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What is “environmental policy?”
You can have a significant effect on how we impact the natural world by helping to change our political, social, and economic policies. Environmental policy is a professional field that focuses on how social institutions and structures impinge on the environment. It involves researching social and scientific information, analyzing legislation and policies, and developing new policies and legislation that will help protect our planet and its people.
What do those in environmental policy do?
- Develop policies for a governmental or non-profit agency.
- Develop environmental legislation
- Develop environmentally responsible business practices.
What types of organizations hire for environmental policy?
- Governmental agencies.
- Non-profit environmental organizations.
- Private corporations.
- Politicians with a staff of experts.
What does it take to become effective in environmental policy?
- A broad, interdisciplinary understanding of environmental issues.
- In depth understanding of the political, economic, and social aspects of environmental issues.
- Understanding of environmental laws and policies.
- Critical thinking.
- Communication skills: both excellent writing and public speaking.
- Research: the ability to analyze the nature and sources of problems and their solutions.
- Public speaking: the ability to articulate your views efficiently and positively in various formats, including a speech, a panel, a debate, and group discussion.
- Computer skills: not only wordprocessing but also spread sheets (e.g. excel) and computer presentations (e.g. powerpoint).
- Conflict resolution, negotiation, and community building: the ability to work positively with others.
- Multicultural interchange: the ability to work positively with diverse cultures and ethnic groups.
- Internships with organizations dealing with politics or the environment.
- Work experience in politics and the environment. This could be volunteer work or summer work in the field.
- Professional experience: some masters programs expect students to have professional job experience related to environmental policy after graduation and before entering a masters program.
- Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity, including a recognition of different viewpoints.
- Ability to deal constructively with those who views you disagree with.
- Ability to combine idealism with practicality and a recognition of the constraints situations might have.
- A strong commitment to the well-being of the environment, including a strong desire to work against those who are destructive of nature.
So what should I do while I’m in college?
- Major or minor in Environmental Studies.
- Also major in a department that challenges you to think critically, do research, and write effectively, one that feeds you interest in the environmental policy. Examples include Political Science, Economics, and Geography.
- Take advanced courses in environmental science. The stronger your environmental science background the better.
- Take microeconomics and, ideally, macroeconomics. The stronger you knowledge of economics the better. Also take statistics, which will enable you to make and evaluate statistical arguments (a few programs also expect you to have calculus)
- Take one or more courses in environmental philosophy, religion and ecology, or nature writing in order to understand issues of values.
Should I get a graduate degree?
In some cases, you can get a decent job right out of college. However, in order to get the kind of job you would really like and be as effective as possible, it is helpful to get a masters degree. The types of degree that would be most useful would be a Masters of Public Policy or policy-oriented Masters of Environmental Studies. Also valuable are Masters of Public Administration and Master of Business Administration.
What are some examples of actual job listings in environmental advocacy?
Environmental Policy Specialist
Description: An immediate opportunity in its Southeastern Natural Resource Center ( Atlanta, Georgia) for an Environmental Policy Specialist. Candidate will be responsible for assisting in policy development and implementation as it relates to endangered species recovery and watershed conservation in the southeast and Everglades restoration in Florida.
- strategic planning
- policy development
- program implementation
- collaboration with constituent groups and fundraising
- The Environmental Policy Specialist will work directly and closely with the Center Director and assume a key leadership role in the office.
Minimum Qualifications: Bachelor's degree required, master's degree preferred; five years of relevant environmental policy or natural resource management exp.; working knowledge of endangered species recovery policy and knowledge of (or ability to learn) Everglades restoration w/ability to translate knowledge into effective advocacy to influence agency decision making and mobilization of grassroots constituents; excellent oral and written communication skills; and computer proficiency. An excellent benefits package.
Compensation: Salary is low to mid $40's annually.
Description: We are seeking a Policy Officer for our Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty & the Environment project.
