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To Address Climate Change, New Findings on Climate Attitudes & Learning Outcomes Offer Insight Sad News: the passing of Mun C. T…


A set of forthcoming papers by the Center for Sustainable Futures uncovers American attitudes toward climate change and education. The initial findings, which use data from a 2023 survey conducted by the Center and The Public Matters at TC offer a broader perspective on how Americans view the role of education in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Research led by TC student Sarah Lewis reveals that the majority of Americans want to know about responses to climate change. However, the research team identified several trends among different demographics. For example, the findings highlight a stark divide in attitudes and concerns when it comes to people who have accepted climate change and those who have not. In outlining the differences between the groups, researchers can then explore effective strategies for climate communicators to reach wider audiences. 
“Public opinion studies serve as a ‘window’ to the ways members of society think about climate change and education,” explains Oren Pizmony-Levy, Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education, and the research’s principal investigator. “These studies could also inform public discussion, policy, and practice. Teachers attending our Summer Institute and other workshops feel relieved to learn that the public support climate change education.” 
The Findings

Emotions on Climate Change

Sadness, anger and fear are most commonly reported emotions among respondents, especially those who strongly believe that human activity has contributed to climate change, reveals research by Carine Verschueren, policy analyst at the Center, and Pizmony-Levy However, anger is also common among those who reject the scientific evidence of the climate crisis.

Impact of Media and Messaging

Media and messaging encountered outside the classroom impacts participation in activism according to research from doctoral fellow and Center research associate Darren Rabinowitz and TC students Niklas Nyblom, Noa Urbach and Sarah Lewis. They found that books, social media and newspapers are the strongest determinants of climate action, while TV and family have little impact.

Teaching About Food and Nutrition

96% of respondents view school instruction on food and nutrition as important according to analysis by Fiona Gao and Wen-Yuan Wang.

Teaching Climate Change in Schools

Opinions on the importance of teaching climate change in school are strongly influenced by a respondent’s concern about the climate and less so by their political ideology and location, explains research by Christina Torres, coordinator and research associate for the Center, and Pizmony-Levy.

The forthcoming research coincides with new revelations related to teacher preparation on sustainability and climate education, when approximately 40 educators returned to Teachers College this month to discuss how they’ve integrated professional development from last year’s Summer Climate Education Institute into their schools and classrooms. 
Lessons covered topics such as food equity, sustainable building methods, environmental racism and the role of greenhouse gasses. The product of nearly 10 months of collaborative effort, presentations showcased the breadth of work created during the institute and exemplified the variety of ways climate change can be taught to elementary school students.

Presentations also demonstrated how a learning community of teachers facilitates the creation of more innovative methods. During the course of one project — a mini-unit that introduced climate change concepts to kindergarten students through observation and classroom activities — educators found a need to explore solutions to climate issues like extreme heat and did so by incorporating a lesson on the importance of shade designed by other Summer Institute participants. The unit culminated with students building their “dream playgrounds,” designed to withstand heat and flooding.
Sustaining their growing community of climate educators is a priority for the Center for Sustainable Futures. As such, alumni of the summer institute will have long-term support through mentorship programs, continuing professional development and community building opportunities
“It is exciting to learn with and from the teachers on ways to integrate climate education across different subjects in elementary school,” says Pizmony-Levy. “We are looking forward to working with teachers on publishing their lesson plans and materials on platforms such as Subject to Climate. This will help expand the impact of our work to other teachers in NYC and worldwide.”
— Sherri Gardner

Published Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

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Layout A (slider)

climate change earth month 2024 social card

To Address Climate Change, New Findings on Climate Attitudes & Learning Outcomes Offer Insight Sad News: the passing of Mun C. T…


