Courses

The Certification of Professional Achievement in Sustainable Finance requires the successful completion of 12 credits. Students choose four 3-point courses from the following course offerings. Please click on course titles below to see course descriptions.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.


Summer 2016

Fall 2016


SUMA PS5380. Financing Natural Infrastructure. 3 pts.

Instructors

Adam Freed and Eron G Bloomgarden

Description

“Natural infrastructure”—the use of natural or engineered ecosystems and natural areas to provide services that could be provided through “grey infrastructure”—has received increasing attention as an alternative to traditional engineering solutions to protect water supplies, reduce flood risks, manage stormwater, and provide clean air. In addition, conservation is seen as a means of providing sustainable food supplies in response to increasing demand. While “greening” infrastructure is one aspect of the solution, a critical need is finding new ways to finance the construction and operation of our infrastructure in general. This course will explore the potential for natural infrastructure to address—in place of or in conjunction with grey infrastructure—many of the challenges that we face and the financing tools that could be utilized to accelerate and take to scale its adoption. The course will draw heavily from “real-world” examples in cities, corporations, financial institutions, and national and subnational governments that have utilized natural infrastructure and/or innovative financing mechanisms to meet their needs. Through a mix of lectures, case studies, problem sets, and guest lectures, students will gain the skills needed to quantify the value of ecosystem services and understand how private investment and financial mechanisms could accelerate the use of natural infrastructure.

SUMA PS5033. Decision Models and Management. 3 pts.

Instructor

Lucius J Riccio

Description

This course provides an introduction to computer-based models for decision-making. The emphasis is on models that are widely used in diverse industries and functional areas, including finance, accounting, operations, and marketing. Applications will include advertising planning, revenue management, asset-liability management, environmental policy modeling, portfolio optimization, and corporate risk management, among others.

The applicability and usage of computer-based models have increased dramatically in recent years, due to the extraordinary improvements in computer, information and communication technologies, including not just hardware but also model-solution techniques and user interfaces. Twenty years ago working with a model meant using an expensive mainframe computer, learning a complex programming language, and struggling to compile data by hand; the entire process was clearly marked "experts only." The rise of personal computers, friendly interfaces (such as spreadsheets), and large databases has made modeling far more accessible to managers. Information has come to be recognized as a critical resource, and models play a key role in deploying this resource, in organizing and structuring information so that it can be used productively. This course satisfies the M.S. in Sustainability Management program's quantitative analysis curriculum area requirement.

SUMA PS5190. Economics of Sustainability Management. 3 pts.

Instructor

Alexander Heil

Description

This course builds on core economics courses and addresses issues of environmental, resource and sustainable economics. It focuses on the interaction between markets and the environment; policy issues related to optimal extraction and pricing; property rights in industrial and developing countries and how they affect international trade in goods such as timber, wood pulp, and oil. An important goal of the class is to have students work in groups to apply economic concepts to current public policy issues having to do with urban environmental and earth systems. The use of the world's water bodies and the atmosphere as economic inputs to production are also examined. The economics of renewable resources is described and sustainable economic development models are discussed and analyzed. Some time will also be devoted to international trade and regulation, and industrial organization issues. Students not only learn economic concepts, but they will also learn how to explain them to decision-makers. The instructor will tailor this course to the skill level of the students in order to most effectively suit the needs of the class.

SUMA PS5142. Sustainable Finance. 3 pts.

