State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

MPA Alum Makes Sustainability Fashionable

MPA-ESP alum Adam Batnick (’10) shows off some of the designs featured by his sustainable clothing company, Three Leaves Menswear.

Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy alum Adam Batnick never imagined that he would become a small business owner when he graduated from the program in 2010. Now, as the founder and owner of Three Leaves Menswear, a Brooklyn-based online retail site that sells environmentally sustainable men’s clothing, Adam knows that he is achieving the original sustainability goals that he had set for himself when he made the decision to come attend Columbia.

1. What is your employment status and title at this time? How long have you been in the position?

I am the founder and owner of Three Leaves Menswear, a Brooklyn-based online retail site dealing in stylish, environmentally sustainable men’s clothing.   We sell high quality, stylish clothing that is also eco-friendly, mostly vegetarian (including non-leather footwear), and socially responsible. I founded Three Leaves one year ago and we have been open for a little over two months now.

2. How did you find your current position? What resources/methods did you find most useful?

The concept for Three Leaves occurred to me late last summer. I was on vacation in the Catskills, and the natural surroundings of the area inspired me.  When I got back to the city, I began to research resources for small business entrepreneurs as well as the market for ethical menswear. The Small Business Development Center at Columbia was a great resource in the initial planning of my business.


3. What do you enjoy the most and what do you find the most challenging in your current position?

The process of starting my own business has been simultaneously the most difficult and gratifying experience of my life.  I had not imagined myself as a small business owner when I graduated from the MPA-ESP program, but I am working every day achieving the mission of sustainability which was my original reason for attending SIPA.  I am constantly confronted by new challenges, ranging from finding eco-friendly packaging and shipping materials to learning the intricate details involved in professional web design.  I enjoy these challenges and the freedom to express and share my socially conscious vision through fashion.

4. Are you able to utilize any skills/knowledge from the MPA-ESP program in your day-to-day activities?  

The MPA-ESP program gave me the confidence to trust my judgment and make decisions critical to the day-to-day operations of Three Leaves. The rigorous nature of the program’s curriculum taught me how to manage my time and set goals while the program’s workshop component gave me a crash course in collaborating and communicating well with others – skills which are integral to succeeding in business. Furthermore, through my experience in the program, I am able to engage with the environmental practices that go into the creation of each item or brand that I select.

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

I will continue to work on letting people know that looking good and being an ethical consumer can go hand in hand.  Support ethical, independent business. I see my position at the moment as more than a job.  It is a lifestyle.  I begin every day by thinking about how to make this new business a success.  I hope to learn how to create a brand.

Students in the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy (MPA-ESP) program enroll in a year-long, 54-credit program offered at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), 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. Please visit our website to learn more about the program.



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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