A set of forthcoming papers by the Center for Sustainable Futures uncovers American attitudes toward climate change and education. The initial findings, which use data from a 2023 survey conducted by the Center and The Public Matters at TC offer a broader perspective on how Americans view the role of education in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Research led by TC student Sarah Lewis reveals that the majority of Americans want to know about responses to climate change. However, the research team identified several trends among different demographics. For example, the findings highlight a stark divide in attitudes and concerns when it comes to people who have accepted climate change and those who have not. In outlining the differences between the groups, researchers can then explore effective strategies for climate communicators to reach wider audiences. 
“Public opinion studies serve as a ‘window’ to the ways members of society think about climate change and education,” explains Oren Pizmony-Levy, Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education, and the research’s principal investigator. “These studies could also inform public discussion, policy, and practice. Teachers attending our Summer Institute and other workshops feel relieved to learn that the public support climate change education.” 
The Findings

Emotions on Climate Change

Sadness, anger and fear are most commonly reported emotions among respondents, especially those who strongly believe that human activity has contributed to climate change, reveals research by Carine Verschueren, policy analyst at the Center, and Pizmony-Levy However, anger is also common among those who reject the scientific evidence of the climate crisis.

Impact of Media and Messaging

Media and messaging encountered outside the classroom impacts participation in activism according to research from doctoral fellow and Center research associate Darren Rabinowitz and TC students Niklas Nyblom, Noa Urbach and Sarah Lewis. They found that books, social media and newspapers are the strongest determinants of climate action, while TV and family have little impact.

Teaching About Food and Nutrition

96% of respondents view school instruction on food and nutrition as important according to analysis by Fiona Gao and Wen-Yuan Wang.

Teaching Climate Change in Schools

Opinions on the importance of teaching climate change in school are strongly influenced by a respondent’s concern about the climate and less so by their political ideology and location, explains research by Christina Torres, coordinator and research associate for the Center, and Pizmony-Levy.

The forthcoming research coincides with new revelations related to teacher preparation on sustainability and climate education, when approximately 40 educators returned to Teachers College this month to discuss how they’ve integrated professional development from last year’s Summer Climate Education Institute into their schools and classrooms. 
Lessons covered topics such as food equity, sustainable building methods, environmental racism and the role of greenhouse gasses. The product of nearly 10 months of collaborative effort, presentations showcased the breadth of work created during the institute and exemplified the variety of ways climate change can be taught to elementary school students.

Presentations also demonstrated how a learning community of teachers facilitates the creation of more innovative methods. During the course of one project — a mini-unit that introduced climate change concepts to kindergarten students through observation and classroom activities — educators found a need to explore solutions to climate issues like extreme heat and did so by incorporating a lesson on the importance of shade designed by other Summer Institute participants. The unit culminated with students building their “dream playgrounds,” designed to withstand heat and flooding.
Sustaining their growing community of climate educators is a priority for the Center for Sustainable Futures. As such, alumni of the summer institute will have long-term support through mentorship programs, continuing professional development and community building opportunities
“It is exciting to learn with and from the teachers on ways to integrate climate education across different subjects in elementary school,” says Pizmony-Levy. “We are looking forward to working with teachers on publishing their lesson plans and materials on platforms such as Subject to Climate. This will help expand the impact of our work to other teachers in NYC and worldwide.”
— Sherri Gardner

Published Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

Source link

guggenheims 2024 columbia

Four Columbians Win Guggenheim Fellowships

Four Columbia professors will receive Guggenheim Fellowships this year to pursue​ an independent​ project​​ of their choice. They are among 188 American and Canadian scientists, scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and writers and artists of all kinds selected from over 3,000 applicants for a 2024 fellowship.

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has given nearly $400 million in fellowships to more than 19,000 individuals; over 125 of its alumni are Nobel laureates, members of all the national academies, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, and National Book Award, among other top honors. 

Here’s what the Columbians plan to accomplish in the next year:

Bruno Bosteels, Acting Dean of Humanities, and Jesse and George Siegel Professor in the Humanities, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, will be writing about the social function of literature, and examining literature as a set of forms of reality.

Adama Delphine Fawundu, Assistant Professor, Visual Arts Program, School of the Arts, will create an experimental film, Circadian Riddims, filmed entirely in slow motion, which will provoke healing in a time of post-trauma.

