UVM students focus on climate as job field grows

The University of Vermont has a goal to be climate conscious in and out of the classroom and that goes beyond the college’s campus.
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 8:27 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2021 at 8:32 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The University of Vermont has a goal to be climate-conscious in and out of the classroom and that goes beyond the college’s campus.

UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources accepted their largest class ever this year.

Professor Jon Erickson says all students will likely face some climate questions in any field after graduation. More focused jobs range from science to renewable energy to sustainability planning and advocacy or lobbying.

Students, current and former, say these are the jobs of the future and they believe the field will continue to grow.

“I think that this field isn’t going to be getting any smaller any time soon. I think it’s a really good idea to go into the climate field,” said Gina Fiorile, a UVM alumna.

Since graduating in 2018, Fiorile has had ample opportunity in the realm of climate and environmental work.

“So now I’m helping manage a national network on climate education and literacy,” she said.

Her group’s focus is on education and the effective relaying of information. She says climate communication is a field of exponential growth, but it isn’t the only one.

“There is a ton of interest and a ton of energy around environment but around climate action policy more generally,” said Erickson. “It’s a wave that has been building for decades and we are at the cusp of it right now.”

The multitrillion-dollar infrastructure bill in front of Congress contains various undertones of climate resilience. Vermont’s own Global Warming Solutions Act directly points to climate action.

Private companies have their own goals to meet, all of which Erickson says can create jobs.

“All of our students, no matter their major, will be facing climate change, climate action, climate policy,” said Erickson.

Two of UVM’s largest fields of study are environmental studies and environmental science.

In searching the labor department’s website, several jobs involving the environment, like environmental restoration planning, have projected increases by 2028.

Anecdotally, the labor department says they have noticed employers with a desire to be environmentally conscious.

Erickson says UVM freshmen learn about the environment before they even get to college

“The current generation of students grew up learning climate science in the classroom, so when we get a first-year through the door, this isn’t news to them. We don’t need to be changing about climate change, we need to be teaching about climate action,” said Erickson.

Logan Solomon is one of the students who will be chasing a job involving climate in a few years with a focus on the intersection between social and economic policy and environmental policy.

“I think it’s really a growing field, both in the corporate and community lens, as well as just looking big picture around economics and how all these different resource pools will be affected by the changing climate,” said Solomon.

Fiorile says she sees the future for a climate economy in collaboration, so the ability for different sectors and jobs to work together.

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