Social scientists and conservationists who are interested in the environment do research that is focused on the relationships and interaction between people and the environment. They may also be consulted on the social impacts a new development might have.
They study a very wide range of topics in a variety of environments, depending on their interests and the discipline or major subjects in which they have specialised. For example:
Schooling & School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course, where appropriate
Each institution has its own entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences, History (for those who wish to go into cultural heritage aspects), Languages, Geography (highly recommended)
Compulsory Higher Education
Degree: Most universities have faculties with a number of options for study in the social sciences, e.g. NWU, Wits, UNISA. Subjects from a variety of departments may include general or traditional social science options such as Geography or Sociology, with an Environmental Management option.
Some social scientists study Geography and Environmental Management as a first degree (BA or BSc).
Often science requires in-depth knowledge about both the chosen topic and the methods of doing research, and this only develops during further studies (BA or BSc Honours, MA, MPhil or MSc and PhD).
Government and other agencies provide bursaries to help support students in undertaking these studies. Another option is to start working and conducting one’s research part time.
Possible Career Paths
Possible career paths include research specialisation, teaching and conducting research at a university, where one could end up as the head of department; policy formulation and oversight or programme management in a government department; policy advisors to government; or running a consulting business.
South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Building C, Ground Floor
41 De Havilland Crescent
Tel: (012) 349-7722 Fax: (012) 349-7719
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Private Bag X101
2 Cussonia Ave
Tel: (012) 843-5000 Fax: (012) 804-3211
Environmental Evaluation Unit
University of Cape Town
Private Bag X3
Environmental and Geographical Science Building
Room 2.13, 2nd Level
South Lane, Upper Campus
Tel: (021) 650-2866 Fax: (021) 650-3791
People and Parks Programme
Department of Environmental Affairs
Branch: Biodiversity and Conservation
Tel: (012) 310-3984