State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Putting Sustainability into Practice- EcoPracticum

By: Noah Morgenstein

The Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development was pleased to host Eugenia Manwelyan, program director of EcoPracticum, on Friday, February 1st at the first of five sustainable development brownbag events this spring.

Manwelyan, who also teaches a Regional Food System Planning course at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, began her talk with a satirical clip from the Colbert Report, which highlighted the mass complacency surrounding climate change and environmental disasters. Throughout her talk, Manwelyan not only stressed the need to address these critical environmental problems, but also more generally outlined how to combat them. Repeatedly, Manwelyan called for interdisciplinary collaboration, rather than polarized efforts at promoting environmental sustainability.

Her vision is apparent in the structure of EcoPracticum. Now in its second year of operation, the program provides college students and recent graduates with hands-on experience in the fields of sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and resource management. The four-week summer program takes place at Camp Shomria, an educational campus located in the Catskills, from May 26 to June 23. The campus has an on-site well, working farm, and derives 98% of its electricity from solar power. Each of the four weeks focuses on a different aspect of environmental sustainability, integrating theoretical approaches to complex problems with practical skills and applications. In addition to conducting fieldwork, students hear from diverse specialists, organizers, lobbyists, politicians, farmers, and activists about each side of significant and controversial issues.

To learn more about EcoPracticum please visit the website. Summer 2013 applications will be considered on a rolling basis with a final deadline of April 1. Undergraduates in the sustainable development program may use the EcoPracticum experience for academic credit. Please contact Jessica Sotomayor ( for more information.

Noah Morgenstein is an intern for the Office of Academic and Research Programs at the Earth Institute. He attends Columbia College and will graduate in 2015 with a degree in Economics and Political Science.


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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