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Remote Summer 2020 Internships With the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

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The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute, is accepting applications on a rolling basis for remote internship positions for Summer 2020. 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 credit can be granted in some cases.

CCSI is a leading applied research center and forum dedicated to the study, practice and discussion of sustainable international investment. Its 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: sustainable investments in extractive industries, sustainable investments in land and agriculture, and sustainable international investment law and policy, with cross-cutting research related to climate change and human rights.

Candidates must commit to at least 35 hours per week, unless otherwise noted. Continuation into subsequent terms is possible, and in some cases, preferred.

To apply for a Summer 2020 internship, please send a cover letter, CV and writing sample to CCSI’s executive coordinator, Nancy Siporin (, unless otherwise specified. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Please indicate if you are work-study eligible (preferred but not required). The cover letter should include a distinct list of which internships you are applying for (you may include as many as you’d like).

Remote Summer 2020 internship opportunities are currently available for the following:

Paid internship: Legal Research on Mining and Petroleum Contracts

CCSI is seeking LLM or JD student interns to assist with legal research, writing, and other activities using, an online repository of oil, gas, and mining contracts. This paid legal internship will focus on identifying key contractual terms in mining and petroleum contracts and providing related research and writing support. Preference will be given to candidates with strong legal research and writing skills, experience working with complex contracts, and candidates who have experience or demonstrated interest in issues relating to extractive industries.

Paid internship: Understanding the Transparency Needs, Demands, and Uses of Local Communities and Host Governments in the Context of Land Investments

CCSI seeks a graduate student to assist with research and other activities relating to research on a demand-driven approach to transparency of land investments that investigates—both at the international level and in two specific country contexts (Cameroon and Liberia)—what is the most important and useful information to disclose and why, in order to inform strategies to strengthen land governance around investment projects. Transparency here is interpreted to focus on how local actors can use information to achieve different objectives (protect their human rights, hold investors to account, make informed decisions regarding proposed investments, etc.). The intern will work closely with CCSI researchers and conduct detailed desk-based research on the transparency needs, demands and experiences of affected communities and host governments, among other questions. Other assistance may be required in the lead-up to the publication of various strategic outputs aimed at different stakeholder audiences. Preference will be given to students with strong research and analysis skills, including the ability to use academic databases and other online search techniques. Some knowledge or experience with the fields of business and human rights, responsible land-based investment, land rights, political economy, and/or transparency is also desired. Fluency in French or Spanish is desirable but not required.

Time commitment: 35 hours per week for a total of 5 weeks (or fewer hours per week over a longer period), totaling 177 hours during the summer. For the right candidate, this internship may be combined with the “Green Energy Transition and Human Rights: Incentivizing the Respect of Local Communities by Renewable Energy Producers” internship (below) to form a full time summer internship for a total of 11 weeks.

Paid internship: The Green Energy Transition and Human Rights: Incentivizing the Respect of Local Communities by Renewable Energy Producers

CCSI is seeking a graduate student to assist with research on the land-related impacts of renewable energy generation (especially solar and wind), with a specific focus on local communities affected by such investments. Research will contribute to (i) a future company-facing tool on the legal risks for renewable energy companies in not adequately engaging communities and respecting their rights, and (ii) other relevant topics touching on the human and land rights impacts of renewable energy generation. The student will conduct desk research and, potentially, confidential informant interviews to explore different sources of legal risks and better understand company incentives for improving business practices to better respect the rights of local communities who often bear the brunt of negative impacts of such projects. Skills required / highly preferred include: strong research and analysis skills, including the ability to use academic databases and other online search techniques for legal and social science research; the ability to adapt findings and research approaches to the incentives of different types of actors, including the private sector; some knowledge or experience with the field of business and human rights and/or responsible land-based investment, and/or any sectoral knowledge of the wind and solar energy generation sectors. All work will likely be done remotely.

Time commitment: 35 hours for 6 weeks (or fewer hours per week over a longer period), totaling 210 hours during the summer. There may be the potential to combine this internship with another (such as the “Understanding the Transparency Needs, Demands, and Uses of Local Communities and Host Governments in the Context of Land Investments” internship, above) to fill out the entirety of the summer semester.

This internship is funded by the Earth Institute and therefore has a different application process. To apply, please visit the Earth Institute’s internship page, where the position will be posted. Applications close April 19, 2020.

Paid internship: Investment Approval Processes

CCSI is seeking a graduate student (preferably JD, LLM, or SIPA student) to support and contribute to research regarding investment approval processes for land-based investments, with a particular focus on agricultural investments and climate services. The research will include: (i) identifying the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in investment approval processes; (ii) assisting in the preparation and synthesis of interviews with government officials, and (iii) identifying opportunities to incorporate climate services and best practices on responsible investment to current approval processes. Candidates need not have familiarity with this specific issue area in order to be considered. However, those familiar with climate forecasting, agricultural production and land-based investment approval processes will be preferred. Candidates with fluency in French preferred.

Paid internship: Emerging Market Firms and the SDGs

CCSI is seeking a highly motivated, enthusiastic and detail-oriented graduate student to assist with a variety of tasks relating to CCSI’s work on emerging market firms and sustainable development. Duties will include working with CCSI staff to manage and update the website; provide research support as needed; and support coordination for various events and meetings related to this project. The ideal candidate will have academic or professional experience related to research on emerging market multinational enterprises; be highly organized and responsive; have strong time management and writing and communication skills; and have an interest in corporate conduct and sustainable development. Students currently undertaking degrees in business, finance, or public affairs are strongly encouraged to apply.

Paid internship: Operations Assistant (work study)

CCSI is seeking an undergraduate or graduate work-study student to assist with a variety of substantive operational tasks. The work-study position primarily will entail helping with business and administrative tasks related to the operational functioning of the center, with an opportunity to specialize in one of several areas including business operations, editing, communications, events or workstream support, assisting one of the three CCSI workstreams in extractive industries, land and agriculture, or investment law policy. Preference will be given to responsible, detail-oriented undergraduate or graduate students. Those with long-term availability are preferred. To apply for this operations assistant position, please send a cover letter and resume to CCSI’s director of operations, Paulo Cunha. (

For more information on internship opportunities and how to apply, please see the CCSI website.

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