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Columbia University Establishes 10 Earth Institute Scholarships

By Kendra Crook

Columbia's Earth Institute will establish the Earth Institute Scholarship for ten Columbia and Barnard undergraduates. These awards will recognize academic excellence and commitment to a systems approach to understanding the interactions between humans and our planet. The Earth Institute Scholars will participate in the Spring Earth Semester at Biosphere 2 Center, Columbia's western campus and will receive half of their tuition in scholarship and $1,000 for travel expenses.

Earth Semester is the flagship education program of the Biosphere 2 facility, combining biological and Earth sciences with physical science and the social sciences. Besides providing research and study opportunities inside the Biosphere 2 Laboratory, students can take advantage of some of the most spectacular and diverse landscapes on the planet. Field trips to places like the Grand Canyon, the Sea of Cortez or the Petrified Forest are opportunities to apply classroom learning to actual field situations.

For Columbia College students, Earth Semester completes the three-course science requirement in one semester. Additionally, when Barnard students return from Earth Semester at Biosphere 2, they are only one elective away from completing the Environmental Science minor.

The effects of Earth Semester remain long after a student is back in a more traditional campus setting. One Columbia student who spent the Spring 2000 semester at Biosphere 2 recently wrote to faculty and friends in Arizona. "I am super busy back here in New York, but I just wanted to take a minute to let you all know I was inspired to take a geology class here! I am looking with excitement upon classes which in the past were merely rote, because of what I learned from you, not only about science and education, but about the focus of and the method in which I want my life to go on. Last semester gave me the best moments of my life."

Since Earth Semester was launched in 1996 more than 200 Columbia and Barnard students have enrolled in programs at Biosphere 2. Last year a Universe Semester was added to the curriculum. The intensive program in astronomy and astrophysics takes advantage of a new campus observatory and 24-inch, research-grade reflecting telescope. Coming soon will be a Science & Technology Semester program, with hands-on interdisciplinary courses in environmental chemistry, engineering and physics. All the semester programs award students 16 Columbia University credit hours. Biosphere 2 also hosts summer programs in Earth systems, biodiversity and astronomy.

Students interested in applying to be an Earth Institute Scholar should provide a completed Biosphere 2 application, a resume, a transcript, and a letter of recommendation from a Columbia or Barnard faculty member. Additionally, students should submit an essay explaining their particular interest in the sustainability of Earth.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Office of Student Admissions at (212) 854-8144.

Published: Oct 26, 2000
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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