Dare We Prepare Students for Non-Academic Careers in Ecology?
Thursday, August 13, 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
345, Baltimore Convention Center
Kenneth M. Klemow
Many undergraduate ecology educators steer students toward an academic career in the field – either as researchers or professors at a research university. To that end, faculty members teach skills for conducting research, interpreting data, reading literature, and writing scientific prose. Students will thus experience the joys of conducting ecological science and will be encouraged to apply to graduate programs.
Recent surveys have shown that doctorates in ecology are having an increasing difficulty finding a permanent academic home. Many of those graduates turn to non-academic options such as consultants, land managers, agency officials, staffers for non-profit and advocacy organizations, K-12 educators, and policy-setters. But students often select those career paths despite, and not because of, their professors’ recommendations.
Students are often unaware of opportunities in the applied areas of ecology. For example, ecological consultants conduct environmental assessments to reduce environmental impact of proposed development projects. Land managers plan and implement strategies for conserving valued ecosystems. Agency officials ensure compliance with environmental regulations and inform policy-makers.
This Ignite session explores alternative careers in ecology. We provide recommendations for getting students to think more broadly about their options in ecology – especially considering the time constraints imposed by the academic calendar and competing curricular demands. Classroom-based strategies and complementary approaches, such as ESA’s SEEDS program, will be discussed.