Responsibilities: The Policy Officer will be responsible for work in three areas: research and analysis, program management, and communications and outreach. Duties will include working with project partners to develop research methodologies and implement research activities; analyzing practices and policies of national governments and international institutions dealing with trade; developing an outreach program to raise the issues of trade liberalization-environment; as well as preparing a diverse range of public position papers and other outreach materials for use in a variety of situations.
Qualifications: This position requires a Master’s degree in Development Studies, Economics, Environmental Sciences, International Public Policy, or a related field. In addition, candidates should have had five years of policy and practical work on trade liberalization, poverty and environmental issues, as well as a strong preference for experience in a multidisciplinary, multicultural context in the developing world. Language skills in French and/or Spanish are helpful.
Background: The Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable environmental and energy policies, is accepting applications for a full-time Policy Associate within its Energy and Climate Program. In this capacity the Policy Associate will help to shape and lead renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change-related work.
- Applicants must possess strong writing, verbal and computer skills.
- Applicants should also be self-starters and possess the ability to work well independently and in teams, lead group efforts, meet deadlines, help fundraise, and manage multiple tasks.
- Minimum requirement: Bachelor’s degree (environmental science or policy preferred).
- Master’s or minimum 5 years experience in energy/environmental policy preferred.
- Capitol Hill experience recommended.
Terms: Salary: commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits.
Director of Environmental and Social Risk Policy
Description: Director of Environmental and Social Risk Policy who will serve as the in-house expert on environmental and social risk issues for the firm.
- Establishing a strong working relationship with, and serving as a consultant for the Level 1 SCO Environmental and Social Risk Management Specialists (ESRMs) in each region around the world
- Providing general environmental expertise and guidance to those GCIB credit approvers who are required to review and approve credits that potentially have an environmental or social impact
- Provide specific expertise and advice on Category A projects
- Proactively engaging credit risk management on environmental issues
- Acting as our key interface on environmental and social risk issues with multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank, IFC, ExIm (working particularly closely with the Project Finance business and the IFC as they (the IFC) revise their Safeguard Policies)
- Working closely with the Environmental Affairs corporate staff on communications on specific initiatives and deals that are important to the NGO community (NGO relationship management rests with the Corporate Environmental staff)
- Acting as key policy coordinator internally to ensure that all relevant internal policies and procedures reflect most up-to date environmental and social issues
- Working with the Environmental Affairs staff to provide input/substance for efforts to disseminate knowledge throughout the corporation on environmental and social issues
- Contributing to the training and awareness of all staff on environmental and social issues and policies.
- Individual must have BA/BS plus 8-10 years of related risk experience.
- MA/MBA a plus.
- Ability to work with and influence a diverse audience required.
- Strong interpersonal skills needed.
- Needs to be a self starter.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills required.
- Strong organization skills and the ability to juggle diverse responsibilities and demands required.
- Financial service organization experience preferred.
- Experience with the oil and gas sector preferred.
- Strong external credibility and track record in environmental affairs is preferred.
Environmental Planner/Air Quality Planning
Description: We are seeking a Challenging Environmental Planner to work with regional air quality program.
Responsibilities: Duties include outreach and technical support for projects and activities of the Clean Air Partners and the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC). Tasks include providing technical support to local governments on voluntary air pollution control measures, assistance with air quality planning activities, staff support for the Ozone Action Days program, and staff support to the Air Quality Public Advisory Committee.
Qualifications: Requires knowledge of air quality issues, ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. Should have excellent communication skills and ability to manage numerous projects in an organized and timely fashion. Have computer experience with word processing, spreadsheets and internet. Minimum training: Master's in environmental studies, science, engineering or equivalent combination of experience and training.
Salary Range is 38,604 to $48,255.
Background: We are a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington , D.C. , is a leading center of environmental research, policy analysis, and training in the United States . We periodically hires recent college graduates to serve as Research Associates.