Jack Halberstam, David Feinson Professor of Humanities, Department of English and Comparative Literature, will be writing about a new generation of trans and queer artists who reach back to the 1970s to retrieve a vocabulary of unbuilding, unmaking, unbecoming, and undoing to represent sexual and gender variance. 

Nicola López, Associate Professor, Visual Arts Program, School of the Arts, will, through her artwork, The Haunting—a series of large-scale drawings with video projected onto them—explore the intersection of nature and the built environment.

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Statements From the April 17 Congressional Committee Hearing

Statement of Ms. Claire Shipman, Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees, Columbia University, before the Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives

April 17, 2024

Chairwoman Foxx, Ranking Member Scott, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today and discuss Columbia University’s efforts to combat antisemitism.

Antisemitism is dangerous and reprehensible. It has no place at Columbia, or in our society. I am grateful, as a citizen and a co-chair of our Board, for the spotlight that you are putting on this ancient hatred, and the critical role you play holding our most important institutions to account. As a reporter, I always have a bias toward transparency and accountability.

It is difficult, and heartbreaking, to hear, as we do regularly, that members of our community feel unsafe. I am a parent of college-age children, I know dozens of students at Columbia, and I feel this current climate on our campus viscerally. It’s unacceptable. I can tell you plainly that I am not satisfied with where Columbia is at this moment. As co-chair of the Board, I bear responsibility for that. This role is one of the great privileges of my life, and I take the weight of its responsibility seriously. I am dedicated to addressing these concerns.

The days immediately following October 7 are the most painful I have experienced on our campus. I knew, as word of the horrific Hamas terrorist attack started to spread, that the tragedy would have a devastating impact, especially on our Jewish students. Two days later, President Shafik and I joined hundreds of members of our community for a somber, candlelight vigil on the steps of Low Library. The grief was intense, but it was a moment of comfort. It would be fleeting.

The last six months on our campus have served as an extreme pressure test. Our systems were not equipped to manage the unfolding situation. But with each challenge, we have moved to adapt decisively. Physical safety was, and is, paramount, and we were seeing protests unprecedented in type and scale, a level of threats and harassment, especially directed at our Jewish students that was unacceptable. We shut our gates and backed the critical decision to invite the New York City Police department onto our campus during demonstrations for the first time since 1968. We’ve also brought on other law enforcement experts, rewritten our rules, and beefed up our enforcement process, suspending two student groups for non-compliance, more than a dozen individual students, and also disciplining faculty members. We’ve created an independent antisemitism task force, and launched training across the University on antisemitism. I hope to discuss more of our efforts later, but let me say something equally important: We are far from done. I am outraged by the vile sentiments I continue to hear, by those who ignore our rules, and we are holding them accountable. This problem, though, goes deeper than discipline. It’s about returning to our core values as an institution.

Late last fall, I moderated a powerful event with two brilliant women—the Israeli dean of our foreign policy school, Keren Yarhi Milo, and her friend, Amani Jamal, the Palestinian dean of Princeton’s foreign policy school. They didn’t agree on everything, but the women spoke with empathy, wisdom, common sense, and respect. That should be our steady state.

40 years ago—I arrived in New York from Columbus, Ohio, a full financial aid student with little sense about the school, the city, or the world. I was challenged by the breadth of ideas and outlooks—I drank up the chance to rub shoulders with cutting edge DNA researchers, and frontline cold war strategists who upended my political point of view. Columbia changed my life. That is what universities are meant to do—teach students how to think, not what to think. To challenge and broaden, not to intimidate and terrorize. We can be a campus that both battles antisemitism and all bigotry, and a place that allows for vigorous debate. A place that can weigh the most difficult questions in the world—in a civilized, respectful fashion. We are determined to create, again, a flourishing ecosystem. But, a healthy Columbia must start with respect for each other, and our rules. Let me be clear: Antisemites, bigots of any sort, those without common sense and common decency are not welcome at the Columbia we are rebuilding.

