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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

The False Trade-Off Between Economic Growth and Environmental Protection

(2) Comments | Posted May 23, 2016 | 8:56 AM

In an excellent piece in the New York Times, Erica Goode summarized a recent report from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.). According to Goode:

The report, which compiled air quality readings from 3,000 cities in 103 countries, found that more than 80 percent of people in those...

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A New Park Rises From an Old Garbage Dump: Parks as Critical Elements of Urban Infrastructure

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2016 | 8:35 AM

Yesterday was a historic day for parks in New York City. While most tourists do not get to see much of Staten Island beyond the ferry terminal, a new urban park is taking shape in that borough on the site of the city's last garbage dump (I mean "landfill"). Sunday,...

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New York City's Bag Fee and the Circular Economy

(5) Comments | Posted May 9, 2016 | 8:12 AM

Recently, New York's city government voted to require that stores charge five cents for all plastic and paper bags currently given away free to customers. According to J. David Goodman of the New York Times:

The City Council voted 28 to 20 on Thursday to require certain...

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Open Dialogue and Sustainability Education

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2016 | 8:19 AM

For academics, the month of May signifies the end of the year, a time to assess the work of your students, and the start of revising courses for the next academic year. Here at Columbia, this is reinforced by the transformation of our town center, "College Walk," into a small...

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The Climate Crisis and the Transition to a Renewable Economy

(1) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 8:37 AM

The difficult process of transitioning to a renewable resource-based economy requires us to ask: how does political, economic and social change happen? To answer that question it's helpful to look at the changes we have seen over the past century and also ask: how did they happen? It's easy to...

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Fossil Fuel Companies Need to Become Renewable Energy Companies

(4) Comments | Posted April 18, 2016 | 8:04 AM

It seems clear that Exxon Mobil and other parts of the fossil fuel industry have tried to suppress the science of climate change. I am not surprised that these companies acted in their short-term self-interest, and I expect them to continue to advance those interests. Their deception is disappointing and...

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The Importance of New York City's Water Infrastructure

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2016 | 8:12 AM

Here in New York City, we had a fascinating week in the politics of our water supply. On April 5th, New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer wrote an excellent, well-sourced, and somewhat depressing article about the de Blasio administration's defunding of the last stages of the city's third...

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Moving the Global Economy Toward Sustainability

(2) Comments | Posted April 4, 2016 | 8:19 AM

The technology of information, communication and transportation has made it possible for a global economy to emerge. Globalization has a logic of its own as companies seek to form or join networks that maximize their efficiency, market penetration and, ultimately, profit. When organizations expand the location of their partners and...

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Zero Waste in San Francisco and New York: A Tale of Two Cities

(2) Comments | Posted March 28, 2016 | 8:21 AM

One of the goals of a sustainable city is to effectively manage material flows into and out of the city. Garbage, or what environmental engineers call solid waste, presents some of the most difficult challenges to urban sustainability. San Francisco may well be on the way to achieving their goal...

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The Presidency and Sustainability

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2016 | 8:17 AM

As Americans watch the current presidential campaign, President Obama's approval ratings continue to grow. We have a president in tune with contemporary culture, with his ego and insecurities in check as he faces the unique work of the American presidency. In President Obama's second term, he has worked the seams...

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The Technological World and the Risk of Nuclear Power

(17) Comments | Posted March 14, 2016 | 8:39 AM

This past week, the New York Times' Jonathan Soble reminded us that the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster that took place five years ago will still take decades to complete. It was a stark reminder of the limits and dangers of modern technology. As Soble...

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Slowly Moving to Protect the Environment

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2016 | 7:50 AM

Many of us feel a sense of urgency when we think of the steps needed to preserve our planet, but governments attempting to maintain economic well-being and stay in power continue to balance change with stability. I think that more and more people in power understand the need to address...

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Protecting Our Drinking Water

(2) Comments | Posted February 29, 2016 | 7:32 AM

As America's population grows, people and businesses continue to settle in places that used to be left alone, damaging some of the natural systems that provide and clean our water. In addition, as our infrastructure corrodes, our water supply becomes more susceptible to leaks and contamination. Unlike the problem of...

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Education and Sustainability

(1) Comments | Posted February 22, 2016 | 7:22 AM

In case you haven't noticed, this is a presidential election year and there is a lot of huffing and puffing about test scores and educational achievement. According to some of our politicians, our poor education system is causing America to fall behind in the great race to dominate the global...

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Federal Environmental Policy Can't Find the 21st Century

(0) Comments | Posted February 15, 2016 | 7:30 AM

One of the very few efforts to update federal environmental policy is the Clean Power Plan rule that is designed to reduce America's carbon footprint. Rather than embracing this belated response to their own decision requiring such a rule, the Supreme Court recently signaled reservations about the Environmental Protection Agency's...

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The Sustainable City

(0) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 8:04 AM

A great paradox of the transition to a sustainable economy is that it will not be achieved in rural places in harmony with nature, but in cities built to exploit nature without destroying it. The problem with the idea of getting "back" to nature is that there are too many...

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Come on Mr. Mayor, Leave the Central Park Carriage Horses Alone

(28) Comments | Posted February 1, 2016 | 7:18 AM

New York City is a wonderful city, but, like many wonderful places, it has its problems: homelessness, poverty, underperforming schools, decaying infrastructure, 600 miles of vulnerable coastline, and the ever present threat of crime and terrorism. Nowhere on the list of priorities or problems would I place the horse-drawn carriages...

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The Clean Power Plan Overcomes Another Attack

(1) Comments | Posted January 25, 2016 | 7:31 AM

This past week, a federal appeals panel rejected an effort to block the Clean Power Rule while the rule is being challenged in the federal court system. Although the latest decision does not mean that the courts will uphold the rule, it does mean that the process of implementation will...

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There's Plenty of Blame for Flint, Michigan's Water Crisis

(124) Comments | Posted January 19, 2016 | 7:55 AM

Whenever I hear that environmental protection is a partisan issue, I'm reminded of New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's famous statement that there is no Democratic or Republican way to pick up the garbage. The provision of clean air, safe drinking water, solid waste management and flood control are all...

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A Sustainable Lifestyle and the Changing Nature of Work

(0) Comments | Posted January 11, 2016 | 7:36 AM

Environmental advocates often focus on individual behavior and say we need to develop lifestyles that consume less and do not damage ecosystems. On a worldwide basis with billions of people aspiring to higher levels of material consumption, individual reductions in consumption in the developed world will have little real impact....

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