State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Earth Institute Spring 2017 Internships

This spring, The Earth Institute is offering students opportunities to work as interns within various departments and research centers at the institute. All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply. These internships pay $15 an hour for 10 hours per week, up to 120 hours during the spring. The positions include:

  1. Outreach & Communications: Campaign for 1 Million Community Health Workers
  2. ReBear – The Barnard Reuse Center
  3. Social Media and Website Updates
  4. Climate Deregulation Tracker
  5. Resource Investments and Sustainable Development: Assisting Low-Income Countries to Plan and Implement More Strategic Investments
  6. Lamont Education and Outreach Intern
  7. 2017 CCSI Executive Training Programs on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Investments in Agriculture, and Investment Arbitration for Government Officials

To apply:

Complete the online application available here:, by January 23at 11:30 p.m. While you may apply for more than one position, you must submit separate applications for each. Decisions will be made shortly after the deadline.

Students who are awarded internships will be expected to participate in the Earth Institute Student Research Showcase in spring 2017.

Contact Jessica Sotomayor ( with questions. You may also address cover letters to Jessica Sotomayor, senior program manager, Office of Academic and Research Programs.

1. Outreach & Communications: Campaign for 1 Million Community Health Workers

Department: Center for Sustainable Development

Anticipated tasks: The Campaign for One Million Community Health Workers (1MCHW) seeks a social media-savvy intern to help maintain and expand it’s online Web and social media presence. The 1MCHW maintains two Web sites and a Twitter account, and wishes to better integrate and promote the visibility of all three. Additional tasks may include occasional editing or drafting or reporting materials.

Skills required: Strong knowledge of Microsoft Office, experience and comfort with social media, including Web design and Twitter. Strong writing skills and the ability to interface professionally with variety of Constituents. Ability to prioritize, take initiative, and multitask.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

2. ReBear – The Barnard Reuse Center

Department: Department of Environmental Sciences

Anticipated tasks: The student will work with the Department of Environmental Science and Campus Services to continue rolling-out and implementing the newly created Barnard reuse center. The purpose of this project is to reduce the purchase of unnecessary goods as well as prevent usable items from being sent to landfill. They will work with Purchasing to continue to update inventory data as well as collect unused items that faculty, staff, and students wish to donate. They will design store displays and create materials/social media content used to educate the community about the sustainability benefits the reuse center brings to campus. The Student will keep  records of items donated and reused through the center and write a report to be delivered to the VP of Campus Services on the outcomes of the semester’s work.

Skills required: The Student will need to be a self-starter and able to work independently. They should be interested in sustainable entrepreneurship and have a basic understanding of waste streams. Experience creating educational and promotional material is preferred but not necessary.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate

3. Social Media and Website Updates

Department: Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability

Anticipated tasks: The intern will be in charge of cultivating our social media sites and website and doing outreach research for our educational programs. Tasks will include Facebook and Twitter posting, as well as posting on our blog and updating our website and researching appropriate audiences for outreach.

Skills required:

  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Experience with WordPress or similar web programs
  • Extensive experience with social media
  • Preferred: graphic design skills.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

4. Climate Deregulation Tracker

Department: Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Anticipated tasks: There is every reason to expect that the incoming Trump Administration will roll back a host of climate change-related measures adopted by the U.S. federal government. In 2009 and 2010, when the U.S. Congress was considering federal climate change legislation and the Obama Administration began adopting regulatory measures, the Sabin Center developed a Climate Legislation Tracker and a Climate Regulation Tracker to record, summarize and make developments available to practitioners, researchers and the public in an easily accessible format. In order to maintain a record of the Trump Administration’s prospective movement away from climate action, we plan to create and maintain a Climate Deregulation Tracker. We are seeking an intern to help track deregulatory (and regulatory) efforts from both the Congress and the executive branch that threaten to move the US away from effective climate action. The Research Assistant would help to monitor Congressional activity and regulatory announcements from across the regulatory state, draft summaries and analyses, and to devise, create, and maintain the website where we this Tracker will be housed.

Skills required: The applicant should be detail-oriented, fluent in English, and capable of efficiently reviewing laws and policy documents. Ideally, the applicant also would have some familiarity with U.S. climate change policy.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate, PhD

5. Resource Investments and Sustainable Development: Assisting Low-Income Countries to Plan and Implement More Strategic Investments

Department: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

Anticipated tasks: Governments of low-income countries often look to large-scale investment — including from foreign investors, suppliers and contractors — as a potential means of driving sustainable development. The most important and complex of these are related to natural resources (land & agriculture, mining, oil & gas) and infrastructure projects. While investments can be critically important, many host country governments lack a strategic vision, strong regulatory frameworks, or the necessary resources to plan, prepare for, negotiate, monitor, and implement such projects, limiting their ability to maximize the benefits for their country. One of the gaps regularly identified in this regard is the lack of awareness of the tools and resources available to governments, as well as a general lack of knowledge-sharing and coordination among government departments, donors and the  negotiation support providers assisting governments. CCSI has developed various tools to address the information-sharing and coordination gap, with a view to improving the accessibility and visibility of useful tools & resources and technical support available to assist governments in the investment process. CCSI is seeking a student intern to assist with: (i) the organization of associated outreach to representatives from low-income  governments and other relevant stakeholders; (ii) the maintenance and further development of the Negotiation Support Portal (, by conducting desktop research into existing resources, tools,  databases and trainings that can be included on the Portal; and (iii) with other administrative and research tasks relating to the day-to-day management of the Portal, as needed.

