Starting in fall 2011, a new concentration in energy and sustainability will be available to George Mason University students.

Proposed by Robert Ehrlich, professor of physics and astronomy, the energy and sustainability concentration is part of the Master of Arts program in interdisciplinary studies.

“Students can apply for the concentration now,” Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich said the concentration, comprised of existing courses, offers different perspectives from science and technology to policy and business. Energy and sustainability students will take courses in each of these areas.

According to Ehrlich, a concentration in energy and sustainability is needed at Mason now more than ever before.

“As a civilization, it is imperative that we switch to a more sustainable way of life,” Ehrlich said. “Nationwide, colleges and universities wake up to this fact and offer programs. Mason must take part in this trend.”

The concentration in energy and sustainability can prepare Mason students for a wide range of careers, from research and policy to marketing and entrepreneurship.

“Some may claim that green jobs are just a myth, but I think they are dead wrong,” Ehrlich said. “By increasing the variety of energy supplies, we create jobs.”

In implementing the concentration, Ehrlich collaborated with environmental research professor Dann Sklarew.

“His encouragement was very gratifying and he was supportive all along,” Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich also appreciates the support he received from Mason administration.

“Sometimes working with administration is not so easy, but I was pleasantly surprised,” Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich, who has been in the energy field for two and a half years, has been working on other initiatives in addition to the energy and sustainability concentration to bring renewable energy to the forefront at Mason. Ehrlich created a website,, which is becoming a national resource in energy education.

“The website helps both students and instructors who want to work in renewable energy fields,” Ehrlich said. “Internships related to renewable energy are also listed on the website, but it is up to the individual student to apply.”

Ehrlich is also writing a textbook entitled “Intro to Renewable Energy.”

“The textbook is not truly elementary, for it requires a background in physics and math,” Ehrlich said.

Additionally, Ehrlich is organizing a two-week trip this June and July through Mason’s Center for Global Education. Traveling students will learn about renewable energy in three European nations: Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

“America has a lot to learn from European nations, some of which are way ahead of us in renewable energy,” Ehrlich said. “Seeing things in real-world application is different than learning about things in a classroom or from a textbook.”

Ehrlich is intrigued that the trip has attracted mostly students outside of Mason.

“Only four of 19 applicants are from Mason,” Ehrlich said.

Although the deadline was Friday, late applicants may be accepted.