State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Columbia Climate School’s Non-Degree Offerings for Fall 2021

Starting in fall 2021, the Columbia Climate School will offer non-degree educational programs for high school students and adult learners.

The Columbia Climate School is excited to be back for fall 2021 with our non-degree workshop offerings under professional learning and pre-college opportunities. These workshops 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. Fall 2021 sessions will continue to be remote.

Registration is now open on our website. Sign up to attend our professional learning info sessions on this page and our pre-college info sessions on this page.

All non-degree program sessions will be delivered in small groups so that participants can receive targeted instruction and network with faculty and peers. All programming will be taught by world-renowned Columbia Climate School 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 high-caliber material to you on a flexible schedule no matter where you are in the world. All learners receive a certificate of participation from the Columbia Climate School.

Professional Learning

Our professional learning offerings provide 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 new 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 2021, we are offering the following sessions:

  1. Collaborative Conservation: Strategies for Biodiversity – Join Dr. Joshua Fisher for a workshop that will explore strategies that can be deployed to enable collaborative biodiversity conservation in response to increasing threats to biodiversity and ecosystem health. The workshop will provide an overview of global conservation efforts and introduce frameworks for generating more collaborative action among diverse stakeholders.
  2. Harnessing Capital for Climate Solutions: Science, Sustainability, and ESG – Join Dr. Arthur Lerner-Lam for a session that will explore the linkages between climate science and sustainable investing. Participants will better understand how basic research in climate and the environment can be used to provide a framework for capital allocation decisions and how the goals of economic development and growth intersect with notions of global sustainability.


Our pre-college offerings 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, 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 2021, we are offering the following session:

  1. Climate, Communities, and Decision-Making – Join Sophia Rhee for a workshop that will allow young learners to expand their understanding of climatic hazards and social vulnerabilities, and provide them with concrete examples and strategies for risk reduction. Participants will delve into a climate risk of their choice through a hands-on practical and gain skills around quantitative and qualitative data sources, as well as better understand how planning decisions are made using climate information.

We will be hosting information sessions with all the instructors for these offerings in the upcoming weeks, so please join us. This is a great opportunity to hear about each workshop directly from the instructor.

In the meantime, please sign up for our mailing list to get future updates, and contact if you have any questions.

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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Clement Goldson
2 years ago

Re:linkages between climate science and sustainable investing.
Ecosystem services should be priced. Market forces can then be harnessed to drive the transition to net zero by businesses.
A business in Europe emits carbon dioxide throughout its supply chain and this is costed.
A farmer or community in Brazil are stewards for forest or other carbon sequestration resource. They receive a payment for the ecosystem service they have provided. The business has an incentive to reduce its carbon footprint and the stewards an incentive to increase their carbon sequestration.
We will need Independent Experts to monitor and evaluate both emissions and sequestration and regulations to sanction behaviour where necessary.
Baltazar Garzon and Polly Higgins are working on a route for sanctions,
Our world knows four international crimes: war crimes, genocide, torture and crimes against humanity. Spanish examining magistrate Baltasar Garzón and Scottish lawyer Polly Higgins believe that this list of serious violations of international law should be expanded with a fifth: ecocide. Will Higgins and Garzón eventually succeed in gaining enough support to get recognition for ecocide? As a concept, ecocide refers to both naturally occurring processes of environmental or ecosystem decline and destruction of the environment that is caused by human activity.

Businesses have grown accustomed to polluting with no consequences and being seen as central to resolving the current crisis. It is recognized that people create wealth by the quality of their nutrition and early childhood development. Brain power then becomes the infrastructure required for businesses responsive to the SDGs.
The most cost effective use of brainpower is the tribunal. Having three persons decide a case mathematically is the most effective use of brainpower. Having developed human capital it may be best to have teams of three “wise men” carry out the critical governance functions in any company. Probability may be used to asses this and based on the number of critical processes decide the size of boards.
Companies must change. Three changes that should make a difference are Ownership, purpose and management.
1) No person or connected group may own more that eleven (11%) of the shares in any company.
2) The articles of the business must state its environmental and social stance as well as its mission. In stating the environmental and social stance the business will demonstrate an understanding that without a home planet and communities there would be no sustainable market for thee goods and/or service it offers.
3) People run businesses. The quality of the people will be reflected in the business. Tribunals (teams of three) should be responsible for all critical functions of the business.
Alexander Osterwalder in his “The Invincible Company” recommends that companies do case studies. I have yet to read the book but watched a presentation by the author. The case study should be the start of the review since apparent success today does not translate into sustainable success.
The aim of the BMC is excellent but there must be more than simply imitating apparent success. The use of tribunals for governance is intended to encourage better business decisions and to move away from the focus on quarters.
Businesses must plan for five to ten years and work towards goals rather than expect constant quarterly growth.
Kate Raworth addresses the short term goals and the way in which success is measured in her Doughnut Economics.
The yardstick we have been using and the things we are measuring will not be able to handle the challenges we are facing. We need new tools and a different attitude to cope with these challenges. The doughnut is an economist’s view of how we can find a sweet spot for humanity from which to resolve the current challenges.
Businesses must be governed by people who want equitable, resilient and sustainable growth within a safe operating space for humanity.
We can overcome the human and environmental problems we face by making a stand in the sweet spot and ensuring that we do no harm to planet or people as we carry out our stated purpose.