So you want to work in a field where you can make a positive difference in the fight against climate change. But you’re not quite sure which college major is most appropriate.
Should you enroll in Environmental Studies, or Environmental Science? Sustainability or Conservation? Natural Resources or Renewable Resources?
With colleges offering more college majors and minors today than ever before, choosing the program that’s right for you can seem overwhelming. But doing so is actually pretty simple once you review your career goals.
For instance, do you want to work in climate change education, helping inform the next generation of students about climate change? Do you want to study climate change and its affects? Do you want to develop policies to help mitigate the affects of climate change? Or something else?
Once you have a specific career or career field in mind, it’s a little easier to determine which program is best for you. Below are three college majors each suited to a specific career related to climate change:
1. Ecosystems and Humans Impact (BA) at Stony Brook University
For a career developing solutions to mitigate affects of climate change.
Stony Brook University’s Sustainability Studies Program offers five undergraduate majors, six minors and one graduate certificate for environmentally-minded students. One of the department’s most popular majors is Ecosystems and Human Impact. It’s an interdisciplinary program in which students learn how to manage the challenging interactions between humans and the natural world.
The major allows students to concentrate in some area of sustainability, and, unsurprisingly, many students choose to focus on climate change. The program’s featured study abroad program takes students to Madagascar, where many choose to explore the relationship between climate change and forest biodiversity and health. Graduates may pursue careers as environmental consultants, inventors and researchers.
2. Sustainability (BA) at Arizona State University
For a career in climate change policy.
The School of Sustainability at Arizona State University is one of the most renowned in the country, with the reputation for its personalized education, excellent research opportunities and superb professors. It offers two undergraduate majors—a BA and BS in Sustainability—and a Sustainability minor, plus two graduate certificates: one in Energy and the other in Food Systems.
Students taking ASU’s BA Sustainability major are required to focus in a specific area of sustainability. Many choose the school’s Policy and Governance in Sustainable Systems, which is a great primer for students interested in a career in climate-change politics or public service. Possible career paths include politician, lobbyist, community organizer and public relations specialist.
3. Agricultural and Environmental Education (BA) – University of California, Davis
UC Davis is well known for its College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. It offers an Agriculture and Environmental Education major, which is a perfect fit for students who want to teach others about climate change.
Students who enroll in the program explore a wide variety of environmental issues, but many choose to focus on climate change. The major helps students understand basic scientific concepts and also ideas in the social sciences, boosting the communication skills necessary to be an effective educator. Possible career paths include elementary or high school science teacher, college professor in sustainability or the environment, outdoor educator or workplace training specialist in sustainability and the environment.
The bottom line
When choosing where to attend college and a major program in which to enroll, keep your career goals in mind. It’s much easier to narrow down a large selection of environmentally focused college programs once you have a specific idea of what kind of role you hope to play in the fight against climate change.