We are committed to being honest about where we are, and doing the hard work, going forward, of making Columbia better. I look forward today to getting your input.

More specifically, the Hamas terrorist attack, and subsequent war in Gaza, and the effects on our community, have revealed shortcomings in our system that we must, as leadership, come together and resolve. As they existed six months ago, our systems were not equipped for crisis management. Our process had been built, broadly, to respond to issues like academic dishonesty, and the use of alcohol or illegal substances, and it struggled to handle new realities on campus after October 7. But we have moved to adapt quickly, with our most fundamental goal, at all times, being the protection of our community.  

We knew that securing physical control over the campus, within days, was necessary for safety. We typically have an open campus, but that approach, especially in New York, posed substantial risk. As a Board, we considered decisions to hire outside security firms, to close the gates of our campus to those unaffiliated with the school, and to invite the New York City Police Department onto our campus, and we decided to implement all three options. We knew we might face internal criticism, Columbia had not had the NYPD on campus for demonstrations since 1968, but it was important to keep our community safe. We now know that NYPD presence is making a difference, we are grateful for their excellence and their help, and we are committed to working with the police indefinitely.   

We quickly began work to review and revise University policies—especially around events and discipline—to ensure that the policies are sufficient to address the situation at hand. Especially in light of the protests we saw on campus that were unprecedented in type and scale, we recognize that the University needs better rules and enforcement. We have adopted measures to limit the time, place, and manner of protests. These measures are meant to help protect our community from fear and threats, and simultaneously protect speech freedoms. We are also working to enforce these rules. Following a series of rules violations and non-responsiveness by group leaders, the University’s event policies were used to suspend indefinitely two student groups on November 19. We are committed to continuing to consider revisions and additions to the rules as we see how they operate in practice  

In addition to focusing on the physical safety of students and faculty on campus, we took concrete actions to confront antisemitism and support the Jewish members of our community. To help connect with Jewish students and better understand the needed resources, Columbia’s trustees met with students or attended campus events, including at Hillel. I met with Israeli Defense Forces veterans, for example, in our General Studies program, incredible young women from Israel who were struggling to comprehend the attacks at home. These students shared their fear of being targets walking across campus. That was unacceptable to me. In response to hearing devastating information like that, we worked to add resources to hotline and escort services to ensure students who felt threatened could get the protection they needed.

The University has also taken extensive actions to confront antisemitism by improving reporting and training processes. We have enhanced the process by which members of our community can institute complaints regarding discrimination and harassment, making reporting easier. We have added additional resources—through both internal staff and hiring external support—to address these complaints. We have enhanced our training process for everyone working with students and student groups and brought in outside training on Title VI and reporting obligations. We’ve also brought in significant outside investigative help to assist in efficient processing of harassment and discrimination complaints, and to allow a more rapid administration of justice.

President Shafik, less than a month after October 7, launched a Task Force on Antisemitism, one made up of three of the University’s most respected Jewish community members, to identify the challenges ahead of us and provide recommendations for the University’s response. The Task Force has already given us constructive feedback and suggestions. On the Board of Trustees, we also created a task force that tracks ongoing events and feeds recommendations to the administration. In addition, Columbia is working to foster productive conversations through programs like Dialogue Across Difference and connecting our community through listening forums. This is something our students, over and over, have said they need. 

As we continue improving, we have a number of longer-term efforts underway. Our ongoing rules review will provide comprehensive guidelines for demonstrations and protests that will lead to even greater accountability and a safer campus. That will provide one method of longer-term education. But rules and consequences will only get us so far. In the long term, it is our duty to educate deeply. To help our students to learn to listen with respect. To that end, we have invested extensively in antisemitism training for faculty and staff, which is already underway. We are also adding antisemitism education to our student orientation programs. We will continue investing in scholarship and academic programming that elevates campus debates on difficult issues. And we will focus on educating our community about the dangers and realities of antisemitism.  

We recognize that, despite our best efforts and intentions, Columbia did not always respond swiftly and forcefully enough, and we therefore fell short of addressing the enormous outpouring of grief and fear that our Jewish community was experiencing. Although we have not always gotten it right, and we still have much work to do, we are committed to making progress and overseeing improvements. We have also heard our Palestinian students, and other students from the region, who have felt unfairly doxxed, or targeted for their identity. I’ve met with and heard from a number of them. That is also unacceptable. It is our first imperative that all our students feel safe attending classes, sharing their perspectives on the conflict, and participating in campus life to the fullest. We are committed to hearing feedback from our community, this Committee, and our alumni and supporters around the world.  

Right now, Columbia is facing a critical moment and a serious challenge. We have significant and important work to do to address antisemitism and to ensure that our Jewish community is safe and welcome and that all of our community can continue to thrive. Our first—and most important—duty is to our students, and at every step of our response, I will keep that in mind.  

The remainder of my testimony has additional details on the University’s efforts to confront and combat antisemitism. 

Board of Trustees of Columbia University

The Columbia Board of Trustees advises the President and other senior University officials. We hire and oversee the President, who is responsible for hiring officers and running the day-to-day operations of the University. We also act in an oversight capacity, overseeing the University’s operations, finances, and compliance with the law. We take great care in executing our role and guiding the implementation of the strategic direction of the University in close consultation with the University’s senior leadership. All Trustees, other than the President, are volunteers. We are not paid, and do not make a career out of being Trustees. Our work comes from our love for Columbia, and our desire to support and improve the University in every way we can.  

Much of our work is not public facing. The Board does not publish press releases and does not have a social media presence. We have not released a statement about antisemitism, because we think it is important for all public statements to come from the administration, led by the President, so Columbia speaks with one unified voice.  

During this crisis we have been in constant communication with President Shafik about strong, consistent, and meaningful responses to antisemitism on campus. We have made sure that a diversity of perspectives is heard and considered in the University’s approach. The Trustees have met with students or attended campus events, including at Hillel.

The primary concern of the Board was—and is—student safety. We were involved in Columbia’s decisions to ensure the physical security of our campus and to provide additional resources to students experiencing pain and trauma in the wake of October 7.  

Columbia University’s Actions to Combat Antisemitism Since October 7, 2023

The Board is committed to building a university with an active discourse where all students, faculty, and staff can share their views on the issues important to them, but we refuse to tolerate threats, violence, and hatred. It is the Board’s responsibility, in conjunction with all University leadership, to build a community where everyone is safe and able to thrive. Our efforts will not be over until that goal is achieved in full.  

Columbia has seen a rise in complaints of antisemitic incidents on campus since October 7. We are taking these complaints seriously and have implemented a number of initiatives to address this harassment and hatred and to ensure safety on our campus. Simultaneously, these initiatives are built to ensure that all members of our community have access to the resources and support that they need to handle these incidents.  

a. Immediate Action Was Taken to Provide Physical Safety on Campus

Columbia’s disciplinary processes and support services were not prepared for the volume and the nature of violations that we saw after October 7. Traditionally, our campus has been open for public debate, including between students, faculty, and those not affiliated with Columbia. But the demonstrations and confrontations between student groups were unprecedented, and immediate action was needed to ensure the physical safety of our students.

Columbia began restricting access to campus to only Columbia ID holders during major events. Additionally, we increased the presence of public safety personnel across all of our campuses, hired outside security firms for additional support, and ensured that the NYPD were present or on standby for all major events. This is the first time in 50 years that Columbia has had a police presence on campus during demonstrations. We suspended two student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, following a series of rules violations and group leaders’ non-responsiveness to our repeated entreaties to comply. Many of these decisions were not popular, and provoked strong reactions from students, faculty, and outside groups. But President Shafik, the Board, and other University leaders felt they were essential to ensure the safety of our students on campus.  

b. Enhanced Reporting, Resources, & Student Policies

Combatting antisemitism starts with understanding the full scale of the issue. To increase the reporting of antisemitic and other hate incidents, Columbia launched the Enhanced Reporting Initiative. This initiative increased the online accessibility of the University’s reporting system, Maxient, to make it easier for community members to file reports. The initiative also created posters with QR codes directing members of our community to the system. Additionally, the initiative created a telephone helpline to answer any questions about reporting incidents and accessing support. Combined, these efforts will bring additional incidents to the University’s attention so that they can be addressed appropriately. Columbia has also created a Doxing Resource Group to assist students who have been subjected to doxing attacks. This group provides students with crucial support and has already assisted more than 90 students.  

