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Preparation of environmental studies and sciences students to participate in the environmental risk dialogue

Abstract

Environmental exposure to chemicals associated with modern industrial and agricultural practices is a major societal concern. Evaluating and managing risk from these chemicals requires knowledge based on both the natural and the social sciences. In this study, we investigated if students studying in environmental programs are acquiring the technical expertise, or focused preparation in risk sciences, to actively participate in risk assessment. Among programs with faculty associated with the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, we found that comprehensive preparatory coursework directed toward risk assessment was not a common feature among most programs. Preparation in statistics was evident among all degree programs, and those programs awarding Bachelor of Science degrees generally required foundational coursework in the natural sciences. Required coursework was rarely directly related to the risk sciences or toxicology. As a group, program graduates would not have acquired through their environmental program foundations central to the risk assessment processes. However, as shown in the analysis presented here, sufficient variation exists both among and within programs to anticipate that many individual graduates could have this preparation and make active contributions.

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Correspondence to Gary S. Silverman.

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Silverman, G.S., Wally, M.K. Preparation of environmental studies and sciences students to participate in the environmental risk dialogue. J Environ Stud Sci 6, 580–588 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-015-0331-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-015-0331-z

Keywords

  • Environmental curricula
  • Chemical risk asessment
  • AESS preparation