Adaptation Courses

A Better Planet By Design (E2100)
Instructor: Upmanu Lall, Yun Yip Ngai

Introduction to design for a sustainable planet. Scientific understanding of the challenges. Innovative technologies for water, energy, food, materials provision. Multiscale modeling and conceptual framework for understanding environmental, resource, human, ecological and economic impacts and design performance evaluation. Focus on the linkages between planetary, regional and urban water, energy, mineral, food, climate, economic and ecological cycles. Solution strategies for developed and developing country settings.

Advanced Climate Change Law (L8451)
Instructor: Michael Gerrard

This seminar examines cutting-edge U.S. and international issues in the regulation of climate change. The topics vary from year to year, but they are likely to include: legal techniques to restrict land uses in areas that are especially vulnerable to climate impacts; displacement and relocation of populations as a result of climate change; the legal status of small island nations whose existence is threatened by climate change; new developments in carbon markets; the prospect for alternative approaches to reaching international agreements on climate change; novel forms of electricity regulation that reduce greenhouse gases; and options available for domestic climate regulation in the absence of Congressional action.

Air Pollution Prevention and Control (E4150)
Instructor: Vasilis Fthenakis

Adverse effects of air pollution, sources and transport media, monitoring and modeling of air quality, collection and treatment techniques, pollution prevention through waste minimalization and clean technologies, laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines.

Applications in Climate & Society (W4407)
Instructor: Brian Kahn, Andrew J Kruszkiewicz

This seminar is focused on practical applications of climate information and research. The objective of the course is to teach students to integrate their understanding of climate science, social science, policy studies, and communications to address real world problems, especially those they will encounter in academia or on the job after graduation.

The Business of Climate Change (B8448)
Instructors: Patrick Bolton, Geoffrey M. Heal, Kent Daniel

This course will provide a framework for thinking about climate change and its consequences for business. The perspective taken will be that of senior executives or CEOs in industries affected by climate change. The course is intended for students who are interested in consulting careers, who are likely to encounter these issues as they move between companies and industries. It is also relevant for students interested in corporate strategy, which in many cases will be affected by the issues in the course.

Challenges of Sustainable Development (UN2300)
Instructor: Jason Chun Yu Wong, Maron Greenleaf

This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of sustainable development, drawing on the most recent developments in social and physical sciences. The course describes the interactions between physical ecology and economic development, and it stresses the ways in which they impact each other. Ecological constraints (climate, disease ecology, physical resources such as soils and energy sources, topography and transport conditions) significantly shape the patterns of economic development, demography, and wealth and poverty.

Cities in Developing Countries (UN3565)
Instructor: Sevin Yildiz

Examination of cities in developing countries, with a focus on environment, employment, and housing. Four cases will be studied: Sao Paulo, Brazil; Johannesburg, South Africa; Bombay, India; and Shanghai, China. We will consider urbanization patterns and the attendant issues, the impact of global economic trends, and governmental and non-governmental responses.

Climate Adaptation Resilience Finance (U6262)
Instructor: Jay Koh

This course focuses on the challenges to climate adaptation and resilience investment, specifically focusing on the current state of public and private adaptation finance flows, issues in measurement and metrics of physical climate risk, the limited number of practical investments, and the potential for new instruments and investments going forward.  Students will be exposed to an overview of the climate change adaptation and resilience challenge, the current state of finance flows, a range of metrics and measurement strategies to assessing physical climate change risk and approaches to regulation, disclosure and investment.

Climate Change and Law (UN3355)
Instructor: Michael Gerrard

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad introduction to the field of climate law in the United States and at the international level. The roles of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, carbon capture and sequestration, and forestry and agriculture each receive close attention. Implications for international human rights, international trade, environmental justice, and international and intergenerational equity are discussed.

Climate Change/ Global Migration/ Human Rights (BC3932)
Instructor: John Salyer

While the existence of processes of anthropogenic climate change is well established, predictions regarding the future consequences of these processes are far less certain. In no area is the uncertainty regarding near and long term effects as pronounced as in the question of how climate change will affect global migration. This course will address the issue of climate migration in four ways.

