The Institute for the Environment at The University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill (UNC) offers the Sustainable Triangle Field Site (STFS) as an urban field
experience located on and near the UNC campus. With its proximity to both strong
academic departments and pioneering private and nonprofit enterprises, the
STFS offers students the opportunity to pair academic studies in the environment,
urban planning, geography, health, and related fields with practical experience
delivered through internships and Capstone research projects.
Headquartered in Whitehead Hall on the west side of the Carolina campus and
an easy walk to downtown Chapel Hill, the STFS is a unique and flexible field
program that serves students in residence at UNC-CH. Rather than living in
a remote location with a small cohort for a semester, students participating
in the STFS retain their established Chapel Hill residences, relationships
and school base. They learn and grow as a group through common courses, Capstone
team projects, field experiences, and seminars. Internships place students
at nonprofits and private companies around Chapel Hill and in nearby communities.
These range from applied activities (such as the small-scale, self-sustaining
systems at the Pickard Mountain Eco-Institute), to institutional placements
at government agencies or nonprofit organizations, to experience in sustainable
business. By exploring how sustainability is practiced on and near their own
campus, STFS students incorporate into their UNC experience an understanding
of how communities, industries, and government and nonprofit organizations
can work together toward a sustainable future.
The field site is designed to run spring semesters, with all components offered
concurrently. However, students are not required to complete the field site
requirements in one semester, if course sequencing or other factors prevent
a student from doing so; some courses (e.g., capstones, internships) may be
picked up in fall semester. Note that the rotation of STFS and other Sustainability
Minor courses, along with students' own scheduling constraints, call for
careful academic planning so that students can successfully incorporate the
field site into their UNC undergraduate experience.
Testimonials from former STFS participants
"Upon completion of this internship, I feel that I have learned a great deal about the renewables industry in North Carolina. My knowledge of the inner-workings of North Carolina renewable policy has been expanded greatly, and I feel comfortable holding complex discussions with professionals in the field. I feel strongly that this internship has provided me with the skills and knowledge to compete for jobs in my future, and in some cases, this experience has already done so for me this summer." – Michael Titus on his internship during STFS 2014
"I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to study and learn about biomass energy sources, a type that I had (relative to other renewables) little knowledge of in the past. I also enjoyed studying to political realm of how and why biomass resources are being used in the ways they are today, and how SACE makes an effort to promote their interests." –James Linden on his internship during STFS 2014
"The STFS was an excellent way to finish my time as a student at UNC. The experiences of the internship and capstone project allowed me to apply what I learned in the classroom to real world scenarios and projects that I could easily work on after graduation. My experiences in both were instrumental in helping me land my first job after graduation. Along with the wealth of real world experience, the STFS was a great opportunity to collaborate with like-minded students, without having to leave UNC for an extended period of time. I decided to participate in the STFS my last semester at UNC and it was without a doubt one of the best things that I did while at Carolina." –Rachel Gaylord-Miles STFS 2014
The Sustainable Triangle Field Site delivers much of the curriculum associated
with the Sustainability
Minor. Students will take the core course for the minor: Principles
of Sustainability (ENEC 330), along with ENEC 208H (Reimagining the American
Landscape) and ENEC 420 (Community Design and Green Architecture). An
internship with a local agency, non-governmental organization, or business
and a capstone research project round out the requirements for the STFS.
Principles of Sustainability (ENEC 330) uses several key themes to
frame the study of sustainable development, energy and resource consumption,
and human systems. Themes include natural limits on material and energy growth,
sustainability rubrics and frameworks, and technology as problem and solution.
Weekly topics include resource management, architecture and urban design, water
quality and quantity, energy, transportation, agriculture, commerce, and more.
Reimagining the American Landscape (ENEC 208H), taught by Dr. Greg
Gangi of the Institute for the Environment,examines sustainable pathways for
the US that incorporate the 3Es (economics, environment, and equity) by exploring
relevant ideas from macro and micro economics, public policy, city and
regional planning, environmental science, psychology and sociology.
Community Design and Green Architecture (ENEC 420), offered for the
first time in spring 2011, is taught by Anthony Sease, an architect and civil
engineer. This course examines the impact of building on the environment and
health from the perspective of land use planning, water resource use, energy,
materials, and indoor environment.
Sustainability internships (ENEC 207) are arranged through the Institute
for the Environment, drawing on a growing suite of sponsors from the private
and public sectors who have committed to mentoring an intern. Students who
have an internship sponsor in mind may work with the internship coordinator
to develop such placements.
Environmental capstones (ENEC 698) fulfill a requirement for all environment
sciences and environmental studies majors, and for students doing the sustainability
minor. The Institute generally has several capstone projects running concurrently
each semester. The STFS enrollees will be clustered together in a single capstone
project (or two related projects) with a clear sustainability framework that
considers economic and social dimensions in addition to environmental.
Faculty and Staff
The site is directed by Dr. David Salvesen, whose areas of research and teaching are land use and urban planning. Core courses will be taught
by Salvesen and other faculty members. Other courses with a sustainability orientation
are currently taught across the campus by distinguished UNC-Chapel Hill faculty.
For more information, please contact David Salvesen at (919) 962-7045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.