Chair Award, and the UNLV Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award. He serves on the Council of the Society for Risk Analysis, and is Secretary of the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences. In addition to his academic credentials, Dr. Hassenzahl has experience with sustainability and environmental management in both the public and private sectors.

In addition to his responsibilities at Chatham, Dr. Hassenzahl is currently the Principle Investigator for the Climate Adaptation and Mitigation E–Learning (CAMEL) project. CAMEL is a three–year effort funded by the National Science Foundation, though the National Council for Science and Environment (NCSE). Begun in October 2009, CAMEL has begun to improve undergraduate education on climate change causes, consequences, and solutions by engaging a community of faculty members and students in developing an extensive, vetted online collection of high–quality educational materials about the causes, consequences, mitigation, and adaptation associated with climate change. The project provides resources, training, and on–line professional networking opportunities for students and faculty engaged in studying climate change, using cyber–infrastructure built for the NCSE’s Encyclopedia of Earth.

Dr. Hassenzahl holds a B.A. in Environmental Science and Paleontology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy from Princeton University.

The Evolution of a School
After receiving the former Eden Hall Farm from the Eden Hall Foundation in May 2008, Chatham University set about to provide innovative, interdisciplinary education and research opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and professional students to better prepare them to identify and solve challenges related to the environment and sustainability. In June 2009 the University announced the creation of the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment further expanding the potential of the new Eden Hall Campus in Richland Township, Pa. and honoring the legacy of its 1929 alumna and founder of the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson.

As envisioned, SSE will provide opportunities for the University’s nearly 2,200 current students to earn certificates and degrees through the master’s level. The first program offered through SSE is the Master of Arts in Food Studies, which enrolled 30 students in its inaugural year.


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