Climate Change: Israel and the Middle East (U6231)
Instructor: Dan Rabinowitz

This course assumes that climate change and post-normal climate conditions will play a central role in shaping the future of Israel and the Middle East. Cognizant of climate (in)justice, it examines impending climate related vulnerabilities and challenges; looks at their social, economic and political consequences; raises questions regarding the mitigation vs. adaptation conundrum; then looks at policy tools and technologies that might facilitate adaptation.

Climate Change Law and Policy (L6038)
Instructor: Michael Gerrard

This course concerns the issues of law and policy that are involved in the regulation of climate change. Most of the course concerns U.S. law but a considerable amount of international law is studied as well. Adaptation to climate change and geo-engineering are examined as well.

Climate Finance/ Carbon Finance (B8363-001)
Instructors: Bruce Usher

This course will explore the science of climate change and its related economic and environmental impacts, and carefully examine the financial tools and techniques that can be applied to combat climate change in the context of evolving global policy. Specific areas to be covered include the use of capital markets to create market-based emissions trading systems, venture capital to develop low emissions technologies, project finance to build clean energy projects, and corporate finance to manage businesses impacted by climate change and ultimately, related regulatory changes.

Climatology (U6115)
Instructor: A. Park Williams

This course assumes that climate change and post-normal climate conditions will play a central role in shaping the future of Israel and the Middle East. Cognizant of climate (in)justice, it examines impending climate related vulnerabilities and challenges; looks at their social, economic and political consequences; raises questions regarding the mitigation vs. adaptation conundrum; then looks at policy tools and technologies that might facilitate adaptation.

Disaster Risk Management and Sustainable Urban Resilience (K4330)
Instructor: Klaus Jacob

Sustainable resilience is understood here as measures, both physical and social, that not only serve present but also future generations equitably, i.e. current resilience measures must not create undue liabilities for future generations. The course provides a conceptual framework that should allow students to develop and include policies into their future professional activities with the aim to minimize the exposure of people or entire populations to disasters and foster the populations’ sustained disaster resilience.

Disasters and Development (UN3360)
Instructor: John Mutter

This course offers undergraduate students, for the first time, a comprehensive course on the link between natural disaster events and human development at all levels of welfare. It explores the role that natural disasters might have and have had in modulating development prospects. Any student seriously interested in sustainable development, especially in light of climate change, must study the nature of extreme events – their causes, global distribution and likelihood of future change. This course will cover not only the nature of extreme events, including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and droughts but also their transformation into disaster through social processes. It will ultimately help students to understand the link between such extreme events, the economic/social shock they represent and development outcomes. The course will combine careful analysis of the natural and social systems dynamics that give rise to disasters and examine through group learning case studies from the many disasters that have occurred in the first decade of the 21st century.

Dynamics of Climate Variability and Climate Change (GU4400)
Instructor: Simon Mason, Alessandra Giannini

An overview of how the climate system works on large scales of space and time, with particular attention to the science and methods underlying forecasts of climate variability and climate change.

Earth’s Climate System (PS5230)
Instructor: Benjamin Cook

This course examines the fundamental physical processes that control the primary features and patterns of variability of the Earth’s climate system. Specific topics include energy balance and the greenhouse effect, the circulation of the oceans and atmosphere, land surface interactions and feedbacks, the role of the biosphere and cryosphere, paleoclimatology, climate modeling, and global and regional patterns of climate variability and change observed and expected as a consequence of anthropogenic influences.

Earth Institute Practicum (PS4734)
Instructor: Arthur L Lerner Lam

This elective course highlights the way the mission of the Earth Institute is fulfilled through its different centers and programs. With 850 scientists, postdoctoral fellows and students working in and across more than 30 Columbia University research centers and programs, the Earth Institute is helping to advance nine interconnected global issues: water; climate and society; energy; urbanization; hazards and risk; global health; poverty; ecosystems health and monitoring; and food, ecology and nutrition.

Energy Analysis for Energy Efficiency (PS5135)
Instructor: Lucas Falk

Best practice in energy management will always involve some level of complex engineering to survey existing conditions and predict energy savings from various improvement options. Sustainability managers need to understand how to manage and quality control that analysis and to translate the opportunity it reveals to decision makers within their organization. This class seeks to empower students to do that by providing an understanding of building systems and methods for quantitatively analyzing the performance of alternatives.