Columbia maintains rules that prohibit antisemitic harassment, discrimination, and violence and will punish those who violate them. Since December, Columbia has undertaken a review of all event policies and the Rules of Conduct to make sure that they are appropriately formulated to prevent acts of hate against Jewish community members. The University Senate is also reviewing University rules, and the Board looks forward to reviewing their findings and recommendations in the coming months. While this larger review was essential, it was also important to provide more immediate changes to protect our community.  

Columbia also released updated Interim Demonstration Policies, which create designated demonstration areas where students are allowed to protest and share their views, so long as the protest does not disrupt the functioning of the University or otherwise violate the University’s code of conduct or the law. These designated locations are intended to be prominent and central, while still limiting interference with ongoing University activities and ensuring the safety of students. Limiting demonstrations to set areas will make it possible for students who do not wish to interact with protestors to avoid these events while still attending classes and participating in other aspects of life at Columbia. If students wish to hold a demonstration outside of one of these designated areas, they must seek University approval. All demonstrations require two working days’ advance registration to ensure that Columbia has time to make necessary safety preparations. Finally, students are not permitted to promote a demonstration on campus until after their registration is approved. The policy also lays out a clear procedure for adjudication of alleged violations and consequences for students and student groups who break the rules.  

Columbia recognizes the importance of free speech, even on incredibly divisive topics, and will not deny a group the right to protest peacefully based on their viewpoint. However, there will be consequences for those who fail to abide by the demonstration policy. If the policy is violated, student groups will be reported to their respective student governing board, which will recommend sanctions to the Administration. Individual students who violate the policy will be reported to the Center for Student Success and Intervention. Repeated violations of the policy by an individual student can result in referral to the University Judicial Board, who can recommend that the student be placed on probation, suspended, or expelled.

Four months later, these policy changes are yielding important results. The new time and place restrictions on protests, and corresponding penalties for noncompliance, appear to be reducing the number of events that violate University rules. Students are asking for more events that involve dialogue on the larger issues and can have more conversations with each other. And in the cases where things do go wrong, we are seeing faster-paced discipline.

Our hope is that these changes will make it so that our Jewish community members feel safe, secure, and welcome at Columbia, while also permitting other students the ability to make their voices heard. We are optimistic about the power of this policy, which was endorsed by the Task Force on Antisemitism. We will continue evaluating these policies over the coming months, and as necessary, we will amend the policies to ensure the safety of the Columbia community.  

c. Columbia University Task Force on Antisemitism

Shortly after the October 7 terrorist attacks, Columbia University launched a Task Force on Antisemitism led by three prominent Jewish faculty members on our campus to develop a forum for feedback and suggest improvements. The Task Force has been at the core of the University’s response to antisemitism and has met with representatives from all 17 schools at Columbia to learn more about what our Jewish community is encountering on campus.

The Task Force was entrusted with three critical efforts, which they have been relentlessly working on since. First, the Task Force was asked to assess the events and other causes contributing to the pain in Columbia’s Jewish community. Second, they were asked to review the relevant policies, rules, and practices that impact our campus. Finally, the Task Force was empowered to propose other methods to help the entire community understand the impact of antisemitism at Columbia. To better understand the experiences of the Columbia community, the Task Force hosted listening sessions. During these sessions, Task Force members heard from our community about the impact of antisemitism at Columbia to inform their later actions.  

