An MBA is so passé. Why not a master's degree in conservation?

Full disclosure. I have nothing more than a B.A. degree to my name, and 20 years of working with journalists, which in itself is a whole other realm when it comes to human resource management. But I am intrigued by a new degree program that is being offered by the University of Texas-El Paso along with Rare, a non-profit conservation organization based in Arlington, Va.

The degree in question is actually a Master's Degree in Communication, with a conservation twist. As part of the two-year program, students must plan and mobilize social marketing campaigns in their local communities that have a specific conversation mission. The degree is run in conjunction with regional universities in Mexico, China, Indonesia and (most recently) Georgetown University in the United States. It is administered by the University of Texas-El Paso's Department of Communication. This article from the Rare Web site goes into a whole lot more detail about the impact of the program.

Whether or not you are a career conservationist, like the early participants in this program, this sort of real-world, grassroots experience and education is definitely something you should be looking for in your company's communications experts.

There are other sorts of degrees that could be useful to your company. My friend, who is an environmental expert, just got a job down in Florida with a building products company. Not exactly what she originally intended, but she takes pride in the fact that she has helped her employer avoid selling products or committing to raw materials that don't have the proper environmental pedigree.

Memo to the human resources department: You might want to pass over that MBA in favor of interviewing the M.A. in environmental engineering or environmental studies.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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