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ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS AND CASE STUDIES: In Search of Common Ground: Exploring Identity and Core Competencies for Interdisciplinary Environmental Programs

  • Shirley Vincent (a1) and Will Focht (a2)

The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) and other constituencies have advocated the development of core competency guidelines for environmental educational programs for many years. Despite the high level of interest, no consensus has emerged on program identity that could lead to their development. The lack of a clearly defined identity has threatened program legitimacy and raised concerns about how well these programs are preparing students for entry into the environmental profession. To address these concerns, the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, a group of academic environmental program leaders operating under the auspices of the National Council for Science and the Environment, launched a study to learn more about extant program curricula and investigate the potential for reaching consensus on core competence areas. In this article, we review selected findings from the study to date and discuss their implications for the development of core competency criteria. Despite differing perspectives on curriculum design, our research indicates that programs share a common vision of program identity congruent with sustainability. A review of employer and employee surveys and reports from environmental professionals also point toward participation in and understanding of sustainability processes as increasingly important components of practice. Taken together, these findings indicate that sustainability could serve as an overarching paradigm to inform the development of core knowledge and skill competency recommendations for curriculum design.

Environmental Practice 12:76–86 (2010)

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to: Shirley Vincent, Oklahoma State University Environmental Science Graduate Program, 002 Life Sciences East, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-3011; (phone) 918-629-5143; (fax) 405-744-7074; (e-mail)
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Environmental Practice
  • ISSN: 1466-0466
  • EISSN: 1466-0474
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-practice
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