UW-Green Bay’s new bachelor’s degree in Water Science to help meet demand of water sector workforce shortage

Program underscores region’s important role in addressing water quality

GREEN BAY — (Feb. 19, 2019) The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents has authorized the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to establish the UW System’s first Bachelor of Science Degree in Water Science.

The major will have a principal focus on water’s role in natural processes in Earth’s systems. Students will develop a solid understanding of the chemistry, surface water hydrology, groundwater and biology of freshwater systems.

“Water is arguably the single greatest resource challenge of the 21st century,” said John Luczaj, Ph.D., UW-Green Bay professor of Geoscience. “The world faces significant challenges regarding water quality, quantity and ecological functions that are expected to worsen. The global need for water science professionals to solve critical water issues is accelerating and expected to continue indefinitely.

“From a student’s perspective,” Luczaj continued, “UW-Green Bay’s four coastal campuses cover a unique geographic region of Wisconsin that provides research opportunities in surface water and groundwater that no other University can duplicate. Graduates will be well-equipped to enter graduate school or to start a water science career.”

Many water professionals in Northeast Wisconsin voiced their support for the new program. Executives from the Green Bay Water Utility, NEW Water, the Wisconsin Rural Water Association, the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Bellevue Public Works Utility and the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin, were among those who wrote letters of support.

“[Having] a source of prospective employees ‘right in our own backyard’ — at UW-Green Bay — is such a wonderful opportunity,” stated Green Bay Water Utility Manager Nancy Quirk in a letter of support to the Regents. “I can say, unequivocally, that the water sector across the United States is facing a significant workforce shortage, especially individuals who have a broad-based education in water-related scientific knowledge and research and skill-sets such as problem solving and critical thinking.”

The undergraduate program will be housed in the Natural & Applied Sciences (NAS) unit of UW-Green Bay’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology. It is expected to welcome its first cohort of students as early as Fall 2019.

The water science program will be primarily designed for face-to-face delivery, but instruction is also expected to take advantage of online and in-field immersion opportunities. Students will have opportunities to work as research assistants on faculty projects, develop internships or conduct their own independent projects. UW-Green Bay faculty are very active in research on water and wastewater treatment, runoff pollution, stream hydrology, groundwater quality, limnology and aquatic ecology. Core courses will be drawn from geoscience, chemistry, environmental science, biology, physics, math and statistics, and public and environmental affairs.

“This interdisciplinary program is not only consistent with UW-Green Bay’s history of research and teaching related to water resources,” said Luczaj, “it complements a proposed freshwater initiative (the nation’s first integrated, higher education, multi-institutional program centered on serving the freshwater economy) being developed by UW-Milwaukee and other UW institutions.”

UW-Green Bay faculty and staff will be integral partners in the UW-Milwaukee-led initiative, which aims to make Wisconsin a worldwide hub for freshwater science to address real-world water-related issues. Examples like the lead contamination crisis in Flint (Mich.), the ongoing arsenic exposure in Bangladesh and the water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa, are examples of the global need for water expertise.

The program will also expand opportunities for collaboration in the region through engagement with business, not-for-profits and government agencies. It will prepare students for career opportunities in private industry, water utilities, geotechnical consulting, natural resource management, state and federal government agencies or environmental policy organizations.
About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to more than 8,000 students with campus locations in Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Established in 1965 on the border of Green Bay, the University and its campuses are centers of cultural enrichment, innovation and learning. The Green Bay campus is home to one of the Midwest’s most prolific performing arts centers, a nationally recognized 4,000-seat student recreation center, an award-winning nine-hole golf course and a five-mile recreational trail and arboretum, which is free and open to the public. This four-campus University transforms lives and communities through student-focused teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, powerful connections and a problem-solving approach to education. UW-Green Bay’s main campus is centrally located, close to both the Door County resort area and the dynamic economies of Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley region and the I-43 corridor. UW-Green Bay offers in-demand programs in science, engineering and technology; business; health, education and social welfare; and arts, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.

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