SkillSpeak Series #2: Professor Satyajit Bose

The following interview is a part of SkillSpeak, a series of short interviews with SUMA professors, where they share bits of wisdom and knowledge, advising on skills that are crucial for a successful career in sustainability. This week we have Satyajit Bose who teaches Cost-Benefit Analysis and Sustainable Investing & Economic Growth. The interview was conducted by Avantika Goswami, SUMANI President.

Name: Satyajit Bose

Academic Background: PhD in Economics, dissertation on the Economic impact of climate change, many years working in finance

Current Professional Title: Associate Director and Lecturer in the Masters in Sustainability Management Program

What field within the sustainability realm do you work in?  

My work deals mostly with evaluating the monetary costs and benefits of sustainability-related investments.

What skills have you leveraged on so far, to expand your presence in your field of sustainability?

Financial analysis, economic cost-benefit analysis, light programming and data science skills, and perhaps most important, making friends quickly and learning to listen carefully and read between the lines.

What are some of the most relevant skill-building opportunities offered by the SUMA program?

This depends on your own background. For some students, the finance and management skills will have been internalized and these students should focus on skill-building in the physical dimensions and the policy. For others, the finance and management skills will be new and essential for career advancement. Good managers are well-rounded individuals, and school is the place to learn. There is no learning without struggle. Therefore you should invest most effort in your weakest areas.

What skills would you advise a future SUMA graduate to develop in order to build credibility within your field of sustainability?

By definition, a manager must oversee people who have more specialized knowledge about their own jobs than the manager herself does. A good manager nevertheless leads by having clear view of the big picture and gathering and processing information from many specialized experts, and anticipating problems and solutions for the organization as a whole. Learn to develop an understanding of the system, not just the particular business process. Of course, you must have some easily recognizable skills to get in the door. By all means, learn to use the index/match function in Excel and do a Monte Carlo analysis. But you have to go beyond these “crammable” skills. Take advantage of the precious opportunity you have in school to learn outside your comfort zone so you can start to piece together the big picture.

SkillSpeak Series #1: Professor Amy Karpati

The following interview is a part of SkillSpeak, a series of short interviews with SUMA professors, where they share bits of wisdom and knowledge, advising on skills that are crucial for a successful career in sustainability. This week we have Amy Karpati who teaches The Science of Urban Ecology. The interview was conducted by Mitika Bajpai, SUMANI Vice President & Director of Events.

Name: Amy Karpati

Academic Background: B.S. in Natural Resource Management, M.S.T in Adolescent Education, Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolution

Current Professional Title: Adjunct Professor in the Masters in Sustainability Management Program

What field within the sustainability realm do you work in?  

I work in the field of biological conservation and urban ecology.  This means that I look at cities as ecosystems, and try to figure out how we can change the biophysical and socio-cultural aspects of cities to enhance biodiversity and improve ecosystem function, which provides the ecosystem services we all rely upon.

What skills have you leveraged on so far, to expand your presence in your field of sustainability?

An understanding of how ecosystems function, how our actions affect their functioning, and how those effects on ecosystems in turn affect our own sustainability has been my most valuable skill. Keeping up-to-date with the latest research in urban ecology as well as continually learning about creative urban ecological solutions has also been essential to my work.

What are some of the most relevant skill-building opportunities offered by the SUMA program?

SUMA offers so many opportunities for networking with other sustainability professionals. The benefits of these networking opportunities are two-fold: not only do you learn how to speak the language of sustainability through discourse with others in the field, you also learn about sustainability from a broad array of perspectives.  Sustainability management is complex in that it involves the integration of many disciplines, and the SUMA program allows students to access these different disciplines.

What skills would you advise a future SUMA graduate to develop in order to build credibility within your field of sustainability?

Within my field of sustainability – which largely focuses on the physical dimensions of sustainability – an understanding of ecosystem structure and function is essential.  This includes an understanding of both so-called “natural” ecosystems and human-altered ecosystems.  Curiosity, creativity, and risk-taking are important habits of mind in this field, as urban ecology and sustainability involves out-of-the-box thinking and an inventive approach. An additional understanding of the social, cultural, and political aspects of urban ecology will make you stand out in this field.

SUMANI Trendster: In the City’s Shadows

A meditation on Urban Metabolism, understanding a city’s dependence on its hinterlands.

Hinterland is a German word that translates to “land behind,” often referring to an area surrounding a town or port, which it serves. The concept of hinterland is a foundational component in understanding a city’s Urban Metabolism, a model that tracks and analyzes flows of resources and energy within an urban environment.

Ultimately, in characterizing resource flows within urban settings and acknowledging the reciprocity between city and hinterland, it is vital to locate nature as a formative dynamic condition, essential to the urban system.