To advance these goals, the Task Force rapidly released their first report, which focused on Columbia’s rules for demonstrations. Their report endorsed Columbia’s new Interim Demonstration Policy aimed at promoting the ability of community members to engage in debate and conversations regarding differing opinions while still ensuring student safety and allowing students to participate fully in campus life. The report also called for stronger enforcement of our policies, a goal we are working towards. While the Task Force’s praise of the new Demonstration Policy is not a sign we are done, it is a heartening indication that we are moving in the right direction. The Task Force will be releasing additional reports, which the Board is eagerly awaiting. We will continue incorporating its findings into our ongoing efforts to make Columbia a welcoming environment for all.  

d. Dialogue Across Difference (DxD)

Columbia also created the Dialogue Across Difference (DxD) Program, which has been holding programming, providing professional development opportunities for faculty hoping to facilitate difficult conversations in our community, and providing seed grants that will permit students, faculty, and staff to create their own programs focused on facilitating dialogue across difference.  

DxD has already hosted four events focused on facilitating effective and respectful dialogues amongst those with differing opinions. The events have covered a diverse range of topics, including a discussion detailing the history of Middle East conflicts and the chances for peace in the region, a conversation about divisions in our democracy, and a discussion on artificial intelligence and its future impacts on future public dialogues and freedom of speech. These events were not merely wonderful learning experiences on a wide range of topics, they were also demonstrations of how those with differing opinions can have productive debates and discussions—even regarding high-stakes issues.  

In addition to these community-wide events, the University is providing professional development and training opportunities for faculty through the DxD program. In January and February of this year, DxD trained Columbia faculty on “Having Difficult Conversations” and “Employing Empathetic Objectivity in the Classroom.” DxD also partnered with an organization outside the University to provide skills trainings to Columbia staff, aimed at responding to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, de-escalating situations that become too heated, and facilitating conversations despite difference.

Finally, the DxD program provides funding to support faculty and students who want to create their own partnerships and programming to support positive conversations across differences. This will allow individuals throughout our community to play an active role in building productive bridges across differences and promoting more beneficial conversations and collaboration. Although this program is still young, we are pleased with the incredible progress that has been made, and we look forward to continued growth and collaboration fostered by DxD in the coming months and years.

e. President’s Listening Forums

We recognize that a problem as deeply entrenched and critical as antisemitism must be addressed with consistent communication between University leadership and our broader community. It was therefore important to open a channel of communication directly from students to the President of the University to make sure a diverse array of feedback was incorporated. In this spirit, in the months after the October 7 attack, President Shafik began hosting biweekly listening forums where students can share their feedback directly. So far, more than 90 students have participated, and these listening forums will be a permanent part of President Shafik’s schedule moving forward.  

In addition to these formal listening forums, many Trustees, President Shafik, and senior administrators have attended vigils and Jewish student gatherings on and off campus. We also meet on a regular basis with Jewish campus leaders. For example, my Trustee Co-Chair and I have met weekly with the Director of Hillel.  

I am thankful that President Shafik, my co-chair David Greenwald, and I have been able to work collaboratively together—and with the rest of the Board and the administration. I am grateful for the tireless and collegial work of our Board. I am especially thankful to have President Shafik leading Columbia during this time of turmoil. When the Board of Trustees set out to find the twentieth President for Columbia University, we completed an exhaustive and time intensive search. After considering an enormous number of candidates, President Shafik was the clear choice. She is an esteemed economist who has solved problems at high levels in the real world. She is not afraid to make hard decisions, and she does so with incredible wisdom and empathy. Despite the struggles Columbia has faced in recent months, the Board of Trustees fully support President Shafik. With President Shafik’s leadership I am confident we can continue moving in the right direction.

*          *          *

 Thank you for this opportunity to discuss our ongoing work to end antisemitism at Columbia. I welcome any questions that you may have.  

University leadership, including the four of us here today, know the importance of standing up for the rights of all individuals, particularly our Jewish community at this critical time, and we are committed to ensuring the safety of all our students, faculty, and staff.