Skills required: The ideal candidates will have strong research skills, and be creative, highly organized and dedicated to the mission of sustainable investment. Interest in sustainable development, foreign investment, natural resources, corporate social responsibility and/or business and human rights are also strongly encouraged. The ability to speak French, Spanish, Portuguese, and/or Russian is desirable.

Type of student desired: Graduate

6. Lamont Education and Outreach Intern

Department: LDEO

Anticipated tasks: Under the supervision of the Education and Outreach Coordinator, the intern will serve a key role in the Education and Outreach office at Lamont, which leads the development and monitoring of the  Observatory’s education and outreach activities. The Intern will provide some administrative support related to communication efforts to the Office, and additionally, the Intern will provide strategic support on one specific education project, focused on the compilation of a database for the Day in the Life of the Hudson program. The goal is to finalize this database, which is a compilation of raw data collected about the Hudson River over the last decade. This open-source database will then be available for use to students/teachers, educational organizations, and the general public to interpret, analyze, and learn more about the Hudson Estuary.

Description of the work the student will be doing:

  • Administration/Outreach
  • Support the Coordinator with aspects communication and outreach efforts, such efforts include work with existing National Science Foundation funded projects, outreach to schools, and workshops for educators.

Day in the Life of the Hudson River

  • Support efforts to compile and synthesize raw data for an open-source database
  • Assist in collecting geographic descriptions and images for the project field sites to build an image gallery for database

Skills required: The ideal candidate will be detail oriented, organized, have a familiarity with Excel/large datasets, and be able to work independently with limited oversight. Attention to detail is necessary. A background in Earth Science and/or education is preferred.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate

7. 2017 CCSI Executive Training Programs on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Investments in Agriculture, and Investment Arbitration for Government Officials

Department: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

Anticipated tasks: Investment in natural resources (oil, mining, gas, agriculture, forestry) can play an important role in helping to achieve the SDGs, generating revenues for host countries, catalyzing critical infrastructure development and technology transfer, and, in the case of agricultural investments, addressing growing food security needs. Yet, if not structured equitably or regulated carefully, investments can have serious impacts on the environment and livelihoods and rights, and fail to provide anticipated benefits to host governments and communities.

CCSI focuses on the interdisciplinary and multifaceted ways to maximize the benefits of natural resource investments while minimizing potential harms and avoiding rights abuses. We research trends and good practices, and works with governments, companies, civil society, communities, and development partners, to develop and implement approaches to ensure that countries and communities benefit from their resources. The challenges of leveraging natural resource investments- or any investments- for sustainable development are further complicated by the web of thousands of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements that give investors various rights and limit the policy space and available regulatory and enforcement tools of host governments. Most government officials do not recognize the connection between the investment treaties they are signing and their ability to regulate incoming investment until they are facing disputes- or the threat of a dispute from an investor.

Over the past several years, CCSI has trained over 100 policy-makers and practitioners from around the world on these complex challenges and solutions at annual Executive Trainings offered at Columbia University on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Investments in Agriculture, and International Arbitration for Government Officials. All three trainings are holistic and multidisciplinary, tackling the challenges of developing robust legal and fiscal frameworks; negotiating equitable deals with investors; leveraging investments for greater sustainable development outcomes, including through linkages, technology transfer and employment; mitigating environmental impacts while protecting human rights; and understanding the overarching implications of investment treaties; among other topics.

The executive trainings draw from among faculty of the Earth Institute and Law School at Columbia University, as well as many external experts from around the world. By working through real case studies and with practitioners and experts in the field, participants gain practical skills and are able to apply analytical tools and frameworks to the unique contexts of sustainable investments in their countries. Organizing these three trainings is a tremendous amount of work for CCSI, and in past years, we have been gratefully dependent on the support of a student intern in the training preparations.

For all three trainings, CCSI is seeking an intern to provide operational and administrative support throughout the spring 2017 semester (ideally, the intern may be able to provide additional support during the trainings in the summer). The intern will be primarily responsible for assisting with administrative, logistical and operational aspects of all three trainings, including through communicating updates and liaising with speakers and participants, assisting with preparation and distribution of materials, organizing social outings, managing applications, managing payment and budgeting aspects, and maintaining the Wiki site for participants and speakers.

Skills required: The ideal candidate will have some administrative experience or interest; good organizational, analytical, and project managements skills; and an interest in agriculture and land, extractive industries, sustainable investment or sustainable development.

The ideal candidate will also have a strong work ethic, good attention to detail, strong communication and writing skills and work well within a team structure.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

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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