Energy and Sustainable Development (PS5150)
Instructor: Philip Larocco

This course explores the tension and ambiguity that characterizes energy and development issues in the world’s most marginal markets; the inadequacies of “business-as-usual” energy planning and implementation in these markets; and, the potential of non-traditional energy businesses, projects and programs to reach beyond “business as usual” approaches. It mixes the topics of cleaner energy production & use, energy efficiency & waste reduction and energy access & energy poverty in a way that points participants to a different framework for analyzing options to combat climate change, reduce waste and reach un-served and under-served populations.

Energy Law (UN3366)
Instructor: Michael Gerrard

This course concerns the regulation of energy, energy resources, and energy facilities. Among the topics will be the regulation of rates and services; the roles of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state public utility commissions; and the interaction with environmental law. Attention will be devoted to energy resources (such as oil, natural gas and coal) and to generating, transmission and distribution facilities. The current and future roles of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and nuclear energy will receive special attention, as will the regulation and deregulation of electricity.

Energy Policy (U6242)
Instructor: Jason Bordoff

The course provides a survey and analysis of the various dimensions, domestic and international, of policy formulation that, taken together, constitute energy policy. These dimensions include contributing to access to and production of natural energy resources; insuring the security and reliability of energy sources; promoting the diversity of fuels and development of new  technologies in light of energy security and climate change mitigation objectives; promoting energy conservation and energy efficiency; environmental regulation at the domestic (air and water quality) and global (climate) levels.

Environmental Control and Pollution Reduction Systems (E3255)
Instructor: Robert Farrauto

Review of engineered systems for prevention and control of pollution. Fundamentals of material and energy balances and reaction kinetics. Analysis of engineered systems to address environmental problems, including solid and hazardous waste, and air, water, soil and noise pollution. Life cycle assessments and emerging technologies.

Environmental Finance (U6238)
Instructor: Urvashi Kaul

This course covers the theory and practice of Environmental Finance. The course is divided into three segments; first will cover how environmental commodity markets work and how markets can be used to regulate polluting industries. The second segment covers the financing of environmental projects. The last segment will cover investing in environmental markets, and socially responsible investing.

Environmental Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities (PS5690)
Instructor: Carter Strickland

This course is designed to create the leaders of tomorrow who will overcome these challenges and build our sustainable cities. Using case studies of “environmental infrastructure” – public water, transportation, freight, parks, resiliency, solid waste, and energy infrastructure – this course covers the project life cycle from planning to asset management and provides the foundation needed for to design and deliver infrastructure services and build cities.

Environmental Justice (P8645)
Instructor: Theresa McGovern

Environmental Policy and Governance (UN2050)
Instructor: Lisa Dale

An overview course, Environmental Policy & Governance will focus specifically on the policy elements of sustainability. With an emphasis on the American political system, the course will begin by exploring the way the American bureaucracy addresses environmental challenges. You will then use the foundations established through your understanding of the US system to study sustainable governance at the international level. With both US and international perspectives in place, you will then address a range of specific sustainability issues including land use, climate change, food and agriculture, air quality, water quality, and energy. Over the course of the semester, you will study current events through the lens of sustainability policy to help illustrate course concepts and theories.

Financing the Clean Energy Economy (K4197)
Instructor: Curtis Probst

After taking this course, you will have a better understanding of the major opportunities and challenges affecting the emergence of clean energy technologies. Appreciating these issues should prepare you to pursue further scholarship in related areas, and equip you with an understanding of the dynamics and players that will serve you well as you pursue work professionally in the clean energy finance industry, or in related commercial, governmental, and not-for-profit organizations.

Global Cities & Climate Change (A6804)
Instructor: Michael Kimmelman

Climate change and urbanization are perhaps the two most powerful forces reshaping life on earth in the 21st century. Here in the United States, those forces have contributed profoundly to the gaping, dangerous divide the recent election revealed between cities and the countryside, rich and poor, diversity and isolationism. Worldwide, climate change has contributed to an age of unprecedented migration, the consequence of political, economic and environmental forces that have displaced some 65 million people, more than at any time in recent history. This means we need to look at cities from varied perspectives, question what have become standard “solutions,” think of plans that address not only climate resilience but also social and economic resilience, because in the end they need each other, or else there can be chaos.

