State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Meet Adam Stickney From the Climate and Society Class of 2023

adam stickney headshot
Adam Stickney joins the MA in Climate and Society program this fall. He is looking forward to learning how to transform thought into climate action.

This fall, the Columbia Climate School welcomes a new class of students into the M.A. in Climate and Society program. The 12-month interdisciplinary program trains students to understand and address the impacts of climate change and climate variability on society and the environment.

The incoming Class of 2023 includes 80 students with diverse backgrounds and career paths, impressive skillsets, and big plans to help protect people and the environment.

State of the Planet will be featuring interviews with several of these extraordinary students over the coming weeks. In the Q&A below, you can meet Adam Stickney, who is looking forward to learning how to transform thought into climate action.

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got interested in studying climate?

I grew up in England and spent much of my time around nature. My youth is full of memories from time spent in the southern English woods. It wasn’t until I took classes at university that I really started to comprehend the magnitude of the climate crisis. It was my community college professor who inspired me to pursue my major in the environmental field, and now that I have graduated from UC Berkeley, I feel ready to concentrate my studies specifically towards climate at Columbia.

With every new IPCC report that is released, it becomes increasingly clear to me that the climate crisis is the biggest challenge humanity has faced, and our response will determine the fate of our planet and all the species that live here. My interest in studying climate goes beyond my love for nature. Ultimately, it’s a response to the devastation that will result from a changing climate, and the inequal impacts it will have globally.

What drew you to the Climate and Society program specifically?

The Climate and Society program is unique in that it has an interdisciplinary approach to studying climate, which is exactly what I was looking for. I was pleased to see a top university open a school solely focused on the climate — the Columbia Climate School. It’s clear to me Columbia is taking this crisis seriously, and is ahead of the game here. This is exactly where I want to be; this is where innovation happens. The class cohort stems from a range of diverse backgrounds which is vital to gaining a holistic and effective response and understanding of the climate.

What are you most excited to learn about while you’re here?

Beyond the fundamental sciences that are necessary to fully understand the complexities of the climate, I am mostly excited to learn about the processes required to turn thought into action. By that I mean how can we turn our research into substantive policies. American politics has become fractious and increasingly convoluted, and learning to navigate that terrain is vital to implementing positive change.

How does the program align with your career goals?

I aspire to work in climate policy, either as a policy analyst for the government or at an NGO think tank to perform research and advocacy. This program couldn’t prepare me better for that. I will gain a dynamic scientific and mathematical background in climate, and the skills to pragmatically convey it to decision makers. We will be conducting research and collaborating with other students, professors, and organizations. This is exactly why I wanted to be part of an interdisciplinary climate program.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just how surreal it feels to have this amazing opportunity to pursue my passions and have the chance to be part of the solution. My acceptance at Columbia Climate School has been ineffable and I cannot wait to start this new chapter of my life in New York.

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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