New students in the Sustainability Management program for Spring will receive course planning details at the end of November and register for classes in the second week of January.
New students in the Sustainability Management program for Fall will receive course planning details in the middle of July and register for classes in the last week of August.
Please click on course titles below to see course descriptions.
Complete listing of Sustainability Management program courses
- SUMA PS5020. Cost Benefit Analysis. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5021. Theory and Practice of Lifecycle Assessment. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5025. Corporate Sustainability Reporting and Strategy. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5035. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions: Measuring and Minimizing the Carbon Footprint. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5033. Decision Models and Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS4100. Sustainability Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5119. Building Energy Workshop. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS4130. Sustainable Cities. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5135. Energy Analysis for Energy Efficiency. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5140. Sustainability Science. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5142. Sustainable Finance. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS4145. Science of Sustainable Water. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5146. Water Systems Analysis. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5147. Water Resources and Climate. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5150. Energy and Sustainable Development. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5155. Energy Markets and Innovation. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5162. Responsibility and Resilience in the Built Environment. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5169. Sustainability Metrics. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5170. Sustainable Operations. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5175. Global Environmental Markets. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5180. Writing About Global Science for the International Media. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS4190. Economics of Sustainability Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5193. Statistics for Sustainability Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5197. Financing the Clean Energy Economy. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5200. Integrative Capstone Workshop in Sustainability Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5205. Geographic Information System (GIS) for Sustainability Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5230. The Earth’s Climate System. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS4235. The Science of Urban Ecology. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5301. International Environmental Law. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS4310. Practicum in Innovative Sustainability Leadership. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5330. Disaster Risk Management and Sustainable Urban Resilience. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5360. Sustainability Technology and the Evolution of Smart Cities. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5370. Implementation of Corporate Sustainability Strategies. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5375. State of the Data in Sustainability. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5380. Financing Natural Infrastructure. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5440. ESG Investing and Responsible Investment Practices. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5445. Impact Finance for Sustainability Practitioners. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5470. Circular Economy for Sustainability Professionals. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5490. Women in Cities: Integrating Needs, Rights, Access and Opportunity into Sustainable Urban Design, Planning and Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5525. Sustainability and Consumerism. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5530. The Urbanization Paradox: Crisis and Opportunity for Global Sustainability. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5650. Solar Project Development. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5690. Environmental Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5700. Ethics and Values for Sustainability Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5720. Policy and Legal Context of Sustainability Management. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS4734. Earth Institute Practicum. 3 pts.
- SUMA PS5701. Water Governance. 3 pts.
This course is about cost-benefit analysis and the economic evaluations of policies and projects. Cost benefit analysis (CBA) consists of a comprehensive set of techniques used to evaluate government programs. It is now routinely applied in such program areas as transportation, water projects, health, training and education, criminal justice, environmental protection, urban policy and even in the international arena such as foreign direct investment. Many of the techniques of CBA can also be applied to private sector decision-making. The objective of CBA is to determine whether the benefits of a particular program, policy or decision outweigh its costs. The techniques used to determine this are sometimes quite simple, but on other, increasingly frequent occasions are highly sophisticated. Sophisticated cost benefit studies are based on a framework that utilizes the basic concepts of economic theory. In addition, statistical and econometric analyses are often needed to estimate program effects from diverse available data. The course has two parts: methodology and practice. The goal is for students to be practically adept to undertake an independent cost-benefit analysis. This course satisfies the MS in Sustainability Management program's curriculum requirement in economics.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a methodology to assess the environmental impact of products, services, and industrial processes is an increasingly important tool in corporate sustainability management. This course teaches both the theoretical framework as well as step-by-step practical guidelines of conducting LCAs in companies and organizations. Particular emphasis is placed on separating the more academic, but less practically relevant aspects of LCA (which will receive less focus) from the actual practical challenges of LCA (which will be covered in detail, including case studies). The course also covers the application of LCA metrics in a companies’ management and discusses the methodological weaknesses that make such application difficult, including how these can be overcome. Product carbon footprinting (as one form of LCA) receives particular focus, owing to its widespread practical use in recent and future sustainability management.
The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of trends and best practices in corporate communications relating to sustainability, with a particular focus on global sustainability reporting frameworks and green marketing communications. It is designed for those who hold/will hold positions in organizations with responsibilities for communicating the sustainability goals, challenges and achievements, as well as accurately and honestly communicating the environmental aspects of an organization’s products and services. Increasingly, large corporations are creating c-suite roles or dedicated departments to oversee this function. More typically, multiple functions contribute information such as: Corporate Communications, Marketing, Community Affairs, Public Policy, Environmental Health & Safety, R&D, Facilities, Operations and Legal. Benefits of reporting range from building trust with stakeholders, and uncovering risks and opportunities; to contributing to stronger long-term business strategy, and creating new products and services.
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.
This course provides students with the knowledge and skills to account for and manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which contribute to global climate change. The course will address the importance of using estimation techniques to create GHG emissions inventories for organizations as well as for economic activities, such as transportation. The course will provide students an understanding of the protocols that govern the practice of carbon accounting, and the standards by which GHG emissions inventories are verified and disclosed to the public. Moreover, the course will help students understand how to use carbon accounting as the basis for developing and prioritizing emissions reduction strategies for the purpose of mitigating climate change risks.
