The covid-19 pandemic has changed the world.
Followed by the measures taken to control the spread of the virus and the slowdown of economic activities, we witnessed some unexpected improvements in our ecosystem, such as the reduction of air pollution and GHG emission, reduction of water pollution, as well as ecological restoration of tourist spots. These unexpected changes remind us to re-examine the human-nature relationship and prompt us to work together for more sustainable development.
Although the sudden outbreak of Covid-19 significantly disrupted labor markets globally during 2020, the job outlook for the environmental industry is still very promising. In 2020, China has pledged to peak its emissions by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. This new target as well as the correspondent climate actions are expected to stimulate the demand for environmental experts. Analysts suggest that the annual growth rate of the environmental industry will exceed 20 percent in the following years. As more and more countries choose to adopt a greener pathway to restore their economy post-Covid, the job outlook for the environmental industry is positive outside of China as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunity growth rate for the environmental industry from 2019 to 2029 is projected to be 8%, which is much faster than average.
iMEP is an inherently interdisciplinary program. The environmental policy field recognizes that in order to protect and manage the environment, one must understand the rules, laws, guidelines, practices, and ethics that guide how different groups or individuals interact with the environment. The iMEP program at DKU is not only an ideal hub for academic study on environmental management and public policy, but also a place for students to find their passions and prepare for their future careers in the real world. iMEP program helps students to improve their skills in statistics, policy analysis, public presentation, and economics, with rich fieldwork experience, furthermore, iMEP faculty, DKU Environment Research Center, DKU & Duke Career Service Office also help students navigate job-seeking process.
Typically, iMEPers think about these areas for their career path:
Pursing Ph.D. education
As doctoral researchers, students will be able to conduct more in-depth and original research in any area of their interest related to how humans interact with the environment. The fields students will be able to explore include water issues, climate change, ecosystems, waste management, rural and urban land use, and more. Some of the iMEP graduates have successfully enrolled in top universities such as Duke University, Tongji University, University of Oregon, National University of Singapore, San Diego State University, and University of California at Santa Barbara, in which they will be pursuing their doctoral degree and preparing themselves work in academia, research, government, non-governmental agencies, corporate, or entrepreneurial positions.
There are many different kinds of environmental scientists, working to collect and analyze data in many different ways – by hand in the field, using satellites and GIS, and using sociological research methods. Scientists often work on teams, conduct fieldwork to collect data, and spend hours analyzing samples or data in the lab. The ability to communicate complicated scientific findings is a valuable skill in this field. Many environmental scientists continue their studies to earn a Ph.D. Environmental scientists are on the front lines exploring the relationships between humans and nature and provide policy-makers with the data they need to make sound policy decisions.
Environmental Policy Analyst
Environmental Policy Analyst positions exist in all sectors of society, including government, research institutions, NGOs, non-profits, IGO’s and private companies. Working as an Environmental Policy Analyst requires one to research current policies and analyze data trends in order to propose environmental policy solutions. The policy content will depend on the work of the organization, so be sure to look for organizations doing work you really care about.
Environmental NGOs can play a huge role in environmental protection. As one of the most effective media, NGOs can effectively facilitate dialogue with policymakers and the general public to promote policy development and sustainable lifestyles. NGOs also conduct scientific research as well as conservation strategies that directly solve environmental issues. A vibrant, strong NGO community will require professional environmental professionals in a variety of fields.
To protect the living environment of their citizens, comply with the requirement of international legislation, as well as achieve their sustainable development, each level of government of a country employs environmental scientists in a myriad of jobs. Legislations and regulations made by the national government work as tools to protect the environment, the effect of such tools needs to be constantly monitored by environmental scientists. In addition to that, the government will also employ people to manage natural resources for government agencies, monitor for environmental threats to people’s health and help keep wildlife populations healthy and under control, and all the other specialists and experts mentioned above.
Sustainability Consultant/ Green Finance Officer
Sustainability Consultants or Green Finance Officers work at the intersection of efficient business operations and environmental sustainability, supporting a company’s transition to a lower carbon footprint. You will be responsible for researching the environmental effects of the company’s operations, including but not limited to noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution, energy, material consumption, and the carbon emission footprint. Based on your research, you will provide a cost-effective plan for the company’s long-term sustainable development.
Environmental economists bring knowledge of finance, investment, and business to the task of developing environmentally friendly economic models and policies. They must balance the economic needs of the organization or government with environmental conservation efforts. You must have strong quantitative and data analysis skills, and the ability to communicate complicated economic models to a wide audience. There are multiple positions available to environmental economists in a variety of sectors, including non-profit foundations, consulting companies, government departments, and private corporations.
Some Class of 2021 students decided to take LOA (leave of absence) after they finished the first year due to the impact of Covid-19 on global education. Six iMEP students finally graduated in May 2021, and they prove to be competitive in the job market. Until 2021 summer, we experienced the graduation of Class of 2019, Class of 2020, and Class of 2021. iMEP graduates have successfully received Ph.D. offers from the National University of Singapore, San Diego State University, UC – Santa Barbara, Tongji University, and Duke University. Except for further education, they also explore their own potential in different industries.
Class of 2022 Internship Placement
The summer after their first year in the iMEP program, students complete an internship in the environmental policy field. Completing an internship allows iMEP students to apply their new skills gained in iMEP core courses to real-world applications, learn more about what kind of job they may want post-graduation, and build their resume for the job search process in their second year. For many iMEP students, their internship employer may also become their client for their second year Master’s Project, in which they will research a policy problem and propose a policy solution for the client.
Below is a collection of internship options for our environmental policy students after their first year of study: