Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the School

Jul 15 2019
Graduate Admissions Office

Building on an earlier blog post on Urban Policy at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, this blog post will focus on the second of our optional certificates, the Certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy

We have four fields of concentration in our two Master’s degrees—the two-year MPA for those individuals earlier in their professional careers, and the one-year MPP for mid-career policy professionals. All students must indicate their preferred field of concentration at the time of application. (A future series of blogs will highlight each of our fields - watch this space!)

Beyond these fields of concentration, we offer three optional certificates so that interested students can further specialize an individualized course of study. As a part of the application process, we ask those who think they may be interested in one of our optional certificates to write an additional short essay of approximately 250 words that sets forth clearly their reasons for wanting to enroll in a certificate program.

The three optional certificates we offer are:
Certificate in Health and Health Policy (HHP)
Certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP)
Certificate in Urban Policy (UP)

The certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy is based in the School. It is offered to graduate students enrolled in the MPA and MPP programs and to doctoral students in other Princeton departments. For doctoral students in other disciplines additional funding support can be obtained through the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Center for Information Technology Policy

Many aspects of science and technology policy debates require tools of political and economic analysis. In addition to providing a systematic introduction to the field of policy analysis, the goal of the STEP program is to develop a deeper understanding of current scientific, technological, and environmental issues and potential local, national and international policy responses.

STEP Faculty Advisor Elke Weber, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, states, “The STEP certificate has helped many graduates bridge scientific research with policymaking, connecting them with leading experts and practitioners working at the forefront of science policy and opening up opportunities for subsequent careers in prominent think tanks, NGOs, government agencies, international organizations, academia, and more.”

Indeed, the STEP certificate provides for an inter-disciplinary training that facilitates communication between technical experts and policymakers. Students may choose to focus their coursework on Energy and Environmental Policy or on Information Technology Policy. To earn the certificate, students are required to complete four approved courses on science policy-related topics. A list of pre-approved courses that fulfill the STEP requirements is posted here at the beginning of each academic year. 

As Elke Weber says, “The STEP certificate gives students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of key issues at the intersection of science, technology, and policy, such as climate change, biotechnology, cyber security, energy systems, IT, and environmental accords.”

The STEP certificate program encourages students to acquire a sophisticated understanding of key issues in the field of science and policy. Students work closely with distinguished STEP faculty to integrate their science and policy interests. Faculty interests are broad and far-reaching, and include:

  • the problems of global climate change;
  • global and regional air pollution;
  • negotiated environmental accords, ecology, ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • the ethics of biotechnology;
  • health, population and disease;
  • artificial intelligence;
  • information technology;
  • cyber, science and global security;
  • and the use of science-based modeling for policy analysis.

Elke Weber believes, “One of the strengths of the STEP certificate is its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, which blends scientific knowledge and methods with social science and practitioner perspectives to yield practical, policy-relevant solutions to the major scientific, environmental, and technological challenges facing the world today.”

If you are excited by the science, technology and environmental policy work of our faculty and at the School, we hope you will consider applying to one of our graduate degree programs. All the best!

Photo of Elke Weber speaking at an Executive Education module for Young Global Leaders. Photo by Frank Wojciechowski.