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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

Educating the First Generation of Sustainability Managers

(0) 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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Learning from the Era of American Environmental Leadership

(3) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 10:20 AM

This past week, I had the honor of attending a new class at Columbia taught by Tom Jorling and Leon Billings on the origins of American environmental law. Jorling and Billings have accomplished a great deal in their long careers. Billings worked for Senator Ed Muskie and was...

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Plastic Bags, Nuclear Waste and a Toxic Planet

(2) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 2:25 PM

Last week we saw California move a step closer to banning one-time-use plastic bags and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission legalize above-ground storage of nuclear waste. What's the connection? Every once in a while I think it is useful to turn aside from the deeply rooted, but relatively straightforward problem...

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Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

(5) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 9:50 AM

It is obvious that the United States federal government is struggling to perform basic governance functions and, as I wrote earlier this summer, it is incapable of leading the transition to a renewable economy. Nevertheless, one of the key elements of that transition, the adoption of solar power,...

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

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 10:07 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 | 10:04 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 | 9:52 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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