State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Students and Staff Discuss Environmental Stewardship for Campus

By Noah Morgenstein

The Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development was pleased to host representatives from Columbia’s Office of Environmental Stewardship on Friday, December 6, for its final Speaker Series event of 2013.

After introducing themselves, the speakers discussed what they called a renaissance for the Office of Environmental Stewardship and for green initiatives around campus. They described their jobs as coordinating the efforts of all of Columbia’s various campuses, schools, departments, and student groups to work together in order to minimize their environmental impact.

For many years, these integral members of the Columbia community mostly worked behind the scenes, ensuring that every building include more environmental and health friendly appliances each time they get renovated and working toward reducing food and other waste around campus. More recently, however, the office has expanded its team and its mission to increasing awareness about our campus’ environmental impact and incentivizing more eco-friendly behavior from students, staff, and faculty.

One of the most exciting new programs aimed at involving the Columbia community in the university’s stewardship efforts is the new Green Fund. Starting in 2014, Columbia will provide funding for four to six student-led projects directed toward improving sustainability on campus. Applications will be accepted until February 14, 2014 and awards will range from $5,000 to $10,000.

The Green Fund is nevertheless just one of many new initiatives run by the Office of Environmental Stewardship. While continuing to work behind the scenes, the Office also has launched numerous social media campaigns aimed at uniting the Columbia community in its mission centered on environmental stewardship. For a full list of initiatives, please visit the list on their website.

The seminar was part of the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development‘s regularly scheduled Speaker Series for the 2013 fall semester. To see a list of upcoming speakers, please visit the events section of our website. While the Speaker Series is hosted by the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development, all undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia and affiliated schools 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 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 special 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 Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development, please visit our website or contact Jessica Sotomayor, Program Manager at


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.

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