State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Fall 2021 Internship Opportunities

The Earth Institute is offering undergraduate, graduate and PhD students opportunities to intern in various departments and research centers in a variety of administrative, communications and research roles. Interns work on a variety of sustainability-focused projects across the Earth Institute. These projects provide interns with hands-on workplace experience, allowing them to grow professionally while the Earth Institute centers benefit from their meaningful contributions.

Fall 2021 positions include:

  1. Indigenous Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge in the Time of Climate Crisis
  2. Third Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities (ARC3.3)
  3. LCSE Communications & Outreach Strategy
  4. Volcanic Unrest Response Exercise
  5. Development of an Updated Settlement Vector Layer: Matching Location Points and Names
  6. City Focus Groups Climate Law & Equity
  7. Centering the Perspectives of People of Color in Climate and Environmental Spaces through Columbia Climate Conversations
  8. Social Justice Assessment of Flood Risk and Benefits (GRA)
  9. Making Climate Forecasts Accessible to Climate Vulnerable Populations (GRA)
  10. Modeling Human Migration Due to Conflict and Food Insecurity East Africa (GRA)
  11. Climate Science Research Curator (GRA)
  12. Safe Water for All (GRA)
  13. Towards a Transformative Approach to Gender and Peacebuilding (GRA)

To apply:

Complete the online application available HERE by September 15, 2021 at 11:55pm ET. While you may apply for more than one position, you must submit separate applications for each.

Only full-time Columbia students are eligible to apply for internships. The positions marked GRA are only open to full-time graduate students. All internships are funded at a rate of $18 per hour (a maximum of 120 hours during the semester). Decisions will be made shortly after the deadline.

Students who are selected for a position will be expected to participate in the Earth Institute Student Research Showcase in spring 2022.

Contact Cari Shimkus ( with questions.

Indigenous Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge in the Time of Climate Crisis

Department: International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)

Student Desired: Undergraduate/Graduate/PhD

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will schedule meetings of the writing team (the two lead authors and a third author, all on different continents); coordinate with Indigenous organizations and set up meetings with them; track the material provided by contributing authors; assure that the opening ‘executive summary,’ the main sections and the supplementary materials are consistent; prepare drafts with numbered pages and lines to send for comments; review drafts to assure consistent use of terminology and balance of content; request and track comments and assure that all are responded to; prepare presentations for webinars associated with the white paper; work with conference organizers to plan a session for the white paper; draft summaries of references.

Skills Required:

  • strong organizational skills in tracking workflow and managing deadlines bibliographic software skills
  • social media/visual skills for presentations
  • familiarity with climate change and climate justice issues

Third Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities (ARC3.3)

Department: Center for Climate Systems Research

Student Preferred: Undergraduate/Graduate

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will help the UCCRN Secretariat with communications to authors, workshop planning, website updates, and blog writing. An intern’s support is crucial due to the variety of responsibilities associated with overseeing a 1,200+ person network and managing a 150+ author publication.

Skills Required: The ideal candidate will have the ability to read and review peer-reviewed articles, excellent verbal and written communication skills, the capability to accomplish tasks in small groups, strong attention to detail, and effective time management.

LCSE Communications & Outreach Strategy

Department: Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy

Preferred Student: Undergraduate/Graduate

Anticipated Tasks: The intern would focus on content development, which would include conducting brief interviews with core faculty members and researchers & publishing them on our website, designing flyers and infographics that highlight our research and programming, and draft & design newsletters. They would also support the Program Coordinator in planning and coordinating our on-campus networking event.

Skills Required:

  • excellent writing skills
  • fluency in English
  • basic website maintenance familiarity
  • experience organizing in-person events a plus
  • Photoshop and graphic design experience a plus
  • highly organized
  • independent worker
  • interest in sustainable energy and climate change

Volcanic Unrest Response Exercise 

Department: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Preferred Student: Undergraduate/Graduate

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will do administrative tasks such as creating a website for the workshop, organizing registration and participation, collating materials (simulation data) from the planning committee before and during the workshop, and handling technical issues with the virtual access. The intern will distribute and analyze surveys before and after the workshop to help the planning committee assess needs and success.

Skills required: Good organizational ability; familiarity with setting up and using virtual workshop environments such as zoom or google meet; experience with team communication tools such as Slack; excellent written and oral communication skills; basic website experience (Wix, google sites, etc).

Development of an Updated Settlement Vector Layer: Matching Location Points and Names

Department: CIESIN

Student Preferred: Undergraduate/Graduate

Anticipated Tasks:

  • Guided acquisition of settlement (small towns and villages) names from existing databases, such as OpenStreetMap (OSM);
  • Guided preliminary data processing to compare and harmonize name data from different sources, and match settlement location and names as needed.

Skills Required:

  • experience working with Internet search engines; Excel or other spreadsheet software
  • some experience with statistical packages (R, STATA, others) and GIS software.

City Focus Groups Climate Law & Equity

Department: Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Preferred Student: Undergraduate/Graduate

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will help organize and co-run convenings or focus groups of city staff who work on sustainability and climate issues, or who are city attorneys. The intern will manage outreach to stakeholders, help develop strategy for soliciting input, and manage/organize the input once solicited. The intern will be an integral team member in understanding from city staff and stakeholders how issues of climate, law and equity intersect in their communities.

Skills Required:

  • strong analytical thinking skills to understand how equity and climate policy intersect and to converse on these topics with city staff and stakeholders
  • good organizational skills to gather and collate input from city staff and stakeholders in a way that is useful for further research and analysis
  • professionalism and comfort interacting in professional settings, as the project will interface with city staff around the country

Centering the Perspectives of People of Color in Climate and Environmental Spaces through Columbia Climate Conversations

Department: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Preferred Student: Undergraduate

Anticipated Tasks: ​​ The intern would be responsible for planning and executing two panel events, including securing funding and resources, planning an educational conversation around the theme of environmental justice, reaching out to the panelists, curating the questions, creating the marketing materials, and moderating the events. Specifically regarding funding, the intern’s tasks would be to work on identifying and accessing resources to support CCC, particularly assisting with grant applications, into the 2021-2022 year, building on the $5,000 of grant funding raised from diverse sources for the program in 2020-2021.

Skills Required:

  • organized, self-motivated
  • some experience with grant writing
  • knowledge of social media principles and best practices
  • background in sustainability and racial justice through coursework, work experience, advocacy and/or lived experience

Social Justice Assessment of Flood Risk and Benefits (GRA)

Department: Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), International Research Institute for Climate & Society (IRI)

Anticipated Tasks:

  • Conduct a literature review on social justice implications for flood risk and benefits that supports publication of analysis in the Carolinas.
  • Develop a survey of humanitarian organizations on the data and models they use for flood risk.
  • Summarize the results of flood exposure and social vulnerability for a case study area of interest for humanitarian relief efforts.

Skills Required:

  • experience with social justice, socioeconomic, or vulnerability assessment
  • ability to design a survey
  • statistical programming experience (such as R, Matlab, Stata)
  • familiarity with geospatial techniques, such as in ArcGIS, QGIS, web-based platforms, or programming
  • a plus: experience and/or interest in disaster risk reduction, humanitarian operations and/or policy
  • proficient in academic writing

Making Climate Forecasts Accessible to Climate Vulnerable Populations (GRA)

Department: Center for Climate Systems Research

Anticipated Tasks: The main objective of the internship is to finalize a comprehensive manual and appealing training materials for the PyCPT, using extensive but disparate materials developed by various tool developers and researchers at the IRI, in various contexts. We are looking for an individual interested in improving the accessibility of the state-of-the art research via well designed documentation and educational materials. More importantly we are looking for someone not familiar with the tool who can examine the existing materials with a fresh but critical eye and help us develop a set of standardized materials to be used on different platforms, such as a self-contained traditional manual, its on-line version and a deck of slides. It is expected that the materials will be subject to several review rounds and that the intern will adjust the content and the format based on the reviews.

Skills Required:

  • Familiarity with Python and statistical analysis of large datasets will be required to be able to capture and represent the essence of PyCPT.
  • Background in climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, food security or water resources will be an asset and will help identify the level of details necessary for effective use of the tool.
  • Interests in translating advances in research into concrete tools and/or in working with partners in developing countries will be a plus.
  • Prior experience in capacity building and/or development of educational materials will also be an advantage, but is not required.

Modeling Human Migration Due to Conflict and Food Insecurity East Africa (GRA)

Department: Center for Climate Systems Research

Anticipated Tasks: The selected candidate will use the Flee agent based model (ABM) to simulate human mobility in the Horn of Africa using a Bayesian framework. This will include model execution, analysis of model-generated data, and application of results to an improved version of the ABM. First, the intern will analyze thousands of Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations and detect uncertainties and biases in current model performance. Next, the intern will use these results and apply them in the ABM framework. Finally, the intern will build on existing modeling capabilities and study the combined impact of conflict and food insecurity on migration. Open-sourced data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) database as well as food insecurity indicators compiled by the FAO-UN will be applied to the modeling framework.

Skills Required:

  • Python coding skills
  • aptitude for statistics and Bayesian methods
  • geospatial or network analysis (a plus)

Climate Science Research Curator (GRA)

Department: Climate School

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will assist senior personnel with assembling and presenting quarterly Climate School research updates for member affiliates. The incumbent will consult with all units within the Climate School and its Columbia partners to curate recently published research, research in progress, and prospective research, and will develop a written summary and annotated bibliography. He/she/they will also assist Climate School leadership in organizing the quarterly research updates by providing underlying resources such as slide presentations and other review materials. On occasion, the intern will be asked to construct a more detailed summary of specific topics as requested. The intern should be able to meet with the Senior Advisor on a weekly basis to discuss activities in support of other Partner Affiliate Programs, including roundtables and incidental discussions with external partners.

Skills Required:

  • excellent writing and oral communication skills
  • ability to work independently and on deadline
  • interest in gaining familiarity with primary climate research literature and other scholarly resources
  • ability to organize research resources within a higher-level summary framework

Safe Water for All (GRA Only)

Department: Columbia Water Center

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will compile data from a variety of federal and state datasets related to water regulations and policies, and water quality contaminants, such as exposure to lead, nitrates, arsenics, and others. As part of the project, the intern will create new national datasets and perform analytics to identify local hot spots, space and time trends in water quality violations, the likelihood of exposure to a set of contaminants, the demographics affected, and policy barriers to adoption of new treatment solutions. This will require review and compilation of state data resources, and use of GIS tools to plot/correlate with demographic attributes. This is a data-intensive project so we would greatly benefit from having resources to help us compile, develop, and analyze the multiple data streams.

Skills Desired: Experience with data analysis (R or Python), GIS, database management, and ability to work independently. Knowledge of machine learning methods is a plus.

Towards a Transformative Approach to Gender and Peacebuilding (GRA)

Department: Women, Peace, and Security Program at the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will join the WPS Program team for the summer as an integral member of this project. During the course of the summer, the intern will contribute to: reviewing and analyzing data; conducting and transcribing interviews; assisting with developing and disseminating surveys; and other tasks as assigned. The intern will also have an opportunity to take on various communications tasks, including writing blog posts, creating content for social media, and contributing writing and editing to a policy brief or article. An intern’s participation would significantly advance our ability to make key connections between the learning generated through the fellowship program and broader trends in the literature and policy field of women, peace and security. A student with experience in strategic communications (ex. writing blog posts, op-eds, etc.) and/or graphic design would be a plus, in order to help communicate our findings to key audiences.

Skills Required: 

  • Background knowledge and/or professional experience related to gender, community organizing, development, peacebuilding, African studies, or public policy;
  • Interest in working side-by-side with grassroots women peace builders;
  • Curiosity about and/or dedication to the participatory praxis of activism/research;
  • Interest in and knowledge of African politics and region;
  • Excellent time management and interpersonal skills;
  • Skilled in strategic communications and excellent writing skills and/or experience with journalistic writing or academic prose;
  • Experience in survey design and/or data analysis (quantitative and qualitative);
  • Skills in graphic design or data visualization skills a plus.
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2 years ago

Good ideal work for students for future