Environmental science also known as ‘Mother of all Sciences’ is a multidisciplinary field that integrates the biological, physical, earth sciences and certain aspects of chemistry. Its main goal is to understand that how earth works and how it supports life. Environmental Sciences also aims to identify, control, and prevent disruption to Earth’s systems and species caused by both natural and anthropocentric activities.
Earth and its inhabitants have suffered through environmental problems since a long time. At the beginning, these problems could not get due attention because lack of knowledge and resources which could help to identify the hidden causes. The issues related to environmental degradation had been reported before the technological revolution of 21st century i.e. during Roman and Greek civilizations, middle Ages and Renaissance. But, the era which marked and provided a basis for emergence of environmental sciences was Industrial Revolution (1760-1840).
The effects of industrial revolution were identified many years after revolution. After mid-nineties some major incidents took place globally including London Smog, Silent Spring, burning fire in Cuyahoga River in US and many other such incidents resulted in environmental revolution. It was identified that there is a need to address environmental concerns through education, policy and administration.
Many international conventions and treaties for environmental protection were signed globally. Pakistan also signed many of those and become a party towards environmental protection. Study of environment and dealing with issues was incorporated into educational setup worldwide. Pakistan also introduced environmental sciences as a separate, self-contained discipline after 1980’s and now many renowned universities offer bachelor’s, master’s, MPhil and PhD degrees in the subject of environmental sciences.
The Environmental Science curriculum is designed to prepare students for positions of leadership in this field. It’s a rapidly emerging field in Pakistan. Though the domain of Environmental Sciences was not much renowned in the past but in the last decade due to increased environmental consciousness among people in Pakistan, its progress is gaining momentum.
Pakistan universities that have the separate department of environmental sciences include Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, Fatimah Jinnah women university Rawalpindi, International Islamic university Islamabad, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Bahria University Islamabad, University of Punjab and many others. Every year students who complete their BS, MS, Ph.D. degrees are offered scholarships from international universities for higher studies.
HEC provides a curriculum for courses to be offered in BS and MS degrees in environmental sciences and revises the curriculum every three years by respective National Curriculum Revision Committees (NCRCs).
BS in Environmental Sciences is a four years’ degree program, including 8 semesters. The courses offered in BS degree according to HEC curricula include compulsory courses, general courses and foundation courses. In compulsory courses, students are not given any choice to be opted and these courses are required to be completed as it is a mandatory degree requirement. These include English, Pakistan studies Islamic studies, Ethics, Mathematics, Statistics, etc.
General courses are those offered by other departments in the university including Biology, Basic Chemistry, Sociology, Introductory Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, International Relations, Globalization etc. Foundation courses are those which are discipline specific- related to environmental sciences. These include Introduction to Environmental Science, Introduction to Earth Sciences, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Physics, Fundamentals of Ecology, Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Pollution, Climatology etc. each with 3 credit hours.
Major courses include Applied Ecology, Environmental Toxicology, Environmental Economics, GIS & RS, Environmental Management, Biodiversity and Conservation, Environmental Monitoring, Climate Change, Environmental Impact Assessment, Natural Resource Management, Environmental Governance, Public Health, and Environment Pollution Control Technologies. This also includes internship and final year project.
The most important concern being an environmental scientist is one’s career. But career opportunities in the domain of Environmental Science are so varied that it is quite difficult to consider them as one category. In Pakistan though there is limited scope but, still a variety of jobs are offered under different departments including Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) and its respective provincial agencies, Agricultural Departments, Construction Companies, Academia as Environmental consultant, Environmental education officer, Environmental manager, Nature conservation officer, Recycling officer, Waste management officer, Water quality scientist and many others which are still emerging. So, it offers a reliable career with the opportunity to become one of the most successful in the coming few years.
Though environmental sciences are still in its emergence, its scope is already being declared by the world. The world need rapid solution for problems which are not only threatening environment but humanity also i.e. global environmental problems. We need to do something about global warming, climate change, biodiversity protection, water management and many others. For that environmental sciences and environmental scientist can provide a best platform and best personnel to work for a global cause and to help earth sustain its natural resilience and to bring peace among the lives of humans as well as other creatures.
This post is written by
Misbah Rani (BS Environmental Sciences, Fatimah Jinnah Women University)