On October 1, La Sierra University received notice of its fourth Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education, this one for $3 million. The funds will be used to support the university’s rollout of new sustainability programs with a particular focus on serving marginalized students. In the near term, it will help underwrite start-up activities for some of the first classes next spring and a full program next fall for a Bachelor of Arts degree in sustainability and society.

The grant is the latest in a string of developments occurring over the past two years related to the university’s segue into the sustainability field, a market that is rapidly expanding and in need of qualified workers. Toward moving the university into this arena, La Sierra in 2022 began developing a sustainability park complete with an off-grid experimental geodesic dome, greenhouse, and two environmentally controlled and technologically outfitted shipping containers for Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) developed by Freight Farms urban farming company.

In coordination with the park development, the university in May approved the design of three new degrees related to sustainability and urban agriculture and opened the programs for future enrollment. Operating under the Sustainability Studies Program Pathways, two Bachelor of Science degrees in urban plant agriculture and sustainable agriculture entrepreneurship and a Bachelor of Arts in sustainability and society were created with a mission that correlates with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals focusing on environmental justice, critical thinking skills, and sustainable solutions for local and global communities. Program goals include “creating graduates who are prepared to solve real-world problems in the industries of agriculture, food science, global studies, agricultural entrepreneurship, and sustainability science,” according to an academic bulletin summary.

For La Sierra University, the new programming with its environmental, societal, and science-focused research and career opportunities falls in line with a directive of a higher nature — God’s commission to humanity to function as stewards of His created world and to pursue justice for the earth’s peoples.

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