State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Summer 2012 Announcement: Internship Positions

This summer the Earth Institute, Columbia University is offering Columbia students opportunities to intern within various departments and research centers at the Earth Institute. All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply for internships. These internships are funded at a rate of $15/hr for 35 hours per week and up to a maximum of 420hrs for the summer. Please see below for the descriptions of seven internship opportunities.

  1. Strengthening Knowledge Management Systems
  2. Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development
  3. How “Green” is a Greenroof: Quantifying Biogeochemical Processes on Greenroofs in New York City
  4. Communications Internship for Sustainable Development Policy
  5. Communications, Outreach, and Event Planning for Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy
  6. Website Re-launch: Center for Climate Change Law
  7. Global Community Forum Coordinator

To apply:
To apply for these positions, please complete the online application available here, by April 16, 2012 at 5PM. While you may apply for more than one position, you must submit separate applications. Decisions will be made shortly after the deadline.

Please note that students who are awarded internships will be expected to participate in the Earth Institute Student Research Showcase, which takes place in Spring 2013.

Please contact us at with any questions.

1. Strengthening knowledge management systems

Center: Center for Global Health and Economic Development (CGHED)

Project Description:
One of the core functions of the NY Monitoring and Evaluation team is to document the process of all interventions carried out in each Millennium Village. Over 200 various interventions have been implemented. The Process Evaluation (PE) team has collected quantitative and qualitative data in order to document the implementation process. The team is now is the process of taking this vast data and formulating best practices while create knowledge management systems where the information can be disseminated to the general public. We seek an intern with strong knowledge management skills who can assist in identifying bottlenecks in packaging core interventions and advising on how best to present the information.

Intern Tasks:
– Facilitate knowledge building and knowledge sharing on monitoring and evaluation
– Review all implementation documentation and analyze common trends, bottlenecks
– Liaise between the M&E team and the Program Implementation System team CGSD (Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development)
– Work with the Program Implementation System team (CGSD) to develop knowledge management systems
– Communicate to the M&E team knowledge management strategies

Skills required:
– Ability to perform a variety of specialized tasks related to managing data, reporting, technical and administrative services in support of program activities
– Ability to develop instructional tools
– Ability to train staff on the use of knowledge management tools
– Strong team player, interpersonal and cross-cultural skills
– Two (2) years of experience in creating, updating, administering and maintaining customized knowledge management systems
– Experience in the usage of computers and office software packages, experience in handling of web based management systems (i.e. Sharepoint)

Type of student desired: Graduate

2. Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development

Center: Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment

Project Description:
The Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC) believes that the challenges of poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and governance should be addressed in an effective sustainability framework for foreign investment. The shared goal for companies, host-country governments and civil society is an investment framework that promotes sustainable development and the mutual trust needed for long-term investments. The extractive industries face a special need for such trust, given the massive long-term investments that they undertake in poor and potentially unstable countries. For investors to succeed and for host-countries to reap the potential benefits of such investments, a mutually agreeable sustainable investment framework should last for decades and accommodate unexpected shocks that will arise during the lifetime of the investments.

The VCC is undertaking research to provide resources and tools for an effective framework, focusing on the challenges of governance (fair and efficient negotiations, contracts, policy and planning framework, the long-term economic relationship of companies and communities, sound resource management), infrastructure (concession arrangements for shared platforms, corridor development), economic diversification (industrial policy, training, local procurement), environmental management (climate change resilience and adaptation, avoidance and management of catastrophic environmental events), and economic development (promoting economic development and human rights at the community and country levels).

Working with students and faculty at Columbia Law School, the Earth Institute, the School for International and Public Affairs, the Business School and other schools at Columbia University, the VCC is undertaking qualitative and quantitative research to bolster the framework and to assist policy-makers, corporate executives and other stakeholders make informed decisions in their respective activities.

Current research projects include analyses of how to maximize the employment impacts of natural resource investments, innovative models for infrastructure concessions, tools for optimizing competitive bidding procedures for the allocation of mineral rights, the impacts on corporate performance of disclosures of payments to governments, how to create policies which encourage the use of “local content” (labor and goods) in natural resource projects, and cumulative impact assessments of competing land and water uses in vulnerable regions, among others.

The VCC is seeking student researchers to assist with specific research projects within the overall framework development, depending on the background and interests of the applicants and selectee. Over the summer, the VCC will be running an executive training course for members of the civil service in Ghana. The VCC is seeking a student researcher to assist with the planning and execution of the executive training course.

