Advice on making a career move to climate change education/outreach
March 8, 2019 6:51 AM   Subscribe

This could be teaching, research, or something else, non-profit, local government, in or out of the academy, etc. I have some relevant skills, and am seeking advice on how to present these, and also how to start locating possible opportunities. I'm specifically interested in cities, planning, equity, education, communication, etc. Thank you!

Some background/skills I can draw on include some lay background in the atmospheric science, planning/policy, societal impacts, research skills, teaching skills (college), and so on. Some strategies I'm using include looking through college catalogs for courses, trying to identify non-profits, and so on. Salary is not a primary consideration, although it needs to be liveable, and with insurance. This is a shift from my current professional/academic background - where I have some skills in job hunting - and I feel like I'm just groping around at the moment. Any advice on making my searches focused, and on finding new areas to search, would be much appreciated. If this all sounds vague, let me know below and I'll do my best to respond/clarify. Thanks again!
posted by life moves pretty fast to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
City government, state government, and nonprofits are probably your best bets. Maybe trade groups (which are also technically nonprofits usually - an example might be "green builders of City") and certification providers (e.g. LEED). A few elected officials hire policy staff. My tip would be, start to narrow in on what kind of climate mitigation or adaptation you're most interested in, both the topic area -- clean cars? solar? -- and the work role.

From what you say (cities, equity, planning / policy), I'm thinking that you might want to be watching the job boards at places like local cities (departments like planning, transportation, community development, maybe a "sustainability" team, the Mayors office), relevant regional agencies (air district, transportation agencies), and maybe the state. Modify all this slightly as you develop your specific interests. E.g., if you decide you're most about energy-efficient buildings, then add the energy regulators and utilities and maybe the housing department. You might look for roles like planners, analysts, specialists, policy directors, and public engagement officers. You can also start to figure out what they're working on (far fewer people are working on "climate change" than on specific sub aspects of the work like "implementing the governor's clean car directive") and follow their policy making (e.g., attend a hearing) to learn which non profits are engaged.

Is that the kind of advice you're looking for?
posted by salvia at 8:33 AM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Since your target audience might not be college students, I'd strongly advise refining your teaching/communication skills. I did a pretty substantial course on teaching English as a second language -- including specific units on different teaching methods, different learning strengths, how to teach people at different levels of educational achievement, cultural awareness (HUGE in climate change, I'll bet), and how to actually make a plan to get information from you/a book/the world into the mind of another person.

Teaching is the ultimate communication, but because teachers have become commodified, it's common to undervalue the skill of teaching itself. It's incredibly valuable in many contexts, though, and it's not something that one "just knows" -- there are a lot of very intelligent, very caring people out there who just can't do it well at all, until they take it seriously.

Your university probably gave you some kind of instruction on teaching. What I'm saying here is that it probably wasn't enough, especially given what you want to do. I'm also saying that getting real skill and understanding in teaching, and using your own brain to apply it creatively, could be the exact thing that makes a difference.
posted by amtho at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also: thank you for your future service.
posted by amtho at 8:38 AM on March 8, 2019

I'd check out opportunities in citizen science - it sounds right up your alley.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 9:20 AM on March 8, 2019

salvia - yes - thank you!
posted by life moves pretty fast at 9:33 AM on March 8, 2019

« Older BECOMING diabetic after rapid weight loss?   |   Should I get a older 15" MacbookPro or a new 13"? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.