Many universities now offer majors focused on sustainability. Even if you're not a die-hard environmentalist, a green major can be a savvy choice. After all, the green movement offers diverse career opportunities, from product design to consulting and lobbying.
Here are ten of the hottest green majors around:
Bioethics is the study of ethical issues in science. As a bioethics major, you'll learn how to apply your values to health and environmental issues, such as stem cell research and the production of genetically modified food. With a degree in bioethics, you might work in health care, education, public policy or social work.
Bioethicists are the big-picture thinkers, letting us know how the choices we make now will affect us (practically and morally) in the future. If you're interested in the philosophical and intellectual sides of the green movement, this could be the major for you.
In this major, you'll learn how certain messages influence individual and group behavior, including the strategies speakers and writers use to make their points and drive them home. Communications majors are often highly attuned to current events and the world of media, have strong public speaking and presentation skills, and know how to craft convincing arguments.
Businesses and non-profits alike have a need to shape their green images either by promoting environmentally friendly practices or communicating their corporate social responsibility to the public. As an environmental public relations pro, you will cultivate and maintain contacts with journalists, set up speaking engagements, write executive speeches and annual reports, respond to inquiries, and speak to a wide audience on behalf of your client or cause.
At heart, engineering majors—whatever their sub-disciplines—-want to know how things work. This interdisciplinary major combines engineering methods with math, biology, and physics making it a great step toward careers in green tech, energy systems, or solar engineering.
Beyond green tech there are a myriad ways to apply your engineering expertise to the green movement. Environmental engineers, for example, use the principles of engineering along with biology and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. You'll be involved in efforts to improve recycling, waste disposal, water and air pollution control, and public health.
Whether you begin with three employees or thirty, starting a company is no walk in the park. You'll need commitment and drive, not to mention some serious business skills. Entrepreneurship majors learn about accounting, economics, and management, as well as how to identify new opportunities and raise capital.
Want to start an all-organic restaurant? How about a T-shirt printing company that uses environmentally friendly materials? Entrepreneurs are on the cutting edge of green business, but you'll need the skills to make sure your start-up doesn't close down.
In this major, you'll learn how to design indoor and outdoor spaces that are in ecological and aesthetic harmony with their surroundings. You'll take math, physics, drawing and computer classes.
Environmental designers and architects design eco-friendly public and private spaces that are used for recreational, commercial or residential purposes. Examples of their work include parks, garden centers, green roofs, courtyards, public squares and houses.
A fashion major can be about much more than just beautiful clothes. Fashion majors learn how to design and produce great outfits, of course. But an increasing number of schools are offering courses in sustainable design and environmentally friendly fabrics.
These days, green fashion is big business. Someone has to design the latest organic shoe and come up with a catchy eco-aware slogan to splay across clothes made of organic cotton.
Food scientists deal with almost every aspect of food production. They help create and enforce new safety standards, expand our understanding of what constitutes a balanced meal, and improve the ways we produce and consume food. All of this involves a lot of hard science, such as biology, chemistry and genetics.
What we eat affects our health and the health of the planet. Farmers, grocers, chefs, consumers and policymakers are all looking to food scientists for guidance on sustainable, healthy food.
Horticulture pertains to the art, science and business of growing things. Horticulturists grow food and flowers. They also manage the exterior landscapes of residences, office buildings, athletic fields and virtually every respectable golf course. As a horticulture major, you'll spend a lot of time learning about plant physiology, genetic engineering and crop cultivation.
Eco-friendly horticulturists are in high demand. As households and businesses become more environmentally conscious, they'll start requesting that every aspect of their personal (and professional) environments be greener. And there is a large and growing market for organic food and sustainable agriculture.
From the killer whale's dietary habits to the reproductive mechanisms of the tiniest saltwater microbes, you'll learn how the greatest ecosystem in the world (the ocean) supports the diversity of life forms that thrive on and because of each other.
Human-created pollution has altered the delicate balance of the underwater world. Studying the ocean's plants and animals and how they've adapted to these changes will be imperative to making sure they stick around for future generations.
Urban planning majors study how cities are designed and managed. It's a diverse academic path: your education will cover sociology, political science, and architecture, among (many) other topics.
As an urban planner, you will be the visionary of the cities of the future. You will help policymakers decide how to use land, improve public transportation and create people- and environment-friendly urban spaces.