AREA 3: ANALYSIS AND MODELING ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS AND IMPACTS 

(9 Credits)

Courses in this area train students to analyze and model scientific data to understand current and future environments and their interactions with human systems. By learning analysis and modeling, students are better able to inform sustainability policy, management, and decision-making.

SUSC PS5010 Climate Science for Decision Makers: Modeling, Analysis, and Applications

Instructors: Dr. Michael Previdi and Dr. Yutian Wu

 

Both human and natural systems are growing more vulnerable to climate variability (e.g., the anomalous weather induced by the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, or the increase in hurricanes that occurs when ocean currents warm the Atlantic) and to human-induced climate change, which manifests itself primarily through increases in temperature, precipitation intensity, and sea level, but which can potentially affect all aspects of the global climate. This course will prepare you to estimate climate hazards in your field thereby accelerating the design and implementation of climate-smart, sustainable practices. Climate models are the primary tool for predicting global and regional climate variations, for assessing climate-related risks, and for guiding adaption to climate variability and change. Thus, a basic understanding of the strengths and limitations of such tools is necessary to decision makers and professionals in technical fields.

This course will provide a foundation in the dynamics of the physical climate system that underpin climate models and a full survey of what aspects of the climate system are well observed and understood and where quantitative uncertainties remain. Students will gain a fundamental understanding of the modeling design choices and approximations that distinguish Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-class climate models from weather forecasting models and that create a diversity of state-of-the-art climate models and climate projections.

This course will provide an overview of the ways in which climate model output and observations can be merged into statistical models to support applications such as seasonal and decadal projections of climate extremes, global and regional climate impacts, and decision-making. Students will develop the skills to visualize, analyze, validate, and interpret climate model output, calculate impact-relevant indices such as duration of heat waves, severity of droughts, or probability of inundation, and the strategies to characterize strengths and uncertainties in projections of future climate change using ensembles of climate models and different emission scenarios.

SUSC PS5080 Monitoring and Analysis of Marine and Estuary Systems

Instructor: Dr. Braddock Linsley

 

From a global perspective, many of the Earth’s most important environments and resources for global sustainability are located in marine and estuarine areas. These areas are also difficult to monitor for logistical and political reasons. A few examples include 1.) oceanic environments were incompletely understood processes regulate the exchange of heat, water and carbon dioxide gas with the atmosphere, 2.) the relationship between nutrients and primary production and fisheries in open ocean, estuarine and coral reef environments and climatic phenomenon such as El Nino South Oscillation (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).This class will explore the marine environment from a modern process perspective and evaluate what is known about interannual and decadal-scale variability of these environments, with respect to oceanic circulation, the flux of heat, gases and dust from the atmosphere and sediment from rivers. Throughout the class, we will explore marine and estuarine processes by studying regional and local responses to broader scale climatic forcing.

SUSC PS5050 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Sustainability Science

Instructor: Dr. Frank Nitsche

 

Many environmental and sustainability science issues have a spatial, location-based component. Increasingly available spatial data allow location-specific analysis and solutions to problems and understanding issues. As result, analyzing and identifying successful and sustainable solutions for these issues often requires the use of spatial analysis and tools. This course introduces common spatial data types and fundamental methods to organize, visualize and analyze those data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Through a combination of lectures and practical computer activities the students will learn and practice fundamental GIS and spatial analysis methods using typical sustainable science case studies and scenarios.

A key objective of this course is to provide students with essential GIS skills that will aid them in their professional career and to offer an overview of current GIS applications. In the first part, the course will cover basic spatial data types and GIS concepts. The students will apply those techniques by analyzing potential impacts of storms on New York City as part of a guided case study. A mid-term report describing this case study and the results is required. In the second part, building on the basic concepts introduced in the first part, students will be asked to identify a sustainable science question of their choice that they would like to address as a final project. Together with the instructor they will be developing a strategy of analyzing and presenting related spatial data. While the students are working on their projects additional GIS method and spatial analysis concepts will be covered in class. At the end of the course Students will briefly present their final project and submit a paper describing their project

