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Steven Cohen
Steven Cohen is the Executive Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is also Director of the Master of Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Director of the Masters of Science in Sustainability Management at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education. From 2002 to 2006, he directed education programs at the Earth Institute. From 1998 to 2001, Cohen was Vice Dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. From 1985 to 1998, he was the Director of Columbia's Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration. From 1987-1998, Cohen was Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum at SIPA.

He is a graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn (1970), Franklin College of Indiana (1974) and the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1979). In 1976-77, Cohen was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Environmental Policy; in 1978-79, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Public and Environmental Policy and Implementation.

Entries by Steven Cohen

We Need to Promote Public Service in Government

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 9:20 AM

One of the unfortunate impacts of the conservative war on the U.S. government is a decline in the ethos of public service. Nevertheless, dedication to public service survives despite the sustained attacks that started over three decades ago under Ronald Reagan and continues in the face of the Tea Party's...

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Facing the Climate Crisis Without Hysteria

(34) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 8:35 AM

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability," was released last week to the usual fanfare, hype and alarm. The New York Times headline summarized the report by stating, "the worst is yet to come".

According to the

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Aruba: Building a Sustainable Resort Island

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 9:08 AM

This past Friday, the Earth Institute was honored to host Aruba's Prime Minister Mike Eman, who inspired us with a talk entitled "Aruba's Vision for Creating Sustainable Prosperity." His vision includes transitioning to renewable energy, developing a sustainable economy and creating the conditions for stronger communities. Prime Minister Eman is...

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Understanding How Americans View the Environment

(9) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 9:01 AM

Each year, the Gallup organization conducts a poll on America's view of environmental issues. Gallup's polling is typically very high quality and its polling data is always illuminating. Taken together, the survey results provide a high-resolution picture of how Americans see the environment. It is a complicated picture that sometimes...

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Our Aging and Dangerous Urban Infrastructure

(1) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 9:09 AM

The horrific tragedy of the gas explosion in East Harlem was first and foremost a story of great sadness, coupled with accounts of personal courage and resilience. The tragedy has also renewed discussion about the importance of maintaining our city's aging infrastructure -- both public and private. Earlier in the...

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The Globalization of Education and Sustainability Management

(1) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 9:45 AM

As I review applications this year for admission to Columbia University's master's programs in environmental policy and sustainability management, I am, as always, struck by the idealism and dedication of these prospective students. Nearly all applicants express concern about the deteriorating state of our home planet, but none seem as...

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Solving the Sustainability Crisis: Our Job and Technology's Job

(6) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 8:42 AM

Last week, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Columbia's doctoral program in Sustainable Development, and at one session an undergraduate asked a central question that I thought cut to the heart of the matter. He asked if the crisis of global sustainability would be solved by technology alone, or would...

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The President's Climate Policy Should Focus on Renewable Energy R&D

(11) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 10:37 AM

In the past week, we've seen President Obama begin to deliver on his State of the Union promise to use his executive power to address the challenges presented by climate change. As Peter Baker and Coral Davenport reported in the New York Times last week, the president:

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Renewing NYC's Sustainability Agenda: A Community Based Approach

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2014 | 9:18 AM

New York City's new mayor has his hands full. Mayor de Blasio needs to ensure that people understand that he is serious about his campaign themes of economic opportunity, Pre-K education and outer borough empowerment. At the same time, he needs to gain operational control of America's largest local government....

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The Role of Government in the Transition to a Sustainable Economy

(3) Comments | Posted February 10, 2014 | 8:25 AM

The Need for Governmental Sustainability Policy

It's a great paradox that the moment the United States needs government the most, we don't seem to have one anymore. As a student of public administration, like many of my generation, I was motivated by John F. Kennedy's call to public service. I...

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Pete Seeger and the Power of Principle

(1) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 7:57 AM

Before there was a Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1972 or a Clean Air Act or Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, in the summer of 1969, Pete Seeger and his friends had launched the sloop Clearwater, a sailing vessel, in an effort to build support for cleaning up America's...

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Sustainability, Leadership and Management Innovation

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 10:24 AM

Last week, my Earth Institute colleague, George Sarrinikolaou, and I began team teaching a new course at Columbia on innovative sustainability leadership. Each week we will host a guest speaker from the emerging sustainability profession. Some of our guests are private sector sustainability leaders from major corporations, others...

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Self-Interest, Reality and Global Climate Policy

(4) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 8:14 AM

Over the years, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has helped build scientific consensus about the nature of the climate problem. Climate change remains a scientific fact, and no amount of ideology or propaganda can change that. Climate scientists continue to express their alarm at the slow...

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West Virginia Suffers the Impact of Our Toxic Technology

(1) Comments | Posted January 13, 2014 | 9:12 AM

A week ago, I wrote about the need to reduce the toxicity of modern technology and observed that, "Many of the technologies that permeate our daily lives are built with materials that can poison living systems and beings if their disposal is not carefully managed." This week, the...

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Reducing the Toxicity of Modern Technology

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 9:29 AM

Since I am a political scientist and not an engineer, it may seem odd for me to believe that the solution for many of the environmental problems brought on by modern technology will be found in the development of even more modern technology. Why? Because political change tends to be...

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Making Progress on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Energy Efficiency and Solar Power

(10) Comments | Posted December 30, 2013 | 7:20 AM

Discussions about international climate agreements and carbon taxes are at the center of the climate policy debate, but remain completely out of reach. Meanwhile, smaller scale incremental changes continue throughout the United States. Last week, we saw examples of two such changes reported in the New York Times. The first...

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Bloomberg and de Blasio: Different Mayors, Different Times

(1) Comments | Posted December 23, 2013 | 10:21 AM

In his last days as New York City's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg seems determined to focus the media's attention on his administration's accomplishments and his own legacy. While the impulse at spin control is understandable, I think the effort is unnecessary. Bloomberg will be remembered as one of New York City's...

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China Can Clean Its Air

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 9:41 AM

On December 14, 2013, China became the first nation in 37 years to make a soft landing of a spacecraft on the moon. Its unmanned Jade Rabbit lunar rover is now very busy exploring the surface of the moon. At the very same time this great scientific achievement was taking...

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What Kind of New York City Do We Want?

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 9:06 AM

Last week, Michael Bloomberg gave a final address as New York City Mayor to the Association for a Better New York, and choked up a bit as he reflected on his many accomplishments as mayor and progress made during his dozen years in office. For New Yorkers, this is a...

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The Minimum Wage, Unpaid Internships and the American Dream

(1) Comments | Posted December 2, 2013 | 9:51 AM

There has been a fair amount of recent news coverage about people working in retail and fast food who need food stamps and charity to survive. The pressure on corporations to provide ever higher profits and return on investment has led to efficiency and cost cutting that has reduced both...

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