Global Energy Policy (U6061)
Instructor: Manuel Pinho

Brief review of energy balance fundamentals. World energy outlook. Key uncertainties. Resource revolution. Energy efficiency, the hidden fuel. Electricity systems. Architecture of electricity markets. Thermal generation. Renewable energies. Learning curves. LCOE´s. Oil market: demand and supply, reserves, conventional and unconventional oil, energy from America, prices. Natural gas market: demand and supply, reserves, differences relative to oil markets. Resources to reserves: oil and natural gas. The renewable energies opportunity. Earth energy balance. Economics of climate change. Emissions scenarios. International climate negotiations.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Measuring and Minimizing Carbon Footprint
Instructor: Jonathan Dickinson

This course will introduce many of the challenges facing carbon accounting practitioners, and will require students to recommend solutions to these challenges derived through critical analysis. Classes will examine current examples of greenhouse gas reporting efforts and will allow students the opportunity to recommend improved calculation and reporting methods.

Human Populations and Sustainable Development (UN3400)
Instructor: Susana Adamo

This course will introduce students to the scientific study of human populations as a contribution toward understanding social structure, relations, and dynamics, as well as society-nature interactions. The course will cover the issues of population size, distribution and composition, and consumption, at different scales from global to regional to local, as well as the implications for population-environment relationships. It will also address the fundamental demographic processes of mortality, fertility and migration, including their trends and transitions. Classes will include an overview of basic demographic techniques and tools used for identifying, managing, analyzing and interpreting population data, and an introduction to population projections.

Introduction to Carbon Management (E4300)
Instructor: Peter Schlosser

Introduction to natural and anthropogenic carbon cycle, and carbon & climate. Rationale and need to manage carbon and tools with which to do so (basic science, psychology, economics and policy background, negotiations & society; emphasis on interdisciplinary and inter-dependent approach). Simple carbon emission model to estimate the impacts of a specific intervention with regards to national, per capita and global emissions.

Introduction to Environmental Law (UN2000)
Instructor: Philip Weinberg

The course provides an overview of environmental law for students without a legal background. It examines U.S. statutes and regulations regarding air, water, hazardous and toxic materials, land use, climate change, endangered species, and the like, as well as international environmental issues. After completing the course students should be equipped to understand how the environmental laws operate, the role of the courts, international treaties and government agencies in implementing environmental protection, and techniques used in addressing these issues.

Management & Development of Water Systems (W4100)
Instructor: Pierre Gentine

Decision analytic framework for operating, managing, and planning water systems, considering changing climate, values and needs. Public and private sector models explored through US-international case studies on topics ranging from integrated watershed management to the analysis of specific projects for flood mitigation, water and wastewater treatment, or distribution system evaluation and improvement.

Planning and Management of Urban Hydrologic Systems (E4350)
Instructor: Eric A Rosenberg

Introduction to runoff and drainage systems in an urban setting, including hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, flow and water quality monitoring, common regulatory issues, and mathematical modeling. Applications to problems of climate variation, land use changes, infrastructure operation and receiving water quality, developed using statistical packages, public-domain models, and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Emphasis on the unique technical, regulatory, fiscal, policy, and other interdisciplinary issues that pose a challenge to effective planning and management of urban hydrologic systems.

Practicum: Planning and Projects in Global Cities (Pla6581-1)
Instructor: Adam Lubinsky

Practicum in Innovative Sustainability Leadership (K4310)
Instructor: George Sarrinikolaou

Through weekly guest lectures, students will learn how practitioners from a wide array of organizations deal with real world constraints to improve environmental performance in their organizations. The lectures, along with readings and assignments, will further develop the students’ understanding and critical thinking about the management tools and strategies that they, themselves, can use to integrating sustainability in organizations and managing environmental risk.

Public Health Impacts of Climate Change (P8304)
Instructor: Jeffrey Shaman

The overall objective this course is to lay a foundation for this cross-disciplinary perspective by engaging graduate students drawn from across the University in topical lectures, group exercises and discussions built around the emerging knowledge base on the public health dimensions of climate change.

Science of Sustainable Water (K4145)
Instructor: Wade McGillis

Students are able to identify about the connections between environmental inputs (i.e. natural resources) and outputs (i.e. energy), and their effects on the natural environment. The emphasis in this requirement will be on assessing the environmental impacts from organizational activities. The planning, design or architecture courses give students a foundation in planning, design and spatial issues. This is particularly important, as many sustainability initiatives concern land use, buildings and other physical entities.

Science of Urban Ecology (K4235)
Instructor: Amy Karpati

This course facilitates learning about 1) basic principles related to ecological interactions of life on Earth, 2) the causes and consequences of biological patterns and processes in urban environments, and 3) how ecology can inform land use decisions and applied management strategies of natural resources (e.g. water, air, biodiversity), particularly in urban environments.

Solar Project Development (K5650)
Instructor: Dan Giuffrida

At the end of this course, students will be prepared to fully evaluate the technical and financial aspects of a solar project. They will be equipped with skills allowing them to either develop or rigorously vet solar project proposals. The course introduces and provides students with a holistic understanding of the end-to-end solar development process.

Sustainable Cities (K4130)
Instructor: Jit Bajpai

The purpose of this course is to prepare its students to understand, analyze, and develop policies and procedures to address the sustainability issues being faced by urban centers of developed and developing world, their decision-makers and inhabitants.

Sustainable Design (A4684)
Instructor: Davidson Norris

Sustainable strategies and techniques covered in this course are principles of bioclimatic design: bioclimatic site design, sustainable water and waste treatment, regional bio-climates and related building types, building as thermal skin, passive heating, passive cooling, natural ventilation, daylighting, sustainable building systems, advanced sustainable technologies, sustainable materials and products, indoor air quality and environment.

Sustainable Zoning + Land Use (A4340)
Instructor: Jonathan Martin

This course introduces the basic techniques of land use regulation as practiced in the United States today with an emphasis on regulations that support green building practices and promote sustainable development patterns.

Sustainability Management (PS4100)
Instructor: Steve Cohen, Howard Apsan

Sustainability management matters because we only have one planet, and we must learn how to manage our organizations in a way that ensures that our planet is maintained. The course is designed to introduce you to the field of sustainability management. This is not an academic course that reviews the literature of the field and discusses how scholars think about the management of organizations that are environmentally sound. It is a practical, professional course organized around the core concepts of management and the core concepts of sustainability.

Sustainability Science (K4140)
Instructor: Jenna Lawrence

The Science of Sustainability course explores some of the major scientific issues behind our understanding of sustainability. Through lectures, readings, and discussions, the class will explore such issues as biodiversity, population, food and water resources, climate change, energy, public health, and the overall forecast for the environment and the human condition for the next several decades. Students will gain a greater appreciation of how science can inform the policies and practices that will shape a more sustainable future.

Urban Ecology & Grand Infrastructure (UN3464)
Instructor: Sevin Yildiz

This lecture course is designed around different issues of metropolitan regions around the worlds that govern and plan urbanized, risky and vulnerable ecological systems and consequently large-scale urban interventions that change the landscapes of the regions. The reality of an age of drastic climate change and increasing number of natural disasters in urbanized regions raises issues of resilience and ecological governance. Metropolitan regions and the planning politics that lie beneath the regional plans and strategic initiatives are critical in the mitigation of some of these risks and in the understanding of regional politics.

Urban Preservation (A4844-1)
Instructor: Erik Langdalen

The aim for this seminar is twofold: one is to detect experimental practices of urban preservation through time, the other is to search for ideas, principles and modes of operation that can guide us in the future. The class will discuss contemporary examples of experimental urban preservation in Europe and the US.

Wetlands and Climate Change (GU4835)
Instructor: Dorothy Peteet

Analysis of modern wetland dynamics and the important ecological, biogeochemical, and hydrological functions taking place in marshes, bogs, fens, and swamps, with a field emphasis. Wetlands as fossil repositories, the paleo-environmental history they provide, and their role in the carbon cycle. Current wetland destruction, remediation attempts, and valuation.

Writing about Global Science for the International Media (K4180)
Instructor: Claudia Dreifus

This is an interdisciplinary workshop for scientists, future NGO workers and journalists seeking skills in communicating 21st century global science to the public. Scientists will be given journalism skills; journalists will learn how to use science as the basis of their story-telling. Students currently working in the business world or the public sector, will, by doing actual journalism, see what the news looks like from the other side of the desk. Our standards and methods will, at all times, be those of mainstream journalism.

A complete course bulletin for the undergraduate program in Sustainable Development can be found here.