Field of Study: Natural Resources Policy and Management
Programs in natural resources policy and management teach people how to plan, create, direct, monitor, and evaluate programs to protect resources. Students learn about laws and policies to conserve resources and plan land use. In addition, they learn to manage programs and employees.
Did you know that scientists predict that Americans will double the amount of trash we throw out every 35 years? As a country, we already throw out a significant amount of waste as it is. And garbage is made up of many things that were originally derived from natural resources – food, trees, minerals, and oil, to name a few. Many people are concerned that we will have too much trash and not enough space, and moreover, that we will run out of natural resources.
People in natural resources policy and management programs make it their priority to study the environment and how best to use and preserve our natural resources. They not only are knowledgeable about the science behind conservation and preservation, but also are skilled in handling political issues and management.
A large part of natural resources policy and management is land use planning. (This may be integrated into the program or offered as a concentration.) Land use planning is closely tied to growing populations and conflicting needs of people. Think about it: growing populations often take over farmlands for residential use, but growing populations need more food. Because people in society have these conflicting needs, natural resources policy and management always involves local, state, or federal governments. People use laws to balance competing needs and solve the problems that come with them. After graduating from this program, your goal is to make sure that cities and neighborhoods are well thought-out, meet the needs of citizens, and don't tax natural resources.
In natural resources policy and management programs, you take courses from many areas of study. You take courses in biology, ecology, and chemistry. You also take courses in political science, economics, and sociology. You study different areas of natural resource management, including wildlife, water, fishery, and air and atmospheric quality management courses. You also take courses in urban planning, urban and regional design, environmental management, and land use laws. You can also study different issues such as transportation, urban sprawl, and environmental problems. In addition, you might be required to take communication courses. This is because as a land use planner, you have to work with different people with competing interests, including politicians, business owners, farmers, activists, and citizens.
Furthermore, many programs encourage you to design your own program of study. This allows you to focus on an area of interest, such as fishery conservation or forestry management.
People with degrees in natural resources policy and management have many employment options. You can work for different government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency. You can also work for local, state, and national parks. You can be a planner for local and state governments. Most people become program managers and research analysts. However, you can expand your horizons and become a nature writer or environmental activist!
Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in natural resources policy and management. Two-year colleges typically offer the first two years of study in biology, management, and natural resources science. Students can often transfer the credits to a four-year school. Master's degrees typically take five or six years of full-time study after high school. Doctoral degree programs typically take three to five years after the master's degree. It has become increasingly common for employers to require a master's degree in this field, and as a result, master's degrees in natural resources policy and management are quite common.