I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at an unusual small liberal arts college in Bar Harbor, Maine that has only one major: human ecology. That is an interdisciplinary approach to solving environmental problems—which can range from ecological to economic, with an emphasis on application in the real world, ateaching model the world wants to copy. Many of my classmates and fellow College of the Atlantic (COA) graduates went on to work in environmental fields. Others were entrepreneurs and started “green businesses,” or spearheaded nonprofit initiatives; my classmate and friend, Jody Kemmerer, for example, founded the first women’s health center in Tibet. COA’s unique program was created by a few Harvard folks back in the ‘60s in an idealistic attempt to start a new trend of multi-disciplinary, holistic thinking about world problems and to prepare young people for the challenges that the world was beginning to face. It offered one of the first “green degrees” in the country. Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is a COA graduate. COA is one of the five founding schools in the Eco-League College Consortium. For more information, visit: http://www.ecoleague.org/
Now “green degrees” are quite popular and multi-disciplinary programs are more common. Many students are no longer looking for a program that prepares them for just one type of work but an education that better adapts them to a changing world climate—both ecologically and economically speaking. So-called “green collar” jobs are cropping up and the recent federal stimulus package called for the creation of more of these types of positions. In response to these trends, more schools are offering green degrees. Employers are also looking for a “green ethic” or “green consciousness” in candidates for many types of positions—not just in environmental fields. Some college students are going to career counselors and saying, “I’ve read about wetlands and watersheds and green technology in the paper. I want to do something with that. I’m not sure what it all means…but I think it’s important.” Many more students today are interested in college majors that will easily translate into a green collar job after they graduate.
Green degrees span a wide variety of disciplines: there are “green law” degrees, environmental studies degrees, which can include wetlands ecology, climatology, human ecology, political ecology and human adaptation, to name a few. There are also environmental management and policy-related degrees, environmental engineering degrees (including green chemistry, hydrology), and even green auto-mechanic technical degrees to train people for building hybrid vehicles.
Here’s a good short list of colleges that offer green degree programs related to water and wetlands: http://www.ed-reference.us/00110/environmental/water,-wetlands,-and-marine-resources-management/colleges
A longer list of green college degree programs is here:http://www.citytowninfo.com/education-articles/green-careers-and-education/environmental-green-degree-programs
Some other interesting green college degree programs:http://www.solutionsforourfuture.org/site/PageServer?pagename=green_education
Edmonds College Sees Interest Up in Green Degrees (WA)
Hottest Green College Degrees Around (July 2009)
Antioch University New England – New Environmental Studies Program MS in Sustainable Development and Climate Change degree
MS Resource Management & Conservation degree
Update: Treehugger.com’s list of Top 10 Environmental Science Degree Programs
A new website helps students find the right Environmental Science Degree Program.
Update: College of the Atlantic is listed as #1 Green College in the U.S.http://www.greenstudentu.com/green_campus/10_green_campuses_around_the_world.aspx