The Earth Institute School of Professional Studies


Columbia University’s Environment, Peace, and Security Certification of Professional Achievement will prepare you to understand the rapidly changing connections between environment and security dynamics, and will equip you to apply best-practice tools for managing the risks that arise from such linkages.

This program is aimed at practitioners with responsibility for providing assessments and warnings regarding environment-security risks or for designing programs to manage such risks. This program is specifically designed for participants from multiple sectors and backgrounds and will directly benefit people working at the United Nations, diplomatic missions, global finance organizations, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, consulting companies, emerging market investment firms, and public relations agencies. It is especially appropriate for individuals who work at companies and agencies that are active in areas of high political risk and uncertainty about natural resources or governance systems.

Program faculty and guest speakers are well-known researchers in climate and environmental science, conflict, sustainable development, political science, and data analytics at Columbia University, The Earth Institute, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, and the Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program.

With two terms of part-time study you can complete the program in one academic year on Columbia’s campus in New York City. As part of an intensive curriculum designed for working professionals, courses are offered one weekday evening each week and on two three-day weekends.

Build Practical Skills

Upon successful completion of the program you will be ready to evolve into a more senior role with your environmental security specialization, relevant in a range of sectors and professional settings. You will have acquired an understanding of how environment, peacebuilding, and security are interlinked, the major trends shaping these linkages, and how these trends are affecting the worlds of business, development, and peacebuilding. You will have learned how to use tools for assessing and managing these connections.

The program prepares you to:

  • Assess environmental drivers of conflict. You will learn how to understand how environment, climate and resource dynamics shape conflict. You will be able to conduct rapid assessments of these conflict drivers.

  • Apply conflict management tools in sensitive environmental contexts. By identifying entry and leverage points, you will be able to better manage conflict and environmental variables, and capture opportunities for building resilience for changing dynamics.

  • Communicate in settings with high environment-conflict sensitivity. You will be introduced to effective communication strategies and approaches with specific case examples focusing on environment-conflict challenges.

  • Understand and apply data collection and visualization tools. You will learn how to collect and utilize environmental data in conflict contexts to improve decision-making, applying state of the art technologies.

  • Develop project-planning approaches to mitigate risks. You will gain an understanding of how global leaders are responding pragmatically to the challenges of this rapidly evolving field, and learn how to design effective responses.

  • Stay ahead of the knowledge curve. You will learn about what other companies, governments, and major organizations are doing, and build your ability to network effectively in this area. You will also gain knowledge of other innovators, new thinking, and initiatives in this rapidly evolving field.

Learn from Eminent Researchers

No other program gives participants access to the same quality of resources in climatology, environmental science, and conflict resolution. Columbia connects these fields through interdisciplinary research, teaching, and practice, and draws faculty, and speakers for the program from three key entities:

The Earth Institute

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is a globally renowned research institute committed to the convergence of practice and theory that confronts global challenges and seeks science-based solutions to achieve sustainable development goals. It is home to the world’s leading scientists who study the Earth’s systems of geology, water, climate, and the atmosphere, as well as social sciences related to public health, economic development, public policy, and energy. The Earth Institute is home to numerous specialized research institutes.

Center for International Earth Science Information Network

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) has been at the forefront of environment-security scholarship and practice for over 20 years through a range of scholarly and applied work. Located at the Lamont-Doherty research campus of Columbia University, CIESIN works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences, and specializes in data analytics and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment. It is a globally recognized leader in data management and analysis and geo-spatial skills, and serves as a NASA data center. CIESIN has sustained programs in environmental security and sustainable development in fragile states, including Haiti and Sierra Leone, and supported global environmental performance indicators and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program

Launched in 2008, the Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program builds on the rich history of conflict resolution and peacebuilding at Columbia University. The faculty consists of scholar-practitioners with a diversity of backgrounds, disciplines, and experiences that provide for leading-edge interdisciplinary approaches to the world’s complex conflict and post-conflict issues. We take both local and global perspectives and work within and across organizations and cultural orientations to coordinate efforts toward innovative and sustainable interventions.