State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Earth Institute Summer 2013 Internships

This summer, the Earth Institute is offering Columbia students opportunities to intern within various departments and research centers at the institute. All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply. These internships are funded at a rate of $15/hr for up to 35 hours per week for 12 weeks during summer break. See below for the descriptions of the seven internship opportunities.

1.  CRED outreach administration, data management, and general clerical internship

2. Supporting the Millennium Cities Initiative

3. One Million Community Health Workers

4. Dynamical systems theory clearing House Project

5. Climate adaptation webpage construction

6. Climate sensitivity in low latitudes

7. Communications and outreach for Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy

To apply:

To apply for these positions, please complete the online application available here, by May 12 at 11:30 p.m. While you may apply for more than one position, you must submit separate applications to each. Decisions will be made shortly after the deadline.

Note that students who are awarded internships will be expected to participate in the Earth Institute Student Research Showcase, which will take place in Spring 2014.

Contact Nathan Rudder at with any questions.


1. CRED outreach administration, data management, and general clerical internship

Department/center: Center for Research on Environmental Decisions

Project background: CRED is an interdisciplinary center that studies individual and group decision-making under climate uncertainty and in the face of environmental risk. CRED’s objectives address the human responses to climate change and climate variability as well as improved communication and increased use of scientific information on climate variability and change. In addition to advancing fundamental theory in psychology, behavioral economics and other social science disciplines, CRED researchers work on integrated field projects around the world where decision science is brought to bear on sustainable development challenges in such settings as agricultural decisions and water management.

Anticipated intern tasks:

Outreach administration:

  • Social media – assist with weekly administrative aspects of CRED social media
  • Website – assist in making weekly updates and modifications to CRED website
  • Photos – assist in compiling a comprehensive CRED photo library from past and current projects
  • Press kit – assist in developing an “Intro to CRED” press kit

Data management:

  • Research data – assist with archiving and digitization of CRED research data
  • CRED portal – assist with maintenance and further development of CRED research portal
  • CRED self-study – assist with analysis and visualization of CRED self-studies

General clerical:

  • CRED publications – compile full list of CRED publications in EndNote and develop conventions for further publication record keeping
  • Travel expenses – organize receipts and enter expenses on forms for travel expenses from CRED annual meeting
  • Annual report – assist with the compilation of the CRED annual report
  • Misc. – assist with additional tasks as needs arise

Skills required:

  • Academic interest in sustainable development, psychology, environment or climate science
  • Proficiency in Excel
  • Strong writing and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently

Type of student desired: Graduate or undergraduate


2.  Supporting the Millennium Cities Initiative

Department/center: Millennium Cities Initiative

Project background: The Millennium Cities Initiative, launched in 2006, is the Earth Institute’s urban counterpart to the Millennium Villages Project. The initiative assists select, mid-sized cities across sub-Saharan Africa in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The initiative’s strategy is comprised of two principal components: promoting sustainable investment and building viable social service sectors. With an array of programs in the areas of education, health, gender and water/sanitation, as well as significant projects concentrating on business development, infrastructure and the environment, the MIllennium Cities Initiative is a rapidly expanding dynamic organization.

Anticipated intern tasks

  • Assist the MCI project manager with key administrative matters including finance and administration, budgeting, human resources, and project management
  • Assist the MCI social sector associates with various development and communications matters such as researching funding opportunities
  • Assist with event planning needs for three sets of investment days and donor rountables in June, and investment capstone in July, through coordinating event spaces and catering options, printing, etc.
  • Assist with editing of publications and providing other communications support as necessary
  • Support MCI’s research as needed by the project manager and social sector associates by summarizing documents, collecting data and gathering resources
  • Assist social sector associates with outreach to potential donors and NGO partners
  • Assist with maintenance of MCI website and SharePoint site
  • Assist with basic research for social and investment sectors
  • Assist project manager and social sector associates as other tasks arise

Skills required

  • Strong writing/grammatical skills
  • Superior knowledge of Excel and Microsoft Office, familiarity with Google Docs, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, basic web-editing and social media platforms are desirable
  • Superior organizational skills and experience managing events
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Comfort conducting internet-based research and familiarity with online resources
  • Ability to handle pressure and stress, accept constructive feedback
  • Knowledge of, and proven interest in, international development, Africa, the Millennium Development Goals, urban development issues and/or program management.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate


3. One Million Community Health Workers Campaign

Department/center: Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development

Project background: The One Million Community Health Workers Campaign is a recently launched international initiative convened by Professor Jeffrey Sachs in his role as special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General and as chair of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development. Its secretariat is housed at the Earth Institute within the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development.

The campaign will catalyze the rapid training, real-time management, and large-scale deployment of front-line community health workers throughout sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2015. This effort builds upon the successful advocacy and awareness work that the global community has done over the past years, allowing a growing group of partners to focus on financial and operational systems for regional and national upgrades and expansion of CHW programs to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals.

