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Manjyot Bhan – a native of Mumbai, India – graduated from the School of Sustainability with a Master of Science in 2010. She also earned a PhD in Public Administration, with a focus on Environmental Policy, from American University in 2015.
Bhan is currently a Policy and Business Fellow at a think-tank called the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) – formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change – in Arlington, Virginia.
Why did you choose ASU’s School ofSustainability? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?
During an environmental economics undergraduate class at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, I realized all our assumptions in textbook economics and of the marketplace were made based on private costs – without accounting for other costs such as environmental, social and health damages to society. My desire to pursue the field of sustainability came out of a classroom experience.
Given that sustainability was an emerging field of study at the time (2008), I had a limited pool of schools to choose from. I was interested in the areas of international development and environmental policy, and found SOS through a Google search of similar terms. I wanted to be part of a pioneering institute to help gain knowledge in what was then an up-and-coming field, and aspired to help shape the conversation around sustainability in academia – and later, in the practitioner world.
Through SOS, ASU offered one of the first (and in my opinion, the finest) Masters in Sustainability in the nation. The flexibility to choose from a variety of courses across different programs (business, urban planning and engineering) made ASU stand out from other schools. It was a double-edged sword, because the program was very new and you could make it up as you go, which worked for some – but not for all.
How does your current position relate to sustainability?
My job is directly relevant to my Masters and PhD, and I get to acquire some great real-world skills in the workplace, which I love!
C2ES is an independent, non-partisan think-tank working to advance strong policy and action to address global climate and energy challenges. My day-to-day responsibilities include researching, analyzing, writing and communicating information on U.S. state, federal and regional developments in climate and energy policy. Through a C2ES initiative called the Solutions Forum, I work with city, state and national policymakers, along with businesses and other stakeholders, to develop innovative policies that set a foundation for real and lasting climate progress.
I also coordinate with environmental NGOs and international organizations on building a coalition of companies – both domestic and international – on issues that advance domestic climate policy and the Paris Agreement. I assist with planning events and conferences, including the Annual Climate Leadership Conference – co-hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and The Climate Registry.
I am also involved in projects that advance climate and business resilience and market-based strategies, such as carbon pricing. I share lessons from state and regional action with our Business Environmental Leadership Council, comprised of 29 industry-leading, mostly Fortune 500 companies across a range of sectors. All BELC members are committed to climate action and supporting mandatory climate policy.
Each of these responsibilities promotes a unique and important aspect of sustainability. My work ultimately inspires those who can truly make a difference to not only take direct action, but also to set an example that can be easily seen and emulated worldwide.
What should sustainability students to know about sustainability?
Everyone’s sustainability journey is unique. Go, make it your own!