State of the Planet

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Internships at Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute, is accepting applications for internship positions for the spring 2017 semester as well as for summer 2017. Interns are staffed to one or more specific research projects depending on the background and interests of the particular applicant. Select work-study administrative positions are also available, and course or academic internship credit can be granted in limited cases.

CSSI imageThe center is dedicated to the study, practice and discussion of sustainable international investment. Our mission is to develop and disseminate practical approaches and solutions to maximize the impact of international investment for sustainable development. The center’s work is organized around three major areas of research into sustainable investment: extractive industries, land and agriculture, and law and policy.

Candidates must commit to at least 10-15 hours per week for the spring semester, but more hours are possible. Summer internships are full-time (35-40 hours per week), unless otherwise noted. Continuation into subsequent terms is possible, and in some cases, preferred.

To apply for a spring 2017 and/or summer 2017 internship, send a cover letter, CV and writing sample to the center’s executive coordinator, Nancy Siporin (, unless otherwise specified, by Jan. 15, 2017 or March 31, 2017, respectively. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Indicate if you are work-study eligible (preferred but not required). Indicate in your cover letter if you are interested in being assigned to one of the specific research projects or areas of research and we will endeavor to accommodate such requests.

Paid internship opportunities currently available for both spring and summer 2017:

Contract Analysis and Contract Transparency: Providing Tools to Access and Assess Contracts for Large-Scale Investment in Extractives

The center seeks law students to assist the center and its partners, the World Bank and Natural Resource Governance Institute, in expanding, an online, searchable and user-friendly database of publicly available oil, gas and mining contracts from around the world. This internship will focus on annotating key contractual terms and providing other research and technical support on contract transparency and disclosure. Preference will be given to students who have experience working with complex contracts, or with one or more of the following language skills: Spanish, Portuguese or French. More information about the project is available here.

Leveraging Mining Power Demand to Support the Development of Renewable Energies

Mining and its downstream applications can be power intensive. When mines can’t connect to the grid, they create their own power generation. This is an opportunity to promote the deployment of renewable energies as a main source of decentralized energy. This would help expand access to energy while keeping with the imperative to go greener. What operational models work? Which ones are sustainable? What are the right incentives to make it happen? The center is looking for motivated students with prior knowledge in mining/energy/development to explore these questions.

Administrative Assistant on International Law, Emerging Market Firms and the SDGs

The center seeks a highly motivated, enthusiastic and detail-oriented undergraduate or graduate student to assist with tasks relating to work on international law, emerging market firms and sustainable development. Duties will include working with staff to review, edit and finalize background and summary documents; coordinating travel and logistics for various meetings held at Columbia and elsewhere; and handling communications with participants, organizers and hosts. The ideal candidate will be highly organized and responsive in high-pressure situations, have strong time management and writing and communication skills, and an interest in international investment and sustainable development. Preference will be given to applicants with experience in website development.

Political Economy of Natural Resources

The center seeks graduate students for a project on the political economy of natural resources. Students will be asked to carry out literature reviews and other background desk research for deliverables such as the following: a review summarizing the findings of all available assessments of major global initiatives to reform the governance of natural resources (e.g. EITI, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, etc.); an annotated bibliography of relevant literature broken down by sub-topics generated in collaboration with the center; a summary of the most recent academic literature related to the governance of natural resources; and other supportive research and analysis. Candidates should possess strong research, writing and analytical skills and be able to work well independently. Background in political economy required. Preference will be given to candidates with knowledge of the “resource curse” literature.

Conducting Surveys (For students with work study eligibility)

The center seeks an undergraduate or graduate student with interviewing skills to test the impact of the center’s executive trainings on past alumni.

Administrative Assistant – and (For students with work study eligibility)

The center seeks an undergraduate or graduate student with a keen eye for detail to: (i) review transcriptions of scanned contracts for accuracy, and (ii) assist with the management of certain administrative tasks associated with the and websites. (Note: For summer, time commitment is 10-35 hours per week).

Communications and Publications

The center seeks a graduate student to assist with communications and publications tasks related to work on land and agriculture, and human rights and investment, in addition to general communications work. The internship will involve working with staff to develop online video content, design marketing material, plan and manage marketing and outreach efforts, and develop and implement a social media strategy. Prior communications experience, either professional or academic, is required. Applicants should also have experience in developing short video content and designing publications (flyers, reports, etc.), and should be familiar with Adobe Pro, Photoshop and InDesign.

Administrative Assistant (for students with work study eligibility)

The center seeks an undergraduate or graduate work-study student to assist with administrative and operational tasks. The work-study position primarily will entail helping with event planning and the day-to-day operational functioning of the center (e.g., drafting administrative forms, managing website and tracking website activity, preparing newsletters and other mailings, assisting with event preparation, etc.). The intern will also be expected to assist with editing and formatting center publications, preparing expense reports and invoices, and coordinating travel and accommodations for staff members and guests. Prior administrative experience a plus, but not required. Attention to detail is a must. Those with long-term availability are preferred. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to Associate Director of Operations Paulo Cunha (

For more information on internship opportunities and how to apply, see our website.





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