New Coalition to Announce Coordinated Agenda for Environmental Education and Public Service

College students will soon have the opportunity to take “classes” by kayak when an innovative “River Summer Semester” launches on the Hudson River.

Christopher T. Cory, Director of Public Information, Pace University
212-346-1117, cell 917-608-8164,
Michele Land, Pace Academy for the Environment
914-773-3738 or

Editors: Sessions are closed to the public, open to reporters/producers.

Consortium leaders will issue a statement at 2:00 PM Saturday, October 30.
The statement can be emailed in midafternoon that day to interested desks and reporters. Please let us know if you want it.
It also will be posted on the coalition’s website,

Trading classrooms for kayaks?

Collaborative event will be “most important environmental/academic conference
ever held in the region” and set national model

Pleasantville, NY, October 26, 2004 – College students will soon have the opportunity to take “classes” by kayak when an innovative “River Summer Semester” launches on the Hudson River.

A group of colleges and universities that are collaborating to incubate the project will refine the curriculum in a conference Friday and Saturday, October 29-30, in Poughkeepsie at Marist College.

The group is the new Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities. Formed in February, it now includes 33 of the valley’s 60 colleges and universities. Their representatives will be planning new ways to improve the environment through cooperative teaching, research and service.

Consortium members include institutions close to the Hudson’s headwaters like Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, those near where the river mixes with sea water like Columbia, eight units of the State University of New York, small private colleges like Vassar and religious schools like Fordham.

Undergraduate research. The meeting will be the “most important environmental/academic conference ever held in the region,” said John Cronin, who directs Pace University’s Academy for the Environment and was the nation’s first Riverkeeper. In the last two years the Pace Academy has lead the creation of the new coalition and continues to play the key organizational role, under the direction of Michelle Land, a graduate of Pace Law School.

Presentations and “posters” by participants will provide an overview of undergraduate environmental programs already in place throughout the Valley. National and statewide perspective will come from experts at Oklahoma State University, Williams College, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Field stations and mentors. The “River Summer Semester” being crafted will be an interdisciplinary, intercampus combination of field work, class work, and work in communities. As students make their way down the Hudson from its headwaters in the Adirondacks to Manhattan, they will travel by foot, train and kayak, changing locations each week.

Other planned multi-campus courses and research projects will use the Hudson Valley as “an extended laboratory and classroom,” Cronin says. By joining resources, schools can accomplish more than any single institution. For example, the Consortium envisions a shared research vessel and field stations. Students will learn by sharing professors from other institutions than their own .

Pataki connection. Already Pace, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Columbia and the New York State Rivers and Estuaries Center on the Hudson are partners on “Riverscope,” a $1 million continuous, real-time monitoring system for the Hudson. A coalition website, , is helping professors and administrators exchange ideas.

Speakers at the consortium’s founding conference in February included Governor George E. Pataki, who announced the formation of an independent but related Higher Education Advisory Council on the Hudson headed by Pace President David A. Caputo. The group pledged cooperation with the new Rivers and Estuaries Center, for which Cronin wears a second hat as Managing Director.

Campuses are the ideal candidates. “Higher education must become more engaged in the environment,” Cronin insists.

“Colleges and universities are the only institutions with the dual purposes of being multi-disciplinary and serving society. They have the critical and intellectual capacity to marshal the knowledge and skills that environmental issues and environmental education require.”

The group hopes to set a model for other regions. “We believe the outcomes will have wide-ranging effects on environmental agendas for many college and universities,” Cronin says.

He adds: “The Hudson River Valley is an environmental bellwether. Environmental activities here predated Earth Day in 1970, and the Hudson has been the locus of pioneering case law and urban and rural environmental victories. Pace and other regional institutions are in the midst of an environmental culture of national and global significance.”

Membership. The current members of the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges & Universities are Bard College; Barnard College; Columbia University; CUNY – Queens College; Dominican College; Fordham University; Iona College; Manhattan College; Manhattanville College; Marist College; Marymount College of Fordham University; Mount Saint Mary College; the College of Mount Saint Vincent; The College of New Rochelle; Pace University; Polytechnic University; Ramapo College of New Jersey; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; The Sage Colleges; The College of Saint Rose; Saint Thomas Aquinas College; Sarah Lawrence College; Sienna College; the State University of New York campuses at New Paltz, Purchase, Stony Brook and Albany; the SUNY community colleges of Westchester, Columbia-Greene, Rockland, and Ulster County; Union College and Vassar College.

The Pace Academy’s mission deepens a commitment to environmental studies that the university has made since the 1980s. The School of Law’s environmental law program, for instance, including the Environmental Litigation Clinic, founded by Cronin and now co-directed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is ranked third-best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

As a private metropolitan university, Pace has a growing national reputation for offering students opportunity, teaching and learning based on research, civic involvement and measurable outcomes. It is one of the ten founders of Project Pericles, developing education that encourages lifelong participation in democratic processes. Pace has seven campuses, including downtown and midtown New York City, Pleasantville, Briarcliff, White Plains (a graduate center and law school), and a Hudson Valley Center at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. Approximately 14,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, Lienhard School of Nursing and Pace Law School.

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