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Community: The Bren Experience (MESM)

To students preparing for rewarding careers in Environmental Science & Management, the Bren School offers an ideal location, cutting-edge facilities, and an outstanding curriculum and faculty. But the school is also distinguished by a range of other, less tangible factors.

Perhaps because it is relatively small, with about 200 master’s students in two classes, the Bren School is more intimate and friendly. Perhaps because it is situated on the West Coast, just 90 miles north of the dynamic city of Los Angeles, it is more open to new possibilities and novel ways of doing things. Perhaps because it stands at the edge of the wide Pacific Ocean, it attracts students having equally broad interests and abilities. Perhaps because the faculty and staff feel privileged to be here, they are willing to genuinely engage with students and go the extra mile for them.

The "Bren factor" shows up when renowned guest speakers relax with faculty, students, and staff at a reception on the outdoor terrace, against a background of ocean, palms, and a twilight sky. It is evident in a supportive student community whose diverse members find common ground through shared studies, intramural sports, beach barbecues, surf sessions, bike rides, backpacking trips, evenings in Santa Barbara, Students in mid air taking a "leap of faith"and collaboration on Group Projects. It is evident in Brengrass, the ever-evolving Bren student musical group. And it comes through in “random,” the shared e-mail list-serve that functions as a clearing house for environmental news and debate and as a bulletin board for ride-sharing, party planning, house rentals, pet care, equipment loans, and a wide range of other Bren community business.

Bren students pursue a rigorous course of study in a casual and friendly environment. They value hard work and recreation. They are engaged and committed to applying environmental knowledge now. Some students stick to a regular schedule; some mix long study days with others that leave room for a run on the beach, a surf session, or a bike ride into the mountains. Students regularly gather on forays to night clubs in downtown Santa Barbara. They support their friends’ bands, cooperate in the Bren recycling and composting programs, and participate in a wide range of environmental activities. They are acting in the present while training for and looking to the future, and they are supported by faculty, staff, and administrators who are available and willing to help. They are taking on a big challenge, and doing so with passion, tenacity, and inspiring unity. We invite you to join them.