Responsibilities: Research Associates work directly with the 15 - 20 lawyers and scientists in the Research, Policy, and Training Division, on projects addressing environmental and natural resource protection and pollution prevention. Specific subject areas include: hazardous waste and brownfields, air and water quality, environmental enforcement, sustainable land use, international environmental policy, biodiversity, wetlands, public health, and mining law. The Research, Policy, and Training Division publishes research studies for the public and conducts a variety of training courses and workshops.
- superior research, writing, and interpersonal communication skills
- strong desire to gain knowledge in the environmental field. A background in environmental issues is preferred but not required. Research Associates are asked to stay for a minimum of two years
- Previous Research Associates have gone on to law school, graduate school, and other positions in the environmental field.
Director of Conservation Policy
Description: Director for Conservation Policy will advance preservation of the New Jersey Pinelands through analysis of public policies and actions, formulation of and advocacy for positions and initiatives of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA), and public education about the Pinelands.
Responsibilities: This person will support other PPA staff in their work on land and water resource issues and will assist outside counsel to PPA on administrative proceedings, litigations or other initiatives. This person will also work with citizens, community groups and other NGOs to foster public participation in policy actions and to gain support for PPA’s efforts. This person will participate in PPA’s education and outreach programs, such as presentations to community groups, the Summer Institute for Teachers, and other outreach and education programs.
Qualifications: The right person for this position must be capable of working both independently and collaboratively and be eager to learn about the special ecology and conservation programs of the Pinelands. Candidates for this position should have substantial pertinent experience and/or an advanced degree in a relevant field, such as a law degree or an advanced degree in biology or other scientific discipline.
Research and Policy Analyst
Description : Natural resources, public lands, transportation. We are looking for a creative, motivated analyst to spearhead science and policy research on a range of issues that impact human health and the environment. We are looking for a scientist, engineer, or policy analyst to contribute science-based research and policy programs on public lands, transportation, and other issues:
- Conceive and execute innovative programs that will improve public policies, bringing sensible balance to national land use programs, and overhauling gridlock-producing transportation programs that fund sprawl and pollute our air.
- Direct analyses of complex government databases, turning obscure data into findings accessible to the public and relevant to public health and environmental protection.
- Develop plain-language reports presenting research results that are designed to influence public policy and inform consumers.
- Design campaigns to drive public opinion, media coverage, and political change.
- Master's Degree or equivalent with at least two years experience in corporate, government or non-profit environmental science, engineering, or policy, in relevant research areas.
- At ease directing or conducting data-intensive analyses. Excellent writing, editing and personal communications skills.
- Skilled in presenting complex information to a broad audience, including legislators, regulators, and reporters.
- The ability to work collaboratively on a research team, with publicists and other staff.
Climate Policy Specialist
We are a non-profit national environmental organization with more than 1.2 million members. Our staff of over 250 includes attorneys, scientists, policy analysts and educators working to protect the environment and public health through advocacy and education.
Job description: We seek a Climate Policy Specialist to work in its Washington, DC office. The Climate Policy Specialist will be responsible for conducting and managing the development of technical and economic analyses of policies to reduce global warming pollution.
- Assesses the cost and performance of technologies with the potential to reduce emissions.
- Demonstrates the urgency of adopting emission limits by, for example, assessing the long-lived capital investments being made in high emissions technologies and evaluating emissions lock-in versus capital stock turnover rates.
- Examines the history of government R&D programs versus regulations in bringing new technologies into widespread use and the importance of "induced technological progress" or "learning-by-doing" in determining the optimal timing and overall costs of climate protection.
- Evaluates economic models used by various organizations for policy analysis and advocacy.
- Prepares reports, memos, fact sheets and web site content to inform the public, the press, and policymakers about these topics.
- Participates in advocating global warming emission limits before Congressional staff, business leaders, and state and federal government officials.
- MA, MS, or Ph.D. in economics, environmental science, engineering, physics or similar discipline
- 3-5 years work experience in climate policy, energy, air pollution or a related field.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills.
We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a pleasant working environment and are committed to workplace diversity. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience.