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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

Science, Policy, and Decision Making

(20) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 9:44 AM

I started my professional career at the U.S. EPA and even though I was in a "policy shop," analyzing policies to develop regulations, I was struck by how few of us had expertise in environmental science. One of my areas of doctoral study was environmental policy, and in the late...

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How Governmental Sustainability Policy Can Speed the Transition to a Cleaner Economy

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2015 | 9:11 AM

In the next several days, Jossey-Bass will publish a new book I have co-authored with my Columbia University colleagues Bill Eimicke and Alison Miller. It is entitled: Sustainability Policy: Hastening the Transition to a Cleaner Economy. The book is an effort to describe what government is already doing...

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Banning Styrofoam, Managing Our Waste, and Promoting Sustainability

(4) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 9:50 AM

New York City, following the lead of San Francisco and Portland, has banned styrofoam containers in an effort to change the nature of its waste stream, as the type of styrofoam being banned cannot be recycled. The ban will result in the use of substitute forms of packaging--probably more expensive...

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The Governors Cuomo

(2) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 9:16 AM

It was deeply poignant that Governor Mario Cuomo passed away on New Year's Day, 2015, the very same day his son Andrew was sworn into his second term as New York's governor. The Cuomos, father and son, remind us of the power of public service and the need to couple...

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The Growing Level of Environmental Awareness

(7) Comments | Posted December 29, 2014 | 8:36 AM

While it is far from universal, more and more people understand that we need to sustainably manage our planet's resources and ecosystems. This awareness has been growing for about a century, but has picked up momentum in the past decade. Evidence of deep support for environmental protection is an old...

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Coal Ash and Fracking Fluid: Two More Victories for Environmental Protection

(3) Comments | Posted December 22, 2014 | 8:34 AM

While America recently elected a new and possibly anti-environmental Congress, we are still ending 2014 on a high note with two environmental victories. Both originated in the executive branch of government--one in our national government and the other in the New York state government. Over the past week: 1) EPA...

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Educating the First Generation of Sustainability Managers

(2) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 8:37 AM

The field of organizational management is undergoing a fundamental transition, one of a number that have taken place over the past century or so. At the start of the 20th century, management needed to understand mass production and the first complex supply chains, and so, under Taylorism, labor was mistakenly...

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NYC's de Blasio Administration and the Path to 80 Percent Greenhouse Gas Reductions

(2) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 8:33 AM

Although it took almost a year to get there, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has put in place the third critical piece of the city's sustainability leadership. Last week, he appointed Nilda Mesa, an experienced sustainability professional, as the first director of a new Office of...

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Everyone Likes to Breathe

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

This past week, at President Obama's direction, the EPA continued to use its extensive powers under the Clean Air Act (thank you, 1970 U.S. Congress) and announced a new, tighter regulation on ozone pollution. As one might expect, these rules are being described by some in the new Republican Congress...

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America's Infrastructure Disinvestment Will Slow the Development of a Sustainable Economy

(40) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 10:30 AM

This is the 50th anniversary of New York's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the span that connects Staten Island with Brooklyn. As a child growing up in Brooklyn I remember watching its towers rise as if by magic. I always connected it with the 1964 World's Fair which took place the...

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The Importance of the U.S.-China Climate Accord

(2) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 8:29 AM

Last week, the United States pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% from 2005 levels before 2025, and China agreed to stop growing its carbon emissions by 2030. Since we do not have a world government and are unlikely to get one anytime soon, we are dependent on...

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Under the Republican Congress, All Environmental Politics Will Be Local

(1) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 8:43 AM

With the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate in January, Oklahoma's Senator James Inhofe is likely to once again serve as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a position he held from 2003-2008 during George W. Bush's presidency. Senator Inhofe has called climate science a hoax and...

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A Key Lesson from Superstorm Sandy: We Still Need a Rainy Day Fund

(0) Comments | Posted November 3, 2014 | 8:49 AM

Last week was the second anniversary of "superstorm" Sandy and, for many in the northeast, it is a reminder of the fragility and interdependence of modern life. The New York Times profiled the transformative effect the storm had on some of the families most affected by the storm,...

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The Symbolic Politics of Climate Diplomacy

(9) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 10:05 AM

Last week, the European Union began the process of setting the agenda for the climate negotiations scheduled for Paris in late 2015. They agreed that by 2030 Europe would cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels. Writing in the New York Times, James Kanter reported that environmental...

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Why We Are Working With Colleagues in China to Develop Sustainability Metrics

(1) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 9:38 AM

I am in no way an expert on China, but one need not be an expert to understand that China's elite knows they are in the midst of a deep crisis of environmental sustainability. I visited Beijing last week to finalize a partnership between Columbia University's Earth Institute Research Program...

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Sustainable Consumption and the World of Endless Images, Voices, and Ideas

(1) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 9:23 AM

The world we are creating with global communications and global economic production is fast becoming a true global society. Nevertheless, place -- or home -- continues to have meaning as both communities and nations become even more treasured in a world of mass-produced impressions and fear of homogenization. Today, young...

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The Transition to Renewable Energy Is Difficult But Feasible

(39) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 12:46 PM

The United States Energy Information Agency estimates that 11 percent of the world's total energy comes from renewable sources, a number they project will grow modestly to 15 percent by 2040. They also estimate that 21 percent of the world's electricity came from renewable energy in 2011, and...

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It's Time to Abandon the Delusion of a Carbon Tax

(55) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 9:53 AM

At the United Nations last week, President Obama urged the nations of the world to follow our lead and begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The president has moved aggressively to use the powers of the Clean Air Act to begin the decade-long process of regulating greenhouse gases as air...

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Mayor Bill de Blasio Pivots Toward a Sustainable New York City

(3) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 11:11 AM

Nine months into his mayoralty, with over 300,000 climate marchers having massed in Manhattan, and a U.N. climate meeting set to start, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided the time is right to renew the city's sustainability effort. The mayor and his team have announced the goal...

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Work and a Sustainable Future

(1) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 10:11 AM

I teach management at Columbia to current and aspiring sustainability professionals, and my colleagues and I work hard to ensure that our curriculum is evolving and keeping pace with a rapidly changing field. We have developed new courses in sustainability metrics, green building, energy analysis, water governance, green accounting, entrepreneurship...

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