Education News

The Master of Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy Class of 2009 Begins Their Studies

2008-05-14

The seventh class of the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy officially began the program on May 27, 2008. Approximately sixty students from Bangladesh, Canada, Liberia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United States started a 12-month program with orientation.

Orientation opened with an introduction by Steven Cohen, Director, MPA in Environmental Science and Policy and Executive Director of the Earth Institute. The Environmental Science and Policy program incorporates more science into its curriculum than any other MPA program currently offered at SIPA. Cohen observed that “as environment and sustainable development have finally become mainstream issues in our society, a program like ours has become more popular and more successful. Applications for admission continue to grow every year and the School of International and Public Affairs is increasingly committed to developing curriculum and faculty in our field.”

At orientation, the program’s faculty members gave an overview of their teaching and research experiences and provided brief descriptions of the courses the students will be taking in the upcoming year. Included in the group of faculty are Kathy Callahan, who recently retired as Deputy Regional Administrator for EPA Region 2, after over 30 years of experience working with the EPA; Paula Wilson, with experience as Vice President for Policy, United Hospital Fund; and Howard Apsan, who also has twenty years of experience in environmental management and consulting.

Students in this class represent a broad spectrum of academic and professional experience. Nearly two thirds of the class has an undergraduate background in the sciences including chemistry, environmental science, physics, biology, computer science and geology. A large number of the remaining students come from social science backgrounds like political science, economics, international affairs, anthropology and East Asian studies. Four students will be entering the program with Masters in Translation and Linguistics, Environmental Systems, Physics and Architecture and two will be entering with J.D.’s.

The professional profile of the group is varied. The class features a member of the Senior Management Team and Head of Programme for the UN Development Programme, the Field Finance Department Director for Doctors without Borders, a Development Associate for the New York Landmarks Conservancy, an official in the Atmosphere and Environmental Division of the Japan Meteorological Agency and an Environmental Policy Consultant for the California State Senate. Students whose backgrounds are in the private sector include a Senior Consultant for Dell Inc’s Corporate Communications department and a Legal Technology Manager at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP. The class has volunteered for organizations that range from City Harvest and AmeriCorps to the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the National Council for Research on Women.

Throughout the three semesters, students gain an understanding of environmental policy, management and the sciences. 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 semester, groups conduct analytic projects for real-world clients from 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 the National Resource Defense Council, Department of Energy, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Evolution Markets, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, City of New York Office of Energy Conservation, TransFair USA, United Nations Development Programme: Energy and Environment Group, NASA, EnerNOC, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NY Planning and Environmental Management Department, 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.