 

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Brussels Material Flows

Whether as finite or volatile supply, air, water and the conversion of solar energy into food may each threaten the city. To insure its existence, the city sets out to expand that limitation and to control and standardize that volatility by rewriting nature. The earnestness of urban agriculture advocacy and the promise of resilience offer some evidence of a desire to change those terms, in hopes of offering a kind of negotiated compromise with nature.

Continue reading “SUMANI Trendster: In the City’s Shadows”

SUMANI Trendster: Love Your Trades

Remember Love Your Trades?
We announced the launch of Melissa’s blog the Monday before last, and here we are with post number 2! This week, Mel discusses the conventional definition of a monopoly and the pros and cons a monopoly can instigate.

Tradeoff: Monopolies drive innovation vs. create a wasteful, price-gauging environment?

“Pre-class, my thoughts on monopolies could be summed up as “bad”. I felt monopolies arose from situations where one business within an industry had few to no competitors, therefore allowing that individual company to unconditionally raise prices for their products or services. Having to pay uncontrollably high prices is not something I consider ‘good’ as a consumer.
However, in studying lean startup principles (which are designed to help build scalable businesses), I was surprised by the shocking, over-emphasis on positioning your startup so that you either have no competitors or that your product is 10x better than any competitor’s offering – effectively eliminating that competition. That wow factor is necessary to capture an investors attention, in hopes of bringing big, new ideas into existence.” Continue reading…

LONDON,UK - FEBRUARY 11, 2015 : Tokens and dice next to the GO space in a Monopoly game board

Follow Love Your Trades on Facebook or WordPress for updates, and you can naturally expect each new published post to be shared through SUMANI’s various social media sites and reposted to the Trendster category on our site.

*Trendster is a voluntary, crowd-sourced initiative facilitated by SUMA Net Impact. It does not represent the collective views of Columbia University, the Earth Institute or Net Impact

SUMANI Trendster: Sust.Spec. Episode 4

Episode 4 of Sust.Spec. International Optimism

A podcast dedicated to the discussion of modern Sustainability practices and experiences.

This episode takes on the issues of idealism and pragmatism both in the current political realm and sustainability as a whole. We sit down with Modou Cham from World Information Transfer (worldinfo.org/) and hear his thoughts on the matters at hand and what matters to him.

WIT on Health and Environment: April 26th
worldinfo.org/wit-conferences/tw…h-conference-2016/

 

*Trendster is a voluntary, crowd-sourced initiative facilitated by SUMA Net Impact. It does not represent the collective views of Columbia University, the Earth Institute or Net Impact

SUMANI Trendster: Forever Local?

It’s no secret that Americans have become more concerned with origins of their food over the past decade. You could throw a stone in most American cities, and are likely hit to a restaurant that advertises locally sourced produce and meat, listed on stylish chalkboards, sometimes tallying the various purveyors that supply the business with its food products. If you’ve purchased meat, fish, or poultry at Whole Foods, you might be aware of their rating system, which highlights the quality of the animal through a variety of criteria, some of which include its habitat, diet, and the size of the farm on which it was raised.

“Farm-to-table,” has become a ubiquitous term, popularized by chefs like Alice Waters, Dan Barber, and Rene Redzepi; all of whom have pioneered a focus on local and seasonal cooking, emphasizing the chef’s relationship to agriculture.

This trend has attuned people to the reception of marginally more backstory about the food on their plates. But despite the efforts of grocery stores and restaurants to achieve greater transparency when communicating with the customer, I worry about the scalability and permanence of local and seasonal eating; especially in temperate, urban locations like New York City.

Continue reading “SUMANI Trendster: Forever Local?”

SUMANI Trendster: Introducing Love Your Trades

Melissa Meggiolaro, SUMANI’s fine Director of Finance, is joining our Trendster community with her new blog series: Love Your Trades!

The idea for “Love Your Trades” is to be a platform for community discussion around:

  1. The plethora of tradeoffs one faces in any given day
  2. The massive, collective impact of our choices
  3. The values and needs that influence our decisions

Follow Love Your Trades on Facebook or WordPress for updates, and you can naturally expect each new published post to be shared through SUMANI’s various social media sites and reposted to the Trendster category on our site.

First up:

Bottoms-Up vs. Top-Down Approach to Goal Setting
Tradeoff: Setting the nation’s sustainable development goals from the bottom vs. the top?

“Back in December of 2015, the US and almost 200 other countries leaders consented to 17 overarching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)… The conference left it to each country to set their own goals, and now the leaders involved in this consensus are challenged to determine how to go about setting goals. Specifically looking at the US, who is now responsible for action and progress toward the overarching SDGs? Without clear accountability, is it the role of companies or government or citizens to support the ambitious targets agreed to? While most people will tell you everyone – no accountability can quickly lead to no action.” Continue reading…

*Trendster is a voluntary, crowd-sourced initiative facilitated by SUMA Net Impact. It does not represent the collective views of Columbia University, the Earth Institute or Net Impact