State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Come Learn in the Earth Institute’s New Non-Degree Programs This Fall

Starting in fall 2020, the Earth Institute will offer several non-degree educational programs for high school students and adult learners.

The Earth Institute is excited to launch our first-ever non-degree program offerings this fall. Our professional learning (for working professionals) and pre-college programs (for high school students grades 9-12) will allow learners to personally engage with leading scientists in the field, understand the science behind the headlines, and accelerate individual educational and career goals. All sessions for the 2020-2021 academic year will be remote. Fall registration is now open on our website. Join us at an upcoming info session to learn more — sign up here.

All non-degree program sessions will be delivered in small group sessions so that participants can receive targeted instruction and network with research faculty and peers. All programming will be taught by world-renowned Columbia faculty, researchers, and practitioners who are experts in their field. Our non-degree programs offer the same level of rigor and quality as our degree programs, allowing us to deliver a high-caliber program to you on a flexible schedule no matter where you are in the world.

Professional Learning

The professional learning program provides working professionals and adult learners with the knowledge and skills needed to further job-related interests and careers across a variety of subjects. This program is for you if: you work in a climate- or sustainability-oriented career and want to gain the confidence and skills to enhance your current role; you want to explore a career shift into this area; or if you are simply a lifelong learner seeking new knowledge and experiences. For fall 2020, we are offering the following sessions:

  1. COVID-19: From Recovery to Resilience (Wednesdays from 4:00 to 7:00pm EDT, October 7 – November 4). Learn with Josh DeVincenzo of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness as he shares insights about how we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused all aspects of our lives to be uprooted. In order to navigate these uncertain times, we need to think about our long-term response. This workshop will focus on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery challenges facing the United States today as a result of COVID-19. It will prepare participants with a strong understanding of how we can design a systemic and resilient approach to public health disasters as well as natural and human-made disasters of the present and future.
  2. UN Climate Change Negotiations (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00 to 8:00pm EDT, November 3 – 24). Join experts John Furlow, Mélody Braun, and Elisabeth Ilboudo Nébié of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society in this unique opportunity to learn about the history and purpose of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, the major alliances and interest groups, and the process for making progress. You’ll learn about and discuss major topics debated at key negotiation sessions, landmark negotiations (e.g. Kyoto, Copenhagen, and Paris) and their impacts, and what has succeeded and failed at these negotiations. By the end of this workshop, participants will have a strong understanding of the importance of global climate negotiations and will be able to apply this knowledge to their own personal or professional interests.


Our pre-college programs are for high school students in grades 9-12 who are interested in extending their learning beyond the classroom and sharpening their knowledge and skills in the areas of climate change and sustainability. Whether you are a budding climate change activist, or a maker who loves to tinker with new tools and technologies, or a future hardcore climate modeler, we will have something for you. Through interactive and hands-on minds-on learning, our pre-college programs will help participants build important skills such as critical thinking and problem solving in a collaborative learning environment with peers. Our programs will take science learning beyond the textbook, and allow students to see and experience science in the real world. For fall 2020, we are offering the following sessions:

  1. Let the Youth Lead (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 to 6:30pm ET, October 6 – 29). Spark your inner activist with help from Joán Lopez and Beth Fisher-Yoshida through this experiential workshop designed for students who want to lead social change. The workshop, offered by the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity will introduce participants to approaches and methods used in the field that will support project design for social transformation. This workshop will invite current and future youth leaders to enhance their existing practices, enthusiasm, and knowledge in order to support and further develop their roles as change agents in local and global community efforts.
  2. Out of Thin Air (3:00 – 6:00pm EDT on November 9, 11, 13, 17, and 19). Get tinkering in this workshop with engineer Nick Frearson of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory where you’ll learn about hardware and software tools available for data collection to capture information about urban carbon dioxide emissions. Participants will learn why it’s so important for climate scientists to be able to quantify CO2 emissions in different environments (i.e. indoors vs. outdoors). Most importantly, all participants will get to build and create a state-of-the-art yet low-cost tool for a CO2 sensor that they can use to monitor emissions and contribute to a greater understanding of climate science data collection and analysis efforts.

We will be hosting information sessions with all of the instructors for these offerings in the upcoming weeks, so please sign up for an info session. This is a great opportunity to hear about the offering directly from the instructor.

Professional Learning Info Sessions

  • Session 1: September 10 from 5:00 to 6:00pm EDT (with Josh DeVincenzo and John Furlow)
  • Session 2: September 16 from 5:30 to 6:00pm EDT (with Josh DeVincenzo)
  • Session 3: October 13 from 5:30 to 6:00pm EDT (with John Furlow)

Pre-College Program Info Sessions

  • Session 1: September 10 from 3:00 to 4:00pm EDT (with Beth Fisher-Yoshida, Joán Lopez, and Nick Frearson)
  • Session 2: September 17 from 3:30 to 4:00pm EDT (with Beth Fisher-Yoshida and Joán Lopez)
  • Session 3: October 14 from 3:30 to 4:00pm EDT (with Nick Frearson)

We hope to see you at an upcoming info session. In the meantime, please sign up for our non-degree programs mailing list here to get future updates, and contact if you have any questions. Please also feel free to suggest a topic for future programming here.

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