State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Student Profile: Joshua Rosenfield

The Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at Columbia University enrolls exceptional future sustainability managers, one of whom is Joshua Rosenfield. When a fellow skier in the Rocky Mountains recommended a series of books on sustainability, the concept piqued Joshua’s interest and led him to seek out a job at Social Venture Network, a club for social entrepreneurs where he connected with colleagues interested in sustainability and social justice. Joshua now works as a manager on the global sustainability and climate change team at Deloitte and is undertaking his Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MSSM), a new degree offered by the Earth Institute, Columbia University and the School of Continuing Education.

“I concluded that a structured academic program would be the best way to ratchet up my know-how across the board,” explains Joshua, “both in subjects that are new to me and in subjects I have experience with.” After years working with Delloite, Joshua joined the ranks of MSSM students looking to learn how to use management to promote and implement sustainability practices.

“Joshua exemplifies what we are looking for in our program’s students,” explains Professor Cohen, “he is eager to apply the skills he is learning in the classroom to his professional life as a sustainability manager, integrating management, writing, and analytical skills with a greater scientific understanding into the day-to-day operations and long-term planning of his organization.”

Joshua applied to the Master of Science in Sustainability Management after considering MBA programs with a sustainability component. Joshua found that the other programs placed less emphasis on the issues of sustainability science and were full time so would require him to stop working. For Joshua, the search for the right program led him to Columbia’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management, where sixty percent of the students are enrolled in the program part time.

The Master of Science in Sustainability Management utilizes environmental and sustainable development research to provide practical training to students like Joshua, who will become part of a new generation of professionals addressing critical interdisciplinary issues by prioritizing Earth’s systems and resources. To accomplish this goal, the program requires all students in the 36-point program to take courses in five critical areas: Integrative Courses in Sustainability Management, Economics and Quantitative Analysis, The Physical Dimensions of Sustainability Management, The Public Policy Environment of Sustainability Management, and General and Financial Management.

“When I learned about Columbia’s MSSM program, I felt like it was just the program I’d been waiting for a university to set up. It would let me carry on my career while choosing classes in the major areas of study that sustainability practitioners need to deal with. And the program’s link with the Earth Institute would give me exposure to some of the finest research and thinking across numerous disciplines.”

Taking two classes each semester has allowed Joshua to continue working at Deloitte while studying at Columbia. Most of the classes offered in the MS in Sustainability Management program are offered at night. During his first semester in the program, Josh devoted his Wednesday evenings to the program’s introductory course, Sustainability Management. This course is taught by program director and Earth Institute Executive Director Steve Cohen in the fall, and by Howard Apsan, the director of health, safety and risk management at City University of New York, in the spring.

Joshua looks forward to delving into his remaining classes. “Examining subjects that I’m somewhat familiar with, such as climate change or water scarcity, from an academic perspective rather than a pure business perspective has been enlightening. A good deal of academic study on sustainability topics has not really penetrated the business world, so I have picked up quite a few ideas and analytical approaches that ought to be useful in my work.”

Wherever Joshua finds himself after graduation, his goal is to be able to successfully design sustainability strategies that make companies more competitive and use the influence of corporations to lead systemic change. When he completes the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program, Joshua will be one step closer to fulfilling this vision.

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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