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BARD CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY LAUNCHES INNOVATIVE GRADUATE PROGRAM New Program Will Offer Master of Science Degree in Environmental Policy, Professional Certificate in Environmental Policy, and Specialized Internships

Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—When the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations gathered at this summer's Group of Eight summit, one of the most contentious issues discussed was climate change. That occasion signified the dramatic growth over the past 30 years, not only in public awareness of environmental issues, but also in the magnitude and complexity of the problems. Today, efforts to develop, implement, and enforce policies for such localized issues as air and water quality are compounded by the need to address long-range concerns, such as the health and safety effects of toxic substances, climate change, genetically modified organisms, and species loss. These issues are important to farmers, doctors, economists, and businessmen, as well as policymakers and citizens across the globe.

In response to these growing needs and concerns, the Bard Center for Environmental Policy has developed a unique graduate program that—beginning this summer—aims to produce leaders who can translate the science behind environmental and natural resource problems into creative, feasible policies. The program, which leads to either a master of science in environmental policy or a professional certificate in environmental policy, offers an intensive course of study, grounded in the sciences, as well as leadership and financial training and internships in preparation for careers in nonprofit organizations, government, and the private sector. The students entering the 2001–2002 program come from across the nation and abroad, including China, India, and Zimbabwe. This diversity is matched by the faculty, who have backgrounds in areas ranging from biology, ecology, and geography to planning, government, law, journalism, philosophy, economics, and the nonprofit sector.

"To be effective in addressing environmental problems, scientists, economists, lawyers, ethicists, and policymakers must be able to understand one another's perspectives and values. Too often they do not and, as a result, the general public's understanding of these issues, as well as policies aimed at resolving them, suffer," said Joanne Fox-Przeworski, director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy and former director for North America of the United Nations Environment Programme. "By providing our students with a strong foundation in environmental sciences and exposure to the work and interests of scientists and other stakeholders in these issues, we hope our students—underpinned by a sense of social responsibility and commitment—will become informed leaders for the next generation of environmental policies."

To help students analyze the various dimensions of environmental policies from the scientific bases to the socioeconomic, legal, political, cultural, and ethical forces that influence the policy-making process, the first year of the graduate program is set up as a series of thematic modules. Students first take part in August Workshops—two weeks of field trips and seminars focusing on multimedia communication skills and the methods, tools, and daily concerns of environmental professionals in the Hudson Valley and New York City areas. Students then take three blocks of courses, in which they study each of 10 different themes consecutively from the perspective of their scientific foundations, tools used to analyze them, and policy responses to them. These thematic modules, which include agriculture and fisheries, biological diversity, water, industry, and energy, are each examined for two to four weeks during the first year. The second year is devoted to a specialized internship, leadership and financial training, and a master's project that concentrates on the student's career interests.

The graduate curriculum is organized to provide considerable flexibility to meet each applicant's distinct needs and career aspirations. Active professionals have the opportunity to complete the master's degree in one to several years, while individuals who wish to deepen their understanding of a particular environmental area can participate in selected components of the program on a continuing education basis. In 2002–2003, the program will offer a collaborative master's degree in landscape studies with The Bard Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, as well as a Master's International Program with the Peace Corps. Graduates of the program will be prepared for a wide variety of professional careers—as policy analysts, projectmanagers, or environmental specialists for government research committees, public interest groups, conservation councils, law firms, industry, media, or green marketing. Others may accept positions as program officers in foundations and corporate philanthropies; environmental educators or researchers for schools, libraries, museums, and law firms; or as public advocates and consultants.

The graduate program is an evolutionary outgrowth of Bard's former Graduate School of Environmental Studies, a program of summer course work begun in 1988 that led to the master of science degree in environmental science. Recent graduates work in a variety of positions in education, government, and nonprofit groups across the world. The Bard Center for Environmental Policy was created in 1999 to promote education, research, and public service on critical environmental issues. As part of its mission to promote a better understanding of these issues among the general public, the Center hosted a series of successful open forums in 1999–2000 and 2000–2001. The Open Forum series gave hundreds of local residents the opportunity to discuss environmental issues such as climate change, biotechnology and food, and ethics with national experts, that included Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences.

For more information about the Bard Center for Environmental Policy or the Graduate Program, call 845-758-7071, e-mail, or log on to



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This event was last updated on 05-21-2003