Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date Aug. 29, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Columbia University
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Alison Miller
Deputy Executive Director
Earth Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Earth Institute offers a wide array of support for research opportunities to students in order to achieve a sustainable research and knowledge base. Students are given many options for study and research programs, including undergraduate research assistantships, travel grants, and the Earth Institute Internship program. We encourage students to share their work with their peers and present it at different conferences throughout the year. In addition to directly supporting research and holding the conferences, the Earth Institute offers a variety of student resources, including listings of funding opportunities, student groups and organizations, related coursework and recent news. Some of these programs are described below.

Research Assistant Program:
During Fall and Spring semesters, the Earth Institute sponsors undergraduate research assistantships, giving Columbia and Barnard students a valuable chance to participate in projects involving sustainability, development economics, Earth sciences, ecology, atmospheric research, and environmental policy. Students will work directly with faculty on current research projects, on a part-time basis. The program aims to give students a valuable chance to collaborate on substantive matters of inquiry.

Internship Program:
The Earth Institute sponsors internships in its research departments and centers for both undergraduate and graduate students from Columbia University and Barnard College year-round. Part-time internships are offered during the Fall and Spring semesters, while full-time positions are offered through the summer. Internships are a wonderful opportunity for both students and their host departments, offering students invaluable exposure to EI research and operations and offering EI departments the contributions of bright and dynamic CU students.

Travel Grant Program:
Each year, the Earth Institute allocates funding to support travel by students matriculated in Columbia University degree programs engaged in research projects dealing with issues of sustainable development and/or environmental protection. This travel is for projects directly related to degree studies at Columbia University. The maximum travel grant award is $750 per person, and students must use this to cover the cost of their travel for research they are conducting to meet specific degree requirements.

Earth Institute Student Research Showcase:
Each year, the Earth Institute brings together student interns, research assistants and travel grant recipients at the Earth Institute Student Research Conference. All of the research projects involved students who are currently studying under an academic program affiliated with the Earth Institute or have received funding through a travel grant, internship, or research assistantship from the Earth Institute.

Millennium Villages Student Internships
The Millennium Villages project, the groundbreaking collaboration between the Earth Institute, Columbia University, Millennium Promise and the United Nations Development Programme, allows a small number of students each year to assist project personnel with various interventions designed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa. Students can submit applications to assist with projects identified by Earth Institute personnel on site and in New York. The Millennium Villages Internships provide an excellent opportunity for students to learn about implementing public health, business development, agriculture, infrastructure, and other development interventions through firsthand participation. Students will be placed in one of the fourteen (14) sites in ten (10) countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Interns provide assistance to the MVP teams overseeing the interventions. In addition, students will gain knowledge, tools, skills, and experiences that they can apply to their coursework/thesis project as well as to their future professional pursuits. Students have a rewarding and challenging experience and make a genuine contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa.


Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Columbia has several sustainable/environmentally focused research centers in which the Faculty is encouraged to conduct collaborative, cross-disciplinary sustainability research. As a research University, it is expected of all full-time faculty members to engage in research. Further, the Earth Institute provides opportunities (fellowships, grant funding, travel funding, student research assistantships, etc.) for faculty to engage in cross-disciplinary work focused on sustainability. Further, the existence of the Earth Institute itself, a community of faculty from different disciplines, encourages faculty to participate in research. The faculty is encouraged by staff support for proposals and workshops, community-building events and other activities designed to bring faculty together around key issues of global sustainability.

The Cross-Cutting Initiative (CCI), an internal grant program, aims to facilitate studies of complex problems in the field of sustainable development that require bridging disciplines. The CCI strives to achieve new insights into intrinsically cross-disciplinary problems and to enable solution-oriented outcomes. The Earth Institute’s Cross-Cutting Initiative (CCI) is one of the initiatives largely responsible for shaping these core research activities. Through the allocation of seed funding through the CCI, Earth Institute scholars are able to apply their expertise to theme-driven research in response to complex global challenges. The CCI aims to establish new methods for bridging disciplines to enable scientists from different fields to achieve new insights into intrinsically cross-disciplinary problems and work toward practical solutions (leading to work in the Earth Clinic).

The Marie Tharp Fellowship is awarded to outstanding women scientists. The three-month fellowship can be taken at any of the research units or departments affiliated with the Earth Institute. Typically two to three fellowships are awarded per year. These prestigious fellowships are awarded to earth scientists outside of Columbia University to collaborate with researchers at Columbia.

Each year, the Office of the EVP for Research sponsors a competition for Research Initiatives for Science and Engineering (RISE) funding. These seed monies enable researchers to initiate a project to test a theory in development or a novel idea in order to gather the data necessary to then secure external funding. Interdisciplinary projects are favored. These formal announcements are sent via email to the University community and contain the details on proposal submission, availability of funds, eligibility, and deadlines.

Columbia Technology Ventures
CTV facilitates the translation of academic research into practical applications, for the benefit of society on a local, national and global basis. CTV supports research, education, and teaching at Columbia by generating funding for the University and facilitating partnerships with industry where appropriate. It also educates and serves as a resource for the Columbia community on matters relating to entrepreneurship, intellectual property, and technology commercialization. Many projects have an environmental, energy, and agricultural focus, for a full listing go to http://techventures.columbia.edu/technologies/technologies.


Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Executive Vice President for Research, reporting directly to the President of the University, has overall responsibility for the University's research enterprise, encompassing a broad spectrum of research departments, institutes and centers in the natural and biomedical sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research works to foster the continuation of those creative endeavors and to promote an environment that sustains the highest standards of scholarship, health, and safety. The Office establishes and administers the policies governing the conduct of research at the University and oversees the management of its research programs. It also assists investigators seeking external funding, promotes interdisciplinary research and awards seed money for early-stage investigations.

Columbia highly values interdisciplinary research, and promotes joint appointments, Columbia's Northwest Corner building and new Jerome L. Greene Mind Brain Behavior building are both designed explicitly for interdisciplinary research that crosses departmental, school and campus boundaries.

The University also developed a set of guidelines for appointment and promotion of "practice-oriented" scholars, for which many fit into the interdisciplinary research fields. The Earth Institute uses these guidelines when reviewing scholars whose work may be interdisciplinary and/or more applied than traditional departments and disciplines typically experience.

Additional URL regarding interdisciplinary research: http://news.columbia.edu/nwcorner

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Columbia University Libraries / Information Services offers many ways to support research, from consultations with subject-specialist librarians, course-related instruction and workshops, and citation management software and expertise to research guides, online tutorials, and the vast collections and resources - including areas in sustainability. There is a specific 'Sustainability Research Guide' that includes journals, guides, statistics, and data related to sustainability.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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