Sean Flannery

Class of 2001

"I graduated from CSB/SJU in 2001, when Environmental Studies was only available as a minor (now it is available as major).  I majored in Natural Science with a minor in Environmental Studies, but my environmental coursework was really the focus of my academic interest.  I was attracted to the environmental sector because I saw a lot of interesting work opportunities dealing with the broad array of environmental issues. I believe this even more strongly now, 10 years into my professional career.

The most important aspects of my coursework were not specific classes, but the multi-dimensional structure to my overall mix of classes.  I took classes in math, biology, ecology, philosophy, social science, political science, and economics.  This breadth of coursework provided a great foundation for evaluating environmental issues, which are never neatly categorized into one area of study.  The Environmental Studies curriculum draws on the best attributes of a strong liberal arts education: multi-disciplinary study, critical thinking that can be applied to understanding new problems, and communication skills that are vital to effectively addressing these issues in the real world.

After graduation, I took on an internship at a Watershed District supporting water quality programs in the Twin Cities.  From there I got an entry-level job as an environmental scientist at an environmental consulting company.  While working as an environmental consultant I went to graduate school part-time at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.  I obtained a Master's Degree in Environmental Planning which has helped further my professional interests in environmental issues, particularly sustainable development and renewable energy.  I found my undergraduate environmental studies coursework from CSB/SJU gave me a great platform to be successful at the Humphrey Institute.

I currently work for a wind energy and solar energy project developer, permitting utility-scale energy projects around the country.  I work with local, state, and federal environmental laws and agencies to develop, construct, and operate renewable energy projects.  When I was in college in the 90s the internet and tech boom was in full stride and it seemed like all the best job opportunities were in Information Technology, but now many people argue the growth industries over the next 10 or 20 years are going to be in the environmental sector, dealing with issues of energy, sustainability and 'clean technology.'   The CSB/SJU Environmental Studies Department provides a great foundation of education and experience to pursue these issues."