Columbia offers sustainable-development program

Columbia University has unveiled a new master’s-degree program in sustainable development that will begin in fall 2009.

The two-year Global Master’s in Development Practice program will include courses in agriculture, policy, engineering, environmental science and nutrition, as well as two summers of field training.

Creation of the program was recommended in a report by the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, which is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The year-long commission brought together 20 sustainable-development experts, including Ann Veneman, executive director of UNICEF, and R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“The field of sustainable development is growing rapidly and facing challenges of increasing complexity,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and co-chair of the commission, says in a statement. “The new Master’s in Development Practice will train professionals with the multi-disciplinary knowledge, tools and management skills they will need for success.”

The MacArthur Foundation, which aims to promote global conservation and human rights, pledged $15 million to create sustainable-development programs in 12 colleges worldwide over the next three years.

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