Global Master of Public Policy

New global trends in sustainability leadership

Jun 8, 2017 11:04:25 AM

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Photo by California Air Resources Board.

Not only is climate change an important multidisciplinary research area that intersects across all hard and social sciences, but environmental concerns are also increasingly critical for our survival as a species and this planet as a whole.  Local, state, and federal levels of government are all faced with the challenge of balancing environmental conservation, economic prosperity, and environmental justice through sustainable development.

The geographic and ecological realities of the changing environment are unresponsive to political discourse without action.  Policymakers and practitioners must demonstrate seriousness and commitment, and act now to adapt to and mitigate the devastating consequences of climate change. 

The USC-HKU Master of Global Public Policy (MGPP) program features several faculty members with leading research in climate policy and sustainability.  Dr. Dan Mazmanian, Professor and Research Director at the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, is one of the most renowned environmental policy scholars in the United States.  Mazmanian has been publishing work on environmental policy implementation, governance, and sustainable development for over four decades.  In his 1989 seminal publication, Implementation and Public Policy, Mazmanian and Sabatier introduce a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of governance and implementation process. 

Drawing from his research on governance and implementation, Mazmanian’s more recent work has focused on sustainability and environmental policy, including prominent chapters in Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century (2015) and The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Environmental Governance.  Dr. Mazmanian’s has also been teaching since the 1970s, and his ability to share his knowledge to MGPP students will be integral to the professional growth of future environmental policy advocates and analysts.  Dr. Mazmanian will be responsible for teaching the Institutions and Policy Processes course. 

Climate change and sustainability policy requires a menu of policy instruments, not a one size fits all solution, given the differences across the globe in development, customs, environments, and resources.  Localities need policy solutions that are tailored to their specific communities.  In her article The Most Important Topic Political Scientists are Not Studying: Adapting to Climate Change, Javeline (2014) emphasizes that the effectiveness of sustainable policy implementation in agriculture, land-use, transportation, public health, infrastructure, and conservation all rely on the leadership abilities of future government and business executives. 

Al Gore reiterates the importance of innovative policies and shrewd governance in his 2016 Ted Talks, The Case for Optimism on Climate Change.  Gore discusses how some local sustainable development strategies and implementation methods should be incorporated internationally, but that the opposite is also true.  Different levels of government can certainly learn from each other.  Some of Gore’s optimism stems from the 2015 Paris Agreement in which nearly all nations agreed to work together to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.  In fact, China announced that in 2017 it will launch a national carbon market and will cap emissions from six industrial sectors.  With climate change and sustainable development moving to the forefront of both government and business agendas, policy professionals with constantly evolving and versatile skill-sets are already and will continue to be in high demand.

Kevin Baron

Written by Kevin Baron