State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Executive Courses in Sustainable Coastal Economies, Urban Resilience, and Conservation

The Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) at Columbia University provides executive training in environmental sustainability through science, policy, and economics; we invite you to learn from our leading experts and practitioners to become an effective environmental leader and decision-maker.

Upcoming CERC Courses:

Sustainable Coastal Economies: The Science and Policy of Managing and Conserving our Ocean Resources
Caleb McClennen, PhD. Director, Marine Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY and Adjunct Research Scientist, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Earth Institute, Columbia University
In New York State alone, activities that depend on healthy, accessible, and clean oceans such as tourism and recreation, fisheries, and marine transport generate more than $14.3 billion a year for our state economy. Locally, nationally, and internationally, the ocean economy is rapidly developing with significant investment in new opportunities such as offshore wind, aquaculture and mineral resources, while existing offshore oil, transport, fisheries and tourism/recreation sectors undergoing significant growth. Continuing coastal development, intensification of agriculture and inland activities such as waste, sewer and water management, all continue to directly impact the sustainability of our coastal resources. It has been recognized for decades that managing and conserving coastal and marine resources must take a multi-sectoral approach given the overlapping nature of ocean activities combined with the fluid character of their externalities. This course explores the science and policy behind the trade-offs in increased ocean and coastal economic development in several core marine sectors, investigates existing options for improving sustainability, and discusses areas of necessary improvement in our ability to effectively manage this transformation.
Meets: Mondays, Nov. 21, 28, Dec. 5, 12, 19 (5 sessions, 6:10-8:10PM)

Urban Resilience and Other Strategies for an Eco-Economy
John F. Williams, HDR Engineering, Inc.
Many public and private sector investment decision makers are focusing on an economy in which the connections between actions and social, environmental and economic outcomes become clearly relevant (“Eco-Economy”). These decision makers are concerned about extreme environmental and social events and the resiliency of their communities, business operations and customer buying power. However, practical realities such as budget considerations and shareholder demands are placing constraints on the option of pursuing “green” alternatives. This course examines the connections between environmental sustainability, resilience, and the need and ability to compete in a global marketplace. It begins by defining “urban resilience” and the “eco-economy,” exploring the competitive realities that exist in human driven systems. The course also analyses the need for “orgware” developers and “future system integrators” – those professionals who connect the dots between
data, intelligent design, resilience, and sustainable communities to achieve a distinct competitive advantage in the 21st century.
Meets: Tue., Nov. 29 (6-8PM), Sat., Dec. 3 (9AM-4PM), and Tue., Dec. 6 (6-8PM) – 3 sessions

Diversity and Conservation
Matt Palmer, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Ecology, Evolution; Environmental Biology, Columbia University
Human life and well-being are dependent on goods and services provided by nature. However, this natural capital is chronically undervalued and often poorly understood. Biodiversity – the variety of life on earth – supports many ecosystem functions and the loss of diversity can have both obvious and subtle consequences. This course explores the scientific issues related to the origin, distribution, and functions of biodiversity and the consequences of biodiversity loss. We discuss a range of tools for conserving biodiversity, including species recovery plans, protected area management, and ecosystem-based management.
Meets: Wednesdays, Nov. 16, 30, Dec. 7, 14, 21 (5 sessions, 6:10-8:10PM, skip Nov. 23)

Complete Fall 2011 Course Calendar and Descriptions are available at:

Our courses are tailored to fit your professional schedule:

– Candidates from all professions and backgrounds can enroll.
– You may enroll in individual courses or pursue the full 12-course Certificate in Conservation and Environmental Sustainability
– Courses meet once a week in the evenings and run for five weeks.
– Your enrollment provides an official transcript form Columbia University.
– The full Certificate can be completed in a little as 9 months.

For more information or to register contact Desmond Beirne at or 212-854-0149.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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