Intern Tasks:
– Assist with the executive training course,
– document and assess existing models for infrastructure concessions;
– research and document processes and resources for effective competitive bidding procedures;
– help design tools for governments to more comprehensively and practically understand the
cumulative impacts of competing land and water uses when making decisions about investments;
– survey and analyze public and private policies to promote the use of local content (goods and labor);
– quantitatively measure the impacts on corporate performance of disclosures of payments to governments;
– student may be involved in practical assignments related to the country-based implementation projects, to experience and contribute to the application of the work in practice

Skills required:
– Interest in sustainable development, foreign investment, and/or extractive industries and natural resource management
– Astute research, analytical and writing skills
– Students with particular interest in any of the research areas can specialize exclusively in that area, under the supervision of research staff

Students will also have the opportunity to continue working on the project during the fall of 2012.

Type of student desired: Graduate or Ph.D

3. How “Green” is a Greenroof: Quantifying biogeochemical processes on Greenroofs in New York City.

Center: Center for Global Rivers and Estuaries

Project Description:
Currently, the various environmental benefits provided by greenroofs have not been extensively quantified. While it is hypothesized that greenroofs influence stormwater retention and water quality, there have been few studies to investigate exactly how much the parameters are altered. Rainfall events in New York City result in large amounts of stormwater entering the sewage treatment system, which is already running at capacity. To alleviate the excess volume of water, untreated sewage is discharged into local waterways at hundreds of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) locations in and around the city. Greenroof surfaces have the potential to mitigate this, as they detain and retain large volumes of stormwater and then discharge it slowly over time, giving the treatment facilities more time to process the stormwater. Greenroofs also have an impact on the water quality of the runoff water entering the drainage system.

We aim to continue long-term examinations of the interaction between storm events and greenroofs in the city. The data gathered will aid in understanding the biogeochemistry of greenroofs as well as quantifying their overall benefits to the community.

Intern Tasks:
– Travel to various greenroofs around the city to collect water samples. This will be done primarily during actual rain events but additional sampling periods may be required
– Analyze water samples in the laboratory for a number of different parameters
– Analyze/graph acquired data to show spatial and temporal trends

Skills required:
– Openness and enthusiasm for both laboratory and field-based research, particularly during bad weather conditions
– Ability to work independently and take initiative
– Basic knowledge of graphing data in Microsoft Excel. Knowledge of MATLAB or R is a plus.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

4. Communications Internship for Sustainable Development Policy

Center: Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development

Project Description:
The Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development serves as the policy advising hub of the Earth Institute. The mission of the Center is to mobilize the scientific expertise of the Earth Institute and its partners to provide policy support – as requested by governments and development organizations – in order to address the challenges of sustainable development in a global society. Working in collaboration with researchers across the Institute, CGSD is focused on cutting-edge, high-level and practical multi-sectoral strategies to development challenges like climate risk, food security, nutrition, health care delivery systems and poverty alleviation. CGSD needs the input of a motivated, social media and design-savvy student with exceptional communication skills to help develop the website and public image.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone passionate for sustainable development, and a knack for story-telling in all formats – blogs, twitter, videos, infographics, and print. The intern will have an opportunity to work with experienced researchers across sectors – from climate policy to healthcare, education to agriculture. He or she will be expected to quickly learn the relevant terminology and trends in the field. He/she will have the opportunity to build his/her online profile with personal bylines and public affiliation with our research center. He or she will be challenged to develop communications skills, execute daily tasks and also to think strategically and contribute to the long term vision for CGSD’s communications activities.

Interns tasks:
– Build social media presence
– Source blog content
– Liaise with CGSD researchers and field-based graduate students
– Strategically build relationships with partner institutions for referrals, and
– Maintain updates on CGSD’s website
– Deliver a sustainable strategy to continue his or her good work, to ensure maintenance of a strong online presence
Skills required:
– Excellent writing skills that are adaptable to various forms of story-telling
– He/she should be comfortable with adeptly using all forms of online media
– He/she should have an interest in the issues relevant to international development, preferably majoring in sustainable development
– Graphic design skills are a plus.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate

5. Communications, Outreach, and Event planning for Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy

Center: Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy

Project Description:
Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy seeks a dedicated communications, outreach and event planning intern to contribute to the center’s goals of public outreach. The overall objective of the communications & public outreach strategy is to increase exposure and funding for Lenfest Center research by creating opportunities for the public to engage with our faculty and students. The intern will assist staff and help to implement much of the LCSE’s communication and outreach strategy as developed by the Unit Director.

