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Updated: November 8, 2023

UNE launches undergraduate major in outdoor business and innovation

kayakers Courtesy / UNE The University of New England is launching a major in outdoor business and innovation. Shown here are student kayakers participating in UNE's "Trailblazers" outdoor-focused orientation for incoming freshmen.

College students looking to work in Maine’s $2.8 billion outdoor recreation sector can now pursue an undergraduate major in outdoor business and innovation at the University of New England.

The bachelor’s degree, offered through the school’s new College of Business, is the first in New England to address the need for skilled workers in the growing industry, according to UNE.

“We are thrilled to provide our students with the opportunity to engage with and contribute to an industry that is integral to Maine’s identity and economy,” said John Austin, interim dean of UNE’s College of Business. “This program aligns perfectly with our commitment to preparing students for meaningful, purpose-driven careers.”

UNE has campuses in Biddeford and Portland and overseas, in Tangiers, Morocco.

Austin said that the school’s location on Maine’s coast and programs in the marine and environmental sciences position UNE to lead the advancement of Maine's outdoor economy.

Already this week, the first students at UNE have transferred into the new major.

Career preparation

UNE’s new Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Business and Innovation degree program aims to get students career-ready through a focus on sustainable community development, environmental policy, entrepreneurship and small business management.

Students enrolled in the program will also have the opportunity to gain experience through paid internships and project-based learning provided in collaboration with Maine Outdoor Brands, a 180-member business alliance.

“We recognize the significance of a program that not only equips students with the knowledge and skills essential for success, but also nurtures connections within the outdoor business community,” said Jenny Kordick, executive director of Maine Outdoor Brands and a Mainebiz 40 Under 40 honoree in 2023.

The Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, led by Carolann Ouellette, will serve an advisory role in curriculum development for UNE's new degree program.

"Having a secondary education program focused on the industry will benefit Maine employers in this sector," Ouellette said.

UNE’s College of Business, established in June, supports experiential learning opportunities for students, including a partnership with outdoor retailer Patagonia.

Around 200 students are currently enrolled in the College of Business at UNE. The school was ranked No. 6 among Maine's largest colleges and universities in the 2023 Mainebiz Book of Lists, based on a full-time undergraduate enrollment of 2,282 in fall 2022.

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