State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Meet Noel Abrai From Columbia Climate School’s Inaugural Class

This fall, Columbia University will welcome the first class of students who will graduate from the newly created Climate School. Drawing on the expertise within the Earth Institute and its many centers, the Columbia Climate School will serve as a hub for transdisciplinary climate research and education across the university, exploring and developing solutions to the most urgent and complex challenges of our time.

The M.A. in Climate and Society program is the first degree program offered through the Columbia Climate School. This 12-month interdisciplinary program trains students to understand and address the impacts of climate change and climate variability on society and the environment. The program’s class of 97 students enrolling in fall 2021 will graduate from the Columbia Climate School in August 2022. State of the Planet will be highlighting several of these extraordinary students over the coming weeks.

Below, Noel Nemaya Simon Abrai, who has been displaced by the crisis in South Sudan, shares a bit about his background and why he enrolled in the Climate and Society program.

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noel nemaya headshot
Noel Abrai wants to help prevent future generations from suffering from the climate crisis.

My names are Noel Nemaya Simon Abrai. I am South Sudanese by nationality. I am a graduate of Cairo University’s faculty of agriculture with a specialization in organic agriculture.

I was born, raised, and studied in South Sudan. I came to Egypt as a displaced person in 2013 when the South Sudan crisis started. Cairo University is one of the governmental Egyptian universities that enrolls students from different parts of the world.

I joined Cairo University in 2013 and it was not so easy because there was no one to help fund my education. I have been struggling to study and work as a part-timer in order to fund my bachelor’s degree. I finished my bachelor’s studies in 2017, and would like to further my studies.

Human-induced activities are currently contributing to climate change, which will be disastrous to living organisms. I am interested in understanding how to prevent, handle, and mitigate the future challenges from climate change.

The classes that I am most excited about in the Climate and Society program are as follows: Dynamics of Climate Variability and Climate Change, Regional Climate, and Climate Impact Managing and Adapting to Climate, as well as Quantitative Models of Climate-Sensitive Natural and Human Systems.

This program aligns with my career goals because I am dedicated to preventing future generations from suffering from the climate crisis.

I accomplished my dream when I completed my agricultural studies, because I decided to provide the world with quality knowledge, understanding, and products that would be sufficient for the coming generations, and it’s the same to study climate, as it also about preventing, managing, and mitigating climate crisis.

When I look at the future of the Climate School, I see the emergence of well-equipped climate experts saving future generations from the climate crisis.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

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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