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Urban Environmental Studies


Welcome and thank you for your interest in the Environmental Social Scientist position at Birmingham-Southern College.  Below you will find the job description as advertised, followed by an overview of our Urban Environmental Studies program and details on the job opening.  Additional information about the UES program can be found on the UES home page.  The posting of the job description on our Human Resources website can be found here.

Job description as Advertised

Urban Environmental Studies Assistant Professor/Environmental Social Scientist - Birmingham-Southern College is pleased to announce a search for a tenure-track assistant professor position to begin Fall 2012 in Urban Environmental Studies. Candidates must possess Ph.D. in political science, sociology, economics, or related field; postdoctoral experience preferred.  Area of expertise must include urban environmental issues and environmental policy. Teaching responsibilities include a course on environmental problems and policy for the UES major, UES senior seminar, plus electives in area of expertise. Ability to incorporate GIS into courses as appropriate is preferred. The successful candidate will also serve as academic coordinator for the UES program. We seek applicants committed to excellence in teaching and research in a liberal arts setting. Start-up funds available. Salary commensurate with experience.

Birmingham-Southern College is a selective liberal arts college consistently recognized for its academic quality. The college currently enrolls 1,300 undergraduate students and is a sheltering institution for Phi Beta Kappa.

For further information about the position and college benefits, see the job posting page.  BSC is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute, through their teaching, research, and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the academic community.

Qualified candidates should email PDF copies of their letter of application, curriculum vitae, undergraduate and graduate transcripts, statements of teaching philosophy and of research interests, recent publications, and evidence of excellence in teaching to UESsearch@bsc.edu. Three letters of recommendation should be mailed to Patty Henry, Box 549022, Birmingham-Southern College, 900 Arkadelphia Rd, Birmingham, AL 35254.  Screening of applications will begin February 1, 2012, and will continue until the position is filled.  Inquiries may be sent to Dr. Scot Duncan: sduncan@bsc.edu

BSC complies with the Alabama Child Protection Act. EOE.

The Urban Environmental Studies Program at BSC

Our world needs a new generation of leaders and problem-solvers who understand the complex interrelationships between human welfare and environmental sustainability.  Today’s students are those who must implement the most sweeping strides towards environmental sustainability.  With its liberal arts focus and commitment to academic excellence, BSC provides the ideal setting to train socially and environmentally literate leaders.  To this end, BSC launched its Urban Environmental Studies major in fall 2008. 

Here and throughout the world, social and environmental concerns intersect dramatically in the urban landscape.  Given that over half of the earth’s people live in cities, and most population growth in the coming decades will be urban, finding sustainable solutions for urban environmental problems will define our progress towards sustainability this century.  Thus, urban sustainability is the theme for BSC’s environmental studies program. 

BSC is well-positioned to offer a distinctive Urban Environmental Studies program.  Birmingham is located within the most biologically rich region of the most species diverse state in the eastern United States.  Our urban campus is surrounded by a city with a rich culture whose history and future are closely tied to its natural resources.  Birmingham has its share of environmental problems, including air quality and sewer regulation, but there are many initiatives underway in Birmingham to improve the “livability” of our city.  These include the construction of LEED certified buildings, urban redevelopment projects, an urban farm initiative, and the establishment of one of the largest networks of urban parks in the U.S. 

The interdisciplinary UES major involves faculty and courses from the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.  Several of the courses for the major use the city and its diverse natural landscape as a living laboratory to study environmental problems through research, class projects, and internships.  Many UES students participate in our summer-long internship program where students work with local NGOs, agencies, or businesses whose interests are tied to the environment.   UES majors finish their degree with a senior capstone research experience during the UES senior seminar.   Spring 2012 marks our first full graduating class of UES majors, and we estimate that 20 students will graduate with the degree.

The campus, itself, has become a living and evolving laboratory to study the path to urban sustainability:

  • The campus is home for the Southern Environmental Center, whose mission is to educate children and tomorrow’s leaders about sustainable living.  In addition to hosting thousands of students each year, the SEC runs the acclaimed Ecoscape program where forgotten, blighted lands in the urban center are converted to verdant gardens that become a source of pride in local neighborhoods. (click here for more information)

  • On the campus we have the first LEED certified residence halls in Alabama (click here for more).  The dorms have been designed to minimize heating, cooling, and water needs, plus use of VOC and formaldehyde-laden materials.  There is even a 50,000 gallon cistern that collects rainwater for landscape irrigation.  

  • We have the beautiful Urban Environmental Park designed with green landscape architectural principles.  It includes a water catchment system that filters and cleans stormwater runoff in a 1.5 acre lake, attending rain gardens, and vernal pool.  (click here for more)

  • In partnership with the Southern Environmental Center and others, the College runs the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.  The Center runs educational programming in one of the most beautiful natural settings in the region – just 25 minutes from campus. (click here for more)

  • Other sustainability features on campus include:  highly-reflective white roof on the campus library; use of porous pavement in a new parking lot; an 8-acre preserve of mature pine-oak-hickory forest which is used by biology and UES students; the first of Birmingham’s Ecoscape Gardens; a newly expanded recycling program; upgrading of various physical plant features that reduce energy and water usage (e.g., variable frequency drives on HVACs); campus police use of hybrid vehicles and mountain bikes; a natural gas-powered maintenance truck; increased use of drought-hardy perennials and native plants in landscaping; and significant reductions in the use of office paper.

  • BSC was named one of the 286 "Greenest Colleges" by The Princeton Review.  According to the review, BSC is one of the nation's 286 "Greenest Colleges." The New York-based education services company, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, features the college in its new (2010) "Guide to 286 Green Colleges." (click here for more)

  • In April 2011 the UES program launched the TrekBirmingham website, an educational and recreational resource for greater Birmingham. Trek Birmingham pinpoints and describes destinations in the city where visitors can experience and learn about the city’s natural environment. The website offers authoritative information about each destination’s ecology, geology, biodiversity and watersheds and links them together to provide new ways to explore. (click here for more)

Details on the position:

With the creation of the UES major, there was also the creation of a new faculty line to primarily service the new major.  We are looking to fill this position with a social scientist who has a strong background in urban environmental issues.  Strong candidates may come from any number of disciplinary backgrounds in or related to the social sciences.  The new hire will be a member of the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Sociology, but will teach courses designed primarily for the UES major.  One of these courses is UES/PS 210 Environmental Problems and Policy; thus, the successful candidate will need a strong background in environmental policy. 

In addition, the new hire will serve as the academic coordinator for the major.  Primary responsibilities will include advising UES students on course planning and working with colleagues to arrange for and advertize UES-related courses. In addition, the academic coordinator will work with the UES director (who handles much of the administrative work associated with the program) to run the internship and mentoring programs, chair the sustainability committee, and develop recruitment materials and initiatives.  

Thus, we are looking for candidates that have expertise in urban environmental studies and who are eager to continue nurturing the growth of the UES program.


Questions about the UES program can be directed to Dr. Scot Duncan, interim UES Academic Coordinator (sduncan@bsc.edu, 205.226.4777).  Questions about the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Sociology can be directed to Dr. Bob Slagter, chair of that department (rslagter@bsc.edu, 205.226.4839).