As the effects of climate change become ever more visible and impactful on our daily lives, there is a rapidly growing need for skilled people dedicated to finding ways to help the world mitigate and adapt to those changes. Fortunately, that need is being matched by the passion of college students and recent graduates who show a strong desire to tie their careers to a cause. A recent Pew Research Center report found that 76% of Gen Z (young people born from the late 1990s to 2010, now in their teens to early 30s) are overwhelmingly worried about climate change, and 32% of that age group participated in at least one major climate action during a one-year period.
Gen Z’s concerns surrounding climate change are translating to the job market, with combating global warming becoming not only a passion, but also a vocation: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects environment-related jobs “to experience above-average growth” through 2026.
This spring, Environmental & Sustainability Studies faculty and alumni partnered with the Career Development Center (CDC), the university’s Public Interest Technology initiative, and the STEM Education Center to hold the first-ever Careers in Sustainable and Just Communities Networking Event. It was part of the "Spring into Action!" series in spring 2022, which also included climate-related events organized by The Global School and the university's Office of Sustainability.
The idea for the event, held on March 30 in Unity Hall, originated with Associate Professor of Teaching Lisa Stoddard, who is in the Department of Integrative and Global Studies (DIGS). Stoddard also teaches classes in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program. The idea also originated with Michelle Mestres ’19, who works in corporate sustainability at Greenbiz. While fueled by Stoddard, the event’s creation was also supported by Rob Krueger, head of Social Science & Policy Studies at WPI, and by student interest; Hannah George ‘24 and Eugena Choi ‘24 were instrumental in developing and implementing the event.