State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Environmental Science and Policy Program Strengthens Its Commitment to Student Veterans

Mike Tuckfelt
Mike Tuckfelt is a student of the Class of 2018 and a United States Marine Corps veteran. Photo: Tim Lyons

The MPA in Environmental Science and Policy has matched the Columbia Law School in offering the greatest maximum scholarship to Columbia student veterans under the Yellow Ribbon Program.  Student veterans may now receive up to $20,000 in a grant or tuition waiver, which is matched by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

“Because of their brain-power, dedication to public service and experience, veterans have been among our best students,” said professor Steve Cohen, the director of the program and the executive director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. “We are thrilled to be able to commit scholarship funds to the Yellow Ribbon Program and attract more talented veterans to the struggle for environmental protection,” he added.

The MPA in Environmental Science and Policy is a joint program of the School of International and Public Affairs and the Earth Institute. It is the only program of its kind in the United States to anchor the study of policy and management in basic applied environmental science.

“It is not an easy transition from the extreme structure provided by the military to the extreme self-reliance required in graduate school,” said Mike Tuckfelt, a member of the Class of 2018 and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He added: “In a quantitatively and scientifically rigorous, one-year graduate program, at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, this contrast is even more stark. Many veterans have uniquely challenging family situations, service-related disabilities, or combat stress, and financial worries can quickly compound these difficulties. Through the Yellow Ribbon Program, the MPA-ESP program can better attract high-performing service members, while demonstrating its appreciation of their sacrifices and associated needs.”

The program’s unique curriculum prepares students for leading positions in sustainability. Upon graduation, students join a formidable alumni network whose members are employed, in about equal numbers, in business, government, and the nonprofit sector. Some of the organizations that employ them include: Apple; PepsiCo; the municipalities of Boulder, Cleveland, Charlotte, London, New York, and Ottawa; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the United Nations Development Programme; the World Bank; and hundreds of others.

In addition to contributions under the Yellow Ribbon Program, the program annually awards the Dean’s Fellowship—a full-tuition grant and Earth Institute internship—as well as numerous partial fellowships. Fellowship awards are made based on academic merit and financial need. The application deadline for fellowship consideration, including Yellow Ribbon Program contributions, is January 15.

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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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