The Columbia Climate School is excited to welcome 100 new students to the MA in Climate and Society program this fall. 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 new cohort brings a diverse group of students from 24 countries with various professional and academic backgrounds.
State of the Planet is featuring interviews with several of these new students. Below, we speak with Dasom Shi, a professional in corporate sustainability with a deep passion for corporate impact and climate action.
Tell us about your background and how you found your way into the climate space.
When I was a kid, I had a dream to contribute to a better world. It was a bit wild, but I was pretty sincere about it. I even drafted a letter to the President about environmental issues—although I am not sure if I actually sent it. I’m hoping to keep translating that dream to reality through my work and by continuing my education journey. I joined Samsung Electronics to contribute to society through corporate impact, and have been working here for almost 12 years. My corporate career began in the mobile business unit and I eventually transitioned to the Sustainability Center, where I could make a greater impact on the world. Working directly on sustainability has opened my eyes to the urgency and seriousness of climate issues. I want to gain a deeper understanding of climate issues and help companies make an impact on climate change.
What drew you to the Climate and Society program, and what do you hope to gain from the program?
I wanted to study in the United States, where there is a heavy emphasis on technological innovation and global business. This program stood out to me because it was run by the first climate school in the nation. My goal is to focus specifically on climate challenges and innovations in sustainability and I thought it would be a good fit. I also liked that it is an interdisciplinary program. I think the multidisciplinary set of knowledge will be a great help in applying what I’ve already learned in the field. What I hope to gain most from this program is climate literacy. I want to be able to interpret climate issues, analyze risks, and understand societal impacts on my own, and I want to be able to bring a new perspective to help solve climate problems.
Which classes are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to “Dynamics of Climate Variability and Climate Change,” and “Quantitative Methods for Climate Applications.” These courses focus on understanding and interpreting climate systems, which is a very important skill to me and a key component of climate literacy that I can bring back with me to the field.
What do you envision as your future role in solving the climate crisis?
I think we can’t truly tackle the challenges brought by climate change in a capitalist society if corporations don’t actively participate. My goal is to continue to bridge this gap in organizations to proactively move forward on climate action. My experience while working for 10 years in the business space and as a corporate sustainability manager, along with the knowledge I will learn in the Climate and Society program, will create a synergy and prepare me as I continue my work in the climate and sustainability sector.
What are you working on this summer?
First of all, I’m wrapping up my current projects. I’ve been leading Samsung’s collaboration with Patagonia to launch products that reduce microplastics in the ocean. One of the initiatives recently launched was the Less Microfiber Filter. It filters out up to 98% of the microfibers released during the washing process. Launching this product to market has been extremely rewarding. In addition, I will be transitioning with my family to New York City, which is very exciting. It’s my first experience living in the US. I look forward to the changes ahead and beginning my academic journey at Columbia Climate School.
Anything you’d like to add?
I am looking forward to meeting a variety of colleagues who are serious about climate, both through the program and the Climate School and in New York City (which is also hosting NYC Climate Week!). There’s a Korean proverb that says “two heads are better than one.” Climate change is a huge problem, but I believe that if we all put our heads together and really think about it, we can take a step forward.