This introductory course in the program discipline will begin by clearly defining what sustainability management is and determining if a sustainable economy is actually feasible. Students will learn to connect environmental protection to organizational management by exploring the technical, financial, managerial, and political challenges of effectively managing a sustainable environment and economy. This course is taught in a case-based format and will seek to help students learn the basics of management, environmental policy and sustainability economics.
Sustainability management matters because we only have one planet, and we must learn how to manage our organizations in a way that ensures that the health of our planet can be maintained and bettered. This course is designed to introduce students to the field of sustainability management. It is not an academic course that reviews the literature of the field and discusses how scholars think about the management of organizations that are environmentally sound. It is a practical course organized around the core concepts of sustainability.
Each week students will read one or two case studies and some background material designed to help students answer the questions posed at the end of each case exercise. The cases will always pose practical issues for decision makers to address—but issues that are best addressed with a firm grounding in the literature of management and sustainability. This course will be offered in both the fall and the spring. In the fall the instructor is Steven Cohen and in the spring the instructor is Howard Apsan.
The “built environment” includes more than the bricks and mortar (and other materials and systems) that make up the buildings we inhabit. It also includes the environmental forces acting on a building, from gravity and weather to urban stresses, and the way we humans interact in the spaces we make for ourselves. A full understanding of building energy assessment should take all of this into account. This approach includes complexities and contradictions that neither digital modeling nor exclusively bricks-and-mortar analyses alone can fully apprehend.
This course prepares students to understand, analyze, and develop policies and procedures to address sustainability issues faced by urban centers in the developed and developing world, their decision-makers, and inhabitants. Enrolled students are assumed to have had no previous in-depth exposure to sustainable urban development and urban planning. By the end of the course, students will have learned the following skills necessary to develop strategies and related actions to enhance sustainability of cities: identify and support good practices in green and efficient urban development and planning; develop policies and foster technologies used to promote energy efficiency and reduced GHG emissions from buildings and transportation; develop policies and foster technologies necessary to ensure access to clean water; develop policies and foster technologies necessary for the effective collection, disposal, and possible re-use of waste; create approaches to climate change adaptation measures undertaken by cities; develop, track, and analyze sustainability metrics and indicators for urban centers. This course can also be counted toward Area 1: Integrative Sustainability Management.
Best practice in energy management will always involve some level of complex engineering to survey existing conditions and predict energy savings from various improvement options. Sustainability managers need to understand how to manage and quality control that analysis and to translate the opportunity it reveals to decision makers within their organization. This class seeks to empower students to do that by providing an understanding of building systems and methods for quantitatively analyzing the performance of alternatives. At the end of this course, students will be able to be able to analyze the energy performance of an organization’s buildings and operations in order to understand how it can reduce resource utilization and environmental impact. This class requires an understanding of Microsoft Excel and an enthusiasm for quantitative analysis. Although there are no prerequisites for the class, an ability to do some math is required. If you are not interested in dealing with technical information, this class is not for you.
Global environmental threats have suddenly become part of our everyday life, both in the form of news about natural disasters in different parts of the world and through a series of new scientific discoveries. Scientific knowledge about our planet as a system in which there is interplay between the atmosphere, oceans and land surfaces has increased dramatically in recent decades. In step with that development it is becoming progressively clearer that our political and economic systems must take these global challenges seriously.
Sustainable development was launched 20 years ago as society’s response both to conventional social problems, such as poverty, conflicts and ill-health, and to the new global environmental problems, such as climate changes, the loss of biological diversity, water shortage and changes in land-use. That means that sustainability science is a broad scientific field which studies integrated social and natural systems, processes and structures and in which the objective of knowledge is the sustainable development of society. This interdisciplinary course seeks to provide a general overview in sustainability science and to help students develop new knowledge in order to better understand society’s role as communities begin transitioning towards sustainable development.
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 and finance will also be addressed.
This course satisfies the program's financial management requirement while giving students a foundation in how sustainability issues affect the various sectors of finance and financial approaches, and an understanding of how integrating sustainability principles and practices into finance can be used to make a business become more efficient, effective, reduce risks, create opportunities and provide competitive advantage, for both companies and financial firms alike. Students will gain the tools to evaluate, quantify and assess environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics of companies as a way of differentiating investment choices, as part of understanding why non-financial metrics now represent 75-80% of the market value of publicly-traded companies. This course satisfies the M.S. in Sustainability Management program's general and financial management curriculum area requirement.
The sustainability of water resources is a critical issue facing society over the coming decades. Water resources are affected by changes not only in climate but also in population, economic growth, technological change, and other socioeconomic factors. In addition, they serve a dual purpose; water resources are critical to both human society and natural ecosystems. The objective of this course is to first provide students with a fundamental understanding of key hydrological processes. Students will then use this understanding to explore various sustainable strategies for integrated water resources management. Numerous case studies will be highlighted throughout the course to illustrate real world, practical challenges faced by water managers. Students will be asked to think critically and to use basic quantitative and management skills to answer questions related to sustainable water development. Considering the importance of water to society the understanding that students obtain from this course will be an essential part of their training in sustainable management.
This class provides a structured introduction to the integrated analysis of physical and institutional systems for water management and development. Multiple scales and settings, from developing country villages to a US city water supply to regional watershed restoration to national planning are considered. The emerging global water crisis driven by rapid population growth and its relation to agricultural water use will be a recurrent theme through the class. Novel topics include the consideration of climate variability and change in developing system operation rules and infrastructure planning. The course includes modules on integrated water management and water systems analysis including water supply/demand imbalances, the modeling and design of a regulatory system for water allocation and tools for conservation incentives and insurance system design; and a multi-scale view of operation and planning from weekly to seasonal to decadal planning for multiple, competing objective. There will be guest lectures from engineers/scientist/professors working in the water sector. This course provides students with an analytic framework for operating, managing, and planning water systems, considering values and needs.
The fragility of water resources under a changing climate has received increasing awareness amongst policy makers, planning and environmental agencies, stakeholders and beyond; driven by exciting developments in climate science and bolstered by a surge in media coverage.
An important driver of water resource availability is the interaction between the hydrological cycle and the climate system. With climate models projecting a future of an increasingly variable and extreme climate system, the resulting impacts on the water cycle are of key relevance to the sustainable management of water resources.
This course will cover the science needed to understand the main features of the global hydrological cycle, the link between hydrology and climate, and how climate change is affecting the water cycle, and by association the natural and human systems. Using this knowledge, students will use case studies and review scientific literature to critically evaluate real-world water security issues and develop sustainable solutions to address them.
The interaction between water and climate plays and integral role on the coupling between natural and human systems, and the experiences gained in this course are a valuable complement to other courses in the Sustainable Management Program.
The purpose of this course is to orient students to the dynamic opportunities that exist in the ongoing transformation of the global energy industry. Existing energy sources and the infrastructures that deliver them to users around the world are undergoing a period of rapid change. Limits to growth, rapidly fluctuating raw material prices, and the emergence of new technology options all contribute to heightened risk and opportunity in the energy sector.
What does our built environment tell us about sustainability? About our practices and values? How does it perform within the systems and cycles of the larger anthropogenic environment we inhabit? This course will consider analytical paradigms for understanding the inputs and throughputs of energy, material and labor as a method for quantifying resources. However, it will also offer methods to describe and account for the cultural significance that our environment represents within a forward-looking, critical context. You will be asked to attend weekly lectures and to prepare readings for discussion. In addition, one short group project and one term group project will challenge and train you to think integrally about the interplay of energy, material resources, labor and culture in an urban context – the Brooklyn Navy Yard redevelopment project. These group projects will be reviewed during in-class lab times and ultimately will be presented publicly to a group of guest critics. Lecture and workshop topics include systems paradigms, settlements and aggregations, thermal and electrical energy principles, built environment hydrology and visual communications strategies for sustainability management; case study presentations will bring these concepts to life.
This course will present the challenges attached to the transition towards low carbon economies. Based on empirical data and experience, a discussion of the different policy instruments is proposed, along with an analysis of key stakeholder strategies. Specific attention will be given to the specificity of different contexts (developed, emerging and developing countries) and economic sectors in evaluating the efficiency and the effectiveness of alternative policy design in driving technological, economical and societal change. We will then explore the difficulty to build collective action at the global level, by revisiting the most significant moments in the history of negotiation, and discuss possible avenues forward. This course fulfills the M.S. in Sustainability Management Public Policy curriculum area requirement.
The course will focus on sustainability indicators, the process through which they were developed, and how they are used to shape policy and track progress. This course will examine the science and history of our current environmental crisis with a focus on the various policy initiatives and actions being taken globally and locally including the specific efforts of the C40 Cities (40 largest cities) to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The class will look at case studies from different cities around the world as well as New York City's efforts through PlaNYC while introducing the principles underlying sustainability indicators-including greenhouse gas inventory protocols-and how they are used to influence and shape policies and decisions, and will offer students hands-on experience with these tools.
The goal of this is to make students acquainted with the debate, challenges, and opportunities of a changing climate. The course will focus on the solutions and responses to the climate change challenges facing cities using real world and current examples. The course will survey a broad range of responses to climate change from international frameworks and global treaties to specific actions at the local level. Students will be required to critically evaluate what they have read and heard. In addition, the course will give students an opportunity to learn how to express their ideas verbally and in written form and conduct critical analysis of environmental data to develop and implement public policy.
Assignments will give students the opportunity to use their technical and analytical skills while understanding the real world applications that will be important to their future professional work as planners, policymakers, advocates, architects, designers, and/or environmentalists. This course satisfies the M.S. in Sustainability Management's quantitative analysis requirement.
Manufacturing, logistics, and other operating facilities at the forefront of their industries know they must follow a path of continuous improvement in order to maintain a competitive advantage in the market place. In the 21st century, a production facility cannot maintain its competitive position or achieve continuous operating improvement without the successful implementation of strategic, well-designed, and well-implemented sustainability initiatives.
Sustainability improvements are critical at many points in an operation’s value chain, from initial product conception to production/manufacturing, distribution, and waste disposal. In today’s most successful companies, sustainability is taken into account in deciding on the location of a new facility and is engineered from the start into the product development, production, and distribution processes. In existing entities, process changes are regularly mandated in response to shifting market demands (new products or product attributes), efficiency opportunities (new process technologies), or cost reduction imperatives (materials or labor). Over the life of a production facility, changes in product attributes, business needs, and business processes have implications, whether intended or unintended, direct or indirect, in terms of raw material use, energy consumption, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste disposal, and ultimately, plant shutdown costs.
A sustainable, socially responsible, and financially-driven operation must develop, analyze, select, and implement measures that will help it capitalize on the opportunities for improved operating performance, and that will mitigate the inevitable unfavorable effects of business operations. This requires managers who can identify potential threats and challenges, develop strategies to address such circumstances, conduct the necessary quantitative and qualitative evaluations of competing alternatives, and make the necessary fact-based decisions. It also requires managers who can successfully articulate the necessary decisions to broad sets of stakeholders, from the facility manager to the chairman of the board, and from individual employees and their families to community organizations and governmental/regulatory agencies.
Harnessing the power of financial markets to address environmental challenges is not a new idea, yet it offers one of the most promising mechanisms to deal with many of the world’s most pressing issues including climate change, deforestation, acid rain, biodiversity and water. Environmental markets utilize transferable permits to control pollution, and have evolved from a little known policy tool to a broadly applied international program to address the largest global environmental challenges.
The course will examine the theory and practice of environmental markets and will consider why 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 various United States regulatory agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the part played by the private sector. 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).
This is an interdisciplinary workshop for scientists, future NGO workers and journalists seeking skills in communicating 21st century global science to the public. Scientists will be given journalism skills; journalists will learn how to use science as the basis of their story-telling.
The course is designed to give students exercises and real-world experiences in producing feature stories on global science topics. While most scientists and international affairs professionals have been trained to write in the style of peer-reviewed journals, we will focus on journalism techniques, learning how to translate global science into accessible true stories that reach wide audiences.
Science is performed by passionate individuals who use their intelligence and determination to seek answers from nature. By telling their histories and uncovering the drama of discovery, we believe that there are ways for science to be successfully communicated to readers who might otherwise fear it.
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. This course will be offered in both the fall and spring and will be taught by Satyajit Bose.
The course introduces practitioners of environmental science and sustainability management to the data analysis techniques and statistical methods which are indispensable to their work. The class teaches how to build statistical substantiation and to critically evaluate it in the context of environmental problems. The statistics topics and examples have been chosen for their special relevance to environmental problems, including applications in environmental monitoring, impact assessment, environmental valuation techniques and econometric analyses of sustainable development. Students are assumed to have had no previous exposure to statistics.
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.
The capstone course is a client-based workshop that will integrate each element of the curriculum into an applied project, giving students hands-on sustainability management experience. Workshop projects are necessary and appropriate elements of a balanced professional degree program. In this course students will learn how others manage programs and conduct analysis; they will apply what they have learned in the introductory course and other curricular areas to projects with real-world clients. Students will serve on teams and undertake a special analytic project and serve as consultants for public and nonprofit agencies, and therefore increase their understanding of the real-world constraints under which sustainability managers operate. The workshop also serves the purpose of sharpening the students analytical and communication skills, by allowing them to apply their previous experience and knowledge gained from the program to real-world problems. The required outputs for the workshop are a project control plan (PCP), a midterm briefing to the class, a final briefing to the class and the client, and a final report. The specific form of the report generated by each project is negotiated between the agency, the faculty advisor and the members of each consulting team. This course will be offered in the spring and will be taught by Louise Rosen. Starting in 2011 it will be offered in multiple sections in both the fall and spring semesters.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a system of computer software, data and analysis methods used to create, store, manage, digital information that allow us to create maps and dynamic models to analyze the physical and social processes of the world. This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of theoretical concepts underlying GIS systems and to give students a strong set of practical skills to use GIS for stainable development research. Through a mixture of lectures, readings, focused discussions, and hands-on exercises, students will acquire an understanding of the variety and structure of spatial data and databases, gain knowledge of the principles behind raster and vector based spatial analysis, and learn basic cartographic principles for producing maps that effectively communicate a message. Students will also learn to use newly emerging web based mapping tools such as Google Earth, Google Maps and similar tools to develop online interactive maps and graphics. The use of other geospatial technologies such as Remote Sensing and the Global Positioning System will also be explored in this class. Case studies examined in class will draw examples from a wide range of GIS applications developed to assist in the design, implementation and evaluation of sustainable development projects and programs. This course satisfies the M.S. in Sustainability Management program's quantitative analysis curriculum area requirement.
This course examines the fundamental physical processes that control the primary features and patterns of variability of the Earth’s climate system. Specific topics include energy balance and the greenhouse effect, the circulation of the oceans and atmosphere, land surface interactions and feedbacks, the role of the biosphere and cryosphere, paleoclimatology, climate modeling, and global and regional patterns of climate variability and change observed and expected as a consequence of anthropogenic influences.
The goal of the course is to provide students with the opportunity to gain a fundamental understanding of the processes that give rise to observed climate variability at a range of temporal and spatial scales. Students will develop the quantitative skills and knowledge to allow them to independently evaluate scientific claims about the state and behavior of Earth’s climate system in the past, present and future. The course includes case study modules that integrate an understanding of the physical processes and important feedbacks in the context of policy- and management-relevant aspects of current and future climate change.
Urban ecology is the study of both the interactions between organisms in an urban environment and the organisms' interactions with that environment. This course facilitates learning about 1) basic principles related to ecological interactions of life on Earth, 2) the causes and consequences of biological patterns and processes in urban environments, and 3) how ecology can inform land use decisions and applied management strategies of natural resources (e.g. water, air, biodiversity), particularly in urban environments.
This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the ways in which ecological perspectives can contribute to an interdisciplinary approach to solving environmental problems facing human society. Towards that end, this course covers topics ranging from applied ecology and conservation biology to sustainable development. It uses a cross disciplinary approach to understand the nature of ecology and biological conservation, as well as the social, philosophical and economic dimensions of land use strategies. Although in some ways cities may seem to be isolated from what we would otherwise call "nature," they are not, and this is a major theme of this course. This course includes discussion of biodiversity, ecosystem function, evolutionary processes, nutrient cycling, and natural resource availability in cities.
Students will acquire an understanding of the ecology of human-dominated landscapes, the theory and study of urban ecology, and the application of ecological principles to building sustainable urban communities. Students will also explore timely and important urban ecology issues including ecological restoration, invasive species, and biodiversity conservation.
The course will consider that agricultural production will need to double over the next three decades in order to meet growing demand. Demand for increased food, feed, fuel, and fiber is driven by increased population and an increase in the middle class in emerging economies. Coupled with a shift in dietary preferences from grains and staple carbohydrates to more protein-based diets including pork and beef (and perhaps fish), and biofuel production, more grains will be used to feed animals and fuel our automobiles. As an energy intensive sector, agriculture is closely linked to energy markets, with crop production and demand potentially adversely affected by higher oil prices, while crop inputs (such as fertilizer) may benefit from lower natural gas prices. These shifting dynamics will affect profit margins in different segments of the agricultural supply chain. In addition to energy prices, likely constraints to the productivity growth of agriculture include climate change, water resources, infrastructure, education and training of producers, and social / governmental policy that distort agricultural markets. New technologies, product platforms and innovative business models in agriculture technology and food systems will dominate the shift from industrial agriculture to a more socially just and environmentally sustainable food production and distribution system. The agricultural technology sector is large, comprising over 8,500 companies generating over $1.3 trillion of revenue per year, in the US alone. Moreover the volume of transactions in the agricultural sector is greater than $15 billion per year with an estimated peak of over $70 billion in 2007.
Public policy decisions made on the international level shape how sovereign governments and multinational corporations manage the man-made and natural environments. Sustainability practitioners must be able to understand global environmental issues and their effects on what they are charged to do. This course will provide students with an understanding of international environmental policy design and the resulting body of law in order to strengthen their ability to understand, interpret, and react to future developments in the sustainability management arena. This is not a comprehensive survey of international environmental law. After grounding in the history and foundational concepts of international environmental law and governance, students will explore competing policy shapers and the relevant law in the areas of stratospheric ozone protection, climate change, chemicals and waste management, biodiversity and forest conservation. The course will finish with a discussion of corporate standards and extraterritorial application of US environmental law.
The Practicum is an exploration of the most salient issues in the field of sustainability management through the knowledge and experience of leading sustainability practitioners. By the end of this course, students will: explain how managers develop sustainability strategy; how they gain support for sustainability initiatives; and how they evaluate sustainability performance in their organizations; analyze work processes and operations in order to understand how to improve resource efficiency and limit and environmental impact; identify models for financing and evaluating the economic performance of sustainability initiatives; discover the importance of varied stakeholder interests, inside and outside of organizations, in the formulation of sustainability initiatives; synthesize, apply and communicate sustainability knowledge to solve environmental problems. The course features a different lecture each week given by a leader in the field of sustainability from the public, non-profit, and private sectors. Each guest lecturer presents a new topic related to sustainability management and discusses his or her professional background and organization, sustainability program objectives, and concrete strategies for meeting those objectives. The lecture topics range from energy efficiency to greening the supply chain; and sustainability issues affecting cities to those that are priorities for large private firms. The course provides time for questions and discussion among the instructors, the lecturer, and the students, giving students valuable insights into how sustainability is managed in the real world. Assignments will reflect topics covered in the class lectures.
The course provides an introduction to techniques and themes in sustainable investing and examines the relationship between investment return expectations, economic growth and sustainability initiatives. The course has two related goals: to provide a set of tools to analyze the monetary value of sustainable investing and to examine the potential and pitfalls of the standard measures of growth, risk and return. This course is both for those who want to analyze investment choices for their sustainability impact and for those who want to develop a critical understanding of standard methods of investment analysis. Students are assumed to have had no previous exposure to economics or finance. By the end of the course, students should to be able to critique an investment rationale from their chosen sustainability perspective, as well as conceive, plan and implement a data collection strategy to gather the information necessary to evaluate an investment.
The aim of this course is to provide students with insights and skills they need to manage "natural" and man-made disasters during their professional careers. And manage these risks by trying to build sustainable resilience in communities and institutions at risk. Sustainable resilience is understood here as measures, both physical and social, that not only serve present but also future generations equitably, i.e. current resilience measures must not create undue liabilities for future generations. The course provides a conceptual framework that should allow students to develop and include policies into their future professional activities with the aim to minimize the exposure of people or entire populations to disasters and foster the populations' sustained disaster resilience. Students upon completion of the course should: have some understanding of the power and size distribution of natural and technological processes that during extreme events can lead to disasters; understand that certain aspects of natural and technological hazards are predictable, while others are not; appreciate that the risks taken by society, whether willingly or unwillingly, can generally be quantified in advance, accepting some uncertainty; have gained a basic understanding how risks can be managed using certain tools before, during and after extreme events; understand that often well intended aid to communities, whether as societal, economic or engineered aid or relief projects, whether on a local, regional, national or international scale, can expose these communities to risks that were not intended or not carefully enough assessed in advance; gain some understanding of the primary institutions and organizations on national (US) and international scales, that explicitly or implicitly are involved in management of natural and man-made disasters; know how to deepen on their own their understanding of the complex interaction between nature, the built environment and vulnerable societies during disasters, and improve their professional skills in risk management by introducing them to sources of information available on this subject in a wide variety of media; be able to cherish and apply the notion that disasters are manageable, and that as individuals and professionals we can make a difference, albeit mostly in incremental steps.
