Alumni Spotlight: Milo McBride, Climate Advocate and Creative Thinker

by Jiaqi Wang |September 17, 2020
milo mcbride portrait

Milo McBride graduated from the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program in 2020.

Milo McBride is a climate advocate and creative thinker. He is a newly contributing writer at Climate & Capital Media, a publication centered around the intersection of the climate crisis and financial markets. Since graduating from Columbia’s MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program (MPA-ESP) this spring, he has continued to assist a professor at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy in several facets: researching the U.S. shale industry, contributing to a G20 energy policy tracker detailing post-COVID 19 stimulus recovery, and editing a book on the political economy of fossil fuel subsidy reform.

Before focusing his energy on issues of environmental politics, McBride was a musical artist. His compositions for film and installation work have been shown at the likes of Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Museum, the Venice Biennale, and the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf. Additionally, he has released a plethora of records and toured across the Americas and the E.U.

What was your background before the MPA-ESP program?

My musical pursuits awarded me an artist residency in eastern Senegal where I became impassioned by issues like climate justice and equitable development.

I returned from this experience determined to learn more and get involved. I joined a nascent Sunrise Movement, where I started lobbying for the federal Green New Deal and local deep decarbonization policies.

What drew you to choose this program?

I wanted to expand my understanding of environmental science, energy, economics, and foreign affairs. The prospect of learning alongside an international array of students, with a diversity of perspectives, felt like an incredible opportunity. I was also excited at the potential of having SIPA peers passionate about adjacent studies like security policy and human rights.

What area of environmental sustainability are you mostly interested in?

Energy and political economy. The intersection of these issues is fascinating — especially the geopolitical ramifications and power dynamics.

While I think sustainable systems like renewable energy and circular economies are vital, I’m not particularly interested in ‘sustainability’ as an idea. Recent reports of planetary warming, methane emissions, and microplastic contamination call for a shift in language from ‘sustainability’ to ‘ecological recovery.

How did you manage your time to job hunt during the intense year?

I spent my time focusing on creating a network both internally at the School of International and Public Affairs and externally in New York City. In terms of strategy, I’ve always felt that making honest, personal connections is a better long game than the ‘Here’s my business card’-style cocktail talk that networking is typically relegated to.

Do you have any advice for current students wanting to pursue a similar profession?

I would recommend finding a professor whose work speaks to your interests and seeing if you can do research for them. I found this to be an enlightening way to expand my knowledge while building momentum.

What are your top three memorable experiences for you in this program?

  1. Bonding with ESP cohort in the summer semester of science — such inspiring people.
  2. The Israel and Palestine Life-changing, eye-opening, and heartbreaking all in one.
  3. Capstone presentation to the Icelandic Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources.

Jiaqi Wang is an alum of the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program, Class of 2020.

If you’re interested in learning more about the MPA-ESP program, please contact the assistant director, Stephanie Hoyt (sah2239@columbia.edu), or join us at one of our upcoming online information sessions. Register here.

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