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Monday, April 20, 2009

Professional Adaptation Practitioners

There is no shortage of people working in the climate adaptation arena these days, but most of us came to adaptation through other educational and career paths. But with demand for climate-related services increasing rapidly, thought must be given to how the world is going to train up all those people that allegedly will be working in the emerging "green economy." As it happens, one university in Queensland, the University of the Sunshine Coast, has shown a bit of initiative and is the first in the world to offer a Masters in Adaptation. The first crop of candidates graduated on Friday, and represent a new breed of specialist within the growing class of climate professionals. Yet with other universities similarly developing climate specific programs (Australia National University has a Master of Climate Change while the University of Exeter has a Master of Climate Change and Risk Management), it certainly won't be the last.

While an interesting development, one also can question whether such specialist programs are the appropriate way to prepare professionals for managing the risks of climate change. After all, climate adaptation is a pretty expansive discipline (if one can describe it as a discipline in itself). Furthermore, there is wide agreement that for adaptation to be efficient, it should be mainstreamed into existing policies and measures. Hence, one could argue an alternative approach would be to ensure those with more narrow disciplinary skills are capable of incorporating climate change into their work in whatever way it is relevant.

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