Why Environmental Management Matters

Why Environmental Management Matters

Wind turbines

Environmental expert, and SCS instructor, Dr. Lucy Sportza explains why everyone should up their knowledge of environmental management. 

We know that the environment is all around us. But did you ever stop to think about how everything we do, from driving in our cars to going for a hike in a national park, has an impact on the environment? There are varying degrees of impact, of course, but I believe that it’s important for everyone to explore the implications of our actions. Here are seven reasons why learning about environmental management—and owning the role we play in our environment—is a critical step towards sustainability and preservation.

  1. Studying environmental management can help you gain a greater appreciation for the world around you, and understand the vital role of ecosystems in supporting our ways of life. You can learn about how we can help ecosystems and other species thrive on the planet we share.
  2. Environmental challenges exist on all scales, from ones close to home, to those occurring at a distance. The consequences of these challenges can be largely local, or influence entire global systems, such as the oceans or atmosphere. Exploring environmental management, and how our purchasing decisions can influence our ecosystems at home and abroad, is a necessary first step if we want to truly address environmental concerns.
  3. Environmental management is about personal responsibility, but also involves governments, corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and many other parties. You can discover how to reduce your impact on Earth, and the sorts of changes and actions we can demand on the part of others.
  4. In Canada, learning about environmental management, particularly the role of Indigenous peoples in environmental governance, can support reconciliation. More broadly, environmental management is critical to addressing environmental and social injustice globally, helping to reduce inequality.
  5. The future must be sustainable. We cannot have sustainable development and a healthy planet for our children, grandchildren, and generations beyond them without environmental management. 
  6. You’ve seen the headlines. Now you can learn the broader story behind them. Whether it’s climate change, forest fires, plastic pollution in our water systems, degrading air quality in our urban areas, or one of the many other signs of our broken relationship with nature, we are all touched by environmental change. By studying environmental management, you can deepen your understanding of these issues, as well as what we can do to fix them.
  7. Whether your interest is personal, academic, or professional, environmental management is a necessary part of your education. People who study environmental management may use the information to support work in nongovernmental organizations, government settings, or private industry. Learning more about environmental management can support a deeper relationship with the biophysical world and guide your efforts to reduce your personal impact.

What I love most, is that studying environmental management can give you hope for the future. The headlines are often dire, and it is sometimes difficult to believe we can address the many environmental challenges facing us as a global community, including climate change. But there are reasons to hope, and there are many actions we take as individuals. Knowing you can make a difference, that you can help yourself, your children, family, friends, colleagues, and your community move towards a better future, is energizing and impactful.


Dr. Lucy Sportza has been in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics, University of Guelph since 2006, and at the University of Toronto, School of the Environment since 2009. She has a B.A. from the University of Toronto (Geography – Environment and Resource Studies), and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the School of Planning, University of Waterloo. Her doctoral research focused on planning for urban parks and protected areas, with a focus on Toronto. Lucy’s current interests include the use of parks and protected areas in urban areas to make them healthier and more livable in the face of environmental change. A strong secondary interest is in renewable energy systems. A theme of her work is integrating the evolving scientific knowledge with what we should be doing to protect our biophysical environment and the necessity of making decisions that take social, economic and other considerations into account.

Her course, Fundamentals of Environmental Management, starts this spring.