State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

An Army Operations Officer Studies Environmental Issues

A former Army officer, Carusoe Park joined the MPA ESP Class of 2012 to supplement his undergraduate education in environmental science.

After six years of service in the U.S. Army, Carusoe Park chose to enroll in the 12-month MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program to strengthen his management skills and gain insight into environmental practices. After observing environmental policies abroad, Carusoe hopes to bring his knowledge from working in other countries back home to help strengthen our domestic commitment to sustainability issues.

Students in the MPA in Environmental Science & Policy program enroll in a year-long, 54-credit program offered at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, in partnership with The Earth Institute. Throughout this one year program, students are immersed in courses that combine Columbia University’s hands-on approach to teaching public policy and administration with pioneering thinking about the environment. During the summer semester, students learn the fundamentals of environmental science, while the fall and spring semesters focus on teaching the policy and economics necessary to becoming successful environmental analysts and managers. The 62 students come from a wide variety of backgrounds ranging from Sociology to Engineering and come to us from 17 different countries. To learn more about the program, please visit

1.       What drew you to the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program (MPA-ESP)?

I was drawn to the MPA-ESP program because I found the idea of learning science, management, and policy within one degree program very appealing. I chose the program because I wanted to supplement my undergraduate environmental science degree and my work experience with a management degree that focused on preparing me to lead in environmental organizations

2.       What were you doing before you started the program?

In May of 2005 I graduated from West Point with a degree in Environmental Science and I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. The Army stationed me in Germany where I served as a Platoon Leader and Operations Officer in the 1st Cargo Transfer Company. From July of 2007 to October of 2008, I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served as the Officer-in-Charge of the Camp Echo Movement Control Team, responsible for coordinating military transportation at Camp Echo at Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq. During my last tour of duty, I served as an Operations Officer for the US Army Garrison – Heidelberg, responsible for base operations and security in Heidelberg, Germany.

3.       What area of environmental policy and management are you most interested in?

Having lived abroad for most of the last 6 years, I saw a variety of environmental policies in practice in other countries that I believe ought to be adopted by the US. For example, I am interested in recycling policy because while I lived in Germany I enjoyed sorting my trash and knowing that the majority of my waste would be reused in some way. I also enjoyed buying beverages in refillable bottles that I knew would be reused with minimal processing and energy cost. I also became interested in environmentally friendly urban planning and design while traveling through Europe and Asia because I saw how important it is to human well-being and reducing environmental impact.

4.       What skills and tools do you hope to acquire through the program?

I hope to acquire skills in organizational management that would be useful in environmental government agencies or non-profit organizations. Some of the particular skills I am looking to acquire are qualitative and quantitative legislative analysis and a deeper scientific understanding of environmental issues.

5.       What is your favorite class in the MPA-ESP program so far, and why?

As a science oriented person, I enjoyed the summer semester of the ESP program because of the heavy concentration of science courses. I have always enjoyed biological sciences, and my favorite course so far was Ecology because we used the scientific method to understand the biological phenomena in the natural world.

6.       How has collaborating with your fellow students in class projects benefitted you professionally and personally?

Having served in the military for nearly a decade, I only have experience working in a structured and hierarchical organization. The program offers a lot of opportunity for group work, especially in our Workshop course where we engage in semester long projects to analyze proposed environmental legislation. Working together with my classmates, professors, and advisors allows me to experience civilian management and working styles that I will likely encounter in my new career. Furthermore, the program is has some stellar minds and interesting personalities that are fun to work and socialize with.

7.       How do you intend to utilize your degree from the MPA-ESP program to further your career?

When I decided to pursue this degree, it was always meant to help me transition from my previous career in the military to an environmental career. Combined with my prior educational background and work experience, I hope the degree will put me on a career path towards becoming an environmental professional and leader.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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