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STCC to Offer ‘Green’ Major

SPRINGFIELD — Melanie Gagnon, a working student who is in real estate sales, sees a new program at Springfield Technical Community College as a terrific opportunity to take her career to a higher level.

“I personally don’t want to devote my life 100% to just selling houses,” said Gagnon, 36, of Springfield. “I don’t want to be residential. I want to be a part of bigger things, and this helps.”

What types of bigger things? That could mean possibly working as a community or regional planner, or taking a job that requires emergency planning such as when a city is devastated by a natural disaster.

Gagnon is one of four students currently pursuing a degree through a new STCC major called Real Estate Planning and Sustainable Development. Professor Warren Hall, department chair in the Architecture and Building Technology program at STCC, developed the option for students like Gagnon and others who have an eye on a career in sustainable community development, architectural design or a related field.

Real Estate Planning and Sustainable Development provides students with necessary training and an affordable path to a bachelor’s degree, or even a master’s degree, said Hall, who served for seven years on the Planning Board in Pelham and also was Pelham’s commissioner to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

Hall said the new program was designed in response to changes in the building and planning industry.

“The fact is with so much of what we do today we need to look through that lens of sustainability,” Hall said. “That’s something the industry has been stressing.”

“Sustainability” in community development refers to the concept of planning to meet not only the current needs of residents, but to ensure adequate resources are available for future generations. Hall teaches students to consider factors such as the environmental impact of community development. Sustainable development also considers the social impact involved with urban growth and sprawl.

Real Estate Planning and Sustainable Development is one of three options in STCC’s Architecture and Building Technology program. The others are Architecture and Project Management. The new option officially starts in fall 2017.

The Real Estate Planning and Sustainable Development major was created for students who plan to complete at least their bachelor’s degree after earning their associate degree from STCC. After earning a bachelor’s degree, students may choose to explore career options, but they also might decide to continue their academic studies in a variety of graduate-degree programs, such as Master of Architecture, Master of Design Studies or Master of Regional Planning.

Hall highlighted one of the exciting and affordable options his students can choose: They can continue to earn their master’s in regional planning through a unique “2+2+1” agreement between STCC and the UMass at Amherst.

Students complete two years at STCC and then transfer to UMass or Westfield State University for another two years to receive a bachelor’s degree. After earning the bachelor’s degree, they would enroll in a one-year master’s in regional planning program at UMass.

“These students can have a master’s degree in regional planning in five years. That’s amazing,” Hall said.

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