Instructor

Bruce Kahn

Description

This course is an introduction to how sustainability/ESG (economic, environmental, social & governance) issues have become financially material to the global credit, underwriting, insurance, risk management, venture capital and asset management capital markets. These issues have a direct impact on risk exposure and the quality of public, private and government debt/equity investments. By the end of the course, students should understand how these issues affect investment decisions made by institutional investors, corporate lenders, insurance companies, asset management funds, hedge funds, venture capitalists and retail investors, as well as business decisions made by corporate managers. They will be exposed to the global sources of environmental/sustainability corporate performance information, how "best-in-class" environmental investment relates to, and is different from, socially-responsible investing (SRI), and differences between European, North American and Asian markets. Risk management aspects of sustainable finance will be addressed, especially in regards to emerging finance areas such as carbon finance, corporate governance, sustainable development and agriculture/water development projects. SEC Reporting requirements for sustainability risks and opportunities, and the prospect of the issuance of "Integrated Corporate Reports" that combine financial and sustainability reporting will be discussed. The ethics of sustainability issues and their impact on management & finance will also be addressed.

SUMA PS5175. Global Environmental Markets. 3 pts.

Instructor

Eron Bloomgarden

Description

The course will examine the theory and practice of environmental markets and will consider why and how emissions can now be traded. Climate change, carbon markets and the international agreements that underpin carbon markets will be discussed. The class will also look at the role of the public sector, including various U.N. agencies, multilaterals such as the World Bank, and the relevant United States regulatory agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the crucial role played by the private sector. The course will also examine markets for ecosystem services and other environmental markets including those for renewable energy and the US acid rain program. The course will end with a look to the future, to the role of the developing world, to the direction that international negotiations are heading and to programs such as avoided deforestation (REDD).

SUMA PS5195. Green Accounting. 3 pts.

Instructor

William G. Russell

Description

The course introduces practitioners of environmental science and sustainability management to a number of approaches to accounting for environmental costs in business and policy. The course provides a basic introduction to financial accounting and analyzes the income statement, cash flow statement and the balance sheet using examples of cleantech and resource extraction companies. Conventional cost and management accounting concepts for business entities are introduced, with a focus on accounting for waste, depletion and byproducts. Green accounting methodologies with a systems focus such as life cycle analysis and sustainability metrics are presented. Conventional national income accounting is introduced and critically evaluated, with a detailed examination of green accounting alternatives. Worked examples and case studies are integral to each topic.

SUMA PS5650. Solar Project Development. 3 pts.

Instructor

Daniel Giuffrida

Description

At the end of this course, students will be prepared to fully evaluate the technical and financial aspects of a solar project. They will be equipped with skills allowing them to either develop or rigorously vet solar project proposals. The course introduces and provides students with a holistic understanding of the end-to-end solar development process. The course has two goals: A) To provide students a deep understanding of the dozens of critical interrelated steps critical to developing a successful operating solar project. B) To equip the students with the tools and understanding of the skills necessary to develop a solar project beginning with site selection encompassing the entire process to commissioning and operations. We begin the course providing the students with an understanding of the different segments of the solar industry; covering the upstream business, the main players both upstream and downstream and then outlining the different downstream markets: utility, commercial, and residential. We will then hone in on the distributed generation segment of the market; commercial, and residential. To begin, we will cover the critical value drivers of solar: sunlight resource, grid energy cost, tax credits, state and utility incentives including renewable energy credit markets. Energy consumption and production, despite what critics will say about renewables, is the main value driver of the move to renewables. In that light, we will cover in detail, net metering, national and local electricity markets, and electric utility tariff structure to understand how value is generated and measured. We will conduct energy consumption analysis for different end-users to see how solar can and will be deployed and valued across different geographic and utility tariff classes.

SUMA PS5197. Financing the Green Economy. 3 pts.

Instructor

Scott Fisher

Description

This finance course gives students a foundation in finance and financial models, and an understanding of how environmental commodities markets regulate polluting industries and provide incentives for encouraging desired behaviors. Students will also investigate the credibility of “non-financial metrics” that often accompany sustainability efforts.

This course is designed to explore the large-scale transition to a low-carbon economy through several distinct vantage points, including emerging environmental markets, new businesses and industries positioned to capitalize on perceived market opportunities in addressing environmental and other national priorities, and the effects of changing energy and climate change policies on prevailing social norms.

