Bellarmine University has elevated its environmental studies major into a new school, placing it on par with the university’s schools of arts and sciences, nursing, business and others.

In a news release, Bellarmine officials say the new school will prepare graduates for fields like environmental education, environmental engineering, public policy and corporate sustainability. Students will work with other academic departments on interdisciplinary issues, and will promote sustainability on campus. Bellarmine’s farm—which teaches sustainable horticulture—will also fall under the new school. The university is offering a minor in environmental studies, a BA in environmental studies and a BS in environmental science.

This is the first program of its kind in Louisville; though the University of Louisville has the Kentucky Center for the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Center for Environmental Education, there’s no environmental studies or science undergraduate or graduate major.

From the news release:

Dr. Joseph J. McGowan , Bellarmine University’s president, says that elevating the university’s environmental programs into their own school …demonstrates the university’s belief that environmental issues will continue to rise to the forefront in the state and nation.

“A commitment to environmental sustainability is rooted in our mission statement and our values as a Catholic institution,” said McGowan. “I applaud our Board of Trustees for approving this new school, consistent with our Vision 2020 initiative. This school will offer new and innovative programs of study, supported by internships and research opportunities that will create new career paths for students interested in solving the world’s environmental challenges.”

The new School of Environmental Studies’ dean will be Robert Kingsolver, formerly the dean of the university’s arts and sciences programs. There are currently 23 students in the new school, and the first graduates are expected in spring 2014.

We’ll have a conversation with Kingsolver about Bellarmine’s new school next week on WFPL.