Frequently Asked Questions
Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary academic field that seeks to understand environmental problems and develop lasting, sustainable solutions. An environmental studies degree program typically involves basic course work in the natural sciences, so that students have a foundational understanding of environmental systems. Such programs also include course work in economics, psychology, intercultural communication, law, data analysis, and other disciplines relevant to designing and implementing solutions to environmental issues.
An environmental studies degree prepares you for careers in a range of fields that address issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental justice, and resource conservation. In addition, industries that depend on stable or predictable environmental conditions, such as agriculture, energy production, national security, and tech, are increasingly hiring sustainability managers and consultants. Government and international agencies that engage in policy making also offer jobs for environmental studies majors.
International environmental policy is a discipline that explores the relationship between the environment and public policy on a global scale. This field analyzes how governments, NGOs, and private businesses manage their resources, deploy new technologies, and work with one another to advance a sustainable global environment. Students of international environmental policy frequently incorporate intercultural competence and language training into their studies so they can better communicate and coordinate across national lines.
All environmental challenges require global cooperation because environmental issues like pollution, migratory species, extreme weather events, and pandemics do not honor physical or political boundaries. Students of international environmental policy learn about the institutions and policies that help shape global dynamics and incorporate them into successful business, humanitarian, and governance strategies.
International environmental policies include treaties and conventions that commit countries to working together on environmental problems; domestic governmental policies that seek to influence global environmental practices; economic incentives to shift global consumption patterns; and informal discussions and networking aimed at resolving international environmental issues. One notable recent international environmental policy was the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement of 195 countries to reduce carbon emissions and thereby combat climate change.
An international environmental policy master’s degree opens the door to a wide range of policy, aid, resource development, and investment careers. Many experts in this field work for environmental NGOs, as well as in government and the private sector. They are on the cutting edge, designing solutions to make sustainability a reality, with an eye toward effective behavioral interventions and persuasive communication. These professionals are in high demand across the globe.
Most environmental policy jobs involve research, analysis, communications, advocacy, fund development, resource development, and/or operations and project management. Given the breadth of environmental challenges and their international dimensions, many environmental policy careers include diverse stakeholder engagement and fieldwork, while others focus on written products and agenda setting for priorities and assessment. Most people working in the environmental field find it fulfilling, as it reflects their values.
International environmental organizations include the National Audubon Society, the World Resources Institute, WildAid, Conservation International, National Geographic Learning, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and the World Wildlife Fund. Such organizations typically focus on particular areas of environmental policy. For example, the World Wildlife Fund emphasizes conservation of wild animals and wilderness, while Conservation International focuses on preserving fresh water and food and promoting climate stability.
International environmental policy experts work for government agencies that implement environmental policy directly, such as the EPA and NOAA in the United States. But they also work for agencies that advocate environmental policy internationally, such as the U.S. Department of State, as well as agencies like the U.S. Army that depend on a stable environment for long-term operational success. International environmental policy experts also work for intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank.