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A holistic discipline

Different EVS courses in India lean towards one or the other disciplines, so students might want to look at one which is truly inter-disciplinary

education Updated: Jul 24, 2012 17:29 IST
Arun K Attri

If anything can capture the reasons and intent for the inception of environmental sciences, way back in 1974, the words like 'brilliant', 'imaginative', 'farsightedness' comes to the mind. To initiate the environmental sciences as a discipline per se was a bold step, required the "consilience" of knowledge across disciplines -mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology - but with no clear precept to frame the framework of 'environmental science,' as any other discipline requires. After inception in 1974, environmental sciences as a discipline was introduced at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The intent and the efforts were to allow the interaction between pure natural sciences and expect the evolution of a meaningful, viable and sound academic curriculum where environmental science remains a central focus. Expectations proved to be correct. From all yardsticks the school's timeline portrays a precept around which research and a teaching programme can be formulated by other aspiring educational institutions interested in starting environmental sciences. It goes without saying that today JNU's School of Environmental Sciences stands tall on objective assessment of its accomplishment: (1) Teaching, (2) Research, and (3) affecting and shaping policy by providing trained minds to address environment-related problems and their solutions faced by society.

Scientific investigations and research, over the years, carried out at the School of Environmental Sciences falls under four major academic sub-groupings:
* Environmental physics
* Environmental geology
* Environmental chemistry
* Environmental biology

Research from each of these major areas is incorporated, on a continuous basis, in teaching curriculum, both at MPhil/PhD and MSc-level courses.

This aspect stands out, as the syllabi followed at SES has acted as a basis for many institutions and universities to initiate and develop their academic courses in environmental science. In short, JNU's SES is a unique frontline postgraduate school where contemporary environmental issues are researched and taught in depth. On the basis of all-India competitive tests, held every year, about 30 MSc students enter SES; in addition, 30 enrol for the MPhil/PhD research programme on the basis of an entrance test followed by an interview.

Candidates having Junior Research Fellowship: CSIR/UGC/ICMR can enter the MPhil/PhD programme on the basis of an interview.

Contemporary research areas
* Climate change
* Bio-remediation
* Aerosol characterization
* Environment impact assessment
* Disaster management
* Meteorology
* Air/water/soil pollution
* Eco-system services
* Bio-diversity mapping
* Urban ecology
* Social ecology
* Atmospheric physics
* Remote sensing


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The author is dean, School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi