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Spring 2018 Earth Institute Internship Opportunities

By Chandler Precht

The Earth Institute is offering undergraduate, graduate and PhD students with opportunities to intern in various departments and research centers in a variety of administration, communications and research roles. Interns work on a variety of sustainability-focused projects across The Earth Institute. These projects provide interns with hands-on workplace experience, allowing them to grow professionally while The Earth Institute centers benefit from their meaningful contributions.

All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply for internships. These internships are funded at a rate of $15 per hour for up to 10 hours a week for 12 weeks (a maximum of 120 hours during the semester). The positions include:

  1. 2018 CCSI Executive Training Programs on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Investments in Agriculture, and Investment Treaties and Arbitration for Government Officials
  2. Communications Intern
  3. Rethinking Environmental Governance to Address America’s Lead Poisoning Epidemic: Our Toxic Commons

To apply:

Complete the online application available here by January 24, 2018 at 11:55pm. 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 2018.

Contact Cari Shimkus ( with questions.

2018 CCSI Executive Training Programs on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Investments in Agriculture, and Investment Treaties and Arbitration for Government Officials

Department: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

Anticipated tasks: CCSI focuses on the interdisciplinary and multifaceted ways to maximize the benefits of international investment while minimizing potential harms and avoiding rights abuses. We research trends and good practices, and work 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 five years, CCSI has trained over 230 policy-makers and practitioners from 61 countries 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 Investment Treaties and Arbitration for Government Officials. All three trainings are holistic and multi-disciplinary, 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 2018 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. Preference will be given to candidates who are available during any of the trainings: Extractives and Sustainable Development (June 4-15, 2018), Investments in Agriculture (June 19-29, 2018) and Investment Treaties and Arbitration for Government Officials (July 30-August 9, 2018). 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: Graduate, PhD

Communications Intern

Department: Columbia Water Center

Anticipated tasks: The Communications intern will oversee all of CWC’s communication outlets and will have overall responsibility for all aspects of electronic communication making sure all content is up to date, informative, conveys CWC’s messaging points and is internally consistent.

Skills required: Ideally, the incumbent will have experience with WordPress website management, creating original blog content, posting to Twitter, managing a Facebook page, etc.) They should have excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

Rethinking Environmental Governance to Address America’s Lead Poisoning Epidemic: Our Toxic Commons

Department: Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory

Anticipated tasks: The intern will assist with the qualitative analysis of a large historical archive that describes several decades (1990 – 2017) of public experience with state and local programs to mitigate indoor hazards from lead-based paint. The intern will read and review public reports and press accounts of state and local government efforts to reduce the health risks associated with children’s exposure to indoor lead hazards. The intern will focus on a subset of the archive, and assist the principal investigator in qualitative coding of reports and documents describing and evaluating the past decade of local municipal response to indoor lead exposure hazards.

Skills required: Qualitative research skills and knowledge are needed for this project; social sciences coding will be used by the intern to review the historical archive. The main skill required is critical thinking and interest in the topic; the PI Dr. Klein-Rosenthal can teach the intern coding skills at the start of the internship.

Type of student desired: Graduate, PhD

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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