Juan Carlos Silva is the academic director for the Bachelor in Environmental Sciences for Sustainability. Originally from Colombia, the second most biodiverse country in the world, Juan Carlos sought out a path that would allow him to join forces with like-minded thinkers to protect Earth’s biodiversity. He shares his academic journey and his insights on some key environmental issues.

Experiencing the effects of climate change firsthand in his home country of Colombia, Juan Carlos Silva decided to study something that would help society contribute to environmental issues. He chose to study geology and geochemistry, in order to gain the tools necessary to mitigate climate change, global warming and sustainability issues in Colombia. 

After his PhD and postdoctoral research work, Juan began working as an assistant professor. An award-winning student, he used his Marie Curie International Outgoing Postdoctoral Fellowship to complete research at both Stanford University in the United States and the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Juan later shifted to working as a professor at the University of Houston, then moved back to Colombia, and later was a guest lecturer across the US, the UK, China, Brazil and Uruguay. 

His investigations, teaching experience and expertise inspired Juan to help work toward a more sustainable world. As part of this journey, he made the move to Spain to work at IE University. Currently, he works as the academic director of the Bachelor in Environmental Sciences for Sustainability

A shifting world

As environmental issues continue to arise, Juan believes that society must think about how we can reduce the emissions of fossil fuels: “Fossil fuels are the base of plastics, which are used for computers, TVs, energy, mining, agriculture, transportation and more. We need fossil fuels to continue with all of our activities and one way we can keep them around is by reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” 

In order to make a lasting impact, there needs to be action—and these actions are a strong foundation of the Bachelor in Environmental Sciences for Sustainability. “We are working on creating solutions that can compensate for our need for fossil fuels and carbon removal. This will create a lasting impact across a variety of industries.” As the academic director of the program, Juan stresses the importance of out-of-the-box thinking for tangible solutions. 

A unique approach to learning

As hands-on learning is a staple at IE University, students in the program will work to produce solutions that will bring benefits to society and the environment. From conducting research and creating scientifically informed plans to working with professionals in the industry, students will gain the skills necessary to push for action. “Our students are going to be trained in order to have these technological solutions in a sustainable way. Green jobs will be growing year after year, and the need for professionals working on sustainability and in environmental engineering will continue to grow.” 

According to Juan, “The future professionals of environmental science for sustainability will be crucial for solving the issues we have today. They will produce and scale solutions that will cause a positive impact.” And in order to produce these solutions, students will need to act now. Juan has spent his professional journey working on water safety, sustainability and climate solutions, and he wants to pass this knowledge to his students. “My hope is that they can use my knowledge and build on it in order to create the right solutions that can be scalable, profitable and help different societies and industries have a better, more sustainable future.”

Discover more of what Juan has to say in this video.