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Fall 2011 Semester Courses

September 19, 2011

Emily Briggs

Low Library at Columbia University

The Master of Science in Sustainability Management at Columbia University is an innovative professional graduate program that equips sustainability leaders with the practical knowledge and cutting-edge skills required to effectively manage the complex risks and opportunities of sustainable development.

Here’s a sample of what I’m taking this semester:

Sustainability Science

Professor Jenna Mara Lawrence

Global environmental threats have suddenly become part of our everyday life, both in the form of news on natural disasters in different parts of the world and through a series of new scientific discoveries. Scientific knowledge about our planet a s a system in which there is an interplay between the atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces has increased dramatically in recent decades, In step with that development it is becoming progressively clearer that our political and economic systems must take these global challenges seriously.

Sustainable development was launched 20 years ago as society’s response to both to conventional social problems, such as poverty, conflicts and ill-health, and how to the new global environmental problems, such as climate change, the loss of biological diversity, water shortage and changes in land-use. That means that sustainability science is a broad scientific field which studies integrated social and natural systems, processes and structures and in which the objective of knowledge is the sustainable development of society. This interdisciplinary course seeks to provide a general overview in sustainability science and to help students develop new knowledge in order to better understand society’s role as communities beginning transitioning towards sustainable development. Topics covered may include: Ecology, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Human Populations and Development, Water: Hydrologic Cycle and Human Use, Soil: Foundation for Land Ecosystems, Traditional and New Energy Sources, Environmental Hazards and Human Health, Global Climate Change, Atmospheric Pollution, Water Pollution and Its Prevention, and Sustainable Development.

Critical Issues in Urban Public Policy

Professor and former Mayor of NYC David Dinkins

The focus of this upper-level graduate course is New York City government and politics. In this course, students will learn from esteemed guest lecturers and current practitioners with extensive experience in New York City politics and policy, from academic scholarship and policy research in urban affairs, and from their own participation in an applied policy analysis project.

Sustainable Operations

Professor Jeffrey Scott

Manufacturing, logistics, and other operating facilities at the forefront of their industries know they must follow a path of continuous improvement in order to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In the 21st century, a production facility cannot maintain its competitive position or achieve continuous operating improvement without the successful implementation of strategic, well-designed, and well-implemented sustainability initiatives.

A sustainable, socially responsible, and financially-driven operation must develop, analyze, select, and implement measures that will help it capitalize on the opportunities for improved operating performance, and that will mitigate the inevitable unfavorable effects of business operations. This requires managers who can identify potential threats and challenges, develop strategies to address such circumstances, conduct necessary quantitative and qualitative evaluations of competing alternatives, and make the necessary fact-based decisions. It also requires managers who can successfully articulate the necessary decisions to broad sets of stakeholders, from facility managers to the chairman of the board, and from individual employees and their families to community organizations and governmental/regulatory agencies.

Statistics for Sustainability

Professor Alex McQuoid

This course aims to introduce practitioners of environmental science and sustainability management to the data analysis techniques and statistical methods that will be useful in their work. The statistics topics and examples have been chosen for their special relevance to environmental problems, including applications in environmental monitoring, impact assessment, environmental valuation techniques and econometric analyses of sustainable development.

Read more about which courses I took in Spring 2012.

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