State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Upcoming Courses in Sustainability, 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:

Hydraulic Fracturing: Energy, Environment, and Policy
Nancy Degnan, PhD. Executive Director, CERC
Natural gas is purported to be the transition fuel to cleaner energy production. New technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing, have recently made the Marcellus Shale formation a desirable area for gas development. This course contextualizes the practice of hydraulic fracturing to provide an overview of key issues around energy, water, and biodiversity. We examine the social and political conditions that make hydraulic fracturing a highly contentious issue by weighing tradeoffs through an analysis of business decisions, economics, science, and the regulatory environment surrounding this practice. Students examine a CERC case study, “Marcellus Shale Hydraulic Fracturing; Natural Gas Drilling Within New York State,” and engage in role-playing exercises intended to consider environmental sustainability and highlight decisions in leadership and institutional settings.
Meets: Mondays, Apr. 16, 23, (6:10-8:10PM) & Saturday, Apr. 21 (9AM-4PM).

Evolution: Darwin to DNA
Felicity Arengo, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, AMNH
This course provides an overview of concepts of biological evolution, from pre-Darwinian attempts to describe life through modern genetic theory. It will emphasize the history of evolutionary thought and science, review the basic principles of evolutionary theory, and discuss their implications for modern life as well as state-of-the art technologies, such as genomics. Topics covered include natural selection, types of fitness and variation, speciation, reproduction and the transfer of genetic traits, the structure of DNA and a look at evolution over the long term via introductory systematics.
Meets: Tuesdays, Apr. 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8 (5 sessions, 6:10-8:10PM)

Sustainability and Investing
Cary Krosinsky, Senior Vice President, North America, TruCost Inc
Sustainable investing is a burgeoning investment philosophy that represents a positive methodology, one that is in sharp distinction from the previous generation of socially responsible practices, which tended to be primarily negative. Sustainable investment can also be a key driver that can help solve global inequity. This course will cover the asset classes, trends, performance analysis and metrics involved in sustainable investing. Participants will actively contribute in the creation of a model sustainable portfolio while reviewing how sustainability affects asset classes, regions and public policy. Guest speakers may include CSR/Sustainability officers from leading corporations, experts on fiduciary duty, shareholder advocacy and corporate governance, as well as fund managers and other practitioners.
Meets: Wednesdays, Apr. 11, 18, 25, May 2 (4 sessions, 6:10-8:40PM)
(Also Available via Distance Learning Course – contact Brian Kateman at for a free demo)

Forest Management and Conservation
Matt Palmer, Lecturer in Discipline, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B), Columbia University
Forests are a vitally important habitat for much of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, as sources of timber and food and for providing services such as carbon storage and water filtration. However, forests worldwide are threatened by overexploitation, conversion, climate change and invasive species. This course introduces several key issues in forest ecology and management through a local lens. On an all-day field trip to Black Rock Forest, participants will study how pathogens and other invasive species affect forest structure and function. Following the field trip, local observations will be scaled up to consider how these issues affect forest conservation on a global scale.
Meets: Thursdays, May 10, 17 (6:10-8:10PM) & Saturday, May 12 (9AM-4:30PM; includes travel time)

Complete Spring 2012 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!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments