As massive, deadly wildfires statewide draw the attention of climate activists and legislators, West Angeles College announced Tuesday it has begun a degree program in climate change and environmental studies.

“We believe this is the first degree of its kind offered by a California community college,” said college President James Limbaugh. “Establishing this program at West has been a personal goal of mine.

“In their recent report, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change) explicitly states that we are at a critical juncture. It is vitally important that our students understand the long-term implications our actions have on our environment — and on our future.”

The associate of arts degree program aims to make climate change predictions based on comparing and contrasting the long-term averages of regional conditions including temperature records, precipitation records, fire hazards, drought susceptibility, species range shifts and more. It will also include components in disciplines including humanities and social sciences.

“We’re focusing on one issue which is climate change but you can see how history, economics and biology can interact,” said assistant professor of earth science Jennifer Cole.

“Dr. Limbaugh wanted to make sure that this program was not a science major exclusively, but also that it had a good foundation in societal impacts as well. You could take that knowledge of how things interact and use it to apply to a huge variety of career paths and majors.”

Cole said evolving global changes have increased demand for environmental and climate control jobs including for researchers, technicians, sustainability coordinators, policy lobbyists and science writers.

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