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Trash on the ground

Passionate about environmental change? You’ll flourish in this career

We live in a world where human impact is a constant threat to our environment and biodiversity. We see these things being widely ignored by figures of authority across the globe.

Within Australia, pollution levels have risen year on year. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the rapidly growing numbers around environmental damage: pollution in the air and water, household waste and plastic bag production (5 trillion in one year, in fact), and the list goes on.

Everywhere we look, we’re confronted with an increasing loss of biodiversity, and this is creating unforeseen impacts on entire ecosystems. But, there are people who are fighting against the neglect – fighting for the environment.

With a career in environmental management and sustainability, you could become part of this group of people who are driven by a passion for ensuring our planet is able to remain home for us and our abundance of wildlife.

The environmental industry has a vast range of sectors within it, and because of this, there will be a job that will strongly correlate with your own passion – whether it’s wildlife conservation, environmental sustainability, environmental education, or any other facet of environmental protection. Each of these sectors combine multidisciplinary skills and expertise, and are both challenging and highly rewarding.

Find yourself ignited by a desire to change the world for the better? Associate Professor of Environment and Society at Deakin, Kelly Miller, explains how you can do that through a career in environmental management and sustainability, and focus on what fulfils you the most.

What are the current challenges that someone with a career in environmental management and sustainability can help address?

‘Well, the number one challenge is our growing population and the issues that come with this – climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, water scarcity… the list goes on.

‘While these are big global challenges, those working in this field have an incredibly important role to play.

‘This might include new scientific discovery to better understand the impacts of climate change, better policy to address the loss of threatened flora and fauna, or better communication and education to raise awareness and foster behaviour change so that we can all take steps to reduce our environmental impact.

‘Environmental problems will only be solved with creative, innovative ideas and a society willing to adopt them – and environmental professionals are developing these ideas every day.’

How are environmental experts working to address these issues?

‘Those working in this field are always looking for new and creative ways to address these problems. There is wide recognition that the solutions are multidisciplinary – combining expertise and skills from the sciences and social sciences.

‘We need to understand how systems (natural, modified and built environments) work: how they are changing over time and what threats there are to those systems, but also how our society wants those systems to be used, managed or protected.’

'Environmental problems will only be solved with creative, innovative ideas and a society willing to adopt them – and environmental professionals are developing these ideas every day.'

Assoc. Prof. Kelly Miller,
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

What does a career in environmental sustainability involve?

‘For my field of study and the broader field of environmental management and sustainability, the opportunities for multidisciplinary research and collaboration are endless.

‘There are links with business, law, health, education and these partnerships will continue to grow in the future.

‘In this field it is very important to work collaboratively with all stakeholders. Decision-makers, community groups and industry all have a role to play in environmental management and sustainability.’

What kind of people do you think careers in this field are best suited to?

‘The great thing about working in this field is that are so many opportunities for you to find a career that suits your particular interests and passions.

‘If you love science and collecting and analysing data, you can find work as an environmental scientist. If you love working with people, you can work in roles where the focus is on environmental education and community action. If you want to change the way in which we use or impact our environment, you can work in environmental policy and decision-making.

‘The opportunities are endless if you start with a passion for the environment and a desire to make a difference.’

What steps would you recommend people take when seeking a career as an environmental professional?

‘Get involved! Whenever you have an opportunity to contribute to a project, be it with a government department, local council, not-for-profit organisation, university or community group, take it! This helps you build your network in the environmental sector and develop your skills.

‘For this field, always look for opportunities that are multidisciplinary. Don’t just focus your studies on one particular discipline or issue. Adapting and learning are a big part of working in this exciting and important field.’

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Assoc. Prof. Kelly Miller
Assoc. Prof. Kelly Miller

Associate Professor of Environment and Society, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

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