Michael R. Edelstein co-founded Orange Environment, Inc. in 1982 and served as its President until 2019. As President Emeritus, he remains on the Board. Under his direction, OEI became a major force for protecting the region from environmental hazards while promoting sustainable communities.
Edelstein is an Environmental Psychologist (Ph.D., Social Psychology, SUNY Buffalo, 1975). His forty-nine year academic career has focused on our dysfunctional relationships to the earth and each other and on fostering a new sustainable paradigm that transforms, restores and heals us. As a professor in the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Studies programs at Ramapo College of New Jersey since 1974, he pioneered campus sustainability with one of the first projects in higher education on greening of the curriculum in the mid-1990s and by co-founding and directing, NJHEPS, the first state higher education partnership for sustainability. He has also developed novel undergraduate sustainability curricula and co-founded a pioneer masters in sustainability studies program. He regularly teaches courses in Environmental Assessment, Environmental Psychology, World Sustainability and Sustainable Communities.
As a scholar, Edelstein is best known for his work on legacy issues affecting sustainability, most notably issues of environmental contamination, nuclear disaster and climate change. He views the modern paradigm as a system of victim production, solving needs, wants and problems at the expense of people, places and planet. He examines the consequences as a field researcher, expert witness and activist. His work began in his home community but has taken him across the globe. Among his prolific writings are the books Contaminated Communities: The Social and Psychological Impacts of Residential Toxic Exposure. (Westview 1988), Radon’s Deadly Daughters: Science, Environmental Policy and the Politics of Risk (Co-authored with William Makofske, Rowman-Littlefield 1998);Contaminated Communities: Coping with Residential Toxic Exposure, Second Edition, Westview 2004); Cultures of Contamination: Legacies of Pollution in Russia and the U.S (Co-edited with Maria Tysiachniouk and Ludmila Smirnova, Elsevier 2007) and Disaster by Design: The Aral Sea and Its Lessons for Sustainability (Co-edited with Astrid Cerny and Abror Gadaev, Emerald, 2012). He is currently under contract for three books to Routledge/Taylor&Francis, World Sustainability, Environmental Turbulence and the Third Edition of Contaminated Communities. He has a particular interest in how indigenous communities are impacted by environmental change and is currently working on a project in Hawaii on the impacts of geothermal energy on Native Hawaiians.
Edelstein is also active in online and public education. He is also a Climate Reality Leader. Online projects include the 2016 International MOOC on Sustainability and Healthy Living, a 2017 Webinar on Psycho-Social Impact Assessment and Vulnerable Populations for the International Association of Impact Assessment and the 2018 Climate Training MOOC for the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement and the Arab Youth Climate Movement.