From UW-Green Bay to India, Koyel Mandal works on international projects on behalf of the environment, energy and climate change.
The 2006 graduate from UW-Green Bay’s Master’s Program in Environmental Science and Policy returned to campus last month to visit with his former adviser, Prof. John Stoll, and to serve as a guest lecturer for Stoll’s “Energy, Natural Resources and Public Policy” class.
Mandal is now a senior research manager, Environment and Climate Change, at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. He devotes his professional career to researching and applying finance and market-based mechanisms to promote sustainable development.
In his work he has developed a number of tools for sustainability analysis including an Environmental Sustainability Index (for Indian states) and Urban Sustainability Index (for Indian cities) — to aid policy makers. He also developed the India Pollution Map — an online repository of data and information on pollution and related development indicators. He has been commissioned as principal investigator and team leader on projects that involve climate policy assessment, solid waste management, low carbon development and forestry and biodiversity.
In his search for a master’s degree in a progressive country, he chose UW-Green Bay because of the program’s combination of studies in both environmental science and policy, and because of UW-Green Bay’s reputation for small classes and personal attention.
“Especially coming from India, it was useful for me to go to a school where I could get more attention from professors, more time to talk to them and understand more of my courses,” Mandal said. “Also, coming from another culture, it helped to make good friends and interact with them more as well as professors.”
Mandal said he benefited from UW-Green Bay’s inter- and multi-disciplinary education, now referred to as 360° of learning.
“This is a very multi-disciplinary program, they truly combine different kinds of expertise and they are really good at what they do here,” he said. “When you are in the field of environmental policy it is important to understand that no one discipline is more important than another. The idea is to combine them and come up with solutions that address all of those issues. With the policy making process, I got a good understanding of what the challenges are and when to try and influence them. The things I learned could be applied in other settings.”
Mandal received a full scholarship, which included helping Prof. John R. Stoll, chair of the Public and Environmental Affairs department, with an economics class and also teaching his own economics lab course.
“I had never taught before,” Mandal said. “It was interesting teaching on my own, it was a good experience.”
Stoll said this sheds light on why it is so important to have outside grants. A grant was able to fund Mandal’s teaching and research, which benefits other students and the local community.
“These grants give us the ability to facilitate student learning while focusing on real world problems,” Prof. Stoll said. “Koyel not only assisted me in designing classroom work for students, but also in an externally funded project to examine economic impacts created by recreational anglers engaging in their passion, fishing at Lake Winnebago.”
Mandal’s close relationship with Stoll was a new experience for him compared to his previous education. “John was very accessible,” Mandal said. “He worked to design individual courses with me and guided me throughout the process of designing a research question and the methodology of it. Also, coming from another country, it was nice to understand the local circumstances under which my project was based upon, and we still keep in touch and try to work on new projects.”
One of Mandal’s favorite memories from his time at UW-Green Bay was during his capstone seminar. The class was divided into two groups and the assignment was to come up with a sustainability plan for the campus and present it to the University leadership.
“I remember this because students from different backgrounds were all put into one group. We fought and debated a lot, but in the end it all came together. Quite a few of our recommendations were taken on by the management committee.”
Some of the issues Mandal’s group addressed in a capstone course were issues with organic waste and looking at more sustainable sources of energy for campus. According to Stoll, the work of this capstone class is still referred to by the University’s current sustainability committee.
Mandal’s favorite part of working in environmental policy is the influence he can have on policies, which are beneficial for the environment and people. For him that is doubly rewarding.
Mandal found his experience at UW-Green Bay to be beneficial. “It was a good choice, the experience was something I took back home and I apply constantly.”
“Koyel has indicated a willingness to address my class via internet from India in the future,” says Stoll. “Isn’t it amazing what great former students and today’s technology can do for 360° of learning?”
– Story and photo by Marketing and Communication intern Cheyenne Makinia.