The Earth Institute

The Earth Institute
The Earth Institute
Type Non-profit
Founded 1995
Headquarters New York, New York
Key people Jeffrey Sachs,

The Earth Institute was established at Columbia University in 1995. The research institute's stated mission is to address complex issues facing the planet and its inhabitants, with particular focus on sustainable development and the needs of the world's poor. The Earth Institute's activities are guided by the idea that science and technological tools that already exist could be applied to greatly improve conditions for the world's poor, while preserving the natural systems that support life on Earth.



Under the direction of international economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Earth Institute supports pioneering projects in the biological, engineering, social, and health sciences, while actively encouraging interdisciplinary projects—often combining natural and social sciences—in pursuit of solutions to real world problems.

Sachs also serves as Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and is head of the United Nations Millennium Project. Earth Institute faculty lead several MDG task forces and are using MDG goals to shape their own research agendas.

In its work, the Earth Institute remains mindful of the staggering disparities between rich and poor nations, and the tremendous impact that global-scale problems—such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, climate change and extreme poverty—have on all nations.

Some Earth Institute critics claim that it presents solutions from leftist worldview, espousing European-style democratic-socialist taxation and spending policies[citation needed]. Some critics also claim it uncritically supports drastic policies to arrest global warming and other 'climate change' impacts without sufficient consideration of contrary scientific and economic research[citation needed].

Research Units

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory was established in 1949 and is a world-class research institution specializing in the Earth sciences. LDEO conducts research on all aspects of the planet both above and below ground, on land and sea, with topics that include earthquakes, volcanoes, global climate change, resources, and environmental hazards. The current interim director of Lamont is Art Lerner-Lam.

Columbia Water Center (CWC)

The Columbia Water Center was founded in 2008 and is looking into the assessment, understanding and resolution of the global crisis of water scarcity. The Center aims to design reliable, sustainable models of water management and development that can be implemented on local, regional and global levels.[1] The Columbia Water Center conducts projects both domestically and internationally, with projects currently underway in India, Mali, Brazil, and China. The current director of CWC is Upmanu Lall.

Center for Rivers and Estuaries

The Center for River and Estuaries is focused on the better understanding of rivers and estuaries worldwide. This includes the distribution, transport, and flux of contaminants, sediments, nutrients, organic material, carbon, and aerosols. The center also studies the evolution and linkage of marshes and wetlands.[2]

The Center is divided into three main areas of research:[3] maintenance of the Hudson River and New York Harbor, finding solutions to use the water system without harming the ecosystems of the watershed, and maintaining the diverse estuary fisheries for commercial and recreational use.

Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR)

The Center for Climate Systems Research was established in 1994 to promote interdisciplinary research in Earth and climate systems for both the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia. CCSR seeks a greater understanding of climate sensitivity and variability including the force and feedback mechanisms that influence climate, particularly with regard to how this can impact humanity and environmental stability. Its current director is Leonard Druyan.

Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC)

The Center for Environmental Research and Conservation was established in 1994 and is a consortium of 5 scientific institutions: Columbia University, the American Museum of Natural History, The New York Botanical Garden, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Wildlife Trust. CERC supports leadership to solve complex environmental problems and aims to promote biological diversity and environmental sustainability. Its current directors are Nancy Degnan and Shahid Naeem.

The Earth Engineering Center (EEC)

The Earth Engineering Center was established in 1996 and serves as the principal engineering unit of the Earth Institute. The EEC aims to find solutions to achieve sustainable development of Earth's resources including water, energy, minerals, materials, and the environment at large. It includes over 20 members of the Engineering School faculty at Columbia and specialists from other Columbia schools as well as environmental organizations and other universities. The EEC is a part of the Henry Krumb School of Mines and linked to the earth and environmental engineering department. Its current director is Professor Nickolas Themelis.

Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy (LCSE)

The Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy seeks to develop both the technology and institutions necessary to create a sufficient supply of environmentally sustainable energy. To that end, the Center promotes research in the science and engineering of energy and policy across Columbia with the goal of developing technical and policy solutions that meet global energy demands without harming natural systems. Lenfest currently has 4 working groups: Nuclear Energy, Advanced Fossil Fuels and Carbon Management, Solar Energy, and Scales and Systems.[4]. The current director is Klaus Lackner.

The Center for Global Health and Economic Development (CGHED)

The Center for Global Health and Economic Development is a joint effort between the Mailman School of Public Health and the Earth Institute that seeks to address issues of global health. CGHED partners with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and private donors to expand successful existing programs and develop new ones as well. The center focuses on many issues including AIDS, tuberculosis, gender equity, maternal mortality, reproductive health, environmental contamination such as arsenic, forced migration and human rights. Projects include the Access Project and the Millennium Villages Project. CGHED aims to develop the best health systems for the poor while promoting sustainable economic development to reach the Millennium Development Goals. The current director is Joanna Rubinstein.

The Center for National Health Development in Ethiopia (CNHDE)

The Center for National Health Development in Ethiopia (CNHDE) is a project that supports efforts to better the health and lives of Ethiopian people by working on a variety of programs to meet substantive public health goals in the state. The Center’s 4 main activities, designed to serve as a model for national health beyond Ethiopia’s borders, are: The Health Extension Program, The Millennium Development Goals for Ethiopia, The Millennium Village Project, and The Quick Impact Initiative. The director is Awash Teklehaimanot.

The Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development (CGSD)

The Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development is a research unit of The Earth Institute of Columbia University charged with managing social science activities.

The mission of CGSD is to apply social science approaches to international development problems. The center collaborates with the faculty of the social science departments of Columbia University and is primarily focused on interdisciplinary research and policy application. The center is operated on the principle that solutions must cross many disciplines because the problems do as well, including the environment, public health, disaster preparedness, and economic planning.

The Center for the Study of Science and Religion (CSSR)

The Center for the Study of Science and Religion is a collaborative forum designed to examine the issues "lying at the boundary of scientific and religious ways of comprehending the world."[5] CSSR works across disciplines and schools in an effort to have social scientists incorporate religion and rituals in the modeling and prediction of human behavior, particularly in the areas of social planning, research and policy. The director is Robert Pollack

The Center on Capitalism and Society

The Center on Capitalism and Society seeks to determine the means by which a country can successfully achieve economic success through its ability to generate and develop sound commercial ideas. The Center's work is based upon a theory of capitalism where entrepreneurs and financiers are the key actors and the discovery of viable ideas is the essential activity. The director is Professor of Economics and Nobel-Laureate Edmund Phelps.

The Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD)

The Center for Sustainable Urban Development was established in 2004 by the Volvo Research and Education Foundations and seeks the creation of sustainable cities, both physically and socially. The center's first project was to develop land use and transport planning in developing countries that promote sustainable growth. The director is Elliott Sclar.

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network was established in 1989 as an independent NGO to research the interaction between man and the environment. CIESIN provides a large amount of data and information about the Earth to meet the needs of both scientists and decision makers by means of education, consultation, and training. The Center is focused on applying modern information technology towards many research problems to meet this goal. In 1998, CIESIN was moved under the Earth Institute. Offices are located at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus. The current director is Bob Chen.

International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society was established in 1996 and became part of the Earth Institute in 2005.[6] The IRI's mission is to enhance society's capability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of climate in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. The IRI conducts this mission through strategic and applied research, education, capacity building, and by providing forecasts and information products, with an emphasis on practical and verifiable utility and partnership. Its director is Steve Zebiak.

The Center for Hazards and Risk Research (CHRR)

The Center for Hazards and Risk Research is focused on hazard assessment and risk management by advancing predictive capability and integrating core sciences to that effort. Physical and social scientists work to reduce impacts on society from hazards, both natural and man-made. Its director is Art Lerner-Lam.

The Urban Design Lab

The Urban Design Lab offers a unique approach to helping communities identify their needs and choose the strategies that best address those needs. This approach is driven by applied design research – including conceptualizing and prototyping alternatives – that can act as a catalyst for projects that advance sustainable development in New York City and the metropolitan region.

Partnership Institutions

The Black Rock Forest Consortium

The Black Rock Forest Consortium is a collection of universities, schools, and institutions that operate the 3,750-acre (15.2 km2) Black Rock Forest in the Hudson Highlands. The forest acts as a field station for research, education, and conservation. Its director is William Schuster.

Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED)

The Center for Research on Environmental Decisions was established under the National Science Foundation's Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU) program. CRED serves to research decision making under climate uncertainty and environmental risk. The Center's objectives include promoting scientific information and communication for a collective response to climate change and variability. CRED is also affiliated with the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). Its directors are Elke Weber and David Krantz.

Cooperative Institute for Climate Applications and Research (CICAR)

The Cooperative Institute for Climate Applications and Research formalizes a major collaborative relationship between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, (OAR) and Columbia University. CICAR research themes include modeling and prediction of climate variability and change, collection and analysis of Paleoclimate data, and providing information for decision makers in topics that include water resources, agriculture, health, and policy. Its director is Yochanan Kushnir.

Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)

The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies was established in 1961 as the Goddard Space Flight Center Institute. It is a component laboratory of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Earth-Sun Exploration Division. Current research at GISS emphasizes a broad study of global climate change. Goals include basic research in space sciences in support of Goddard programs. Its director is James E. Hansen.

Laboratory of Populations

The Laboratory of Populations is a joint venture between Rockefeller University and Columbia that researches populations and their changes, including the spread of disease and social structures. Sciences used to that effort include demography, epidemiology, and statistical modeling to best measure the various changes in populations that are always in flux. Its director is Joel Cohen.

Global Coalition Against Pneumonia

The Earth Institute is a member of the Global Coalition Against Pneumonia and supports World Pneumonia Day on November 2, 2009[7].

See also


  1. ^ "Columbia Water Center". 
  2. ^ "The Center for Rivers and Estuaries". 
  3. ^ "The Earth Institute at Columbia University Disciplines". Archived from the original on 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  4. ^ "The Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy - Working Groups". 
  5. ^ "The Earth Institute at Columbia University - Disciplines". 
  6. ^ "The IRI Becomes The International Research Institute for Climate and Society -- The Earth Institute at Columbia University". Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  7. ^, Global Fight Against #1 Killer of Children Welcomes The Earth Institute

External links

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