MA in Climate and Society Students to Begin Summer Internships

MA in Climate and Society Students to Begin Summer Internships

As the academic year of 2007-2008 comes to a close, the fourth class of the MA in Climate and Society program are preparing for their summer internships. From Geneva to NYC, students will take the skills they have obtained over the past nine months and apply them to real-world problems caused by climate change. In total, the program has graduated 76 students from all over the world who go on to pursue careers in non-profit, public, and private organizations.

The MA Program in Climate and Society is a unique 12-month interdisciplinary Masters program that offers its students the opportunity to learn about climate science and policy from the physical and social science perspectives. Students take electives within various schools at Columbia, including public health, international affairs, and engineering in order to gain a better understanding of the nexus between climate change and its socioeconomic impacts. Having come to the program from a wide array of backgrounds, students continue to pursue internships in a multitude of disciplines. Through the summer internship program, which spans the last three months of the MA Program, students are able to apply their knowledge and gain experience on the ground.

Victoria Rosoff (CS ’08) will be a Finance Intern at Trickle Up, a nonprofit organization based in New York that provides business training and seed capital grants to help the extreme poor launch microenterprises. Trickle Up starts or expands more than 10,000 businesses every year. Victoria says, “My academic and professional experience in finance, now combined with climate science and development, was a unique background that fit in well with the organization and the internship position. At the interview, we spoke about the program and my classes, and the multidisciplinary approach of the Climate and Society program was certainly seen as an advantage.”

Sarah Abdelrahim (CS’08) and Lisette Braman (CS’08) will be using climatic forecasts to craft policy that will assist populations affected by climate change in Panama. The project is a collaboration between; the Water Center for Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC); the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), which is part of the Earth Institute. Lisette describes the project in more detail: “The first aspect of the internship is to synthesize climate monitoring information provided by CATHALAC (through NASA’s SERVIR program) with climate forecasts from the IRI.” SERVIR is a satellite visualization system that surveys the environment of Central America to improve agricultural practices and to help local officials respond more quickly to natural disasters.

Lisette continues, “Secondly, we will be conducting an assessment of the Red Cross to better understand their needs and the current challenges of incorporating climate forecasts into their decision-making processes. This analysis will provide the foundation for recommendations we will make to CATHALAC and IRI about how to make climate forecasting and monitoring tools more accessible and user-friendly to Red Cross field staff.”

There is a pressing need for professionals who understand the links between climate change and its socioeconomic impacts. The Columbia MA in Climate and Society trains professionals and academics to understand and cope with the impacts of climate variability and climate change on society and the environment.

Prospective students interested in learning about the MA in Climate and Society program are encouraged to contact Arezou Raeisghasem at 212-854-9896 or at for more information.

The following is a partial list of the wide array of organizations at which the Class of ’08 will be completing their summer internships:

  • The Carbon Tax Center, based in New York, is a non-profit, grassroots organization aiming to create a nation-wide discussion on emissions taxing, and provide a sense of community for Americans concerned with 21st century climate realities. (Intern, NYC)
  • The Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR), based in New York, focuses on the impact of climate variability on human and environmental stability. The CCSR provides interdisciplinary research for the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University. (Intern, NYC)
  • The Climate Group, based in London, researches how energy efficiency can be economically profitable and environmentally pragmatic in both the private and public sector. (Intern, NYC)
  • Coalition for Rainforest Nations, based in New York, aims to reconcile rainforest stewardship with economic development in forested and tropical regions by reforming international trade frameworks with market incentives. (Intern, NYC)
  • The Columbia Water Center, based in New York, serves as a focal point for The Earth Institute’s water-related projects, including: water security in Asia, sustainable development of water resources in Northern Ethiopia, and managing climate variability, water flow and ecological restoration in the Everglades. (Intern, NYC)
  • International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), based in Geneva, is a humanitarian organization that orchestrates relief assistance missions in response to global emergency situations (tsunamis, mass refugee flows, and epidemics), bringing medical, psychological and social support for injured individuals. Two students from the MA Program in Climate and Society will be based in Panama and Senegal to work on a joint project between the IFRC, CATHALAC and IRI. (Interns, Panama and Senegal)
  • International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at The Earth Institute, based in New York, researches how historic variability, real-time monitoring and seasonal forecasting can improve policy decisions in health and other sectors. (Interns, Panama and Senegal)
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, based in Albany, studies the effects of energy use, the advancement of environmentally-friendly technologies, the development of renewable resources, and aims to reduce New York’s petroleum consumption. (Intern, NYC)
  • Trickle Up, based in New York, is a nonprofit organization that provides business training and seed capital grants to help the extreme poor launch microenterprises. (Finance Intern, NYC)
  • The UN Environment Program Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, based in Geneva, aids areas of the world impacted by conflicts and natural disasters by promoting regional cooperation and conducting environmental assessments for crisis-affected countries. (Intern, Geneva, Switzerland)
  • The Water Center for Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC), based in Panama, promotes sustainable development through integrated water and environmental management and acts as a regional training facility for Central America, Mexico and Cuba. (Interns, Panama and Senegal)
  • World Resources Institute, based in Washington, D.C., is an environmental think tank that researches how a healthy environment and a healthy economy can peacefully coexist and provides public access to information and key decisions regarding the environment and natural resources. (Cynthia Helms Fellow, Washington, D.C.)