By: Aaron L. Pope

From oil spills to landfills, farms to cities and sea to earth, the environment has never been worse than it is right now in all of human history.

Cleaning it up, and more importantly, ensuring a future for the human race will take hard work, determination and education. Algonquin College is now offering a graduate certificate course that might help us fight against environmental catastrophe.

Erin Stitt-Cavanagh, PhD. has been working non-stop to develop the kind of curriculum that will best serve the students of environmental science. The environmental management and assessment program is a one-year intensive training course that will teach everything from statistics and environmental law to how to take proper samples in their field work.

“This course is unique in that all the individual courses tie together to the curriculum,” said Stitt-Cavanagh. “What we have developed is very interdisciplinary, so we’re hoping that students can go from one to another and be able to, at the end, tie everything they’ve learned together.”

Like many other courses offered at the college, it will be in a hybrid format, so students will be able to take theory courses online and get a real life practical education in the labs.

“They’ll be using the tools they use in their stats course to apply them when they are assessing or analyzing their samples they took on their field excursions,” said Stitt-Cavanagh.

This course is being promoted as a great way for people who have an engvironmental science background to upgrade their existing skills, and to learn new ways to deal with old problems.

One example is bioremediation. Stitt-Cavanagh explains it as a process which takes a biological agent and uses it to clean up toxic spills in a way which is cleaner and more effective than simply digging up contaminated dirt or using other chemicals to counteract the spill.

So far, the demand for graduates from programs similar to this one has been extremely high, especially out west with the proliferation of the oil sands. But according to Stitt-Cavanagh, there is still a lot to be done in Ontario.
Students enrolled in environmental management and assessment will be expected to perform at a high level, both in groups and on their own, as well as thinking critically to solve problems related to the field.

Graduates can expect employment in both the private and public sectors, mostly in the field of energy and in the emerging field of new, or sustainable energy, for example, solar and wind.

This course is yet another indication that Algonquin has a keen interest in the future of the environment.
“Algonquin is really putting itself out there as a college that cares about the environment,” said Stitt-Cavanagh.