Next semester, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will launch a new environmental science major that will prepare students to take advantage of a growing number of jobs that protect the environment.
The new major will draw on courses in biology, chemistry, environmental science, research methods, geology and physics to prepare students for jobs in conservation, hydrology. , geoscience and restoration, environmental science and compliance.
Job opportunities in the field are expected to increase in part due to increased public interest in the challenges the environment currently faces. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for scientists and environmentalists with at least a bachelor’s degree will increase by 8% through 2029, which is much faster than the average of all occupations.
Dr Ovidiu Frantescu, director of the Allegheny Institute of Natural History in Pitt-Bradford, developed the new program and will be its director.
The university has majored in Environmental Studies since 2001, which focuses on work in the field of environmental policy and includes courses in economics, politics, statistics, philosophy, and literature. The new major in environmental science differs from this major because it requires more science courses.
Franescu said he and other professors have discovered a trend in recent years that illustrates the need for a more science major.
Frantescu said he noticed that many students majoring in environmental studies were adding minors in biology, chemistry, environmental science and geology to deepen their scientific experience and expand the types of jobs they would be eligible for.
The new major also includes geology courses, including an educational collection of rock, mineral and fossil geology. In addition, the university already has the necessary faculty, laboratory and library resources, as well as electronic and measuring equipment.
All these research tools will be useful to seniors in environmental sciences, who will each carry out an original research synthesis project in the laboratory, in the field or in the library. Projects could include geological mapping, researching and studying fossils in the laboratory, or monitoring water or air quality.
Franescu said one of the many advantages of the Pitt-Bradford location is that students can conduct research without leaving the 470-acre campus, which includes part of the west branch of Tunungwant Creek, a strip of hill wooded, trees and brush land along the creek.
“We are fortunate to have this stream running through campus because it is constantly being used as an outdoor laboratory,” he said. The university is also close to the Allegheny National Forest and other woodlands.
Students will also take advantage of opportunities offered by the local oil and gas industry, where the increasing emphasis on greener processes and environmental regulations will provide opportunities for research, internships and employment.
Students in the new major will choose from one of three areas of concentration – physical or biological – or a combination of both.
In the physical concentration, students will choose five or six more geology courses and complete their capstone in this area. Additional courses offered include meteorology, petrology, hydrogeology, and advanced geographic information systems.
For the Biology concentration, students will choose five or six other Biology courses and complete a capstone. Additional courses may include ethnobotany, ecology, field botany, entomology, and aquatic biomonitoring.
Students also have the option of choosing a mixture of the two and designing an appropriate synthesis project.
The major news is one in a series of options Pitt-Bradford has for studying the environment and energy. Other programs include a two-year associate of science in petroleum technology; bachelor’s degrees in energy science and technology, biology and chemistry; and minors in biology, chemistry, environmental sciences and geology. Pitt-Bradford is expected to add a major in energy engineering technology in fall 2021.