Concentrations at CIPA: Environmental Policy

Interested in what our different concentrations have to offer? In this post in our series about CIPA concentrations, we hear from Joan Chu.  Joan is a second year CIPA fellow focusing in Environmental Policy. Here she reflects on her interest to pursue an Environmental Policy concentration, her concern for energy policy and natural resource management, and what she plans to do after graduating. 

I am a second-year CIPA fellow concentrating in environmental policy. When I was finishing my undergraduate degree at University of Maryland, I decided to get my MPA in environmental policy – specifically in energy policy/natural resource management as it related to hydraulic fracturing. Before even beginning to research policy/public affairs programs for graduate school, Cornell was my top choice. I found myself consistently citing fracking studies coming out of Cornell throughout my time in college. Cornell was and still is doing critical work on fracking which is what got me interested in applying to CIPA in the first place.

After deciding to come to CIPA, people told me that my initial desired concentration would most likely change, however I am happy to say that my goals have largely remained unchanged. This is partly due to my summer internship experience at the EPA. Being at the EPA helped reaffirm that environmental policy was the right concentration for me. I was fortunate enough to choose the particular subject I was most interested in and as a result I was put with a team that was researching potential oil and gas exploration and production damage incidents. The work was exciting and my supervisors were supportive and encouraged me to ask questions which furthered my learning.

The other part to my decision to remain in the environmental policy concentration is the wide range of classes I have been able to take within it. There is a richness to the courses you can take within your own discipline which makes being in CIPA so rewarding. I have taken courses ranging from administrative law to ethics and the environment. I have had the chance to take classes the Business School, Ag School, Law School, and of course Human Ecology. I am currently taking what may be my favorite class so far which is a course on strategies for sustainability in the Business School. I am also taking an Environmental Finance course later in the semester.

When I applied to CIPA, my long term career goal was to eventually work for the EPA.  Although the current political climate isn’t promising for would-be federal hires, I believe more than ever in the need for policy experts at the state and local level as well as in the private sector. As of now, my plan is to finish my MPA in the spring, work in consulting for a few years and potentially return to school.

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