There was a time when college students had this choice: to study for a career where they could do something positive for their community and the planet, or to study for a career that would generate a good income.
It was the rare college program or career where a student could hope to do both. Today, green degrees are amongst the hottest degrees in the college marketplace, in both prestigious undergraduate programs and top masters degree programs. They offer students the opportunity to pursue a challenging and worthwhile career in an expanding field.
Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability offers a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in sustainability as well as a graduate degree. Charles Redman, the director of the School of Sustainability, says the school takes an interdisciplinary approach, blending many fields of study to give students enough context to make a difference.
At Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., students are required to take at least one class that explores the human connection to the environment. Dina El-Mogazi, director of the Campus Greening Initiative, says courses in a variety of disciplines will fulfill the requirement.
The Pew Foundation, in Clean Energy and the Economy, says that, “driven by fiscal interests and concerns about energy and climate change, a growing number of public- and private-sector leaders are seeking to expand their share of the clean energy economy: jobs, businesses and investments that achieve a double bottom line—economic growth and environmental sustainability”.
In response to growing demand, the University of Pennsylvania is offering a Masters of Environmental Studies (MES). The program is a “green degree” and is designed for students seeking leadership roles in environmentally related fields, in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has recently begun tracking green jobs. The category is known as Green Goods and Services, or GGS. In 2010, the first year for which data is available, there were more 3.1 million jobs in the U.S. identified as ‘green,’ accounting for 2.4% of total U.S. employment. Of these, 2.3 million jobs were in the private sector, with the remainder in government.
Careers in green construction, with the creation of sustainable and efficient buildings; green power such as solar and wind energy, careers in electric vehicles and recycling, as well as energy auditor are all on the rise. For students seeking to do something positive for their education, their careers, and the community at large, a green degree is a great option.
Meika Jensen often writes for MastersDegree.net and is an aspiring UC Berkeley graduate student. She hopes to study the development of communications and their impact on public opinion. Follow her on Twitter @MeikaJensen.