State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Summer 2014 Earth Institute Internship Program Opportunities

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/hour for up to 35 hours per week.  See below for the descriptions of these opportunities.

1. Updating and Expanding Online Climate Law Resources

2. Dynamical Systems Theory Conflict Applications

3. CRED Proposal Preparation, Outreach Administration and Data Management Intern

4. Donor Communications and Research Intern, Funding Initiatives

5. Vale Summer Administrative Support 

To Apply:

To apply for these positions, please complete the online application available here:, by May 8 at 11:30PM.  While you may apply for more than one position, you must submit separate applications for 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 2015.

Contact Nathan Rudder at with any questions.



1. Updating and Expanding Our Online Climate Law Resources

Department: Center for Climate Change Law

Project Background: The Center for Climate Change Law maintains a website that serves as the major repository of their work and as a key resource for communicating their research to the public. It has many elements that practitioners and scholars alike have communicated are helpful in their work, including a “Climate Law Bibliography,” which collects and organizes publications on climate change law by topic, and a new “Climate Action Plan Tracker,” which charts the Obama administration’s progress in implementing its June 2013 plan to tackle climate change through executive action.

Anticipated Intern Tasks: The summer administrative intern would update the climate law bibliography (last updated in summer 2012) by categorizing and entering into the database new relevant articles and books. The intern would also monitor progress on the implementation of the Climate Action Plan to keep the tracker (designed in fall 2013 and currently up-to-date) current throughout the summer.

Finally, the Center has invested considerable recent effort in writing about and engaging communities in legal issues related to climate change adaptation and there is a need for a webpage that collects and organizes the work in this area. The summer intern would also build this page, working with a fellow who specializes in the law of adaptation.

Skills Required: The intern should be comfortable reading law and policy related documents in order to categorize them appropriately. Experience with website editing is desirable (but note that we are able to secure training for the intern in our particular web management system).

Type of Student Required: Undergraduate, Graduate 


2. Dynamical Systems Theory Conflict Applications Project 

Department: 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, conflict resolution, violence prevention, peace and sustainable development at Columbia University. Related to this mission, the Dynamical Systems Theory (DST) Conflict Applications Project aims to apply systems concepts to conflict dynamics. AC4 is currently engaged in multiple tasks in support of this effort, one of which is the hosting of the “DST Innovation Lab” in July 2014 that will bring together experienced scholar-practitioners working with complexity science, conflict and peace to share leading-edge ideas, methods and practices.

Anticipated Intern Tasks: The intern would be asked to work closely with the lab staff to assist with lab preparation and post-lab evaluation work, which would include organizing lab materials, sorting lab outputs, updating the lab website, and assisting with the generation of post-lab evaluation reports. In addition to the DST Innovation Lab project, the intern would also be asked to assist with the development of the DST Online Learning Portal, a project that aims to offer educational materials for communicating DST and conflict concepts. The intern would be asked to assist with procuring content for the portal and working with AC4 staff to generate new content including written materials, quizzes, videos and animations. Finally, the intern would be asked to assist with other DST-related projects that emerge during this time.

Skills Required:

  • Interest in contributing to the field of conflict resolution, global studies or sustainable development
  • Familiarity working across disciplines
  • General administrative skills/experience
  • Technological skills and competence with website development, and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Excellent communication, writing and presentation skills
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • High tolerance for ambiguity
  • Some research experience a plus

Type of Student Required: Graduate  


3. CRED Proposal Preparation, Outreach Administration and Data Management Intern 

Department: Center for Research on Environmental Decisions

Project Background: This project entails assisting the CRED team with preparation of the CRED3 NSF grant proposal so to ensure that this large ($6M) proposal is completed in a timely and effective manner. The outreach tasks will help CRED maintain outreach to its four core audiences (natural scientists, general public, educators, and field partners) while data management tasks represent an essential contribution to managing CRED administrative and research data successfully.

