Environmental Management Program At International College Begins In May

International College will launch a master’s degree program in environmental management beginning May 15.

"The program is designed to prepare students for managerial and senior-level environmental jobs in government, business and nonprofit enterprises," said Kris Thoemke, Ph.D., chair of the environmental management program.

It will focus on practical experience with ecological systems, environmental law, ecosystem management, business principles, economics and management skills, as well as the relationships between businesses, the economy and the environment. The last day to register for the summer term is May 22.

"There is a strong emphasis on providing real-world experiences and hands-on learning in preparing graduates for the workplace," Thoemke said. "They will learn theory and how to apply it. Students will be able to take a job and be functional."

The first two courses in the program will be offered during the Summer 2002 term, which begins in May. One course is called Environmental Management Theory (ENV 5050). It provides the framework for understanding the multi-disciplinary field of environmental management and examines the nature and history of major types of environmental issues and relates the fundamental concepts of ecology to the decision-making process.

Ecological Case Studies (ENV 5225) will examine the principles of population, community, and ecosystem ecology and how environmental managers apply ecological principles to problem solving. The course incorporates national, state and local case studies to provide real-world examples.

To complete the program, students will need 36 to 48 graduate credit hours, depending on their work experience and undergraduate coursework in environmental science and business.

What will set this program apart is the multidisciplinary approach used to understand and resolve issues. Environmental managers need a broad base of knowledge in business, communications, economics and environmental science, ethics and law.

"Issues related to growth and the environment have been and will continue to be controversial," Thoemke said. "The program’s goal is to broaden horizons and to get people looking for creative solutions that work. Understanding all sides of an issue makes finding solutions easier."

Another program goal, Thoemke added, is that students will learn how to balance economic growth and the needs of the environment in order to create a sustainable environment in which we will all want to live.

Stephen Bortone, director of environmental science at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida believes advanced programs like the one at International College are important because environmental management is a growing field.

"A lot of the environmental issues we address today have science in them, but if you don’t appreciate policy and management issues you’re not going to be very successful. Conversely, you can know management and policy but not have a clue of what science is about," he said. "Now is the time for change … to train people on the broad background and this program will help do that."

Mike Bauer, Southwest Florida policy director for the Collier County Audubon Society, is hopeful that graduates from International’s program will draw from their well-rounded education and make wiser decisions regarding the environment.

"We want more sensitive decisions being made by the business and development communities," he said. "I hope graduates will end up in key positions in business and industry, advocate for increased environmental protection and make their companies understand the importance of protecting the environment."

Mark Strain, vice president of planning for the Gulf Bay Group of Companies, believes receiving education now could help prevent further destruction to the environment.

"Education is key to helping our society understand that what we do in this area impacts the environment around us. If we understand those impacts, we don’t have to do so much damage control later," said Strain, who is a 1996 graduate of International College. "What’s nice about the program is it might open the doors to new thinking."

The Environmental Management program will be the fifth graduate-level degree program offered by International College. The college launched a Masters of Business Administration Program in fall 1999, a Master of Science in Criminal Justice in fall 2000, a Master of Public Administration in fall 2001. A Master of Science in Computer Information Technology also will be launched this summer.
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