Earth Institute

Science + Collaboration + Education + Impact = Sustainability

The Earth Institute Columbia University

Science + Collaboration + Education + Impact = Sustainability

The Earth Institute Columbia University

Columbia’s Earth Institute blends research in the physical and social sciences, education and practical solutions to help guide the world onto a path toward sustainability.

Science + Collaboration + Education + Impact = Sustainability

The world's population is expected to increase to nine billion by 2050. Human activity and the desire for economic improvement are straining the planet's resources, threatening the health of our environment and ability to thrive. Managing those pressures will require the best understanding of the Earth’s ecological and environmental systems, and an ongoing effort to bring that knowledge to bear on public and private policymaking.

The people who make up the Earth Institute are earth scientists, economists, business and policy experts, specialists in public health and law, researchers, teachers and students. The institute comprises more than two dozen research centers and several hundred people who collaborate across many disciplines and schools at the university.

Earth Institute

Two central ideas animated the creation of the Earth Institute two decades ago. The first was to promote basic understanding of earth system science, and the second was to apply that knowledge to decisions made by governments and businesses around the world. In the ensuing years, we have created a new kind of academic institution: a community of environmental scientists, social scientists, lawyers, policy and management analysts, health experts and engineers who collaborate across schools and disciplines. Today, the institute has become a world leader in the basic and applied knowledge required to achieve sustainability.

The key is not to focus on science, technology, engineering and math in a vacuum. These fields must be connected to creative arts, communication, law, management and policy analysis. The Earth Institute is trying to make those connections. It’s not easy to do, but I believe we are succeeding, and if we are to make the transition to a renewable resource-based economy, we need to develop decision processes and social systems that are rooted in scientific reality.

Ivo Valkenburg

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