Anticipated Intern Tasks:  

Proposal Preparation

  • Collecting information – assist with collecting information (e.g. biographies, CVs) needed to assemble CRED3 NSF grant proposal
  • Compiling information – assist with compiling and formatting materials for CRED3 NSF grant proposal

Outreach Administration

  • Social media – assist with weekly administrative aspects of CRED social media presence
  • Website – assist in making weekly updates and modifications to CRED website
  • Outreach tracking – help track distribution of CRED Climate Change Communication Guide

Data Management

  • Research data – assist with archiving and digitization of CRED research data
  • CRED Portal – assist with maintenance and further development of CRED Researcher Portal (online tool for CRED internal communication and data sharing)
  • CRED self-study – assist with analysis and visualization of CRED self-studies (social network analysis, integration assessments, impact visualizations, etc.)

Skills Required: 

Academic interests: sustainable development, psychology, environmental problems, climate change

Skills: proficiency with Excel, strong writing and communication skills, ability to work independently; experience with web programming languages is a plus but not required

Type of Student Required: Undergraduate, Graduate  


4. Donor Communications and Research Intern, Funding Initiatives 

Department: Funding Initiatives

Project Background: This project will help support Funding Initiatives’ long-term objectives of identifying new prospective donors (corporate and individual), cultivating current donor relationships and supporting stewardship activities.

Specifics: Research – Research resulting in informational briefs and donor profiles will enable the Funding Initiatives team to identify which entities (individual, foundation and corporate) may be viable options for future funding opportunities; Database maintenance – Maintaining donor information in the database will assist fundraising opportunities by providing a critical record of all contact with funders; Mailing support – This support will allow the Funding Initiatives team to expand the Earth Institute’s reach and increase its exposure to new and potential supporters; Communications and Writing – The intern’s work on external communications will help the Earth Institute increase its visibility to corporate and foundation donors, as well as contribute to grant and gift stewardship efforts.

Anticipated Intern Tasks: The following tasks support the project. Donor research (30% of time): compiling research briefs on all new donors; conducting prospect research for potential corporate and foundation donors.

  • Database maintenance (30% of time): updating mailing information of donors; maintaining records of donor contact.
  • Mailing support (15% of time): support Development Associates in preparing mass mailings, as well as ad hoc mailings.
  • Communications and Writing (25% of time): research and draft blogs and other webpage content in support of corporate and foundation relations communications efforts.

Skills Required: Microsoft Word/Excel, attention to detail, familiarity with databases, strong writing and research skills, experience with journalism and social media a plus.

Type of Student Required: Undergraduate, Graduate  


5. 2014 VCC Summer Administrative Support 

Department: Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC)

Project Background: The Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC) aims to develop and disseminate practical approaches and solutions to maximize the impact of international investment for sustainable development. We fulfill this mission through research, advisory and policy work, organizing multi-stakeholder events, organizing executive trainings and teaching courses, and developing online resources and tools. The research staff of the Center has grown tremendously in the past 3 years, and with it, the number of projects and activities. With the expansion of the VCC over the last few years, the administrative demands of the Center have also grown exponentially. We are also severely understaffed, having lost our Administrative Assistant recently, who has yet to be replaced.

To this end, we seek a dynamic and responsible intern to contribute to the Center substantively with administrative support throughout the summer. The internship could lead to further opportunities throughout the Fall and Spring.

Anticipated Intern Tasks: 

The VCC seeks a responsible and detail-oriented administrative intern during the summer of 2014 to assist with the following tasks and responsibilities:

  • Assist with events management, particularly during the June 2014 Executive training and preparation for Fall 2014 events, including through outreach for the events and social media efforts. In the lead-up to the event, assist with logistical preparation.
  • Assist with updating and maintaining new VCC website.
  • Assist with VCC communications efforts, including updating mailing list and assisting with Mailchimp mailings.
  • Assist with the development of VCC publication templates and style guide
  • Support VCC’s research as needed through editing and formatting documents, other research support.
  • Assist with general office administration, including photocopying, scanning, emailing, etc.
  • Assist with preparation of reimbursements, reconciliations, invoices and other administrative paperwork.
  • Assist VCC Associate Operations Director, Executive Coordinator and Director with other tasks as they arise.

Skills Required: The ideal candidate should have good organizational, analytical, and writing skills. The candidate should be detail oriented and able to manage multiple tasks simultaneously. The candidate will be expected to take initiative and prioritize and carry out tasks with minimal supervision. The candidate should also have good communications (including social media and website) and interpersonal skills. Finally, the candidate should have an interest in sustainable development, international investment, extractive industries and/or natural resource management.

Type of Student Required: Undergraduate 




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