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Maria Ivanova named new director of SPPUA

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Office of the Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Friends:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Maria Ivanova as Professor of Public Policy and  Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (SPPUA) in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, effective July 1, 2022.

Dr. Ivanova is well positioned to lead SPPUA in expanding the impact of its educational, research, and public mission, while collaborating across the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and Northeastern University’s global campus system. She will work with faculty, students, staff, and partners to build on SPPUA’s reputation for innovation, social justice, and multidisciplinary collaboration to engage at all levels of governance, from the local to the international, and to define and support empowered and responsible global citizenship.

With an emphasis in environmental policy and international relations, Dr. Ivanova is a prominent interdisciplinary and collaborative scholar and exceptional policy leader known for her ability to bridge the worlds of academia and public policy. Ivanova’s research focuses on international environmental institutions, environmental sustainability, and the science-policy interface. She has published on global environmental governance, the United Nations Environment Programme, climate change, and the Sustainable Development Goals, among others. Her recent book, The Untold Story of the World’s Leading Environmental Institution: UNEP at Fifty (MIT Press, 2021), provides a comprehensive analysis of the origins and performance of the UN Environment Programme. Her work has been recognized for bringing analytical rigor and innovative input to the international negotiations on reforming the UN system for the environment, and she is a regular commentator on these matters in the U.S. and international media. Ivanova has been named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and a member of the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). As of June 2022, Ivanova is one of 66 Foundation Fellows of the International Science Council, the highest honor awarded by the Council to those who successfully champion science in society and policymaking.

In addition to her many research contributions, Dr. Ivanova brings a strong record of teaching excellence and years of service to the international environmental community as well as to local Boston communities to Northeastern. She co-chaired the drafting process for the official letter from scientists and scholars to global leaders at the Stockholm+50 Conference, calling for urgent policy action for a sustainable planet. She served on the Rwandan delegation to the UN Environment Assembly negotiating the resolution on a global treaty on plastics. She was also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Steering Group for the International Science Council on strategy in the intergovernmental system.  

Currently, Dr. Ivanova directs the Center for Governance and Sustainability and the PhD program in Global Governance and Human Security at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. At UMass Boston, she has served on university-wide strategic planning and restorative justice initiatives. Ivanova holds a PhD in International Environmental policy from Yale University, two master’s degrees, in international relations and environmental management, also from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies from Mount Holyoke College.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank Jennie Stephens for her engaged leadership of SPPUA from 2018 to 2022. Under her guidance, the school revised its strategic plan, expanded its faculty and its educational offerings, and put a particular emphasis on how questions of social justice should and can shape policy and partner engagement in urban affairs as well as sustainability and resilience policy. Dr. Stephens fostered impactful collaborations with faculty and programs across Northeastern University’s global network and with domestic and international professional organizations, governmental agencies, and nonprofits. In 2022/23, Dr. Stephens will take a much-deserved interdisciplinary sabbatical, during which she will foster work on sustainability and governance on the London campus and in Ireland. 

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ivanova into this important leadership role at Northeastern and in thanking Dr. Stephens.


Uta Poiger
Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities

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