Changes are in the works for the Environmental Health program at Missouri Southern, not the least of which is its name.

When the 2014-15 catalog is issued, Environmental Health will become Environmental Health & Safety. The degree program has been pared down to 45 credit hours and will offer a new emphasis on preparing students for the job field.

“The main thrust of it is marketing,” said Dr. Michael Fletcher, director of the program. “We want to be able to market the degree better and we want our students to be able to market themselves better.”

Achieving those goals meant “re-emphasizing and tweaking” the degree plan, he said.

The Environmental Health program will soon become Environmental Health & Safety.

The Environmental Health program will soon become Environmental Health & Safety.

The degree is structured to teach students about the science of preventing physical, chemical or biological hazards from adversely impacting human health or the environment. Students in the Environmental Health program who pass their senior assessment exam obtain their Certified Environmental Health Specialist credentials with the state of Missouri.

While the “safety” aspect had been part of the program all along, it will see a renewed emphasis and more certification options to prepare them for the job market.

A two credit-hour course on hazardous material safety will prepare students to take the Hazardous Material Manager-in-Training exam. That certification plus job experience will allow them to later take the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager exam.

Another new course offered is Career Planning for Environmental Health and Safety.

“The main reason we put that in there is because there are so many different aspects to the field and so many different places students can get jobs,” said Fletcher. “We want them to focus on that for a bit and make sure they know what all of the possibilities are … the different professional tracks they can take and how to best prepare themselves to get there.”

Minors in Environmental Health & Safety include: Environmental Health & Safety (general), Environmental Biology Emphasis, Health Protection Emphasis and Safety & Hazard Prevention Emphasis. A certificate program is also available for students who are not seeking a degree.

While some of the new courses are already offered, the full slate of Environmental Health & Safety options will kick in during the Fall 2014 semester. In the meantime, Fletcher said he is working with several community colleges to create partnerships that will promote the new degree to potential students.

Because only 45 hours of courses are required for the degree, which can be obtained on campus or online, he thinks it will be an attractive prospect.

“I think it’s a win-win for community colleges,” said Fletcher.