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Interdisciplinary dimension new to UW transportation program

February 26, 2003

Relieving the growing congestion on interstate highways and city streets will require more than simply building additional roads. Engineering is part of the solution, but economic, political, social and environmental considerations also determine what can and should be done.

That’s the concept behind a new interdisciplinary graduate-level certificate program offered by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW–Madison. The Transportation Management and Policy Program has begun accepting students.

“We looked at educational needs in this area and discovered that they go beyond just civil engineering,” says Teresa Adams, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and environmental studies.

“Technical issues are part of it, but the context in which we deliver transportation systems has changed dramatically, so now we’re concerned with the environment, social justice, political issues and the not-in-my-back-yard syndrome.”

The certificate program covers all modes of transportation, such as highways, mass transit, air, water and rail. Students must complete at least 18 credits of recommended courses, including a one-credit internship with a transportation agency or business.

“The internship is much more experience based, where you work as part of a multidisciplinary team,” says Adams. “The writing component of the certificate requirement focuses on short documents like management memos, policy statements and analysis summaries.”

The certificate program is geared toward students with academic backgrounds in business, economics, engineering, environmental studies, land management, public affairs and/or urban and regional planning, but graduate students from any academic department at the university may apply. Those who complete the program will earn certificates in transportation management and policy to supplement their graduate degrees.

At least half a dozen students have enrolled in the program.

Adams and her colleagues looked elsewhere for models upon which to base the Transportation Management and Policy Program but found none.

“We don’t see another type of educational program like this anywhere in the country,” she says.

Students who would like to know more about the program should contact the academic coordinator, Richard Shaten, at the Nelson Institute’s Academic Programs Office, 70 Science Hall, or 265-0521.

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