Over the summer LCSE will be updating the website and social networking sites, and getting program content ready for the fall semester. The intern will also work on activities related to LCSE and PositiveFeedback participation in Lamont Open House and/or NYC Climate Week. PositiveFeedback activities are conducted in collaboration with the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) and the Office of Environmental Stewardship along with our institutional partners at NYU and CUNY.

While the intern need not have a technical background in engineering or climate science, he/she will gain knowledge about the various cutting-edge research projects related to energy sustainability and climate change mitigation. The intern will also gain exposure to art-science related projects, and to our producing partners for the PositiveFeedback initiative, and be able to use his/her own creativity with regard to content development for publicity materials.

Intern Tasks:
– Website updates
– Create/edit newsletter content
– Social networking
– Assistance with overall communication and stewardship efforts
– Draft grant letters of inquiry for program funding
– Logistics coordination for conference, workshops and outreach programming
– Provide occasional staffing of on and off-site events in NYC, and perform other duties as assigned by Director

Skills required:
– Excellent writing/editing skills
– Strong command of English (if not native speaker)
– Basic website (html helpful) and social networking familiarity
– Strong organizational skills, ability to work independently, and an interest in sustainable energy/climate change/arts related projects
– Ability to work well independently and under direction

Type of student desired: Graduate preferred, Upper-level undergraduate encouraged to apply.

6. Center for Climate Change Law Website Re-launch

Center: Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law

Project Description:
The Center for Climate Change Law, as part of a larger law school effort, is in the process of transferring the website to a new management system. As part of this transfer process, CCCL has decided to undertake a redesign and update of the site. Because there is a large amount of climate change-related information for public and academic use, this project will require a significant amount of administrative assistance. The goal is to have a fully updated and functional website by the end of the summer.

The potential intern will benefit from the experience by gaining valuable website management skills, and will also come to have a good understanding of the Center’s work in helping to solve the problem of climate change, through his or her contact with Center staff and through his or her engagement with CCCL’s website.

Intern tasks:
– Receive training in Drupal—new website management system
– Transfer and update content from old CCCL website to new site
– Assist in the redesign and reorganization of particular web pages
– Upload new materials to the CCCL website as they are produced by CCCL fellows and research interns
– Maintain website links in working order
– Post weekly updates on upcoming events, new publications, etc. on the website

Skills required:
-Basic internet skills
-Website management experience not required, but a plus

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate or PhD

7. Global Community Forum Coordinator

Center: Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)

Project Description:
AC4’s mission is to communicate, engage with, and support interdisciplinary theory, research and practice related to, conflict resolution, violence prevention and sustainable development and peace at Columbia University. Related to this mission AC4 seeks to support initiatives that develop interdisciplinary theory and research which examines successful approaches to developing global communities and networks that help address problems such as destructive conflicts, failing economic systems, and the effects from potential climate change.

AC4 has been engaged in the development of a forum on building global communities and networks. This forum is in an early development stage and some potential long-term objectives of this forum are to develop, in collaboration with faculty, students, and centers across Columbia University, a variety of potential initiatives, such as a multi-disciplinary conference based upon active working groups, a widely-publicized public lecture by distinguished professors from different disciplines, a continuing seminar with participation by multiple disciplines that would be oriented toward developing knowledge and strategies for building more effective and cooperative global orientations. The planning committee seeks an intern to serve as the point person for this project in order to assemble resources, provide administrative support and mobilize the group.

Intern Tasks:

Research and Benchmarking
– Identify other groups at Columbia University and beyond that focus on global communities and cooperative network formation
– Gather examples of successful approaches of global community building in case studies
– Compiling relevant references and websites that are relevant to the mission

– Other research items as directed by Planning Committee
– Outreach and Communication
– Identify other scholar-practitioners in and outside of Columbia that can join the discussion and working groups
– Support the working groups and publicize the initiative

Grant seeking/writing
– Identify and pursue appropriate funding sources

Tech Support
– Find web space, develop content and maintain site or page
– Develop social media strategy, such as on Facebook
General Admin Support
– Scheduling meetings, drafting agendas and compiling meeting notes
– Room reservations and food orders

Skills required:
– Interest in contributing to the field of conflict resolution, global studies or sustainable development
– Familiarity working across disciplines
– Some research experience
– Some general administrative experience—event planning is a plus
– Significant grant seeking and writing experience
– Technological skills and competence with social media, such as Facebook
– Excellent communication and presentation skills
– Ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
– High tolerance for ambiguity and groups with divergent interests

Type of student desired: Graduate or Ph.D

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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