By the end of the course, students should have a basic understanding of how emerging environmental markets currently function and may be expected to function in the future. In addition, students will understand how such markets are designed and regulated to achieve policy objectives. Students should also gain an understanding of who the “players” are in new businesses and industries affecting change in this space and for their own view of their likelihood of success. In addition—students should come away with an understanding of the main drivers of policy initiatives—including the underlying politics—that have shaped the environmental financé field to date and what drivers are influencing the current debate at the federal, state, and local levels. Appreciating the issues at the intersection of markets, commercial interests, and policy should prepare students to pursue further scholarship in related areas and equip them with an understanding of the dynamics and players that will serve them well in pursuing work professionally in the environmental finance industry, or in related commercial, governmental, and not-for-profit organizations.

SUMA PS5020. Cost Benefit Analysis. 3 pts.

Instructor

Satyajit Bose

Description

The course introduces practitioners of environmental science and sustainability management to the techniques of preparing a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), including microeconomic foundations, valuation methods, discounting, the impact of uncertainty and optionality, and distributional consequences. The course provides a basic introduction to revealed preference, contingent valuation and benefits transfer method of valuing environmental impacts. The use and interpretation of CBA in specific cases is critically evaluated, with a detailed examination of alternative approaches. Worked examples and case studies are integral to each topic.

SUMA PS5150. Energy and Sustainable Development. 3 pts.

Instructor

Phil LaRocco

Description

This course explores the tension and ambiguity that characterizes energy and development issues in the world's most marginal markets; the inadequacies of business-as-usual energy planning and implementation in these markets; and, the potential of non-traditional energy businesses, projects and programs to reach beyond business-as-usual approaches. It mixes the topics of cleaner energy production and use, energy efficiency and waste reduction and energy access and energy poverty in a way that points participants to a different framework for analyzing options to combat climate change, reduce waste and reach un-served and under-served populations. Its entry point and theme is “energy through enterprise.” It uses individual enterprise examples to examine resources and technologies, business and program models, policies and institutional approaches, and the analysis of macro (country), meso (sector), and micro (transactions). Participants learn and use a set of frameworks to achieve a more balanced view of activities at all three of the levels.

SUMA PS5440.  ESG Investing and Responsible Investment Practices.  3 pts.

Instructor

Rina Kupferschmid-Rojas

Description

The course has been designed to provide students with a basic understanding of financial markets and investment fundamentals while demonstrating how Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors can be used along with traditional financial metrics to assess the risks and opportunities of investment decisions. The course will include a review of the most material ESG issues faced across a range of sectors, geographies and asset classes. Students will become familiar with the main policies, regulations, frameworks and market initiatives shaping ESG investment decisions today. The course will also explore the major obstacles facing investors and the future of how data and technology may address these issues.

SUMA PS5770.  The Business and Ecology of Sustainable Forestry.  3 pts.

Description

The course intends to give an overview of forests – how they function, and how they can be managed sustainably. The course addresses both the ecology and economics of forests. Combining the study of these two disciplines is necessary to understand and develop management actions and solutions to deforestation. The emphasis in integrating ecology and economics is going to be on learning tools and techniques for managing forests. The course accounts both for North American and forests in other countries, including tropical ones. Current typical conceptions of forests are somewhat paradoxical: forests are considered marginal in sustainability, and yet they connect with many issues of central concern such as biodiversity, climate change, household energy for the poor, homelands for indigenous people, water and human shelter, to name a few. More specifically, forests provide a fruitful line of inquiry into many environmental issues, such as the complex balances within ecosystems, global cycling of elements, such as carbon, the nature of sustainability, and interactions between economic development and the conservation of nature. For example, we will study biodiversity in forests. Much biodiversity is found outside of forests, but our study will provide an understanding of the ecological dynamics involved with biodiversity, the possible management options, and its importance for human survival. The course is going to emphasize the role of forests in the carbon cycle and the contribution of deforestation to climate change.