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Science degree and planning....what next?

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Hi!

I'm a Canadian student who has just finished my undergrad in biology and am interested in environmental science. I wasn't sure I wanted to do research so I applied to a graduate program in planning and got in. I want to work in environmental conservation but I'm unsure what options would be available to me and if there would be more options if I had a planning degree?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
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There is a crying need need in planning for persons with a biology/environmetnal sciences background.
 
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Thanks for the reply! I am mostly interested in finding a career where i can do a significant amount of travelling. Is there scope for such a career in planning? What types of jobs should I be looking into?

I also had a question about statistics. Urban Planning seems to involve a lot of statistical analysis, is this a right assessment? The program I was looking into was at the University of Toronto, do you know anything about their urban planning program and the courses there? Do Canadian schools have any type of ranking system?

Thanks!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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Mike is right about there being a need for planners with environmental backgrounds, but then, the job market does not stress that (mostly). You may also find that as a planner, unless you are working in the non-profit sector, conservation may not be important to your employer. With that said, I think there are some environmental / planning issues that are getting attention right now, such as ecological restoration, environmental design (ex., sustainable landscapes or fire risk minimization, for instance), low-impact design, and green building. If planning and the environment are your passions, go for it!

As far as schools go, it has been said before. Don't worry about the rankings. Anyone you want a job with is going to know a good planning program when they see one, and don't really care what Newsweek or some other magazine has to say. To add to that, most employers only care that you have a degree, and that becomes more true as you continue in your career. What you do while in college and through your career is what will get you where you want to go.

By the way, I do economic development planning. I am also an environmentalist. I have been able to incorporate my environmental knowledge and ethics into a field where such things are often viewed as antithetical. And I travel.
 
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Fwiw

I was completing my Associate of Arts in Humanities as the path of least resistence to locking in my ancient college credits so that I would not some day be told "we cannot accept your zillion year old credits -- if you want a degree, you have to start over from scratch". In the process, I tested out of Algebra and some basic science class and took a class in Environmental Biology. That class made me decide that I wanted a Master's in Planning with a background in some kind of environmental studies program. Somewhere along the way, I got a tad sidetracked and got my Certificate in GIS first. I am on track to complete my Bachelor's in Environmental Resource Management with a concentration in Land Use Policy and Planning around June of 2005, if all goes well. I have picked out my Master's program.

As a side note: one of my GIS professors had a degree in Biology. Another did environmental stuff as her main gig and taught on the side. I think she worked for the federal government. A classmate of mine was working for the forestry service and they were paying her tuition. We had 4 archaeologists in our class. GIS in archaelogy is Big Stuff -- and so is reconciling environmental issues with the need to dig and the need to preserve the dig site from fires et al. And archaelogists travel so much ... I think they live out of their cars or something. :-D Two of them shared an apartment .... with drums and air mattresses and plastic bins of their stuff and absolutely NO furniture. They hosted our going away party. Lots of beer. We ordered in pizza. And we were all equally welcome to stand or sit on the floor. :-D These guys definitely lived out of the proverbial "suitcase". (I am a military wife. I thought I was pretty handy when it came to moving around. I had nothing on them. :-\ )
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
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I have an undergrad degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. I can't say I have seen that many jobs that stessed this. What I can say is that the environmental background influences policy that I work on. It is great to understand the interconnectedness of the natural world as well as the built one.
 

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Cyburbian
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Mike is right about there being a need for planners with environmental backgrounds, but then, the job market does not stress that (mostly). You may also find that as a planner, unless you are working in the non-profit sector, conservation may not be important to your employer. What you do while in college and through your career is what will get you where you want to go. By the way, I do economic development planning. I am also an environmentalist. I have been able to incorporate my environmental knowledge and ethics into a field where such things are often viewed as antithetical. And I travel.
I desperately need advice from Cardinal (and likewise Giff57). I am a biologist (Wildife Bio) who wants work in planning - I had a short internship I loved and want more! I would like to get my Master's in planning, but I fear that my undergraduate degree labels me as too liberal/green and that makes me undesirable in the very political realm of city government. 1) Is this a substaniated fear? Also, since I am in CA and would like to stay in state for school, and knowing that I must have internships during the school year to give me that all-crucial "one year of experience" to be eligible for all those entry-level jobs, 2) should I cross CalPoly SLO off my list? Should Berkeley and UCLA be at the top of my list (and San Jose State completely of my list, because from what I've seen around here it has no reputation )? and lastly, 3) if I become a planner, am I swearing an oath to be moving constantly for the rest of my days? Can I by pass that by becoming a private consultant? 4) Do private environmenal planning consultants spend a ton of time (2-3 days a week for 3+ hours a day) driving all around to observe field sites? MANY MANY THANKS, you guys, in advance.
 
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