With Fulbright Grant, Alum Will Study Arctic Ocean Protection

by |August 8, 2017

Originally posted by the School of Professional Studies in their Sustainability Management Profiles.

David Prieto is the School of Professional Studies’ fourth Fulbright Scholar of 2017.

MS in Sustainability Management alum David Prieto.

MS in Sustainability Management alum David Prieto.

David Prieto, 2015 graduate of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, has been awarded a Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Grant, focused on interdisciplinary issues across the Arctic. The specialized grant is co-funded by the Fulbright Program and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

While at Columbia, Prieto completed an independent capstone project in the Republic of Palau, an island nation in Micronesia. He developed a report highlighting the economic benefits of marine conservation, and his research helped establish “what is currently the sixth largest marine protected area (MPA) in the world,” he says.

Since graduating in 2015, Prieto has been working at AccountAbility, a global consulting and standards firm that works with business, governments, and multilateral organizations to advance sustainable business practices.

While based in Iceland for the grant, Prieto will research the benefits of establishing a protected area over the Central Arctic Ocean, exploring the effects of natural resource development, shipping rights, and geopolitics.

He believes it is a crucial time for this research, noting: “Treaty negotiations to create marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction have recently been initiated at the United Nations. The Central Arctic Ocean falls within that category. The question is not whether the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free, rather by the time that it is, what will be the implications for the sustainability of the economies that depend on it and what incentives exist to encourage countries to cooperate and protect the rapidly changing region.”

Karl Rutter, Senior Advisor for Institutional Relations at the School of Professional Studies, says that Prieto’s award “is an outstanding accomplishment for him and an honor for us.”

Designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Columbia is a top Fulbright destination for scholars from abroad and Prieto is one of four School of Professional Studies students or graduates awarded a Fulbright grant this year.

The M.S. in Sustainability Management, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. The program requires the successful completion of 36 credit points. Those credit points are divided among five comprehensive content areas: integrative sustainability management, economics and quantitative analysis, the physical dimensions of sustainability, the public policy environment of sustainability management, and general and financial management. Visit our website to learn more.


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