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Friday, January 04, 2008

A Whole New World of Jobs in Saving the Planet

This article appeared in the NY Times about the cross-pollination of research sharing between universities over sustainability. I had previously heard an NPR report about how different "green" companies were having trouble finding qualified employees.

From the article:

“The academic tradition is to let one discipline dominate new programs,” said Nabil Nasr, the institute’s director. “But the problem of sustainability cuts across economics, social elements, engineering, everything. It simply cannot be solved by one discipline, or even by coupling two disciplines.”

Neil Hawkins, Dow Chemical’s vice president for sustainability, sees it that way, too. Thus, Dow is giving $10 million, spread over five years, to the University of California, Berkeley, to set up a sustainability center.

“Berkeley has one of the strongest chemical engineering schools in the world, but it will be the M.B.A.’s who understand areas like microfinance solutions to drinking water problems,” Mr. Hawkins said.

That realization is spreading throughout academia. So more universities are setting up stand-alone centers that offer neutral ground on which engineering students can work on alternative fuels while business students calculate the economics of those fuels and political science majors figure how to make the fuels palatable to governments in both developing nations and America’s states."

Sustainability is a new and will be, presumably, a huge industry. I bring this up because I've noticed that sometimes kids get stuck on "what will I do when I grow up?" and this is a field that could involve reporters, scientists, business and government for kids (who grow into adults) that are interested in saving the planet.

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