With sustainability gaining importance and awareness regarding pollution, health, climate change, biodiversity and resource management increasing around the world, courses in environment studies are becoming popular. The Supreme Court of India in 1990 had issued directives to introduce environmental studies as a mandatory subject at the school and graduation level to spread awareness about the environment.
Since environment is multi- and inter-disciplinary in nature, it has close linkages with several subjects like life-sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, economics, management, social sciences, mass communication and law. Varied job opportunities are available for those with a master’s degree in the subject or beyond.
Over 200 universities, colleges and institutions offer courses on environment studies at the master’s level. These include courses such as environmental sciences, environmental management, environmental biology and environmental studies, depending on the orientation and linkages of the course. Graduates in respective allied disciplines are eligible for admission to different master’s programmes in environment. For example, the MTech course in environmental engineering or environmental science and engineering requires an MSc or a BTech degree in the relevant subject as the eligibility criteria.
In some universities and institutes, apart from MSc in environment, some specialised MSc (environment) courses are offered. These include courses in biodiversity and conservation, natural resource management, environmental toxicology, ecology, ecotechnology and energy studies. In certain universities a full bachelor’s degree course in environment is also offered.
A degree in environment studies equips a student with essential and specific skills . It includes topics such as understanding the earth’s life support system and functioning, monitoring air, water and soil pollution, understanding environmental challenges, developing problem solving skills with an ability to plan and manage the earth’s resources from a scientific as well as an ethical perspective.
A master’s degree in environment helps students gain professional experience, equips them with theoretical and practical knowledge along with field experience. It makes them employable not only in the environment sector, but also in allied fields.
With an MTech degree in environmental engineering, students get an exposure to technical aspects of environmental problem solving and greater opportunities of getting placed in industries and development projects. Those with a doctoral degree have highly specialised knowledge on the subject. They have an understanding of both domestic and global environment problems.
The author is professor and dean, University School of Environment Management, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi