By Amy Resnic
Environmental learning has become increasingly important for students as newly created green jobs are expected to grow at a faster rate than other areas of the economy. More companies are looking to hire individuals with knowledge of environmental issues, and students are taking advantage of green programs at colleges to become more attractive to hiring companies.
As the number of green jobs rises, many schools are finding ways to introduce environmental courses in their curriculum to meet the demands of students and employers. The number of green college programs continues to increase each year, with schools offering undergraduate students the opportunity to minor or major in an environmental-focused program, as well as graduate students numerous graduate and doctoral programs.
Not only are more green degree programs being offered, but even traditional classes are including environmental issues as part of their syllabi. For instance, an accounting class might consider environmental impacts as part of the bottom line, fashion design classes might incorporate eco-friendly materials, and a business program might include sustainability classes.
Students will find a vast array of green disciplines for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees at most state and private universities, including:
- Agricultural & Food Systems - social, cultural, political, ecological and economic aspects of the agricultural industry covering topics such as business management to organic systems.
- Environmental Chemistry - chemistry concepts looking at what happens to species in the environment.
- Environmental Engineering - variety of focuses, including civil, structural and water resource engineering to apply solutions for environmental problems.
- Environmental Geosciences & Geology - geologic, hydrologic, and atmospheric processes and how people are influenced by and impact earth systems.
- Environmental Law - law degree focusing on environmental issues such as decreasing pollution and protecting natural resources.
- Environmental Sciences/Studies - generally a broad degree with many choices, intended for students to have a strong interest in science and concern for the environment.
- Forestry - prepares students to manage and develop forest areas for economic, recreational, and ecological purposes.
- Sustainability - different focuses such as business practices or community development, and exploring the interaction of environmental, economic and social systems.
- Urban & Environmental Planning - environmental impacts of development and planning.
- Wildlife & Fisheries Biology & Conservation - conservation and management practices for wildlife and fish species and their environments.
Eco-League College Consortium
In the United States, the Eco-League is the only college consortium with collaborating programs and experiential opportunities for students. Founded in 2003, the schools specialize in education focused on building a sustainable society. Semester exchange programs are offered, allowing students from one school to study at another without being considered a transfer student. The five schools in the Eco-League includes:
- Alaska Pacific University (Alaska)
- College of the Atlantic (Maine)
- Green Mountain College (Vermont)
- Northland College (Wisconsin)
- Prescott College (Arizona)
Schools that offer environmental degree programs
Green degree programs are so popular that college students can find ratings on-line at sources such as U.S. News & World Report and TreeHugger. Three members of the Eco-League consistently make it to one of these lists as top programs: College of the Atlantic, Green Mountain College, and Northland College. In addition, here are some of the nation's other popular green programs according to these reports:
- Arizona State University - School of Sustainability
- Carnegie Mellon University - Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Cornell University - Department of Natural Resources
- Duke University - Nicholas School of the Environment & Earth Sciences
- Georgia Institute of Technology - Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Johns Hopkins University - Geography and Environmental Engineering
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Middlebury College - Environmental Studies
- Montana State University - Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems
- Stanford University - School of Life Sciences
- State University of New York at Syracuse - Environmental Science & Forestry
- University of California, Berkeley - Environmental Science, Policy & Management
- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - Agriculture, Consumer & Environmental Sciences
- University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Natural Resources and Environment
- University of Texas at Austin - Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
- Yale University - School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
These are just a few of the many schools offering environmental programs. Once a student decides on a field of study, there are many opportunities for learning throughout the United States.