Education News

The Master of Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy Class of 2008 Begins Their Studies

2007-06-19

posted 6/19/2007

The sixth class of the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program officially began the program on May 29, 2007. Fifty-eight students from Australia, Mauritius, China, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States began 12 month program with orientation.

Orientation began with an introduction by Steven Cohen, Director, MPA in Environmental Science and Policy and Executive Director of the Earth Institute. The ESP program incorporates more science into its curriculum than any other MPA program currently offered at SIPA. Dr. Cohen stressed that environmental leaders need a firm understanding of science, politics, management, economics and policy analysis. He emphasized the pressing need for what he called “translators”, people comfortable enough with the science behind environmental issues and the political arena to be able to pass seamlessly between the two.

"We have now welcomed our sixth class and have graduated 248 Environmental MPAs,” said Professor Cohen. "We are no longer an experiment, but a program with a proven record of success.”

Faculty was on hand to give an overview of teaching and research experiences, and provide brief descriptions of the courses the students would be taking in the upcoming year. They are a group that reflects the core of the program, a combination of hard scientists and professional “translators.” Included in the group are, Kathy Callahan, the Deputy Regional Administrator for EPA Region 2, bringing over 30 years of experience working with the EPA; Paula Wilson, with experience as the Vice President for Policy, United Hospital Fund; and Shahid Naeem, Chair and Professor of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University.

Students in this class represent a broad spectrum of academic and professional experience too. Nearly two thirds of the class has an undergraduate background in sciences including; biology, environmental sciences, and zoology. The remainder come from social science backgrounds; political science, economics, international relations, and business administration. Four students entered the program with Masters in global affairs, zoology, biology and political science.

The professional profile of the group is varied. The class features a communications associate from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the US program director for Botanic Gardens Conservation International, an environmental investigator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and an analytical chemist for the Novartis Consumer Health. More business oriented students include a manager from MasterCard International and a risk and regulatory consultant from Price Waterhouse Coopers, LLP. Also, there is a Fulbright Scholar and two American army veterans. In so far as volunteering their time, the class ranges from having worked on WWOOF programs in Australia, to acting as the head coach for a “mite” ice hockey team.

Throughout the three semesters, students gain an understanding of the sciences, environmental policy and management. Each semester, students work collaboratively in hands-on workshop courses to help them apply their coursework to real situations. In the summer and fall semesters, groups take a piece of legislation or an international agreement that has been proposed but not yet enacted and conduct a program implementation and management simulation. During the spring, groups conduct analytic projects for real-world clients in government and non-profit agencies.

Said Cohen, “This is an intensive program, well designed to equip students with the policy, management and scientific skills needed to become effective environmental managers.”

Graduates of the program are using their skills in nonprofit, government and private fields. They are working in organizations such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, City of New York Office of Energy Conservation, TransFair USA, United Nations Development Programme: Energy and Environment Group, NASA, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Resource Defense Council, EcoSecurities and others.

Prospective students interested in learning about the program are encouraged to contact Louise Rosen at (212) 854-3142 or at lar46@columbia.edu for more information.