June 30, 2012

Dean Robert Lieberman recently announced the appointment of a pair of new concentration and specialization leaders for 2012-13. Ellen Morris has been appointed as the director of the Energy and Environment concentration, while Ben Orlove will be the new director of SIPA’s specialization in Applied Science.

Morris and Orlove each follow in the footsteps of Steven Cohen, who stepped down from the two positions in order to launch the new EMPA Concentration in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management. Cohen also continues to serve as director of the MPA-ESP program; Dean Lieberman thanked him “for his skillful work shepherding all these programs in recent years.”

Orlove is a trained anthropologist whose recent work has focused on climate change and glacier retreat, with an emphasis on water, natural hazards, and the loss of iconic landscapes. He teaches in the Master’s Program in Climate and Society, which he will co-direct beginning July 1, and is a member of the Earth Institute faculty. Ben is also a senior research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) and one of four co-directors of the Center for Research in Environmental Decisions.

Orlove spoke briefly about the Applied Science specialization. 

“Our specializations tend to involve broad policy skills and general tools, and in some cases deeper knowledge about particular institutions. 

"Applied Science is a little different. Practitioners have long debated whether students needed to have deep knowledge in a particular science or just enough knowledge to distinguish themselves from the crowd. But there’s a wide range of need for science in policy, and the real skill is understanding how to integrate science into policymaking – to bridge experts, agencies, and the public. 

"In recent years, technology has changed rapidly, and science has grown more important. Both of these will continue to do so, in ways we don’t necessarily anticipate. The Applied Science specialization is a way to get a handle on that. 

"Because the specialization unites natural and social sciences, our students get to take advantage of one of the distinctive things about SIPA, the ability to draw on the Earth Institute and other resources at Columbia.”