State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

From Brazil to Jordan: Columbia Undergrads Learn about SEE-U’s Summer Fieldwork Programs

By: Deborah Sachare

As the spring semester winds down, students think about their summer plans and explore opportunities outside of New York City. To help students familiarize themselves with different options the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development invited undergraduates to meet with Desmond Beirne, Director of Marketing and Student Affairs at the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC), to learn about CERC’s Summer Ecosystem Experiences for Undergraduates (SEE-U) program. The SEE-U program allows students to simultaneously conduct fieldwork and take courses abroad, providing students of all majors with a comprehensive understanding of ecology and environmental sustainability.

One of the great benefits of SEE-U is that it provides students the opportunity to live and learn in one of four beautiful and ecologically diverse locations. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, students are hosted by the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecologicas and explore the Atlantic forest, a temperate forest that is considered one of the most threatened ecosystems of the planet. In the Dominican Republic, students experience firsthand the coastal biome of Punta Cana and Miches, learning about tropical scrub forest and fresh and saltwater lagoons. Those interested in studying in Puerto Rico have the opportunity to live in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico’s own Caribbean National Forest, which is also an exciting area to study forest ecology. The most recent addition to the SEE-U program portfolio is Amman, Jordan. Hosted by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature’s Reserves, SEE-U students experience the unique ecological diversity of the country, from Amman to Aqaba, and learn about its critical environmental issues, including deforestation, overgrazing, desertification and limited natural freshwater resources.

SEE-U gives you opportunities to talk to researchers. Not only that, but our students are researchers themselves. It is built into the SEE-U program,” said Beirne. SEE-U is a unique summer experience available to Columbia undergraduates. In five weeks, students can earn up to six credits while fulfilling both core curriculum undergraduate science requirements and sustainable development requirements, all the while gaining unbeatable field experience and participating in hands-on research.

Brown bag events take place on select Fridays throughout the 2012 spring semester from 12:00PM-1:00PM in the Alumni Center located on 113th Street between Broadway and Riverside. These programs are targeted for undergraduate students interested in Sustainable Development and are hosted by the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. All undergraduate and graduate students in the Columbia and Barnard communities are encouraged to attend.

This “Brown Bag” event was the fourth of five scheduled for the 2012 spring semester. New Brown Bag events will be held again next academic year and be targeted for undergraduate students interested in Sustainable Development, and they are hosted by the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. All undergraduate and graduate students in the Columbia and Barnard communities are invited to attend.

Columbia’s Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development is an interdisciplinary program that addresses sustainable development through an understanding in the interaction between natural sciences and social systems, offered through the Earth Institute in partnership with Columbia College and the School of General Studies. Participating departments and schools of the Sustainable Development Major and Concentration include the Department of Earth and Environmental Biology; the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering; the School of International and Public Affairs and the Mailman School of Public Health.

To learn more about the Major and Special Concentration in Sustainable Development, please visit our website or contact Jessica Crespo, Program Coordinator, at

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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