June 23, 2012
Niche courses – One for the environment
[Originally published in Sunday edition of the Deccan Herald, dated 20 May 2012]
By doing the MS in Natural Resource Environment Management, offered at some US schools, you can be sure of a wide range of job opportunities opening up. A specialisation that has seen a resurgence in the US recently is environmental science. Let us look at some facts.
- Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is expected to increase by 28 per cent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.
- The Indian scenario is comparable and possibly more favourable than in the West.
- There are new mandates from the Central Government in India; the Anna Hazare movement has also thrust environmental and social awareness to the front. Carbon Credits are driving private sector initiatives too. NGO’s and social sector organisations are targeting this as a major thrust area. Therefore graduates would have excellent prospects even if they returned to India.
- Job growth should be strongest in private-sector consulting firms. Growth in employment will be spurred largely by the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth and increasing awareness of the problems caused by environmental degradation.
- Further, demand should result from the need to comply with complex environmental laws and regulations, particularly those regarding ground-water decontamination and clean air.
- Graduates may find careers in central, state, and local government agencies that are charged with managing natural resources, in the private sector with productive careers in the industry and consulting firms, or in academia as college or university faculty.
Let me cite a specific example within the broad canvas of environmental studies: for instance the MS in Natural Resource Environment Management (NREM) offered at some US schools. It has the path to your future in an extraordinary wide range of interesting specialisations that may interest you:
- Parks and recreation management or environmental interpretation
- Sustainable agriculture or land management
- Wetland characterisation and delineation
- Urban and rural community development at the local, state, national, and international level
- Industrial ecology, global environmental change, or resource economics
- Water quality, conservation, or hydrology
- Soil quality, conservation, or pedology
- Waste water management, management of hazardous materials
- Environmental site assessment, remediation of contaminated materials
- Awareness and response to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), the science of WMDs
- Air quality, pollution control, environmental permitting
It would also prepare you for certifications in:
- OSHA HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response)
- Fire Training System — Red-Card Certification from NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group).
With NREM there are courses to meet your interests and needs, projects to hone your skills, and multiple field stations to conduct research and engage with nature. With a major or minor in Natural Resources and Environmental Management your professional options are wide open. Employers are seeking qualified graduates to incorporate knowledge about natural resources and environmental management into their business infrastructure and future development. As a teacher, politician or policy maker, conservation officer, park naturalist, environmental consultant, environmental engineer, urban planner, business owner, economist, diplomat, historian or a county or state health inspector you will complete your higher education with a highly desirable, unique skill set to offer future employers.
- To be admitted to the Masters or Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences you must have the equivalent of a four-year Bachelor’s degree in any one of a wide range of majors, including Sciences, Geology or Engineering.
- You must meet typical American university entrance requirements, such as: TOEFL, GRE, Letters of Recommendation, Statement of Purpose etc.
- A graduate programme in Environmental Sciences has a uniquely interdisciplinary focus. Through rigorous core curriculum and dissertation research that draw from more than one discipline, you will learn about traditional and emerging areas of environmental sciences, developing the knowledge, skills, and expertise necessary to pursue complex questions in environmental science.
- This programme would also build on the university’s institutional strengths in offering you university teaching experience and research opportunities such as National Science Foundation (NSF) grants.
- Typically, Indian students have done very well in an inter-disciplinary programme, such as Environmental Sciences or Environmental Management. Most importantly, most Indian students have a strong concern for the environment.
- That passion for the environment is arguably the strongest factor in the success of Indian students and young Indian professionals currently working in the growing field of Environmental Studies.
By Bhaskar Rajah