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Importance of Environmental Science

It is an emerging discipline that not only offers solutions to many environmental problems but also opens up a variety of employment options

Photo: K.R. Deepak

SHOW SOME CONCERN: Take care of the environment and it will take care of you.

Erratic weather cycles, increasing temperatures, flooded cities and depleting natural resources. With increasing unorganised and uncontrolled development, environmental science has become an important course of study for students today.

"In recent years environmental science has emerged as an important discipline that can offer solutions to many environmental problems," said Associate Professor at the department of environmental sciences in Andhra University, Byragi Reddy. Several scientific disciplines like biochemistry, physics, mathematics, biotechnology, chemistry, botany, toxicology, remote sensing and engineering have an inter-face with environmental science.

Closely linked with ecology, environmental science is primarily concerned with how humanity affects and in turn is affected by other living organisms and the non-living physical environment. "Students get an exposure to varied subjects such as biodiversity, microbiology, pollution control methods, disaster management, environment impact studies and conservation of natural resources," he added. In India, these basic disciplines of science have taken strong roots over a period of several decades but environmental science is now an emerging field through interdisciplinary collaboration.

Environmental science is offered at the undergraduate level at Delhi University, University of Mysore, Pune University and Bharathiar University - Coimbatore. Apart from theory and practical sessions, the course also involves field trips and surveys. After graduation, interested students can also pursue their masters and research programme in the same field. Comprehensive M.Sc. programmes are offered at Andhra University, Annamalai University Tamil Nadu, Centre for Ecological Research at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, Centre for Environmental Studies at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment in New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University - New Delhi, Delhi University and Cochin University of Science and Technology. Like most Masters programmes students have to pass an entrance examination and should have completed their graduation in a science stream. Increasing public awareness on the importance of conserving the environment has led many universities to adopt the programme into their curriculum.

Job opportunities

"Any course of development today requires the guidance of an environment specialist," said Dr. Reddy. Environmental Science has become an important part of urban planning including the construction of houses, sanitation, water management and waste disposal. Apart from the routine study and research options environmental science students today can secure jobs in pollution control boards, public health laboratories, irrigation and agriculture department, chemical industries, research industries such as Central Drug Research Institute, Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Environment Protection and Training Research Institute and Tata Energy Research Institute and students can also develop their own laboratories for analytical work in non-governmental sectors. "The Supreme Court judgement has made the study of environmental science compulsory for all students from school to postgraduate level," he said. This has also opened numerous teaching options for environmental science students. Students also have avenues in wildlife conservation.

The `green' science has also found its way into engineering programmes and institutions such as Andhra University College of Engineering, Delhi College of Engineering and L.D. College of Engineering, Gujrat University offer specialisation in environmental science engineering.

VIDYA K.S.

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