The M.S. in Sustainability Science Fall 2021 Student Seminar Series presents Recovery from the World Trade Center Disaster: Tactical Responses to Manage a Complex Crisis.
Daniel Walsh, Ph.D., is a geochemist and urban environmental historian at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. He served as Chief of Operations for New York State’s environmental response to the World Trade Center disaster and worked full time on the recovery effort from September 11, 2001 until it was completed in early August, 2002. At the time of the disaster, Dr. Walsh was teaching a course on solid waste management at Columbia and was preparing for his second week of lectures. Extreme demands of his role responding to the tragedy limited his ability to prepare lectures. Instead, using real-time information from recovery activities at Ground Zero and Fresh Kill, the course was transformed into a week-by-week examination of the complex progression of the crisis and the rapidly evolving, multi-disciplinary tactical response. On the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster, this lecture briefly reprises that course, highlighting the some of the most important problems encountered during the response, the methods used to solve them, and some lessons for leaders facing similar environmental crises in the future.