Columbia University received a gold star rating as part of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. In May 2015, the Office of Environmental Stewardship convened a meeting of the first ever Sustainability Summit, to take action on sustainability planning at Columbia University and build a roadmap for the next three years as the University prepares for the next STARS submission.
The study of sustainability management and environmental policy is put to the test when applied to solving real world problems. Students in Columbia University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management and Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy programs presented their final capstone projects done for real clients.
Michael Puma considers what can happen when events such as long-lasting droughts or volcanic explosions interrupt production of these crops. He has begun to assess the fragility of the intricate network of trade relationships that move important basic food items across national borders.
On April 7, 2015, the Earth Institute hosted a panel event and reception on ‘Sustainability Policy: Progress and Opportunity.’ Over 170 students, faculty, and local professionals gathered in Low Library to hear a panel of experts speak about sustainability and the role of government. Panelists discussed local-level policy, the role of metrics, and what the future of sustainability requires.
Are you a Columbia or Barnard student seeking an internship for summer 2015? Are you interested in topics of sustainability and environmental policy? Apply to be an Administrative and Research intern in the Executive Director’s Office at the Earth Institute. Interns will provide research and editing support for reports, articles, case studies, and presentations, and administrative support as needed. Apply by April 27th!
We arrived in Kolkata, and filmed by the Hooghly River. While it is no longer the main channel of the Ganges, it is still the Holy Ganges and we saw a funeral procession spreading ashes of a loved one while filming there. Then a 5 hour trip by car, ferry, rickshaw and boat to the Indian Sundarbans. The mangrove forest here is undergoing more erosion and land loss than in Bangladesh, where more river sediments can replenish it. The water here is more saline and the trees are small. A tiger was spotted by another boat, but was gone when we got there.
In the small town of Kolasib, we stayed in Hotel Cloud 9. I had been told since I was a child that I was always off on Cloud 9 and now I was actually here. However, the electricity wasn’t for the first few hours, so showers were cold, but the dinner was hot.
Journalist Cheryl Philips described using publicly accessible records of infrastructure assessments done by the Department of Transportation in Washington State to map the most vulnerable bridges and to tell the story behind a bridge that collapsed, killing several people. John Bohannon of Science Magazine used iPython coding to send a fake journal article to close to 200 open access journals in a sting operation to uncover the lack of peer review of a clearly flawed article.
We finished our time in the Sundarbans with a silent boat ride in a tidal creek. The highlight was sets of fresh tiger footprints. We then had a long sail back to Dhaka with only one stop at a village. We then had a whirlwind tour of Old Dhaka with enough shopping to send the students back happy.
Leaving Hiron Point, we headed east through the Sundarbans to Kotka. At Kotka the students had walks through the forest seeing deer, wild boar and monkeys, while a smaller group also sampled near a set of 300 year old salt making kilns for OSL dating. We managed to finish while the tide inundated the site. We ended our day with a visit to an island that has recently emerged from the slain which the succession from bare sand to mangrove is visible.