The progress of sustainability in recent years has almost entirely been a result in the evolution of smart, sustainable technology solutions. This course examines opportunities to drive sustainability through technology applications with the end goal of piecing together all of the pieces to envision an intelligent city. Companies are increasingly turning to technology to fulfill their sustainability goals considering many technologies provide off-the-shelf, cost-effective and immediate savings compared to operationally invasive, resource-heavy sustainability transformation programs. Sustainability technology ranges from intelligent infrastructure to mobile applications that help to drive the "sharing economy". The course will provide an overview of the sustainability technologies that large corporations are actively pursuing and delve into the project management and integration strategies required to implement these solutions. Successful sustainability practitioners must not only have a strong understanding of the values and methodologies of sustainable operations, but also the tools and technologies available to drive sustainability throughout their organization. Upon completion of the class, students will have a sufficient level of understanding to discuss these solutions and relevant case studies with potential employers. This course will benefit anyone interested in a career in sustainability or in smart cities as it will provide them the skills and analytical capabilities to analyze which sustainability technologies are a good fit for their company’s sustainability and growth strategy.
This is an applied course on the metrics, indicators and tools used by businesses to implement strategically relevant Corporate Social and Environmentally Responsibility (CR) or Sustainability programs. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the knowledge and tools used by practitioners in CR. Although this course explores details of the CR strategy implementation, it is designed to link CR to the overall business drivers and is therefore relevant for any potential corporate manager or consultant. A strategically relevant CR program must seek to build on the values of CR to the business and the business’ stakeholders. Therefore, this course is structured around the top values that CR can bring to a business. Once we identify the ‘value pathway’, we explore tools (standards, guidelines, benchmarks, certifications, analytic tools, etc.) and metrics available to measure performance against those tools in order to achieve that value. The course relies heavily on class discussions through case studies, debates, hypothesis testing, role playing and student presentations. The course is split into six (6) sections – each representing a CR Value Pathway. Each Section will be comprised of 2 sessions during which we will discuss key dilemmas associated with the value pathway, discuss tools, metrics and indicators available to address the dilemma and then explore a business case study through student discussions. Section 1: Efficiency, Cost Minimization, Lean Management, Section 2: Reputation, Brand and Credibility, Section 3: Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Section 4: Risk Mitigation, Liability and Insurance, Section 5: Finance, Capital and Investor Confidence, Section 6: Employees.
The purpose of this course is to review the current status of sustainability data, particularly from the perspective of companies, investors and regulators. Sustainability data is already used to drive significant decisions by these three stakeholders. For example, investors use environmental, social and governance (ESG) data to screen and weight potential equity investments and/or rate fixed income investment. Regulators have instituted numerous mandatory and voluntary reporting schemes to reactively assess environmental and social impacts of corporate behavior. Companies themselves use sustainability data to determine the nature of and performance against risks such as climate change, poverty and resource scarcity. And yet there are enormous shortcomings in the current data available on which these decisions are made. The impact of the gap between the quality of the data in sustainability and the magnitude of the decisions being made with that data are potentially enormous. From misguided policies to ineffective corporate strategies to a lingering skepticism on the financial value of sustainability that hinders large scale movement of capital toward more responsible companies, the state of sustainability data may be the single most significant hurdle to move toward a more sustainable economy.
“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.
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.
This course provides a detailed analysis of seven impact investing tools and their policy contexts. Impact investing is investing with the goal of social and environmental impact in addition to financial return. The seven tools are private equity; environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration; mergers and acquisitions; mission investments; social impact bonds; green bonds; and crowdfunding. The course will cover the impact investment process from deal sourcing through closing and monitoring to exit. This includes the due diligence and documentation process. These seven tools will be set against different policy backdrops: economic statecraft in the wake of Arab Spring and the fall of the Berlin Wall; Department of Labor guidance on economically targeted investments and ESG factors; federal budget cuts; changing IRS rules to allow foundations to consider the relationship between investments and the foundation's mission; constrained local government finances; the Paris Climate Agreement; and evolving crowdfunding regulation. The topics will be examined through a combination of lectures and classroom discussion. Students will gain exposure to a range of impact finance areas from small specialist impact investment firms to large mainstream investors that either sign the UN Principles for Responsible Investment or establish impact investing groups. The broad overview of financial concepts and the impact of the policy environment on market evolution will benefit students pursuing careers in nonprofit, business, or public administration. For students targeting ESG or impact investing careers, technical skills in transactions spanning the capital structure and phases of investment and in ESG integration and climate-related financial disclosure should provide near-term benefit to potential employers.
A circular economy is an alternative economic model, that is restorative by design, and rather than relying on a constant throughput of newly extracted resources and non-renewable energy, aims to keep materials, products and components constantly at their highest utility and value. This course will delve into both the theory and practical applications of a circular economy. Achieving perfect circularity represents potentially transformative system change and will involve a fundamental re-think of many of our structures, systems and processes in the economy at large. At the same time, its value creation potential for businesses, households and the environment alike, is potentially extremely significant. For example, manufacturers can reclaim substantial value from the products they develop by introducing take-back schemes to reclaim components and resources for re-use or recycling, as opposed to allowing them to go to waste as would typically be the case in a linear system. We will explore the theoretical underpinnings of a circular economy, including the need for systems thinking (taking relevant learnings from biomimicry and industrial ecology). We will look to circular design principles and explore their use in different industries. We will pose the question of which stakeholders can help to facilitate this transition to circularity, and what enablers, in the form of policy and financing, will need to be in place to allow it to progress. The course will explore real-life examples of circular economic thinking in specific industries, such as the fashion and industry, as well as looking at its application in a geographic context through the lens of cities, and examining standalone infrastructure, such as waste management.
SUMA PS5490. Women in Cities: Integrating Needs, Rights, Access and Opportunity into Sustainable Urban Design, Planning and Management. 3 pts.
The course will examine both acknowledged indicators of women’s and girls’ inclusion in the conceptualization and life of a city (e.g., access to shelter, clean water, sanitation, safe transport, healthcare, education, jobs and leadership positions), and those not sufficiently acknowledged (stability and tenure in housing, labor force inclusion and wage parity, physical, mental and environmental health, sexual and reproductive rights, freedom from violence, assured levels of participation in policy- and decision-making, etc.). Migrating between multiple cultural and sociopolitical contexts, and between the individual and metropolitan, national and indigenous levels of policymaking, the course will look at how today’s cities have evolved; the consequential disconnect between enshrined legal frameworks, regulatory and administrative structures, and concrete urban realities; and at how, through a sustainable process of inclusive community and private sector engagement, responsive design, and strategic budgeting to realize select well-defined priorities, tomorrow’s cities can be better attuned to the human scale of their primary constituents by becoming more aware, inclusive, accommodating and enabling of women and families. Each week, one or more leading and cutting-edge thinkers and practitioners in the areas of urban and environmental design and management, corporate social responsibility, landscape architecture and planning, sustainable engineering, and urban health, wellbeing and women’s rights will share their experience, current thinking and ideas in featured guest lectures; these will be followed by wide-ranging conversations among the instructor, lecturers and students, enabling students to hear firsthand how private, public and non-profit sector managers, policymakers and designers approach and deal with such issues as (for instance) making transport hubs equally navigable for women with strollers, walkers or young children, or implementing green or family-friendly CSR policies.
Through interactive lecture, case studies and examples, as well as, hands-on exercises, students will gain experience applying fundamental business frameworks and strategic marketing principles combined with a sustainability lens. This includes understanding the marketplace, understanding consumers, understanding the nature of and purpose of products and services, as well as, understanding communication strategies. We will start by introducing a tool-set by which to analyze the marketplace. Students will apply SWOT analysis and the Porter’s Five Forces Model to conduct company and industry analysis, and gain facility distilling the nature of competitive advantage. Sustainability related trends and pressures will be considered in this context for various industries. Using the cognitive behavioral problem solving model, marketers predict purchasing behavior based on consumer needs. Over the course of the semester, students will become familiar with this model, and gain facility with segmenting consumers into homogeneous groups based on demographics, psychographics, and, benefits sought. Attitudes and behaviors around sustainable consumption will be explored, as well as, when, if, and how sustainability aspects should be communicated to consumers. Aspects of the marketing mix, such as, product features, pricing, distribution, and promotions have an effect on consumer demand for sustainable products and services. These levers will be explored in detail. Students will apply lifecycle analysis to assess product impacts and use their findings as a basis to redesign existing products to reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts while offering the same or better value to consumers. We will discuss how to avoid making false marketing claims and “Greenwashing” and become familiar with best-practice tactics for establishing credibility with consumers around sustainability. Finally, we will cover strategies and tactics for reaching the intended target audience. Students will become familiar with a set effective communication strategies, and gain an understanding of how to best use them with different market segments. In addition, the fundamentals of planning and executing targeted marketing campaigns, including media planning, messaging and advertising will be covered. Upon completion of this class, students will be able to apply the strategic marketing framework and LCA analysis to successfully launch commercially viable, sustainable products and services into the marketplace.
The goal of this course is to confront what has been called “the paradox of urbanization.” On the one hand, the surging growth of urban areas is devouring land and natural resources, destroying biodiversity, and exposing billions of people to hazardous and impoverished conditions. On the other hand, researchers, policy makers and NGOs have reached a consensus that cities should be the nexus of sustainable living. Urban dwellers live more efficiently, have wider access to resources—economic, health, educational, cultural, and social—and drive innovation. So can the urbanization paradox be resolved sustainably? The course will employ a range of interpretive and analytical frameworks to address this question. Through lectures, in-class discussions, extensive reading, and the preparation of a semester long case study, students will develop a nuanced understanding of the causes, impacts, and opportunities of global urbanization. Particular focus will be given to the emerging “science of urbanization” and to multi-disciplinary research and field work, as well as associated critiques. Students will have the opportunity to conduct in-depth analysis of a city of their choice and gain high-level exposure to numerous others. By the end of the course, students will acquire the vocabulary and intellectual skills to participate effectively in the discourse of urbanization. They will also, hopefully, come away with a sober sense of optimism for a sustainable urban future.
The course introduces and provides students with a holistic understanding of the end-to-end solar development process. Students will gain a deep understanding of the dozens of critical interrelated steps critical to developing a successful operating solar project. The course will cover upstream and downstream solar market dynamics, regulated and deregulated US energy markets, solar system design, SREC markets, tax credits, project financing, solar financial model creation, and financial structuring of solar investments. All course concepts will culminate with the creation of a term project in which students create a solar proposal. Students will select from a list of sites around the country. They will utilize resources learned in the course to conduct energy consumption and production analysis, design a system, create a proposed financial structure, outline the financial and environmental benefits for all stakeholders, and provide the financial model backing those benefits.
This course is designed to create the leaders of tomorrow who will overcome these challenges and build our sustainable cities. Using case studies of “environmental infrastructure” – public water, transportation, freight, parks, resiliency, solid waste, and energy infrastructure – this course covers the project life cycle from planning to asset management and provides the foundation needed for to design and deliver infrastructure services and build cities. Students will be introduced to creative planning and project conception, cost-benefit analysis, prioritization, alternative delivery and private-public partnerships, coalitions of interested stakeholders and partners, funding and financing, governance, and considerations about operations and maintenance. They will apply these lessons to present solutions of current infrastructure issues in both group and individual formats that mimic the professional settings they will face after graduation, and will learn to receive and provide constructive feedback from and to their peers.
Although we are all more or less familiar with ethics, we are not apt to be familiar with important concentric arenas of ethical concern integral to sustainability management. Extending to global matters yet necessarily depending upon individual human actors, sustainability management can be seen to span several kinds of management. Each of these entails a cluster of ethical concerns. In this course, six kinds of management spanned by sustainability management are identified, including three recurrent in the field of environmental ethics and three in the field of administrative, including business ethics. The former are global management, ecosystem management, and regional management; and the latter are organizational management, workplace management, and personal management. Involving all these, sustainability management also involves their distinct ethical concerns.
The course is divided into six sections in which the distinct ethical concerns are addressed. The first section covers eco-justice; the second, bio-cultural conflict; the third, regional equity; the fourth, institutional dissonance; the fifth, workplace corruptibility, and the sixth, personal character. Among the course readings are numerous relevant cases in which the outcomes are significantly shaped—or misshaped—by one or another ethical concern. Yet as a whole and certainly in all macro-cases, including climate change and global toxicity, sustainability management can be seen to be vitalized or devitalized depending upon the operability of ethics in its various arenas.
While sustainability management entails knowledge and application of complex environmental measurement tools and environmental science, the efficacy of these in yielding human and environmental benefit depends upon ethical evaluations of need, use and harm, and upon concomitant ethical practice at all levels of management. Close familiarity with relevant ethical expectations, problems and possibilities will promote, enable and enhance the efforts of sustainability managers to achieve beneficial human and environmental outcomes.
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 & use, energy efficiency & waste reduction and energy access & 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 & technologies, business & program models, policies & 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. Students work individually on country analysis and propose a relevant enterprise for the assigned country. Students work in groups to compare similarities and differences among the assigned countries and to collaborate on enterprise development ideas and issues.
This elective course highlights the way the mission of the Earth Institute is fulfilled through its different centers and programs. With 850 scientists, postdoctoral fellows and students working in and across more than 30 Columbia University research centers and programs, the Earth Institute is helping to advance nine interconnected global issues: water; climate and society; energy; urbanization; hazards and risk; global health; poverty; ecosystems health and monitoring; and food, ecology and nutrition. The practicum gives students the opportunity to discuss the ground-breaking work of the Earth Institute’s centers and programs with their directors, researchers and leaders in the field. This course is an opportunity for students to hear firsthand from researchers working on issues of environment and sustainable development and learn about the applications of their research to finding solutions to these global issues. The practicum also provides a means through which students can receive an introduction to the multifaceted scope and mission of the Earth Institute and the ongoing research some of its faculty members are currently undertaking. Throughout the course, experts in environmental and sustainable development issues will speak to all students, and in particular to those enrolled in Earth Institute affiliated programs. This course will be offered in the fall and will be taught by Louise Rosen.
Water is widely recognized as the most essential natural resource for Earth’s ecosystems and human society. Yet the relationship between water and society is complex. Water is a multifaceted resource that is important to all economic sectors and across a range of spatial scales from local to global. Water is also frequently a hazard; flooding, droughts, and contaminated water are formidable threats to human well-being. To deal with this seemingly dual nature of water, people have long modified the water cycle through engineering schemes like dams, reservoirs, irrigation systems, and interbasin transfer systems as well as through land use and land-cover change. To even the casual observer, a clear and robust plan is needed to manage and govern water given the multitude of ongoing human activities impacting the water cycle. This course will provide an overview of the political, social, economic, and administrative systems that affect the use, development, and management of water resources. Students will be introduced to current themes that influence water governance including sustainable development, integrated water resource management, water rights and pricing, corruption, and equity for marginal groups. These themes will be explored at the local, national, and international levels to provide students with a holistic understanding of water governance issues.
The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.