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10/13/2008 07:22 AM     print story email story  

Columbia University Unveils Master's Degree in Sustainable Development News

The first global initiative to provide rigorous professional training for future leaders in the field of sustainable development was unveiled last week at Columbia University in New York City.

The program, which was recommended in a newly released report by the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, sets a new standard for other universities hoping to design their own Master's degrees along this model. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has committed $15 million to seed the creation of such Master's in Development Practice programs at up to 12 universities worldwide over the next three years. The Foundation will issue a request for proposals from other universities later this month.

Columbia's program will begin in the fall of 2009. 

The two-year Global Master's in Development Practice (MDP) programs will build a new host of generalist practitioners able to diagnose and address factors impacting sustainable development. Study for the degree will include a rigorous core curriculum emphasizing practical, cross-disciplinary knowledge from the health, natural, and social sciences with a strong focus on leadership and management skills. Courses will cover topics such as agronomy, climate change, and tropical diseases and will be supplemented by two summers of field training.

"Drawing on knowledge from across the natural, health, and social sciences and management, courses in the new MDP programs will train students to address the complex challenges contributing to poverty in proven, practical ways," said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. "It is our hope that MacArthur's investment will not simply fund this initial group of schools, but will also encourage other universities to establish similar programs. We expect that these programs will quickly become self-sustaining, and that they will set a new standard for development education. We welcome the time when the MDP will become as familiar and ubiquitous as the MBA."

Creation of the program is one of the core recommendations of a report from the MacArthur-supported International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice. The year-long Commission was co-chaired by John McArthur, Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Promise and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and comprised of 20 top thinkers in the field of sustainable development including Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF; R.K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and Goolam Mohamedbhai, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities.

"The field of sustainable development is growing rapidly and facing challenges of increasing complexity," said Sachs. "Today's practitioners must confront the enormous and interconnected crises of climate change, extreme poverty, epidemic disease, hunger, rapid population growth, and environmental degradation. The new Master's in Development Practice will train professionals with the multi-disciplinary knowledge, tools and management skills they will need for success."

In Related News...

Jeffrey Sachs, who is also an economist and special advisor to the UN secretary general, last week recommended a carbon tax as a simpler, more effective way to cut greenhouse gas emissions than a cap-and-trade systems.


Reader Comments (3)


Date Posted:
04/04/11 05:41 PM


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rajib lochan poudyal

Date Posted:
05/06/12 09:13 PM


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Irshad Zaheer

Date Posted:
09/21/12 08:44 PM

I am a chemical researcher with 15 us published patents in petrochemicals 20yrs experience, want to enhance my career in sustainability.

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