Understanding the environment is a challenge. Managing the environment to ensure its health and society’s success is even tougher.
The FIU Professional Science Master in Environmental Policy and Management (PSM-EPM) is training the next generation of professionals to protect, preserve and manage natural resources. Launched in fall 2014, the program focuses on areas including conservation biology, water resource management and public land management. Through innovative curriculum, a guest-speaker series and an internship experience, the program allows students — many of whom are already working professionals — to refine their skills in analytics, management and communication.
For Kevin Boyd, an active duty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, enrolling in the program was an opportunity to develop a broad foundation in environmental management. For 15 years, he has served in the Coast Guard in a number of roles and currently specializes in the response to and management of hazardous material and oil spill incidents.
“The program offers a set curriculum to give you a foundation to step out in the field. For someone who is new to environmental management, that was a big draw for me,” Boyd said. “The program gave me a big picture of and respect for managing the environment. It also taught me effective communication is key in influencing good policy and promoting positive change.”
FIU alumna Chari Adames Smith discovered the PSM-EPM program while working at FIU’s University Graduate School. She saw the chance to combine life-long interests in the natural and social sciences into one career path and applied. Having earned bachelor’s degrees in geography and international relations, Smith wanted to gain a better understanding of how to analyze and interpret scientific research.
“I come from a policy background and have always wanted to dedicate my career to public service,” Smith said. “I was able to walk away with a better understanding of interpreting the science behind environmental management and communicating that information to decision-makers and the public in a way that’s meaningful and engages them.”
Boyd and Smith were among the first to graduate from the PSM-EPM program. Boyd is using the knowledge and skills gained to further his career in operations management in the Coast Guard. Smith is looking to gain practical experience in environmental management while applying to doctoral programs. It is the hope of the PSM-EPM program’s director, Krish Jayachandran, students who successfully complete the program will have gained the tools and confidence needed to maximize society’s well-being without compromising environmental sustainability.
“Most environmental problems, like climate change and species invasion, are not inherent in the environment but are the result of complex interactions with social, political, and economic processes,” Jayachandran said. “To design management and policy systems that cooperate with nature requires understanding these processes and communicating it to broad audiences.”