October 4, 2023 / Dr. Gurumurthy Ramachandran

Embracing Sustainability: A Pathway to Career Success with Product Stewardship


In recent years, the urgent need to combat climate change and prioritize environmental sustainability has captured the world's attention. The threats to our ecosystem are becoming increasingly palpable, and as a global community, we're compelled to take action. There are two objectives: reduce our global energy consumption and carbon footprint and improve the quality of life for nearly 8 billion people inhabiting our planet. This delicate balancing act hinges on an essential concept known as "product stewardship."

Product stewardship is the responsible management of raw materials, intermediate products, and consumer goods throughout their life cycle and across the entire value chain. The overarching goal is to prevent or minimize negative environmental impacts and maximize value. It's a multifaceted approach that has gained substantial traction in both society and the corporate world.

The rapid rise of government regulations, customer expectations, and market recognition in sustainability, ingredient transparency, workplace safety, and environmental quality has catapulted product stewardship into the limelight. Producers, retailers, government officials, consumers, and other stakeholders committed to mitigating climate change are now actively engaging in product stewardship strategies. This shift also presents a significant business opportunity, encouraging companies to reevaluate their products, supply chain relationships, and their ultimate impact on consumers.

To tackle these critical issues effectively, we need informed and capable professionals and leaders. Opportunities to make a meaningful impact exist in the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academia, and government agencies alike. It turns out that there are not too many programs offering academic training in this area. The Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health has recognized this growing need. They receive a steady stream of inquiries from prospective students interested in sustainability and public health, with an increasing demand for programs in this area nationwide. In response to industry, NGO, and academic leaders' pleas for professional training, the department offers a certificate in Product Stewardship for Sustainability.

This innovative certificate program equips individuals with the knowledge and tools to spearhead the transition in how industries design products for sustainability, environmental health, product reuse, and recyclability. Participants will learn to promote responsible product design, development, and management throughout the product lifecycle.

The program is entirely online and interactive, offering a flexible schedule to accommodate professionals at all career levels. Whether you're a junior, mid-level, or executive-level professional looking to expand your knowledge of product stewardship, this program is designed to advance your career. It's tailored for individuals from various backgrounds, including environmental health, regulatory compliance, industrial hygiene, occupational health and safety, sustainability, product development, supply chain management, and law.

This program is poised to meet the growing demand for skilled professionals in sustainability practices and product stewardship across the United States and beyond. The industry is rapidly expanding, with a strong demand for trained experts. According to market projections, the global product stewardship market size is expected to reach $980.4 million (USD) by 2027, up from $697.3 million in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5% during 2021-2027.

The program offers a comprehensive curriculum that requires successful completion of a minimum of 18 term credits of didactic courses. These courses can be completed over a minimum of four 8-week terms, providing ample flexibility for working professionals. The program will provide concrete training in risk assessment, life cycle analysis, sustainability, manufacturing/engineering principles, environmental law, and regulatory toxicology, with a particular focus on how these fields can be used to address sustainability and its effect on public health through product stewardship.

The certificate in Product Stewardship for Sustainability is one example of how academia can rise to the challenge of training a workforce that can engage with our most pressing problems, while also training business and environmental leaders of tomorrow for rewarding careers in an ever-evolving field. It is an opportunity to be at the forefront of change, to make a meaningful impact on our environment, and to contribute to the economic growth and vitality of our world.

Dr. Gurumurthy Ramachandran
Professor, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Gurumurthy Ramachandran is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health and Director of the Certificate Program for Product Stewardship. He has conducted research in various areas relating to human exposure assessment and risk assessment. He has been at the forefront of research in occupational hygiene decision-making and developing mathematical methods for exposure modeling and analyzing occupational measurements. He has served as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). He is also serving on the editorial boards of the Annals of Work Exposures and Health, and the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.


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