SUSC PS5060 Statistics, Data Analysis and Coding for Sustainability Science

Instructors: Dr. James Davis and Dr. Michael Previdi

 

This course provides an overview of essential mathematical concepts, an introduction to new concepts in statistics and data analysis, and provides computer coding skills that will prepare students for coursework in the Master of Science in Sustainability Science program as well as to succeed in a career having a sustainability science component.  In addition to an overview of essential mathematical concepts, the skills gained in this course include statistics, and coding applied to data analysis in the Sustainability Sciences. Many of these skills are broadly applicable to science-related professions, and will be useful to those having careers involving interaction with scientists, managing projects utilizing scientific analysis, and developing science-based policy.

 

Students enrolled in this course will learn through lectures, class discussion, and hands-on exercises that address the following topics: Review of mathematical concepts in calculus, trigonometry, and linear algebra; Mathematical concepts related to working on a spherical coordinate system (such as that for the Earth); Probability and statistics, including use of probability density functions to calculate expectations, hypothesis testing, and the concept of experimental uncertainty; Concepts in data analysis, including linear least squares, time-series analysis, parameter uncertainties, and analysis of fit; Computer coding skills, including precision of variables, arrays and data structures, input/output, flow control, and subroutines, and coding tools to produce basic X-Y plots as well as images of data fields on a global map.

PRE-APPROVED COURSES

EEEB GU4192 Introduction to Landscape Analysis (Area 2 or 3)

Changes in land use and land cover underlie multiple environmental and sustainability concerns, including conservation of biodiversity, impacts of climate change, climate mitigation through terrestrial carbon storage, urbanization and watershed protection. This class provides basic theory in landscape analysis and training methods for analyzing landscapes, focusing on interpretation of satellite images.

EESC GR5400 Dynamics of Climate Variability and Change

Prerequisites: undergraduate course in climate or physics; undergraduate calculus. 

Required for students in the Climate and Society MA Program. An overview of how the climate system works on large scales of space and time, with particular attention to the science and methods underlying forecasts of climate variability and climate change. This course serves as the basic physical science course for the MA program in Climate and Society.

EHSC P6360 Analysis of Environmental Health Data (Area 2 or 3) *R-based

Instructors: Herbstman, Julie

Working with data is a fundamental skill for all EHS MPH graduates, irrespective of their area of concentration. Data is the foundation of all research and becoming comfortable describing, analyzing, interpreting, summarizing and presenting is critical for the success of all environmental health scientists. This course will teach students how to work with data at a fundamental level. We will use a large, publicly available dataset (e.g., New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC NHANES)) data to illustrate analytic techniques and approaches. This course is required for all students in the EHS MPH department, regardless of certificate selection and should be taken prior to certificate based required courses.

EHSC P8332 Advanced Data Analytics

Instructors: Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou

 

This course will introduce advanced methods and tools commonly used in Environmental Health Sciences. These topics include advanced regression techniques especially pertinent to environmental health, methods to quantify and correct for exposure measurement error, mixtures methods, etc. Each class will have two components: a lecture and a coding lab. Although other courses in the School and other Departments might also present some of the methods covered here, the emphasis of this course will be on applications in EHS specifically and the appropriateness, assumptions, strength, limitations and interpretation of results in the EHS framework. Air pollution will be primarily used in class as the example exposure of interest (as many of these methods were first used in air pollution health studies), but not exclusively. R will be used for all coding.

SUMA PS4030 Hungry City Workshop (Area 3 or 5)

   

SUMA PS5020 Cost Benefit Analysis

Instructors: Satyajit Bose

 

Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) is a policy assessment method that quantifies the value of policy consequences (usually called impacts) in monetary terms to all members of society. The purpose of a CBA is to help effective social decision making through efficient allocation of society's resources when markets fail. When markets fail and resources are used inefficiently, CBA can be used to clarify which of the potential alternative programs, policies or projects (including the status quo) is the most efficient. The course introduces practitioners of environmental science and sustainability management to the techniques of preparing a CBA, including microeconomic foundations, valuation methods, discounting, the impact of uncertainty and optionality, and distributional consequences. The course provides a basic introduction to revealed preference, contingent valuation and benefits transfer method of valuing environmental impacts. The use and interpretation of CBA in specific cases is critically evaluated, with a detailed examination of alternative approaches. Worked examples and case studies are integral to each topic. Although the techniques of CBA are generally associated with social decision-making, we will examine case studies involving both social and private decisions. in the course. Those who have not had such preparation will need to work hard to absorb the theoretical concepts along with the applications. However, it is not uncommon for students with little economics preparation to excel in a course on CBA. In the absence of any economics preparation, it is useful to have some mathematical fluency. If you are concerned about your level of mathematics preparation, you are strongly encouraged to attend the Math Camp provided before the start of the Fall semester.

SUMA PS5033 Decision Models and Management

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, assetliability management, environmental policy modeling, portfolio optimization, and corporate risk management, among others. The aim of the course is to help students become intelligent consumers of these methods. To this end, the course will cover the basic elements of modeling -- how to formulate a model and how to use and interpret the information a model produces. The course will attempt to instill a critical viewpoint towards decision models, recognizing that they are powerful but limited tools. 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.

SUMA PS5146 Water Systems Analysis

 

SUMA PS5195 Accounting, Finance & Modeling of Sustainability

Instructors: Dr. James Davis and Dr. Michael Previdi

 

This course provides an overview of essential mathematical concepts, an introduction to new concepts in statistics and data analysis, and provides computer coding skills that will prepare students for coursework in the Master of Science in Sustainability Science program as well as to succeed in a career having a sustainability science component.  In addition to an overview of essential mathematical concepts, the skills gained in this course include statistics, and coding applied to data analysis in the Sustainability Sciences. Many of these skills are broadly applicable to science-related professions, and will be useful to those having careers involving interaction with scientists, managing projects utilizing scientific analysis, and developing science-based policy.

 

Students enrolled in this course will learn through lectures, class discussion, and hands-on exercises that address the following topics: Review of mathematical concepts in calculus, trigonometry, and linear algebra; Mathematical concepts related to working on a spherical coordinate system (such as that for the Earth); Probability and statistics, including use of probability density functions to calculate expectations, hypothesis testing, and the concept of experimental uncertainty; Concepts in data analysis, including linear least squares, time-series analysis, parameter uncertainties, and analysis of fit; Computer coding skills, including precision of variables, arrays and data structures, input/output, flow control, and subroutines, and coding tools to produce basic X-Y plots as well as images of data fields on a global map.

EEEB GU4195 Marine Conservation Ecology (Area 2 or 3)

Prerequisite(s): Environmental Biology 1 or equivalent; instructor approval.

Marine ecosystems are among the most threatened on the globe, and thus there is a pressing need to develop and implement effective conservation and management measures. Moreover, because marine environments differ in their physics, chemistry and biology, conservation in the marine realm is fundamentally different than in terrestrial habitats. This course is intended to educate students – as members of our global society – as to the basic principles of marine biology that are necessary to understand the most pressing environmental problems affecting the marine sphere. We will do this through providing overviews of physical and biological processes central to understanding marine ecology, examining the impacts of human activities on these processes and on marine environments and communities, and considering potential actions to mitigate or lessen the effects of these activities.

A key objective of this course is to provide students with essential GIS skills that will aid them in their professional career and to offer an overview of current GIS applications. In the first part, the course will cover basic spatial data types and GIS concepts. The students will apply those techniques by analyzing potential impacts of storms on New York City as part of a guided case study. A mid-term report describing this case study and the results is required. In the second part, building on the basic concepts introduced in the first part, students will be asked to identify a sustainable science question of their choice that they would like to address as a final project. Together with the instructor they will be developing a strategy of analyzing and presenting related spatial data. While the students are working on their projects additional GIS method and spatial analysis concepts will be covered in class. At the end of the course Students will briefly present their final project and submit a paper describing their project

EESC GR6926 Idealized Models of Climate Processes 

Instructors: Arlene Fiore and Galen A. McKinley

This course teaches students to design and apply idealized models to study the fundamental properties of climate system processes and their interactions. Though these models typically have at their core only a handful of interacting differential equations, they can significantly advance process understanding. We cover three topical areas in climate system science: (1) the interpretation and attribution of atmospheric methane trends (2) the role of the ocean in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide, and (3) the influence of climate system feedbacks on the Earth’s energy balance. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on identifying assumptions underlying conclusions drawn from simple models and the time scales over which different processes operate.

