Department of Environmental Science Profile

Jamie Salo

James Salo '02, M.A. '03, Ph.D. vice president, strategy and research in North America for the environmental research organization Trucost Plc.

After earning his B.A. and Master's in environmental science and policy at Clark and a Ph.D. from Oxford University, Jamie Salo stayed in London to work for Trucost Plc, a cutting edge London based environmental finance company who works with companies, investors and government agencies to understand the impacts companies have on the environment., am environmental policy consulting firm. Here, Salo recalls his excellent ES&P professors and the critical thinking skills he learned at Clark that have served him so well in his professional career.

Did you know when you came to Clark that you wanted to study environmental Science & Policy?

I chose Clark because of its strong profile as a liberal arts university that combines the academic engagement of small class sizes with the significant research opportunities of larger universities. I felt that this unique combination of academic strengths would allow me to forge strong relationships with Clark's faculty and would provide me with research opportunities that students at other universities may only experience in graduate school.

When I entered Clark, I wasn't sure I wanted to major in Environmental Science & Policy, but I did know that I wanted to learn more about society's impact on the environment, so the fact that I could satisfy my liberal arts degree requirements at Clark (including classes in the areas of Aesthetics, History, Ethics/Values, Political/Economical, etc) through taking environmentally focused classes was an extremely appealing feature to me.

As I took more courses at Clark, I kept being impressed by the critical importance of environmental issues within society, initially through courses like Earth Transformed, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Toxicology, and later on through a number of directed studies I undertook with Professor Patrick Derr and my academic advisor Halina Brown.

What do you consider the strengths of Clark's environmental Science & Policy program?

The staff and the students. The faculty in IDCE and the Environmental Science and Policy program are, like most professors at Clark, wonderful. Engaging in class and willing to take time outside of the classroom to provide advice and really build mentoring friendships with their students. In addition, the students who make up Clark's student body are an amazing part of the learning experience. Their diversity in backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, makes the classroom at Clark a dynamic educational place.

My academic experience at Clark gave me many wonderful tools that I continue to use every day. Particularly, Clark provided me with a diverse interdisciplinary view of the world, introduced me to complex 'real-world' problems and with methods for approaching them, and gave me extensive experience in conducting independent research.

How did you progress through the major in terms of the types of activities/internships/study abroad experiences you became involved in?

During my time at Clark, I was lucky enough to have two outstanding internships. One was as an assistant for an environmental manager at the utility company National Grid. During my time at National Grid I worked extensively with officials of local town municipalities conducting environmental safety audits of National Grid equipment located in their towns.

My second internship I had during the summer after my junior year when I worked for the Boston based Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres). Ceres's work involves promoting a common ground for dialogue between environmental groups, investors/shareholders, and corporations in an effort to have these groups work together to create concrete solutions for a sustainable future. At Ceres, I gained hands on experience, as one of two interns, working to complete various tasks to help launch the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) a spin-off non-governmental organization. The GRI works with corporations through a multi-stakeholder process to improve corporate environmental reporting practices to a level equivalent to financial reporting.

During my internship I became passionate about Ceres's work. I continued to study sustainability issues and the environmental performance of corporations, and decided to write my undergraduate honors thesis on the work of Ceres. I found that I deeply cared about this field, and, after completing the 5 year combined BA/MA program in Environmental Science & Policy at Clark I continued to research the area of environmental finance and corporate environmental performance while I was pursuing a PhD at the Oxford University in England. This ultimately has led me to being employed by Trucost Plc, a cutting edge London based environmental finance company who works with companies, investors and government agencies to understand the impacts companies have on the environment. Particularly, Trucost advises banks, investment groups and pension funds, on the carbon and environmental footprints of their investments and how best to manage those risks. Trucost provides data and analysis on company emissions and natural resource usage and presents these impacts in financial as well as quantitative terms, thereby providing the basis for an improved dialogue between companies, investors and other stakeholders. Trucost's database of over 4000 researched companies is the largest environmental performance and greenhouse gas database in the world.

Was there any one course or faculty member that was particularly meaningful to you?

I had the opportunity to work with many wonderful professors during my time at Clark both within Environmental Science & Policy and throughout Clark's academic departments.

One influential Class I took during my first semester at Clark was called "Earth Transformed by Human Action" was taught by Professor Billie Lee Turner. This class absolutely changed the way I observed the world. As we looked closely at how the land, biota, water, oceans, atmosphere and climate have been affected over the last three centuries, I learned about the types of impacts the human population has had, and increasingly will have, on nature and the environment. This environmental perspective made the science real for me; it illustrated problems that affect everyone on earth. These problems, if unsolved, will degrade or end life on earth; these are the most important and perilous issues of the future.

During my sophomore year, I became involved in a research project in environmental ethics under the chair of the philosophy department Professor Patrick Derr. During this project, I had my first chance to conduct independent research on a case study that was my own; interviewing the various parties, reading relevant articles, and examining both sides of the issue. I found that I was increasingly passionate about studying the environmental consequences of human actions on society, health, nature, and the environment. My research on "Eastern Old Forest Growth and The Ski Industry in Massachusetts" was later published in Case Studies in Environmental Ethics (Rowman-Littlefield, 2004) the first textbook of its kind published. Then in my junior year, I had the opportunity to be the teaching assistant for the class taught in environmental ethics. It was an incredible experience to lead the discussions, drawing out the opinions of others, and acting as a catalyst for developing interests of the students. I was honored when one of my students told me that I was the reason she decided to major in environmental science and policy. I have found that for me the best part of learning and researching is being able to share the results of your work with others, and perhaps being able to pique their curiosity and desire to learn more.

During my Junior and Senior years - I had wonderful directed research supervision by Halina Brown that allowed me to pursue learning more about my interest in voluntary corporate environmental performance reporting, the role of non-governmental organizations and environmental rating agencies.

What advice would you have for students studying environmental Science & Policy at Clark?

Clark is a wonderful place to study and the Environmental Science & Policy program is excellent, but as with many things in life, you get out as much as you put in. I'd encourage students studying Environmental Science & Policy at Clark to be engaged in all aspects of life at Clark and within the department. Also, challenge yourself to make intellectual connections, take classes in many departments and try to think about how they relate back to the things you learn in the program in Environmental Science & Policy. This ability to relate many different issues is a wonderful skill that is useful throughout life—and the program in Environmental Science & Policy at Clark is a perfect place to develop it.