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5 ‘green’ degrees online that tackle climate change

by Monica Smith

Jun 30, 2021, 10:00 AM.

Students looking for career paths in sustainability can consider several fully online programs to become graduates who will make an impact on the environment.

The growing call for action to help reduce climate change is producing one of the largest pushes for transformation in every sector. Green jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago are becoming the norm. Organizations need professionals to run corporate social responsibility initiatives that protect the environment, its resources and create vital cost savings.

While there is no set career path for jobs in sustainability, FIU offers several degrees to prepare graduates for positions in a range of industries. The following list includes five degree programs that are available fully online.

1. Bachelor of Arts in Global Sustainable Tourism

The hospitality and tourism industry has moved toward green practices for decades to help increase sustainability. On the verge of one of the largest travel seasons post pandemic, the industry is creating new initiatives for a “green” restart to help preserve resources and protect tourism dollars. 

According to Joseph Cilli, department chair and director of distance learning for the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the degree teaches students to address the impact the industry is having on the planet. He sees conservation as a way to prevent serious financial impacts. Students learn to lead through advocacy, conservation and community partnerships.

Not an adventure-tourism degree, this degree prepares students to pursue management positions to create sustainable tourism standards that build internal resilience through profits, purpose and governance.

2. Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences

Most solutions begin with scientific exploration. Students majoring in biological sciences at FIU are exposed to a wide range of topics through their online experience. The online B.A. in Biological Sciences provides a background in critical thinking, scientific knowledge and skills to help the scientific community make progress in vital areas.

Within the program, students are encouraged to bridge the gap between the problems we face and the solutions we need to live well through life sciences.

3. Bachelor of Arts, Geography Major, Global Studies

From migration to sea-level rise, transportation patterns to the effects of a pandemic, geography majors offer key information to help guide policy, strategies and conservation through the use of big data and analysis. Geographic technologies provide important tools for social science inquiry. These include computer-based geographic information sciences (GIS), remote sensing, and online, interactive mapping. Professor Kevin Grove describes the degree as “integrative.” 

“All of the information is integrated to understand the difference that place makes to shape the way many things such as pandemics and climate change play out,” Grove says.

People with geography majors in global studies often develop careers in fields like technology, real estate, public health, environmental management, education, disaster response, city and regional planning, community development, and many others.

4. Master of Arts in Disaster Management

Climate change-associated disasters such as extreme heat, fires, hurricanes and other acts of nature need individuals prepared to help mobilize a response. 

The M.A. in Disaster Management is an interdisciplinary program that draws on the expertise of faculty from across FIU's nationally recognized colleges and programs. It also includes disaster practitioners with international and national preparedness and disaster response experience. The degree is also a natural educational pathway for nurses who may pursue disaster response positions.

Student Nancy Wheeler, a critical care nurse is pursuing her degree to help widen her scope of care. “This degree works right in with that,” she says.

Students partake in a simulated exercise to focus on all the needs that may arise such as rapid damage and public health assessment, shelter and site planning, field cluster sampling, water, sanitation and hygiene, personal security, food aid, and operational approaches to relations with the military.

5. Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and the Environment

FIU's online bachelor's degree in Sustainability and the Environment addresses the connections between people in their social, natural and built environment, so that students will be able to think holistically about sustainability issues.

Students learn about factors that determine sustainability across multiple channels. The degree also prepares online learners for positions such as sustainability consultant; corporate social responsibility/sustainability professional; and green building professional.

From the way we vacation to the way we live, work and thrive, the world is turning a little greener. Regardless of the green degree or path you choose, there’s good news, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—job growth is ahead.

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