State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Fall 2018 Earth Institute Internship Opportunities

By Alana Masciana

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 $16 per hour for up to 10 hours a week for 12 weeks (a maximum of 120 hours during the semester). The positions include:

  1. Yuva Nestham Youth Empowerment Program
  2. Women, Peace and Security Project
  3. Agenda 2030 Design and Planning Studio: LOCAL PROJECTS CHALLENGE
  4. Best Practices in Coastal Adaptation in Developing Countries: a Literature Review
  5. Climate Change Risk Assessment in the Trump Administration
  6. Individual and Group Decision-Making for Climate Change Adaptation

To apply:

Complete the online application available here by September 16, 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 2019.

Contact Cari Shimkus ( with questions.


  1. Yuva Nestham Youth Empowerment Program

Department: Center for Sustainable Development

Anticipated tasks: Our program in rural Telangana state, India is fostering youth empowerment through a combination of three complementary interventions: the use of Social and Emotional Learning and reproductive health curricula; a biometric system to measure and prevent student absenteeism, an income-generating activity involving the production of earrings. The intern will be involved in all three aspects of the projects by:

  1. Analyzing data from, 1) A survey about psychosocial wellbeing of adolescent girls; 2) A survey measuring student understanding of a reproductive health curriculum; 3) A feasibility study about student chronic absenteeism
  2. Remotely monitoring student attendance of reproductive health and social and emotional learning classes to track individual students’ progress
  3. Support marketing of earrings made by adolescent girls as part of an income- generating activity that benefits their school

Skills required:

  • Strong organization skills
  • Advanced knowledge of Excel
  • Team work with colleagues in New York and India
  • Research experience a plus
  • Understanding of developing world context, particularly in India is a plus
  • Self-motivated 

Type of student desired: Graduate

  1. Women, Peace and Security Project

Department: The Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4)

Anticipated tasks: The Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4) at Columbia University’s The Earth Institute is seeking a graduate or undergraduate student intern to provide translation assistance and communications support to the Women, Peace and Security program. The mission of the Earth Institute’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) program is to advance the visibility and enhance capacity of grassroots women peacekeepers and practitioners – domestically and internationally – and ultimately to magnify the impact of their work toward realizing sustainable peace, security and development. The intern will contribute to the program’s mission by providing a wide range of communications support and some administrative assistance, and web-based outreach. The WPS intern will support the WPS Program Coordinator to 1) assist in website and communication materials, and 2) assist in internet search research for front-line women peace building work being done in the West African region.

Skills required: Current graduate or undergraduate student enrolled at Columbia University; Strong research, writing, and analytical skills; Attention to detail and excellent proofreading skills Strong organizational and time management skills; Ability to work independently and as a member of a team; Comfortable with outreach, including phone calls, emails, and in person meetings; An understanding of current issues in the field of women, peace and security a plus

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

  1. Agenda 2030 Design and Planning Studio: LOCAL PROJECTS CHALLENGE

Department: Center for Sustainable Urban Development

Anticipated tasks: The intern will be required to assist in preparations for the November- December launch of the Agenda 2030: LOCAL PROJECTS CHALLENGE. Tasks will include work on a global database; assistance with the communication strategy to announce the project; assistance with the development of on-line and print materials; research and writing in relation to a short project position paper; some email communication with national and international project partners and/or supporters.

Intern to attend two hour meeting with project partners, the Federal University, Rio de Janiero, 3.0 -5.0 September 5, but will formally start tasks in the week beginning September 10 ending December 10, on a mutually agreed schedule for 120 hours over 12 weeks with not more than 10 hours/week.

In addition, as time permits, the intern would also assist with the work of CSUD, such as the organization of meetings, updates to the CSUD website, contributing to blog posts, collating contributions for the EI Newsletter which will give the student exposure to the full work of the center.

Skills required: Data base creation and management; ability to create and manage a newsletter platform; research and writing skills; WordPress familiarity. Good communication style, good people and visual skills; ability to work collaboratively and independently. Awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). Writing skills in a foreign language desirable. (Spanish, French or Chinese preferred).

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

  1. Best Practices in Coastal Adaptation in Developing Countries: a Literature Review

Department: Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

Anticipated tasks: Project-related tasks consist of: assisting in identifying and reviewing documents presenting achievements in coastal adaptation in developing countries; assisting in identifying interventions and outcomes; assisting in developing a metrics for best practice evaluation and in ranking interventions according to the metrics; contributing to the final report.

The ultimate objective of this research is to generate a report on interventions related to coastal adaptation in resource-constrained contexts to inform a USAID-funded project ‘West African Biodiversity and Climate Change’ on best practices in this domain. The intern will be part of a team of three people who will critically review a vast body of literature, peer-reviewed as well as from other sources available on-line, and identify best practices given various constraints existing in developing countries. It is expected that the volume of documents to review will be large and the problem multidimensional. The contribution of an intern would help reducing the dimensions of the problem, by splitting the process according to regions or types of interventions, depending on the interests and expertise of the intern.

Skills required: The project consists mostly of a document review, interventions evaluation and a synthesis of the results. It is suited equally for an intern with a scientific as well non-scientific background. Excellent reading and writing skills in English are essential and knowledge of French or/and Spanish is a plus. Good ability to quickly synthesize documents and a capacity to work independently and manage time are necessary. Interest in development- oriented issues, as well as in increasing the capacity to think and assess documents critically are crucial.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

  1. Climate Change Risk Assessment in the Trump Administration

Department: Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Anticipated tasks: We seek an intern to complete two tasks related to Trump Administration assessments of climate change risks. Task one will consist of a review of Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMPs) required as a condition of FEMA funding to see whether and how climate change risks are being assessed as part of these plans. The intern will research and report on: 1) current status of FEMA guidance on incorporation of climate change in HMPs, 2) current status of state updates to HMPs as between our 2013 report and today, 3) expected timing (if known) of other state updates, and 4) complete secondary source review that identifies any post-2015 studies looking at relationship between state and local HMPs and climate impacts. The second task will consist of an updated review of how the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) process, required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), has considered climate change as part of its analysis during the Trump Administration. This will consist of document review of EIS’s and a written summary of trends, which will be used in an update to previous reports that we have published on this topic.

Skills required: The position is open to all undergraduate and graduate students. Strong research and writing skills and excellent attention to detail are required. Familiarity with, and interest in, environmental or climate change law is an advantage.

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate

  1. Individual and Group Decision-Making for Climate Change Adaptation

Department: The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

Anticipated tasks: The intern will provide assistance for my work as a Lead Author on IPCC AR6, WGII, where I am working on Chap. 17, Decision-making. The intern will review, summarize and synthesize recent peer-reviewed articles on individual and group-decision making around adaptation, risk management, and disaster risk reduction. The intern will contact research institutes and centers across EI and in other settings for reports and work in preparation. The intern will also prepare several short focused studies which could serve as text boxes within the chapter. These materials may also contribute to a peer-reviewed article (an abstract submission is being reviewed at Annual Review of Environment and Resources).

The intern will gain an understanding of environmental decision-making and of preparation of a material for an international assessment report. The intern will gain direct experience of contributing to an IPCC report.

Skills required:

  • Knowledge of sustainable development and climate change
  • Familiarity with bibliographic software packages
  • Good to strong writing skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Familiarity with cognitive/social psychology or organizational theory preferred

Type of student desired: Undergraduate, Graduate, PhD

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