When you look out at the desert, sometimes it’s hard to figure how sustainability fits in to the picture: it’s miles and miles of rock, sand, and sagebrush, home of the Loneliest Road in America… a place you think of more in terms of something we need to be protected from, not one that needs to be protected from us.
But that’s a superficial read on what is actually a complex and delicate environmental balance. There’s an enormous amount of biodiversity in Nevada, and many of the niche species that hold our environment together are at risk today from encroaching human inhabitation and global climate change.
And it’s not just plants and animals at risk. The entire economy of the state rests on one massive sustainability question that no one has yet found an answer to: keeping Las Vegas supplied with water. The linchpin of the growth and employment for the state is built in a place that is entirely dependent on a single river, the Colorado, that has been tapped to provide for much of the Southwest. And it’s nearly tapped out—cutbacks in supply are estimated to begin as soon as 2020.
Without experts well-versed in both the science and practical challenges of desert region sustainability, the state doesn’t have a chance. The good news is that Nevada universities are stepping up to the challenge with sustainability degrees precisely designed to meet the challenges that await in the coming decades.
Sustainability Jobs Available in Nevada With the Right Degree
Mining is still a big sector in Nevada, so environmental positions are available with big industrial operators like Klondex Mines in Winnemucca and Elko. Cleaning up after centuries of questionable mining practices is also big business, with contract positions open from time to time working in places like the Carson River Mercury Superfund site.
And it just wouldn’t be Nevada if there weren’t somehow a connection with the gaming industry, so you won’t be surprised to find that casino companies like Caesars and MGM are also always on the prowl for sustainability experts. Keeping guests comfortable and happy in a harsh and resource-constrained environment goes hand in hand with ensuring the next generation of gamblers are provided for.
Master’s in Sustainability Available Through Schools in Nevada
The University of Nevada system is an excellent public higher education institution. That’s a good thing, because it’s pretty much the only game in town!
Nevada students are pretty well conditioned to looking at either Reno or Las Vegas as their primary options in graduate degree programs, and sustainability degrees are no exception.
Dominating the field is the Nevada Institute of Sustainability, which is run out of UN-Reno. Research there is interdisciplinary and relied on for programs throughout the country, and you’ll find it offers real benefit to the graduate programs being offered at UN-R.
One of those programs is the MS in Animal and Rangeland Science, which covers the full range of sustainable ecology and management subjects such as riparian ecosystems, hydrology, grazing management, and restoration ecology.
UNLV is also in the game, offering a Master of Architecture degree that has a Building Systems and Sustainability track to help you zero in on architectural approaches and building infrastructure that meet the demanding specs required to be considered green buildings. With courses that examine environmental control systems and contemporary urban issues, you’ll get both the theoretical and practical aspects of modern building design for energy efficiency and livability.
The Master of Science in Land Use Planning at the University of Nevada Reno gives you a foundation in the tools and methods behind the planning that goes in to developing raw land in a way that is sustainable. The multi-disciplinary course here takes you not just through the geography-related subjects of the home department, but involves 20 other disciplines, drawing from departments throughout the university.
Business and Energy
UN-R also has a solution for the environmentally-minded business student, offering an MBA with an emphasis in Renewable Energy. The courses dive into the aspects of renewable energy technology and policy that combine into actionable business strategies for sustainable energy business. As a bonus, the renewable energy courses are available online as part of the hybrid MBA program.
Sustainability Bachelor Degree Programs in Nevada
You get a few more options when you are looking at bachelor’s degree in sustainability in the state. Although the University of Nevada system is still a go-to choice at the four-year level, you also have options like the excellent Bachelor of Arts in Natural Resources from Great Basin College in Elko.
The program is committed to giving you a skill set appropriate to either enter the field or transition to a graduate degree program. The coursework addresses a broad range of interests and incorporates independent research practice to help you develop your own path to success in sustainability.