State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Remote Spring 2021 Internships at Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute, is accepting applications until January 15, 2021 for remote internship positions for the Spring 2021 semester. Interns are staffed to one or more specific research projects depending on the background and interests of the particular applicant. Information about a fellowship opportunity is also provided below.

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 mining and energy; sustainable investments in land, agriculture and food systems; and sustainable international investment law and policy, with cross-cutting research related to climate change, human rights, the energy transition, and business and finance.

Candidates must commit to at least 10-15 hours per week, unless otherwise noted. Continuation into subsequent terms is possible, and in some cases, preferred.

To apply for a Spring 2021 internship, please send a cover letter, CV, and writing sample (all together in a single file, in that order), by January 15, 2021 to CCSI’s executive coordinator, Nancy Siporin (, unless otherwise specified. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. 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 Spring 2021 internship opportunities are currently available for the following:

Paid internship: Aligning the Food Sector to the Sustainable Development Goals **(New addition, 03/04/2021)**
CCSI seeks a graduate student to support its work on aligning the food sector with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This work will include conducting research and analysis related to the various ways through which businesses, particularly in the food sector, can affect achievement of the SDGs. Preference will be given to students with experience or familiarity with the food sector, including on practices related to nutrition, value chains, lobbying, and taxation, among other areas. Strong research and writing skills are important. This internship can be done for class credit or as a paid internship.
Please send a cover letter, CV, and writing sample (together in a single pdf) to Nancy Siporin ( by March 21.
Paid internship: Massive Open Online Course on the Negotiation of Extractive Industry Contracts **(New addition, 03/01/2021)**
Despite the important implications of large-scale extractive projects for countries and communities, many host country governments lack strong regulatory frameworks, a strategic vision, or the necessary resources to negotiate and implement the deals, limiting their ability to maximize the benefits for their country and citizens. CCSI, together with partners, is developing a mini-MOOC (massive open online course) on “Negotiating Extractive Industry Contracts,” giving an overview of the various stages of preparing for and negotiating these large-scale projects, and the skills and considerations that are important at each stage. The course aims to build awareness, understanding, and relevant technical capacity among a wide range of government officials involved in extractive industry projects, as well as their development partners, civil society, and other stakeholders.
CCSI is seeking a student intern to provide technical support to the course development. In particular, the student will work on preparing the accompanying course materials (reading materials, assessments, etc.). The ideal candidate will be highly organized and responsive, have strong time management, writing and communication skills, and an interest (and ideally a background in) in natural resource management and sustainable development. The work will take place over March and April, and we expect roughly 10 hours per week in the early weeks, with the possibility that may taper toward the end of the project, depending on project needs.
Given the tight turn-around time, please send a cover letter and CV (together in a single pdf) to Nancy Siporin ( by EOD, Friday March 5.

Paid internship: The Political Economy of Extractive Industries

CCSI is seeking graduate students or advanced undergraduate students to assist with research, writing and other support related to CCSI’s Executive Session on the Politics of Extractive Industries, a project devoted to grappling with and addressing the ways in which political realities shape the outcomes of work intended to foster good governance of extractives. The ideal intern would have a background in political science or development, be self-motivated and an excellent writer.

Paid internship: Responsible and Rights-respecting Land Investments

CCSI seeks a JD, LLM, or other graduate student (or a motivated and high-performing undergraduate student) to support the center’s research and advisory work on responsible and rights-respecting land-based investments. The internship will involve working closely with senior staff on priority projects requiring research, analysis, and writing. These projects may include monitoring and responding to emerging risks in land-based investments due to COVID-19, and supporting the development of innovative responses and resources addressing key challenges for communities, governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders.

Preference will be given to candidates with strong research and writing skills and the ability to read French. Knowledge or experience of issues relating to responsible land-based investment, land rights, government policymaking related to investments, and/or community rights in the context of resource investments is desirable. (This internship is also available during Summer 2021.)

Paid internship: Enabling Communities’ Meaningful Participation in Investment-related Decision-making

CCSI seeks a graduate student to assist with research and other activities relating to research on two questions. First, how communities can be enabled to better access and use investment-related information to protect their rights. Second, how norms can be developed to clarify the responsibility of the private sector to pay for independent technical support to such communities. The intern will work closely with CCSI researchers and conduct detailed desk-based research on international frameworks and industry standards, among other questions. There may also be the opportunity to contribute to strategy development for a private sector advocacy effort. 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, ESG, and/or political economy is also desired.

Paid internship: Fiscal Modeling Training for 8 African Countries

CCSI is working with the African Development Bank and the FERDI institute to develop a capacity-building program in fiscal modeling for eight African countries. CCSI is seeking a graduate student from SIPA or Columbia Business School with strong fiscal or financial modeling capabilities, with a preference for students with experiences in the mining and petroleum sectors.

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 mining and energy, land, agriculture and food systems, or investment law and 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 (

Remote Fellowship Opportunity Available for Spring 2021:

Recognition of Autonomous Protocols and Community By-Laws in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa

Building on the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment’s research on the political economy of Indigenous and tribal communities right to free prior and informed consent in the context of extractives projects, we are engaged in action- and policy-oriented research that explores opportunities to further socialize and promote the recognition of and adherence to community protocols and community by-laws in different contexts. See more about the project here.

The fellow will work closely with CCSI researchers and focus on detailed desk-based research on autonomous protocols and community by-laws. This may include literature reviews and analysis, and interviews with external organizations working in the field of land governance and Indigenous rights. Strong research and writing skills (including the ability to use academic databases and other online search techniques) are desirable, as is some knowledge or experience in the field of business and human rights, Indigenous peoples’ rights, and/or responsible land-based investment.

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights is generously supporting this Human Rights Research Fellowship. Students who receive the fellowship are expected to complete approximately 80-120 hours of research assistance during the academic year. ISHR will award one research stipend per opportunity in the amount of $1,500. Priority will be given to HRSMA and UHRP students. Please contact with any questions.

Applicants are requested to submit a cover letter, resume, and unedited writing sample (all together in a single pdf) to Nancy Siporin at by January 15, 2021.

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

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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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