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Why Environmental Studies is a Great Career Choice for Students and Growth Area For Educators
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Why Environmental Studies is a Great Career Choice for Students and Growth Area For Educators

Rozita Singh, a Delhi-based sustainable development practitioner, recently returned from Antarctica after a 12-day expedition. The head of solutions mapping, accelerator lab of the United Nations Development Programme in India spotted a peculiar problem that earth’s southernmost continent is facing—the penguins there risk freezing to death.    

“Excessive rainfall in Antarctica has been observed over the last few years. This is a major problem for penguins. While snow is relatively easy to remove from their down feathers, mud is much more difficult to clean. If they have a lot of mud covering their body, they are at a very high risk of freezing to death,” says Singh. 

This is just one example of the many collateral damage caused by the pollution emitted by industries, vehicles, and other sources. Over the past few years, pollution has been accelerating the impact of the climate crisis, now touching the untouched—even the penguins of Antarctica. 

All over the world, countries struggle with pollution and its dangers. For example, take the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The pile of marine debris and plastic waste, which has built up in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California, has grown to occupy 1.6 million kilometers—half the size of the Indian landmass. 

India has not been doing very well. The World Air Quality Report 2021, prepared by Swiss organization IQAir, placed 35 Indian cities in the top 50 of the world’s most polluted cities list. India set 2070 as the target year for net zero emissions at the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow last year. Standard Chartered Financial Services recently found that India will need $12.4 trillion to achieve its long-term net zero goals.

The climate crisis is becoming more dangerous and more countries are being forced to pay the price to address it. It is urgent that skilled individuals in the fields of climate change and environmental protection are available to lead the way.

Education to the rescue

As the focus shifts to the environment and the importance of education to train people in related fields has increased. 

In India, the National Curriculum Framework, 2005 made it mandatory to introduce Environment Studies (EVS) as a subject for classes three to five where “in the study of the natural environment, emphasis will be on its preservation and the urgency of saving it from degradation”. EVS is merged with other subjects, such as science and social science, up to the 10th grade. Certain upgraded elements of the subject are only available to college students who choose courses that will allow them to pursue a career as environmental engineers, landscape architects, conservation science, or urban planning. 

“Climate risks and climate impact differ across regions and the solutions need to be context-specific. One technology or policy will not fit all,” says Dr. Miniya Chatterji, director, Centre for Sustainability and Anant Fellowship for Climate Action, Anant University.

As the drive for environmental protection grows, there will be a demand for individuals who are able to deal with multiple aspects and in different settings.

Indian Institutes of Technology-Mumbai and Manipal Institute of Technology-Mumbai offer excellent courses that train individuals in these fields. The University of Waterloo and Stanford University are well-known for their environmental courses.

Hope for the Future

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency jobs data, India had 7,26,000 jobs in renewable energy in 2020. Chatterji cites an article that states that there is a possibility of creating 3 million jobs in renewable energy by 2030. “The World Economic Forum also supports the tremendous scope for jobs in the climate industry by forecasting that India’s transition to a green economy could potentially create 50 million jobs by 2070, representing upwards of a $15-trillion economic opportunity,” she adds.

Talking about the career prospects in the sector, Janet Matta, head of careers,, an online climate school, says, “There is a need for nearly all job and career types in climate companies working on climate solutions. Within climate tech companies, the biggest needs we see for hiring are in software development, engineering, data science or analytics, people operations, and sales because all skills are useful for climate action.’’

As the Indian government tightens regulations related to environment protection, there will be a huge demand for people with environmental-related expertise in the public sector. 

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