On Nov. 16, the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program held its annual Alumni Networking Day. The event, hosted by The Earth Institute, welcomed more than 70 alumni, current students and faculty for a panel and networking reception held at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Earth Institute Executive Director Steve Cohen moderated the panel discussion on the new Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management. Panelists included Columbia Lecturer in Discipline Satyajit Bose and Earth Institute Deputy Executive Director Alison Miller, both of whom were involved in the development of the research program. They discussed the need for a common standard for sustainability metrics and how such a tool could be used at the national level. They talked about the importance of metrics for a variety of users including managers, investors, analysts and consumers, and noted that the lack of standardization made comparison across time and with peers difficult. Bose and Miller detailed the variety of metrics currently in use across industries and sectors, and highlighted the challenges inherent in seeking and designing comprehensive, standard methods to measure sustainability.
The panelists agreed that gross domestic product and other economic growth indicators cannot be used to measure sustainability, but argued that metrics with that level of standardization are necessary. Bose theorized that green national accounting might be an example of what sustainability metrics could be, explaining the long history of financial accounting and how it came to be a standardized discipline in the United States. Through conversations with students and alumni in the audience—who came from disciplines ranging from investment banking to environmental regulation—the event raised many interesting questions and concerns regarding how to develop sustainability metrics, while at the same time underscoring their importance.
Following the discussion, alumni caught up with old classmates and met colleagues from different classes at a cocktail reception. This annual event also offers an opportunity for students to meet alumni and learn about their work and careers in a variety of sustainability, management and policy positions. These alumni, who know the value of the program, can help students better understand the job market and offer advice for finding the right job after graduation.
Students in the MPA in Environmental Science and 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 in the fall and spring semesters, they focus on the policy and economics necessary to becoming successful environmental analysts and managers. Visit our website to learn more about the program.