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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

Work, Youth, Optimism, and the Drive Toward a Safe, Sustainable Planet

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 9:07 AM

As a professor directing several master's programs educating sustainability professionals and as a father of two daughters in their twenties, I think a lot about the job market and the type of employment opportunities available to our young people. I wonder if we can create a high throughput economy that...

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Will de Blasio and Cuomo Make Sustainability a Higher Priority?

(3) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 9:04 AM

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has allowed the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to lose many of its most talented staff, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is using capital funds meant to finance environmental facilities to help pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge. These...

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Our Dysfunctional National Government Is Incapable of Building a Sustainable Economy

(6) Comments | Posted August 4, 2014 | 8:52 AM

My Columbia University colleagues Bill Eimicke and Alison Miller recently joined me in authoring a new book entitled Sustainability Policy: Hastening the Transition to A Cleaner Economy. If all goes well, Jossey-Bass publishers will release the book in early 2015. Our work focuses on how American government at...

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NYC's Bike Sharing: The de Blasio Administration's First Expansion of the City's Sustainability Agenda

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 9:16 AM

Bike sharing in New York City has had a promising yet problematic start, but there is little question that it is a program worth keeping and expanding. It is clear that the de Blasio administration agrees and, in one of their first efforts to expand former mayor Bloomberg's sustainability agenda,...

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Getting Rid of NYC's Garbage

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 3:14 PM

One indicator of a more crowded planet is the growing cost and complexity of solid waste management. Here in New York City, we used to dump our garbage into holes in the ground called landfills. In Brooklyn and Staten Island, these dumps grew so high that we had to close...

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LeBron James, Place and the Search for Sustainable Communities

(7) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 9:30 AM

My Columbia colleague, Professor Mark Taylor, recently published a wonderful book about his home in western Massachusetts entitled, Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill. It is a distinctive and remarkable volume on the importance of place, design, and meaning. The book is beautifully produced and includes many superb photographs of...

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Sustainability Science Requires the Freedom to Observe and Understand the Planet

(2) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 2:34 PM

Co-authored by Arthur Lerner-Lam, Alison Miller and Sean Solomon

The scientific heart of Columbia University's Earth Institute is the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which has been engaged in observing and analyzing earth systems for over 65 years. If we are to develop a sustainable and renewable economy, it is essential that...

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Competent Leaders Need to Understand the Science of Sustainability

(3) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 9:50 AM

In speaking about climate policy last week, President Obama chided senators who are trying to dodge the climate issue by claiming they were not scientists. The president went on to claim that he was not a scientist either, but that "I've got this guy, John Holdren. He's a...

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The Culture of Environmentalism and Sustainability

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 9:04 AM

People like to breathe. Rich people, poor people, Tea Party Republicans, progressive Democrats, old people, young people, Americans, people from other countries--all are united in the biological necessities of being human. Water, food and air are all better when they are not filled with toxic substances. The political support for...

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The Second Summer After Sandy: Incompetent, Mismanaged Reconstruction

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 9:21 AM

This summer on the south shore of Long Island, here in Long Beach, New York, Superstorm Sandy has finally begun to recede in our memory. The boardwalk is open and better than ever, new dune grass is growing and the ocean breezes are as intoxicating as ever. Still, this and...

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Individual Material Consumption, Guilt and the Crisis in Global Sustainability

(5) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 9:29 AM

A key question as we make the long transition to a sustainable and renewable economy and culture is the role of individual responsibility and personal lifestyle. In the end, our individual behavior as "consumers" adds up to the crisis of sustainability, but the causes of this crisis are far from...

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Mayor de Blasio, Traffic Safety and a Sustainable New York City

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

I have a picture in my office of Broadway and 116th Street when the Columbia campus in Morningside Heights, New York City was relatively new. In the center of Broadway stood a one-story brick subway station, which was eventually knocked down and replaced by an underground station in...

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Two Cheers for President Obama's Proposed Climate Regulation

(7) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 10:00 AM

Today, under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, President Obama will propose regulations requiring significant reductions in greenhouse gases produced by each American state. Using 2005 as a baseline, states, on average, will be required to achieve a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. If the courts...

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Understanding Environmental Policy

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 8:53 AM

If we are to learn how to develop a renewable and sustainable economy, we also need to learn how to deal with the mistakes we've made while moving from an economy that tolerates environmental damage to one that does not. In addition to the positive steps of developing the new...

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Applying Brainpower to Address the Global Sustainability Crisis

(10) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 9:52 AM

The world faces an unprecedented global sustainability crisis. It is caused by climate change, the stress on the planet's ecosystems by developed economies, and the drive for economic growth in the developing world. While some choose to believe that the scientific analyses detailing the threats to our planet are inaccurate,...

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Park Equity and Park Reality in NYC

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 10:34 AM

While most of the land in New York City sits beneath single family homes, like the one I grew up in on East 59th Street in Brooklyn, most of the people in New York live in apartments. I've lived in Manhattan apartments for a long time and I've been fortunate...

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A Small Victory in the 'War on Coal'

(8) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 9:04 AM

While the main action in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gasses must be to focus on developing renewable energy, the elimination of coal as a source of energy remains an important environmental and economic goal. Although it is incorrect to say that the Obama administration is sponsoring a "war on...

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Sustainable Consumption and the Global Environmental Crisis

(2) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 8:51 AM

In a series of discussions on Earth Day, I found myself returning to two 1970s reports by the Club of Rome: The Limits to Growth and Mankind at the Turning Point. While those analyses were weak on policy design, they did a thorough job of describing the interconnected set of...

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Why a Climate Treaty or Carbon Tax Is Unlikely

(62) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 8:55 AM

The climate crisis is real and it requires an immediate and continuous response, but it is very unlikely that the response will be a treaty or a tax. For a long time I have been observing colleagues arguing that we must limit greenhouse gas emissions via a binding international treaty....

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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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