Anticipated intern tasks

  • Contribute to the campaign’s social media presence, source blog content, and maintain updates on the campaign website, and produce other public-facing documentation for campaign needs
  • Support content generation in line with activities of the campaign’s working groups
  • Ensure that country-specific inputs are updated regularly in the “War Room” which serves as the information hub for the campaign
  • Keep abreast of changes in status of all the individual country projects in the campaign portfolio
  • Research and synthesize best practices and policies for CHWs
  • Create work plans, costing models, and other implementation support tools based upon existing materials from the Millennium Villages Project and from other partners
  • Assist with grant proposal writing for global funding agencies on behalf of countries preparing to undertake CHW program upgrades or expansion

Skills required:

  • Interest in issues related to international development, preferably with a focus on global health
  • Able to manage multiple projects and assignments at the same time
  • Clear and precise oral communication skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Comfortable using all forms of online media
  • Quick thinker, self-starter, eye for new opportunities
  • Experience supporting the administrative and research needs of individuals working in non-profits and/or academic is highly desired

Type of student desired: Undergraduate or graduate


4.  Dynamical Systems Theory Clearing House Project

Department/center: Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4)

Project background: AC4’s mission is to communicate, engage with and support interdisciplinary theory, research and practice related to violence prevention, conflict resolution and sustainable development and peace at Columbia University and beyond.  Over the last year, AC4 has been working on bringing together researchers and practitioners who are using dynamical systems theory (DST), systems theory (ST) or other systemic approaches to understand conflict in research or practice. Under this premise, the goals of the DST Clearing House Project are to create a structure and mechanisms to share ideas and move toward collaborative work in DST/ST, and to provide information and resources about dynamical systems-related projects and research through an online platform.

Anticipated intern tasks:

  • Request and compile feedback and recommendations from national and international experts in the field of DST
  • Research and compile resources on the main themes, readings, bibliographies, relevant theory, empirical research, and pedagogical exercises
  • Conduct expert interviews with the purpose of enriching and expanding our pool of resources and experts working on DST/ST
  • Work on web content management and development
  • Maintain contact with personnel from the organizations and university departments associated with the initiative
  • Coordinate services including scheduling conference calls, placing catering orders, preparing meeting materials, and maintaining any necessary records

Skills required:

  • Academic and/or work experience in the field of conflict resolution
  • Proven interest in DST and systems theory applications
  • Some experience in web content management and development is preferred
  • Ability to work independently
  • Capacity to accept feedback constructively
  • High tolerance for ambiguity

Type of student desired: Graduate


5. Climate adaptation webpage construction

Department/center: Center for Climate Change Law

Project background: CCCL is seeking an administrative intern to build a major addition to its website which focuses on legal issues in climate adaptation. The website forms a central component in meeting CCCL’s mission to keep the legal community, students and the public up-to-date on the latest developments in climate change law. Recent events – particularly Superstorm Sandy – have increased the demand for information on climate change adaptation. Although CCCL already does much work in this area, the website currently falls short of reflecting the breadth of what the center and others are doing on this topic.

Anticipated intern tasks:

  • Construct a webpage devoted to highlighting the legal challenges of climate change adaptation and the center’s role in addressing these challenges
  • Website editing
  • Surveying other websites devoted to similar topics
  • Building the basic site
  • Updating the “Climate Law Bibliography”
  • Adding CCCL publications to website

Skills required:

  • Computer proficiency
  • Interest in topic
  • Experience in web design and construction is a plus

Type of student desired: Undergraduate or graduate


6. Climate sensitivity in low latitudes: glacial/interglacial temperature change in New Zealand derived from noble gases dissolved in groundwater and snow line elevation changes in New Zealand

Department/center: Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Project background: Paleoclimate archives provide important clues about past climate conditions and our climate’s susceptibility to changes in forcing, e.g. increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The termination of the last glacial period that started about 20,000 years ago was a dramatic climate reorganization that involved all elements of the climate system. Polar ice core data indicate that the glacial temperature change in the high Arctic was about 25 degrees C and a key input for global climate models in general and for reconstructions of past migration of the earth thermal equator, remains however highly controversial. While mid- and low-latitude paleooceanographic records indicate small temperature changes (typically less than 3 degrees Celsius) in low latitudes, mountain glacier records suggest glacial-interglacial temperature increases on the order of 5-7 degrees Celsius. In the project, an independent approach will be applied to solving this important climate puzzle by measuring the concentrations of dissolved noble gases in deep circulating groundwater at low elevations, in order to further constrain glacial-interglacial temperature changes on land.

Anticipated intern tasks:

  • Responsible for collection and analysis of glacial and Holocene groundwater samples from New Zealand
  • Operating the noble gas mass spectrometer at the Lamont campus while receiving instruction on lab techniques as well as background on paleoclimate theory

Skills required:

  • Coursework in chemistry and climate science
  • Lab work/research a plus

Type of student desired: Undergraduate


7. Communications and Outreach for Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy

Department/center: Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy

Project background: The mission of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy is to develop innovative technologies to ensure a sufficient supply of environmentally sustainable energy for all humanity.  The center searches for sustainable energy solutions to satisfy the world’s future energy needs without threatening to destabilize the Earth’s natural systems. Their interdisciplinary systems approach allows them to frame their work with in a larger context by blending research in technology, policy, environment and economics with education and public outreach. They seek solutions that will satisfy the increasing demands for energy while reducing environmental footprints.

Anticipated intern tasks:

  • Website updates
  • Create/edit newsletter content and promotional materials
  • Manage email database
  • Social networking
  • Assist with overall communication and stewardship efforts
  • Draft/edit grant letters of inquiry
  • Logistics coordination for conferences, workshops, and outreach programming
  • Event staffing

Skills required:

  • Excellent writing skills
  • Strong command of English
  • Basic website and social networking familiarity. HTML familiarity a plus
  • Highly organized
  • Independent worker
  • Interest in sustainable energy/climate change/arts related projects

Type of student desired: Graduate preferred

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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