Areas of Specialization

The Climate and Society Program is pleased to announce the launch of optional areas of specialization in the academic year 2023 – 2024. Specializations provide students with the opportunity to focus on a particular area of study and gain tools and knowledge relevant to specific career paths. It also enables students to develop both depth and breadth in their course of study. If interested, students will need to take a minimum of 3 courses to fulfill the specialization.

The initial areas of specializations available to students are Disaster Risk Management, with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness in the Columbia Climate School; and Climate + Built Environment, with the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Both specializations have been developed in partnership with these key knowledge partners to guide the course selections and content. These initial specializations emerged out of internal partnerships and emergent areas of studies with established courses. Additional areas of specializations will be developed in the coming years.

Specializations starting Fall 2023

The Climate and Society Program has been working closely with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness to build courses in Disaster Risk Management over the past academic year. This specialization is designed for students who have an interest in disaster risk management, and who see it as an important facet of their career, even if they are not necessarily entering into a disaster specific field. The specialization will provide students with a foundation of the various areas of study in the field of disaster risk management, then provide direct application of these areas in the contexts of disaster recovery, resilience, and building equitable community partnerships.

The coursework will prepare students to engage with disaster related issues and research practices from a variety of professional fields that they pursue. Courses will be offered in instructor-led and online modalities in which learners will have the opportunity to leverage new digital technologies and workforce best practices.  Specific objectives include:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the various sectors of society and scientific inquiry that contribute to the understanding and practice of disaster risk management
  • Demonstrate the ability to articulate the value of resilience to various civil society stakeholders
  • Describe the processes and frameworks supporting post disaster recovery, with a focus on housing and economic recovery, in domestic and global contexts
  • Apply best practices in community centric disaster resilience approach to design community resilience initiatives through a lens of equity and social justice 

Examples of courses include:

  • Climate Change and Disaster Management 
  • Post-Disaster Recovery: Focus on Housing and Economic Recovery 
  • Building Equitable Community Partnerships in Disaster Management 

The Climate and Society Program is thrilled to be partnering with the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) to offer MA students a specialization in Climate + The Built Environment. GSAPP recognizes climate change as one of the most profound and urgent challenges facing the wellbeing of our societies and planet, and is committed to mobilizing the disciplines of the built environment to respond with expanded knowledge, sustainable methods, and moral responsibility. As such, GSAPP has integrated climate and environment components into much of its curriculum and studios. 

This coursework aims to introduce the MA students to the history, theory, research, and design techniques from the disciplines of architecture, planning, and urban studies and to equip them with analytical and creative tools to account for, analyze, speculate and propose environmentally friendly and responsive developments in the built environment. Examples of courses include: 

  • Footprint: Carbon + Design
  • Toward Resilient Cities And Landscapes
  • Designing For Energy: Housing,  Mobility, Energy 
  • Architecture, Engineering And Political Ecology 
  • Studio / Clinic
The session features Danielle Smoller, Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs of the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and Jeffrey Schlegelmilch, Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP).