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Steven Cohen, Ph.D.

Senior Vice Dean, School of Professional Studies; Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs

In addition to serving as Senior Vice Dean of the School of Professional Studies, Dr. Steven Cohen is 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 (SIPA), Director of the Masters of Science in Sustainability Management at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, and the Director of the Earth Institute’s Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management at Columbia University. From 2006 to 2018, he served as the Executive Director of the Earth Institute and 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.

From 1976-77, Cohen was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Environmental Policy; in 1978-1979, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Public and Environmental Policy and Implementation.

Dr. Cohen served as a policy analyst in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1977 through 1978 and 1980-81, and as a consultant to the agency from 1981 through 1991, from 1994 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2010. From 1979-1980 he was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at West Virginia University and from 1981-1987 he was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. From 1990-1994, Cohen served on the Board of the Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs; he has also served on the Executive Committee and Committee on Accreditation and Peer Review of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. From 2001 to 2004, he served on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Homes for the Homeless and on the Board of Directors of Willdan Energy Solutions.

He is the author of numerous articles on public management innovation, public ethics, sustainability management, politics, and environmental management and also writes a blog for The Huffington Post.

Dr. Cohen has taught courses in public management, policy analysis, environmental policy, management innovation, and sustainability management. In 1982 Cohen developed, and until 2001, directed Columbia’s Workshops in Applied Public Management and Applied Policy Analysis; bringing practical professional education into the center of Columbia’s Public Administration curriculum. He has conducted professional training seminars in total quality management, strategic planning, project management, and management innovation.

Dr. Cohen was born in Orange, New Jersey, raised in Brooklyn, New York and now resides in New York City. He and his wife, Donna Fishman, have two wonderful daughters, Gabriella and Ariel, and three granddaughters, Lily, Noa, and Adi. 


  • P.h.D., State University of New York at Buffalo
  • M.A., State University of New York at Buffalo
  • B.A., Franklin College of Indiana 


  • Environmentally Sustainable Growth: A Pragmatic Approach (Columbia University Press, forthcoming)
  • Management Fundamentals (Columbia University Press, 2020), co-author
  • The Sustainable City (Columbia University Press, 2017)
  • The Sustainable City (Columbia University Press, 2017; 2nd edition, with Guo Dong, 2021)
  • Sustainability Policy: Hastening the Transition to a Cleaner Economy (Jossey-Bass, 2015), co-author
  • Understanding Environmental Policy (Columbia University Press, 2nd. ed., 2014)
  • The Effective Public Manager (Jossey-Bass, 5th. ed., 2013), co-author
  • Sustainability Management (Columbia University Press, 2011)
  • The Responsible Contract Manager (Georgetown University Press, 2008), co-author 
  • Strategic Planning in Environmental Regulation (The MIT Press, 2005), co-author
  • Tools for Innovators: Creative Strategies for Managing Public Sector Organizations (Jossey-Bass, 1998), co-author
  • Total Quality Management in Government (Jossey-Bass, 1993), co-author