Initial Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Developing a Curriculum that Allows Students to Reach Career Objectives

Lynn Dudley, Florida State University

The environmental science bachelor's degree program at Florida State University housed in the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science (EOAS) contains a B.S. degree titled "Environmental Science" and a B.A. degree titled "Environmental Science and Policy." The Environmental Science degree is designed to prepare students for employment technical positions in state and Federal government, consulting companies, NGOs, and prepare students to continue studies in graduate school. The Environmental Science and Policy is designed to give students expertise that would lead to law school and eventually to environmental law, and positions requiring expertise in environmental policy. The Environmental Science degree has implicit flexibility to tailor a degree that matching a student's career goals by emphasizing geology, meteorology, oceanography, or a more integrated curriculum. The degree also has explicit tracks for emphasis in environmental engineering, and peroration for graduate school.

Because the program has only been in place for three years, the number of graduates is small and employment feedback limited. Thus far, students are reporting that they are finding employment in state government and private consulting companies. The curriculum for the policy degree is less rigorous in preparatory courses in math and science, but gives students the option of taking philosophy, political science, and social science courses. There is a capstone requirement for each degree, but the capstone courses differ. The science degree requires a field based capstone in which students gain hands-on experience in collecting and analyzing water samples, collecting soil samples, determining surface and subsurface hydrologic properties, and land survey. The objective is to give students fundamental exposure to determining environmental properties related to assessing a contaminated site. Students are required to use GIS to map the properties they measured and provide a site analysis. The policy capstone is led by an environmental lawyer. The course introduces students to the legal aspects of resource management. The course reviews environmental law and landmark cases. The mechanisms for policy creation related to resource management are explored. Students are required to provide a review and analysis of a topic of their choice.

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