State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Call for Proposals for Earth Institute Sustainability Primers

The Education Committee of the Earth Institute faculty is seeking book proposals for its series of sustainability primers published by Columbia University Press. Proposals are due no later than March 2, 2020, and may be sent to

What are the Earth Institute Sustainability Primers?

The Earth Institute Sustainability Primers educate readers about salient sustainability issues and enhance the organization’s public outreach efforts.

The primers are small books—just 15,000-20,000 words in length—on a single, specific topic. Rather than examining a subject in depth, primers provide a succinct introduction that is accessible to a wide audience, including students and general interest readers.

The first book in the series, Bruce Usher’s Renewable Energy: A Primer for the Twenty-First Century, was published in January 2019 and offers a concise introduction to the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The second book in the series is Climate Change Science: A Primer for Sustainable Development, by John C. Mutter, which will be published in May 2020. The primer provides a straightforward overview of the essential science for climate change and climate prediction.

Other projects in development include: The Environmental Sustainability of Food and Farming, by Shahid Naeem, Suzanne Lipton, and Tiff van Hu; Managing Environmental Conflict: An Earth Institute Sustainability Primer, by Josh Fisher; Complexity: A Primer for Sustainable Development Studies, by Marion Dumas and James Rising; Natural Disasters and Their Human Development Consequences, by John Mutter and Sonali Deraniyagala; and Climate Change: Adaptation and Resilience, by Lisa Dale.

The call for proposals is open to colleagues throughout the Earth Institute and the Columbia University community more broadly. Non-affiliated co-authors are permitted. Some funding is available for student editorial assistants, who assist authors in the writing process. The books can be based on existing course lectures and scientific papers.

Why write one of these short books?

Your book would be a title in the series of Earth Institute Sustainability Primers published by Columbia University Press. Your primer therefore would be edited, designed, produced, published, and marketed by the Press, according to its standards and practices. You would receive a royalty for the sales of your book in regular print and e-book editions, and a share in income derived from rights sales via translations and other channels. The Press would work with you to promote your book to regular academic and public audiences. Your book would become a valuable resource to teachers and students, as well as to general readers, who are interested in learning about particular aspects of your field.

How to submit a proposal

Please email a short description of your potential book(s), addressing the questions below, to Gabriella Cohen at by March 2, 2020:

  • What question in sustainability would your book answer?
  • What would be a rough outline for the potential book? Please include a short description of key topics, anticipated number of figures, and any special features.
  • What need would it answer in the scientific literature and/or the culture in general?
  • What other books presently serve such a need, and how would your book be different?
  • What new ideas or approaches would be notable in your potential book?
  • Will your book grow out of your teaching at the Earth Institute? If so, are there any themes and insights that are unique to Columbia’s approach, or are the framing and vision for the book more universal?

The Education Committee of the Earth Institute will review the proposals and make recommendations to the Press, the latter of which must give final approval for inclusion in the primer series.

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