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Students in the ESP program are dedicated to making a difference in the world.

The program attracts students with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, varying levels of professional experience, and a range of professional interests. Students with both science and non-science training can excel in the program. The current class represents thirteen countries. What brings them together is a desire to gain the knowledge and skills to turn their passion for the environment into real change. Over the year that they study and learn as a cohort, students form strong bonds that serve them throughout their careers. Here are some things to know about our students in academic year 2016 – 2017.

  • The average age was 25. One fifth of students was over the age of 29.

  • The female to male ratio was 55% to 45%.

  • Undergraduate majors ranged from Architecture to Zoology.

  • Students came from 13 countries on five continents.

  • More than half of all students received fellowships. The average award was nearly $16,000.

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“Despite the fact that I have a science background and I studied engineering, I never had the opportunity to actually dive deep into the real environmental problems that we are facing nowadays. I think that it is very important for me to get a broader understanding of scientific issues going ahead in my career. In general, I think this program is a great mixture because it also touches on economics, which is crucial for policy makers, and management, which is something I never got to study as an engineer. Science, economics, and management form an ideal triangle for me."


“Specifically, I chose the MPA ESP program because of its one-year structure and scientific bend, giving me the policy background I desire without abandoning my scientific background. The policy and science combined is what really sold me on ESP.”


Isaac Wilkins has a calling. Introduced to the environmental movement through advocating for environmental justice issues impacting communities of color, he is expanding his mission to help solve diverse issues across the various sectors within the environmental movement.


“Reading of species after species declared extinct, like the west African black rhinoceros, made me realize that if I ever want to take part in wildlife conservation efforts, the time to take action and to take part in conservation efforts is now.”

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Sid Tulsiani

“More than meeting or exceeding my expectations, this program reminded me how much I missed school and how much I liked learning. This is the first time I’ve been this proactive about my education. That’s why I know I’m in the right place.”


“This program provided me a much-needed balance between building public administration capacity, scientific proficiency and a deep understanding of ethical and political implications. It is a program that has a clear objective: to promote sustainability worldwide.”


“I am keenly aware of the issues faced on the ground and the importance of political will and buy-in from the private sector to effectively develop and implement policies. … and I know from personal experience that there is immense potential to effect positive change in this field.”


Arina Larasati Susijo has a passion for science, and was drawn to the MPA-ESP program to take advantage of learning the science behind the environmental policy issues facing her native Indonesia and the Southeast Asian region.


Alexander Rudnicki

“I want to shape what the future industry looks like, and how the industry can be developed. The MPA-ESP program really equips me to do that. There is a focus on the environment, but it also takes into account social perspectives. The length of the program and its rigor is definitely another factor. It is a shorter, more intensive program, and the course structure and hands-on experience is great for mid-career professionals.”


Kevin Fertig and Allison Pace are both ESP students who make use of every opportunity they have, from being involved in research projects around campus to leading their cohort and organizing campus wide events. “Say yes, until you can’t say yes anymore” is their success mantra.


Savannah Miller has witnessed the impact of climate change on three different continents. Prior to attending Columbia, Savannah completed fieldwork in Antarctica and sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, she attended the climate negotiations at COP21, in Paris, France, as a student delegate.

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