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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Sustainability Careers Challenging Yet Rewarding: Where do graduates of ASU's School of Sustainability find employment? Kena Fedorschak shares their stories and green careers.

Mar 31, 2014 10:22AM ● By By Kena Fedorschak

Sustainability degree programs are increasing in prominence nationwide. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recognizes 417 institutions offering undergraduate programs in sustainability, the majority of which have been established in the last decade. The Arizona State University (ASU) School of Sustainability, the first school in the United States dedicated to providing a collegiate education in sustainability, has remained at the forefront of the movement since its establishment in 2008. Prescott College, San Diego State University and Colorado Mountain College also offer degree programs in sustainability.

While ASU and other academic institutions have recognized the need to plan appropriately to ensure future prosperity for our children and grandchildren, graduates can experience difficulty finding work in their chosen field. Organizations generally find it unnecessary to hire individuals whose sole job is to identify and implement sustainable practices; a dearth of jobs exist that require only an understanding of sustainable principles, and graduates often must obtain additional skills to find meaningful employment.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, green jobs represented 2.6 percent of the labor force in 2011. The private sector employs 2.5 million individuals in green jobs; the public sector employs 880,000 people. In the private sector, green jobs reside in mature segments that cover a wide swath of activities, including manufacturing (development of pollution mitigation equipment), construction (retrofitting homes to increase efficiency), transportation (implementation of commuter rail systems) and trade (recyclable material merchant wholesalers). In addition, startup companies, primarily in clean technology-related industries, have grown rapidly in recent years (smart grid and solar photovoltaic companies). In the public sector, green jobs exist at the local, state and federal levels, and are primarily focused on regulatory code compliance, administration of environmental programs and transportation.

Graduates of the ASU School of Sustainability understand the importance of evaluating complex problems by examining their social, economic and environmental impacts. Determined graduates typically use their unique perspective to land green jobs, while others continue their education or find employment elsewhere. Several recent graduates are profiled here.

Devin Reginato graduated in May 2012 from the School of Sustainability. He is currently the director of sustainability at Eco PACT, a Phoenix company that manufactures sustainable products for the packaging, storage, shipping, distribution and manufacturing industries. Reginato conducts research to ensure that the products remain competitive, supports marketing and lead generation efforts, and works to maintain the company’s strategic partnerships.

Jaleila Brumand graduated in May 2013 from the School of Sustainability. She is currently pursuing an MSc in energy and the environment at Lancaster University, in England. Brumand’s dissertation, which examines sustainable messaging in media programming, involves a partnership between Small World Consulting and the British Broadcasting Company. Her eventual aim is to leverage her education to positively impact emissions trends and influence climate change policy.

Natalie Fleming graduated from the School of Sustainability in May 2012. After graduation, she worked as a district manager for Ecoscraps, a Utah-based startup that collects food waste and composts it to create organic gardening products from garden soil to plant food. She currently works as a corporate partnerships specialist with Hampton Creek Foods, a San Francisco-based startup that is developing plant-based replacements for egg products that are healthy, affordable and tasty.

Maxwell Scott graduated from the School of Sustainability in May 2012. He subsequently attended the London School of Economics, where he received a MSc in international relations. While in London, Scott worked as a management strategy consultant for Cognoscere, LLC, where he helped develop reports in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. Additionally, he was an intern at the U.S. Embassy in London, where he supported efforts to gather and disseminate intelligence for policymakers and diplomats regarding U.S.-UK trade relations. Scott intends to use his experience to promote sustainable trade as a diplomat.

Kena Fedorschak co-founded the Honor Society for Sustainability at Arizona State University. He believes sustainable management practices can be implemented without negatively impacting the bottom line. Contact him at [email protected].

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