Steve Cohen

Steven Cohen

Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs, SIPA; Director, Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management, The Earth Institute; Director, MPA in Environmental Science and Policy

Steve Cohen

International Affairs Building, Room 1408


Personal Details

Focus areas: Public management innovation, public ethics, sustainability management, politics, environmental management

Dr. Steven Cohen is the Senior Vice Dean of Columbia’s School of Professional Studies and 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, Director of the Master 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.

He is a 1970 graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York. Cohen received his B.A. in Political Science from Franklin College of Indiana (1974), and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the State University of New York in Buffalo (1977; 1979). In 1976-77, Cohen was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Environmental Policy; in 1978-79, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Public and Environmental Policy and Implementation.

Dr. Cohen is the former Executive Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and now serves as a senior advisor for the Institute. He is a former policy analyst and consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Cohen has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Board of the Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs, the Executive Committee and Committee on Accreditation and Peer Review of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Homes for the Homeless, Board of Directors of the Willdan Group, Inc., Advisory Board of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, Steering Committee for the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Cohen also serves on the Judging Committee for the Yidan Prize Foundation and is the Chair of the Lotos Club’s Science and Technology Committee.

Dr. Cohen is the author of The Sustainable City (2017, 2020), Understanding Environmental Policy (2006, 2014), Sustainability Management (2011), The Effective Public Manager (1988, now co-authored in its fifth edition), and the co-author of Management Fundamentals (2020), Sustainability Policy: Hastening the Transition to a Cleaner Economy (2015), The Responsible Contact Manager (2008), Strategic Planning in Environmental Regulation (2005), Tools for Innovators: Creative Strategies for Managing Public Sector Organizations (1998), and Total Quality Management in Government (1993). He has written numerous articles on public management, sustainability management, and environmental policy. Dr. Cohen also writes a weekly blog for the Earth Institute’s State of the Planet website.


  • PhD, SUNY Buffalo
  • MA, SUNY Buffalo
  • BA, Franklin College of Indiana


  • Board of Directors, Homes for the Homeless
  • Executive Council, NASPAA

Honors and Awards

Research And Publications

Driving Solar Energy in New York City, Hong Kong and Freiburg

Dec 2016

Advanced Leadership Enhancement Program (ALEP)

Steven Cohen

Hayley Martinez

Alix Schroder

Hilary Osborn

Catalina Villegas

In The Media

In his latest book, Professor Steven Cohen calls for a pragmatic approach.

May 01 2023

"We need to learn from the emergencies we are confronting because they are coming back, and each time they do, they will retain their capacity for surprise," Steven Cohen writes. 

Mar 06 2023
State of the Planet

“Public service is a calling, and our community depends on public servants to survive and thrive,” Steven Cohen writes.

Jan 30 2022
Columbia Climate School

"The only way for fossil fuel companies to survive is to redefine themselves as energy companies and gradually self-divest of fossil fuels," writes Steven Cohen.

Jan 02 2022
Columbia Climate School

Steven Cohen hopes that technological advancements and political will from young people will be the drivers of change needed to mitigate climate tipping points.

Nov 10 2021
State of the Planet