December 11, 2012
Navajo Technical College was approved by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to begin offering a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources. In addition to the B.S. degree, the HLC also approved NTC to begin offering accredited courses at its recently established Four Corners Regional instructional site in Teec Nos Pos, Ariz., as well as begin offering a certificate in Textiles and Weaving.
The Environmental Science and Natural Resources program was first visited by an HLC visiting team over the summer, where the team recommended approval of the degree to the HLC Board of Directors. After a thorough review process that examined the program’s goals, objectives, and curriculum, Navajo Tech received a letter of approval on December 7, 2012.
“The objective of offering an Environmental Science degree is to effect a long-time improvement in science education in a predominantly minority serving institution,” said NTC Environmental Science and Natural Resources instructor Steven Chischilly. “This will increase the number of students graduating at NTC with a baccalaureate degree and will allow them to get their four-year degree here on the Navajo Nation.”
According to Chischilly, there are a depauperate number of Native Americans in STEM fields nationwide, which is proven in a report by the Commission of Professionals in Science and Technology. The report indicates that there are only about 10,000 scientists and engineers who identify themselves as being Native American out of the 3.4 million recognized scientists and engineers in the United States.
“The degree will contribute socially and economically to the advancement of the Navajo Nation, as well as the state of New Mexico and the entire country,” explained Chischilly. “Environmental Science incorporates many different areas of science including geology, biology, ecology, chemistry, economics, and sociology. Each science is interlinked and is used to address many of the environmental problems we face not only locally, but globally.”
Navajo Technical College has been offering a certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources for the past 11 years, which will now serve as feeder programs into the four-year degree program. Because of the new degree many current NTC Environmental Science students are considering continuing their education at Navajo Tech.
“All the courses I’ve taken so far are basically the intro classes,” said fourth semester Environmental Science and Natural Resources major, Dwight Carlston, of Falcon Nest, NM. “Now that the four year program has come along, I’m ready to start taking on higher courses.”
“This benefits me because I’m able to take the same courses you would at a mainstream college or university but here on the Navajo Nation,” continued Carlston.
NTC will begin implementing the B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources by spring semester of 2013. Registration at Navajo Tech is currently on going and spring classes will begin on Jan. 22, 2013 at NTC’s Crownpoint, Chinle, and Teec Nos Pos sites.
Over the past year, Navajo Tech has established several four-year degree programs, including a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dine’ Culture, Language and Leadership. While NTC has been establishing several new degree programs, it has also extended its reach with a course instruction site in Phoenix and now an instructional site in Teec Nos Pos.
For more information on NTC’s Environmental Science and Natural Resources program, contact Steven Chischilly at 505.786.4147. For more information on NTC’s Four Corners Regional site, contact Sylvia Ashley at 928.656.3600.