Scholars Dr. Marina Malamud and Dr. Erwin Villiger join Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability to develop a new discipline.
Submitted by Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability
Dr. Marina Malamud and Dr. Erwin Villiger
With more frequent catastrophic weather events, increased likelihood of conflicts, and heightened threats to our societies, adapting to the effects of climate change and resource scarcities requires intentional, cooperative, and systematic effort. Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) is working to equip sustainability professionals with the skills and knowledge required to address what may be the defining challenge of our time—managing natural environments to protect human well-being, or in other words, providing global populations with environmental security.
Center Director Dr. Michael Mortimer offers a vivid example: “When cyclone Amphan crossed the Bay of Bengal and slammed into India and Bangladesh earlier this summer, 100-mph winds drove 15-foot tidal surges, pushing salty sea water up to 30 miles inland. In the storm’s path: 7 million or so residents of the Sundarban mangrove forests, and the more than 20 million residents of the low-lying cities of Kolkata and Dhaka. Cyclone Amphan is considered to be one of the strongest storms of its kind ever in the region. Is climate change a contributor to such storm ferocity? Probably. But the more pressing challenge is in ensuring that human institutions can withstand events like this cyclone. Those institutions include communities, supply chains, livelihoods, and, of course, human lives.”
Because this global management challenge requires training and expertise, the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment (CRNE), where CLiGS is housed, is embarking on the development of cutting-edge environmental security academic programs to provide practitioners with the skills they will require. As part of that design process, two new Environmental Security Fellows have joined the CNRE: Dr. Marina Malamud, a social scientist, whose research focuses on environmental security, military sociology, and defense policy; and Dr. Erwin Villiger, an environmental science and policy expert. “Marina and Erwin bring an extraordinary breadth and depth of expertise that is reflective of the interdisciplinary approach the CNRE is taking to its new environmental security academic programs,” says Mortimer. “Dr. Villiger’s expertise in geospatial analytics and Dr. Malamud's expertise in the social and cultural components of conflicts will contribute to framing the skills and competencies students will require to be effective practitioners."
“My intention is to enhance innovation through cross-sectoral partnership to raise awareness of the climate change and conflict link and support prospective leaders in the field,” says Malamud.“If we do not understand what the causes are, and explore behavioral patterns, we are condemned to repeat the same situation, using palliatives that are not cost-effective without a durable plan. This translates into lingering challenges like food insecurity, forced migration, greed and grievance mechanisms, and wildlife crime, among others.”
Human security is national security, for every nation. “Human security is grounded in a secure environment. Access to food, water, and shelter, in a social environment free of conflict, are essential elements of human well-being,” emphasizes Villiger. “Environmental security is one of the most pressing issues facing our country and our world, and the pressure is only increasing. I am absolutely thrilled to be involved in Virginia Tech’s efforts to focus on these challenges and look forward to working with the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability to develop the interdisciplinary programs and research necessary to tackle these challenges and to ensure environmental security for all."
Students in the CLiGS Online Master of Natural Resources program will be able to choose a concentration in Environmental Security as soon as this fall semester, with a Graduate Certificate and full Masters Degree to follow next year. To learn more about the Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability upcoming academic programs in environmental security, please contact Ekaterina Martchouk, Marketing Director.
About the Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability:
Founded in 2014, the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) equips current and aspiring environmental and sustainability professionals with the credentials, competencies, connections, and confidence to become more effective leaders, now and in the future. CLiGS is housed within Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.
The Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) equips current and aspiring environmental, sustainability, and climate professionals with the credentials, competencies, connections, and confidence to become more effective leaders, now and in the future.