"A Career in the Environment? But There's No Money in That!"

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

Children pick up on tiny cues from their parents, teachers and wider society. They are sponges constantly scanning their surroundings for new knowledge and information, shaping their views and opinions on a daily basis. In school, I pursued the sciences and social sciences. I was always interested in the world, by people and by living things.


"There are plenty of career avenues for people who study the environment, and there are set to be many more in the fight against climate chaos and global ecological collapse. So let's encourage children to find their own way and explore their own interests and talents."


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Exploring Mother Earth


At university I studied BSc Geography because it was the one subject which seemed to have endless avenues to explore. Climate change, sustainable development, population dynamics, economics, politics, human health, ecology and natural hazards - you name it and in some way geography, which is simply the study of people and places, relates to it. What an incredible subject to explore the beauty and complexity of world we live in!



After graduation, I narrowed down my interests and focused directly on an MSc (by Research) in Environmental Science. I knew I had far more to learn about unraveling the mysteries of the living and non-living world. I studied conservation biology, freshwater ecology, sustainable water management, flood risk management for rivers and coasts among other related fields.


Where's the Money in that?


When I was a masters student, I was surrounded by graduates from all over the world. They would ask "So what do you study?" and I would say "An MSc in Environmental Science." Being at a highly-ranked school for environmental studies, there were others on a similar path to me, but for the most part my peers were studying business and management degrees in the business school at the university.


"To all the parents and teachers who are reading, please rest assured: if your children end up studying the environment, they'll be fine, just fine. I promise. We need them and we need them more than ever before!"

One of the typical reactions of students in other faculties was "But where's the money in that?" or "What on earth will you do with a degree in environmental science?" This reaction is surprisingly common among teachers, parents and society as a whole. Study business. Study economics. Study law. Study medicine. But for God's sake don't study the environment!


Well, I absolutely disagree. This career rhetoric needs to change. With the natural environment in crisis, climate chaos on the horizon and global biodiversity collapse in full swing, the last thing we need is an endless cycle of fresh business graduates. We need scientists, engineers, sustainability experts, educators and communicators. We need climatologists, computer modelers, ecologists, technologists and policy-makers. We need people to help save the world and we need them now!


Education is the Key to a Sustainable Future


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Education is the key to a sustainable future. We all have different skills and talents. Many of my peers at university now work as policy-makers in think tanks and the public sector, in engineering and environmental consulting, as researchers in universities and for big companies in corporate and social responsibility (CSR), together with a whole range of other related career paths. I turned my talents to educating young people on sustainability because I saw a need to translate the science into action for a better future.


"We need scientists, engineers, sustainability experts, educators and communicators. We need climatologists, computer modelers, ecologists, technologists and policy-makers. We need people to help save the world and we need them now!"

There are plenty of career avenues for people who study the environment, and there are set to be many more in the fight against climate chaos and worldwide ecological collapse. So let's encourage children to find their own way and explore their own interests and talents. To all the parents and teachers who are reading, please rest assured: if your children choose to study the environment, they'll be fine, just fine. I promise. We need them and we need them more than ever before! Indeed, our futures and our children's futures depend on it.


So let's get children outdoors, get them engaged in science and give them the freedom to choose their own career path in life, wherever that may lead.


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