Education News

M.P.A. in Environmental Science and Policy Class of 2011 Begins Studies

2010-06-18

The ninth class of the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy officially began this June 1. Sixty students, ranging in age from 22 to 56 and hailing from Mexico, Grenada, Italy, Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, Canada, South Korea, Israel, Hungary, Greece, Brazil, Liberia, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia and the United States, began their 12-month program with a day-long orientation. The students’ diverse backgrounds will bring a wide variety of perspectives on environmental issues into the classroom.

Orientation began with an introduction by Steven Cohen, director of the M.P.A. in Environmental Science and Policy and executive director of the Earth Institute. Cohen observed that the "environment and sustainable development are now pressing and mainstream issues in our society and programs like ours have become indispensible." The Environmental Science and Policy program incorporates more science into its curriculum than any other M.P.A. program currently offered at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

The program's faculty members gave an overview of their teaching and research experience and provided brief descriptions of the courses the students will be taking in the upcoming year. This year, the program welcomes several new faculty members to the program.

Irene Boland, who graduated with an M.P.A. in Environmental Science and Policy in 2005, has joined as a lecturer for the Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management. Outside of her work at SIPA, Professor Boland serves as innovations coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency Region 2. Prior to that role, she was a program analyst for the EPA from 2005 to 2008, where she started as a presidential management fellow directly after finishing her M.P.A.

Also new to the workshop faculty this past spring is Nancy Degnan, the executive director of the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC). Professor Degnan earned her M.P.A. and Ph.D. in urban planning from Columbia University. Professor Degnan served as assistant dean at SIPA and as the associate director at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and has consulted for numerous domestic and international NGOs and public sector organizations.

Teaching the Microeconomics and Policy Analysis I and II courses this fall and spring will be Suresh Naidu, a new assistant professor at SIPA. Professor Naidu earned his B.A. at UMass Amherst and his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on political economy, economic history and development economics. This summer, Juerg Matter also joins the faculty as an adjunct assistant professor in chemistry at SIPA and is taking on the role of science curriculum coordinator for the summer science courses. He is also a Doherty Associate Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and he brings experience in developing strategies for carbon capture and storage to his teaching.

Students in this class represent a broad spectrum of academic and professional experience. Nearly one half of the class has an undergraduate background in the sciences, in subjects such as chemistry, environmental science, physics, biology and geology. A large part of the remaining students come from social science backgrounds: political science, economics, international affairs and anthropology.

The professional profile of the group is varied. The class includes students with backgrounds in private consulting, field organizing, government and international affairs, program administration, and project management. Students have worked for the Getty Museum, the New York Public Interest Research Group, the European Parliament, Booz Allen Hamilton, the UN Development Programme, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, the United States Peace Corps and many other organizations.

Throughout the three semesters of the program, students will 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-life 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 Natural Resources 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, New York Planning and Environmental Management Department, EcoSecurities and others.

Prospective students interested in learning about the program are encouraged to contact Audrey Lapiner at (212) 854-3142 or ael2130@columbia.edu for more information.