Maria Ivanova wants “to inspire thinking” and find solutions for the “wicked problems” of our time, as she calls them.
Ivanova, professor of public policy and director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, studies global environmental governance, that is, “the design and execution of policy,” she says, “at all levels of governance, whether it’s in the neighborhood … or the city council or the state house, or the national government or the United Nations.”
The policies that Ivanova pursues occur specifically against the backdrop of global, environmental issues.
Ivanova has now received the “Global” award for her mentorship in this space, through the Green Mentors organization.
Green Mentors lists building a “green university for every graduate” and providing “green graduates for every job” among the values it pursues in its mission.
Being a green mentor, Ivanova says, “means I’m someone who cares about the environment and can impart that knowledge on others, and [I can] help them to not only learn, but to find opportunities and to grow in this field.”
The award ceremony was held during Climate Week NYC, “the largest annual climate event of its kind, bringing together over 500 events and activities across the City of New York,” the organization states on its website.
In addition to the Global Green Mentor award, which Ivanova received, other forms of “green mentorship” were also recognized, across a variety of educational categories.
What’s next, Ivanova says, is finding a way to build on Northeastern’s leadership in environmental policy. “In not only identifying problems, which most of academia does, but in identifying and implementing solutions,” she continues, which “not all academic institutions do. Northeastern is truly in a class of its own.”
“And so I’ve been asking myself, ‘Well, how do we build on that [expertise] at Northeastern?’” she says. “We are starting mentor-mentee connections for the faculty. And I would like to see how we could do that for the students.”
As director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern, Ivanova says this is something she has on her agenda, “to create some type of mentorship networks, mentorship circles with alumni, with other faculty, with other students, with researchers who are in this space.”
“The flip side of mentorship,” Ivanova says, will come later this year when she serves on Rwanda’s national delegation, “negotiating the next international agreement to end plastic pollution.”
In cases like this one, she says, “I’m not mentoring students. I am assisting governments in developing the necessary policies.”
“It’s an interesting space that I’m receiving this award in,” Ivanova says, because she’s just getting started. This month, she continues, she will be the keynote speaker for early career scientists at the once-per-decade Open Science Conference of the World Climate Research Programme in Kigali, Rwanda.
“So this is green mentorship in action,” she says. “As a social scientist, I will be speaking to a lot of natural scientists on how to address climate issues in a way that works for society — across the world.”
“Environmental work combined with education is exactly at the crux of the issue,” she says. “How do we create hope, and how do we change things for the better?”