State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

MPA in Environmental Science and Policy Welcomes Class of 2015

Members of the MPA ESP Class of 2015 on a class outing to the Staten Island Yankees game. Students started their summer semester on May 27th.

The newest of class of students in the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program (MPA-ESP) have arrived on the Columbia campus. Following their orientation on May 27th, the students began their summer schedule full of science courses.

Of the nation’s MPA programs, the MPA-ESP program has one of the most rigorous science course loads. Comparing the academic experience to jumping in the deep end of the pool, new student Casey Furr remarked, “I have never taken so many credits at once before, but I have also never felt so efficient at learning and processing class material.” And to new student Ingunn Gunnarsdottir, the first few weeks have been “a whirlwind of lectures, labs, a strange city, and new classmates, and I have loved every minute of it.”

While gaining knowledge about a variety of environmental issues through courses in Climatology, Ecology, and Environmental Chemistry, the new ESP students have also gotten to know each other. With 60 students from 13 countries, the 13th cohort of the ESP program considers themselves anything but unlucky. According to Gunnarsdottir, “one of the main benefits of this program are my fellow classmates,” she said, describing the diversity of students’ backgrounds as a learning experience as important as any of the courses. 

The new cohort follows closely on the heels of the last class, the ESP Class of 2014 having graduated just five days before orientation. “It’s definitely a weird feeling,” says Maureen Loman, a member of the ESP class of 2014, who has been serving as a summer associate working with the new class, “Only a mere 365 days ago, that was me.” Loman and the other summer associates have spent time assisting the new class and have found them to be “an eager bunch, always asking questions, and having high expectations for themselves.” Loman continued, “their enthusiasm for student government and other activities is a great sign and really makes a positive difference for the rest of the year.”

All graduates of the ESP program become part of a network of 682 alumni working in a variety of organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors throughout the United States and the world. Says Gunnarsdottir, “I look forward to working with my classmates and friends in the future tackling some of the global environmental problems we are currently facing.”

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.

Since it began in 2002, the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program has given students the hands-on experience, and the analytical and decision-making tools to implement effective environmental and sustainable management policies. The program’s 682 graduates have advanced to jobs in domestic and international environmental policy, working in government, private and non-profit sectors. Their work involves issues of sustainability, resource use and global change, in fields focused on air, water, climate, energy efficiency, food, agriculture, transportation and waste management. They work as consultants, advisers, project managers, program directors, policy analysts, teachers, researchers, and environmental scientists and engineers.

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