EHSC P8304 Public Health Impacts of Climate Change

Instructors: Cecilia Sorsen

Public health dimensions of climate change are of growing concern in both developing and developed countries. Climate-related health impacts may arise via heat waves, air pollution, airborne allergens, compromised ecological services, water- or vector-borne diseases, and shifts in agricultural productivity. Our ability to identify, understand, predict and ameliorate public health impacts of climate change will depend on how effectively we assimilate and synthesize information and tools from a range of disciplines, including atmospheric sciences, climate modeling, epidemiology, ecology, risk assessment, economics, and public policy. The overall objective of P8304, Public Health Impacts of Climate Change, is to lay a foundation for this cross-disciplinary perspective by engaging graduate students drawn from across the University in topical lectures, group exercises and discussions built around the emerging knowledge base on the public health dimensions of climate change.

EPID P8432 Environmental Epidemiology (Area 2 or 3)

 

SUMA PS4190 Economics of Sustainability Management

Instructors: Alexander Heil & Graciela Chichilnisky

 

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 worlds 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.

SUMA PS5021 Theory and Practice of Life Cycle Assessment

Instructors: Christoph J. Meinrenken

 

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.

SUMA PS5142 Sustainable Finance

Instructors: Bruce Kahn

 

This course is an introduction to how sustainability issues (ESG: Economic, environmental, social & governance) have become financially material to the global equity, 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. The course will devote a significant of time covering the fundamental principles of finance including valuation, financial statements, time-value of money, capital markets, and asset management. Students will develop the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively communicate sustainability/ ESG issues to a financial professional. Students will be exposed to global sources of environmental/sustainability corporate performance information, and how environmental performance is quantified and translated into financial performance. The course focuses on "best-in-class" environmental investment and how it relates/differs from socially-responsible investing (SRI), and Impact Investing. This course gives students a foundation in how sustainability issues affect the various sectors of finance 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. The ethics of sustainability issues and their impact on management & finance will also be addressed. This course satisfies the M.S. in Sustainability Management program's general and financial management curriculum area requirement.

SUMA PS5170 Sustainable Operations

Instructors: Vance A. Merolla

 

Leading and advancing sustainability within an organization’s operations requires a strategic and balanced approach. Focusing on the integration of a broad range of today’s sustainability drivers, in a manner consistent with the organization’s culture and business objectives, optimizes the chances for long term success and impact. To that end, this course takes a broad high level approach at systematically analyzing opportunities to integrate sustainability at each step along a complex value chain. Specifically, students will be asked to assume the role of a sustainability professional within a private sector company, tasked with integrating various sustainability strategies, initiatives and tools into the fabric of the business. Throughout the semester, the entire end-to-end value chain will be examined, however it is not the intent to conduct full in-depth technical analyses of each value chain area, rather we will look at sustainable operations from a high-level strategic management viewpoint, discussing integration opportunities and intersections related to: product design, procurement, logistics, direct operations (e.g. manufacturing, buildings), stakeholder engagement, product/service use and end-of-life disposition. By considering the organization holistically, we will discuss analytical concepts and industry tools related to life cycle thinking, cost/benefit analyses, corporate sustainability strategies, and risk assessments. In addition to technical sustainability considerations such as climate change, energy, water and waste, students will learn to implement practical sustainability initiatives within operating organizations by carefully considering key stakeholder expectations and overall materiality. Finally, the intersection of sustainability and brand purpose will be explored, helping to find the sweet spot between sustainability science and creative/marketing communication. Importantly, students will be challenged to think concretely about making choices and balancing elements of sustainability in an overall business context, and communicate in concise written and oral formats to critical internal and external stakeholders.

SUMA PS5401 International Environmental Law