These social scientists specialise in education, specifically in the environmental or biodiversity fields, including sustainable development education and in producing the necessary skills for working in the environmental sector.
They may play a research role and conduct needs analysis for training and development needs for environmental sector imperatives. They study educational processes, how people learn about the environment in different contexts, such as from school children to rural communities or business executives, and how best to support social change in relation to environmental issues.
When they specialise in developing environmental education programmes, they consider the environmental content of a particular field (e.g. marine science, or fynbos, or any endangered species) and work out how best to teach the different groups about this vital field of work. An important role is specialising in building human capital for the environmental sector, in which case they would determine what qualifications and courses are needed, and then put suitable policies and programmes in place.
The job involves:
• identifying the needs of a learner group
• conceptualising training
• implementing training
• evaluating training / learner intervention
A wide interdisciplinary knowledge of environmental issues, risk management and conservation is needed to design programmes for specific issues.
Working conditions are usually pleasant. Most offices are comfortable. Training sites could be indoor or outdoor and classrooms may contain equipment for demonstration purposes.
Environmental education specialists work in a range of organisations:
• research institutes
• government departments
• conservation agencies such as SANParks
• large companies with strong social corporate Investment programmes
• in some cases as consultants running their own businesses
Often they work in universities where they may teach their subject (such as Environmental Sciences, Geography, Botany etc.) or be involved in the training of new environmental educators, in which case they are environmental education specialists in an educational faculty