Letter from the President of Columbia University


We live in a time in history when the knowledge to construct a safe and sustainable path for our collective future is abundant—as is the awareness to implement solutions to our challenges. As one of the world’s great research universities, Columbia’s responsibility is not simply to shed light on the forces that are influencing life on our planet; it extends as well to aiding in the development of the innovative solutions demanded by society’s most urgent problems.


Lee C. Bollinger, President

The Columbia University Earth Institute, under the leadership of Jeffrey Sachs, exemplifies this effort. By bringing together the disciplines of technology, science, medicine, and policy in pursuit of sustainability, the Earth Institute has succeeded in making sustainable development a truly integrated field of scholarly inquiry in a way that simply did not exist before. With thirty centers and 850 research scientists, faculty, and staff, the Earth Institute—which includes the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York—has become a renowned center of excellence for research and initiatives that address the multifaceted issues of global sustainability.

With its unique academic programs, such as the first-of-its-kind PhD in sustainable development, a joint collaboration with the School of International and Public Affairs, the Earth Institute has now helped educate and train nearly 700 graduates who possess the tools necessary to make a difference in the world and to support the upward trajectory of this field. Along with our award-winning faculty and staff, these graduates embody the many large and diverse ways in which Columbia and the Earth Institute are committed to safeguarding our planet and preserving its resources for future generations.

I am pleased to be able to share this annual update on the work of Columbia University’s Earth Institute with you, our dedicated supporters and partners. Your generosity has provided the Earth Institute with the foundation necessary to play an essential role in the breakthroughs in knowledge and ideas to which Columbia is dedicated. Thank you for your commitment to building a better future for all.


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Lee C. Bollinger