Education News

New Courses Announced

2009-09-07

A new degree concentration and several new courses have been added to the sustainability and environmental policy curriculum at Columbia University with the support of the Earth institute, Columbia University. Students will learn about new developments in the fields of sustainability, sustainable design, environmental policy, climate change and technology, particularly Geographic Information Systems (GIS). They will also gain firsthand knowledge about the research that the Earth Institute conducts

The new Master of Public Administration in Development Practice is designed to train aspiring practitioners to understand and manage approaches to sustainable development challenges. This rigorous, cross-disciplinary academic program emphasizes the development of critical knowledge, skills and attributes of an effective professional in developing societies. For two weeks during the summer prior to the program, the students participate in a "Boot Camp" that provides intensive refresher courses to prepare the students for the program's core curriculum. An essential component of the Development Practice curriculum is the field training program. Designed to provide students with practical experience working in development, the program provides a holistic learning experience deeply grounded in the local environment, which encompasses a broad set of activities to foster the development of practical skills.
 
Two Geographic Information Systems (GIS) courses will be taught to provide students with the technological background to analyze environmental policy. GIS for International Studies (ENVP U6275), taught by Professor Mark Becker, is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of GIS; Global Positioning Systems (GPS); and remote sensing technologies as they are used in the development, implementation and analysis of environmental and social policy and practices at the global and regional scale. Advancement in E3B Landscape Analysis (EEEB G6150), taught by Professor Ruth DeFries, will use the same technology to explore the connections between emerging infectious diseases, land use and climate.
 
The Practicum (SIPA U4734), will teach students how current research is being used, what the policy implications are, and how it will be accessible to environmental policy practitioners. Each class will cover a different topic and be accompanied by an expert in the respective field. Speakers include the executive director of the Earth Institute, research directors from various Earth Institute units, and other senior scholars.
 
This practicum is truly interdisciplinary; the lectures illustrate how the core sciences engaged at the Earth Institute (biological, health, and engineering departments and schools) complement environmental and social science research. Students in all programs and departments are encouraged to enroll.
 
The Earth Institute has collaborated with Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) to produce the course EI-GSAPP Forum (ARCH A4623) on the future of the built environment, which explores ideas of sustainable design and the future of the city. It will be taught by professors Kate Orff and Kate McFadden. It brings together the realms of science and design to address complex questions of environment and development with a creative approach grounded in research, experimentation and pilot projects. Lecturers from the Earth Institute will present their research.
 
The course Poverty, Inequality & the Environment (ENVP U6250), taught by Professor Mary Cleveland, focuses on Henry George's worldwide bestseller, Progress and Poverty, in which he argues that owners of land and other natural resources gain most of the benefits of economic growth, driving down wages and forcing economic activity to sprawl out onto marginal land. Today, George's ideas powerfully influence both the field of ecological economics and common movements and provide a good foundation for our students.
 
Design and Maintenance of a Habitable Planet (EESC V3101), taught by Professor Terry Plank, focuses on the origin, evolution and future of our planet. Students have an opportunity to apply their knowledge in a hands-on geochemistry project at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Courses like this equip our students with the knowledge and technical expertise to shape environmental policy that benefits our planet.