New Undergraduate Special Concentration in Sustainable Development

New Undergraduate Special Concentration in Sustainable Development

September 5, 2007

The new Special Concentration in Sustainable Development for undergraduates launches this fall. The program has been developed by the Earth Institute in collaboration with Columbia College, the School of General Studies and the Departments of Earth and Environmental Science, Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, International and Public Affairs and Earth and Environmental Engineering. The program is available to students from Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of General Studies. The curriculum consists of nine courses and one practicum designed to allow students to draw upon classes from numerous departments in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the theory and practice of sustainable development and to imagine and create alternative futures for our rapidly changing world.

“This exciting new Special Concentration in Sustainable Development provides students with the opportunity to delve more deeply into an area of study which appears to be more and more important with each passing day,” said Kathryn Yatrakis, Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Dean of Columbia College. “Its multidisciplinary structure, well-suited to a liberal arts program, offers students the opportunity to integrate the study of Sustainable Development with their many other fields of intellectual interest. I expect there to be a good deal of interest in this program.”

Within the curriculum will be two brand new courses offered exclusively to students enrolled in the special concentration. The first of these courses, Science of Sustainable Development, is designed to cover the elements of natural sciences necessary for students to gain an appreciation for the field of sustainable development and as a base for choosing more in-depth courses in one or more of the natural sciences. The second course, a client-based sustainable development workshop, will focus primarily on methods of applied policy analysis.

“We are really pleased with the amount of interest being expressed by the undergraduate students we have met so far,” said Interim Concentration Director Kevin Griffin. “There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the program, and I think that the students are really looking forward to being part of something that is completely new, not only to Columbia, but also to the study of sustainable development.”

At the Columbia University Academic Resources Fair held on August 30th, dozens of students expressed interest in the program and had the opportunity to speak with Interim Concentration Director Kevin Griffin, Louise Rosen, Director of the Earth Institute’s Office of Academic and Research Programs, and Amanda McIntosh, an Earth Institute program manager. Approximately 75 students have already expressed interest in the program. These students and others will have the opportunity to learn more about the Earth Institute and the special concentration by participating in various undergraduate-targeted programming events sponsored by the university throughout the semester, including an Earth Institute student advisory council, brown bag presentations and student information sessions. The Earth Institute will be sponsoring two orientations specifically for students interested in the special concentration; these will be held on September 6th at noon in 218 Schermerhorn, and September 10th at 5pm in 417 Schermerhorn.

For more information on the Special Concentration in Sustainable Development, please contact Amanda McIntosh at or 212.854.8177.