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Calling all performing artists! Take part in our survey for a new degree completion program at MSM – Manhattan School of Music

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CALLING ALL PERFORMING ARTISTS!
Manhattan School of Music invites you to participate in a market research study that will assist MSM in exploring the development of a new online degree completion program.

ABOUT THE POTENTIAL PROGRAM:
Performing arts professionals may have the opportunity to…

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Newly Found Genetic Variant Defends Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Columbia researchers have discovered a genetic variant that reduces the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70% and may be protecting thousands of people in the United States from the disease. 
The discovery of the protective variant, which appears to allow toxic forms of amyloid out of the brain and through the blood-brain barrier, supports emerging evidence that the brain’s blood vessels play a large role in Alzheimer’s disease and could herald a new direction in therapeutic development. 
“Alzheimer’s disease may get started with amyloid deposits in the brain, but the disease manifestations are the result of changes that happen after the deposits appear,” says Caghan Kizil, PhD, a co-leader of the study that identified the variant and associate professor of neurological sciences (in neurology and in the Taub Institute) at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.  
“Our findings suggest that some of these changes occur in the brain’s vasculature and that we may be able to develop new types of therapies that mimic the gene’s protective effect to prevent or treat the disease.” 
An attractive drug target?
The protective variant identified by the study occurs in a gene that makes fibronectin, a component of the blood-brain barrier, a lining surrounding the brain’s blood vessels that controls the movement of substances in and out of the brain. 
Fibronectin is usually present in the blood-brain barrier in very minute amounts, but it is increased in large amounts in people with Alzheimer’s disease. The variant identified in the fibronectin gene seems to protect against Alzheimer’s disease by preventing the buildup of excess fibronectin at the blood-brain barrier. 
“It’s a classic case of too much of a good thing,” Kizil says. “It made us think that excess fibronectin could be preventing the clearance of amyloid deposits from the brain.” 
The researchers confirmed that hypothesis in a zebrafish model of Alzheimer’s disease and have additional studies in mice underway. They also found that reducing fibronectin in the animals increased amyloid clearance and improved other damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. 
“These results gave us the idea that a therapy targeting fibronectin and mimicking the protective variant could provide a strong defense against the disease in people,” says study co-leader Richard Mayeux, MD, chair of neurology and the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Epidemiology. 
The newest treatments for Alzheimer’s disease target the amyloid deposits directly and are very efficient at removing the deposits via the immune system. However, simply removing the deposits this way doesn’t improve symptoms or repair other damage.  
“We may need to start clearing amyloid much earlier and we think that can be done through the bloodstream,” Mayeux adds. “That’s why we are excited about the discovery of this variant in fibronectin, which may be a good target for drug development.” 
Protective gene was found in people resilient to Alzheimer’s disease
The researchers discovered the protective variant in people who never developed symptoms but who had inherited the e4 form of the APOE gene, which significantly increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 
“These resilient people can tell us a lot about the disease and what genetic and non-genetic factors might provide protection,” says study co-leader Badri N. Vardarajan, PhD, assistant professor of neurological science (in neurology, the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, and the Taub Institute), who is an expert in using computational approaches to discover Alzheimer’s disease genes. 
“We hypothesized that these resilient people may have genetic variants that protect them from APOEe4.” 
To find protective mutations, the Columbia researchers sequenced the genomes of several hundred APOEe4 carriers over age 70 of various ethnic backgrounds, including those with and without Alzheimer’s disease. Many participants were residents of Northern Manhattan who were enrolled in the Washington Heights/Inwood Columbia Aging Project, an ongoing study that has been conducted by Columbia University’s Department of Neurology for more than 30 years.  
The study identified the fibronectin variant, and the Columbia team publicized their results in a preprint for other researchers to view. Based on the Columbia team’s observations, another group from Stanford and Washington universities replicated the study in an independent cohort of APOEe4 carriers, mostly of European origin.  
“They found the same fibronectin variant, which confirmed our finding and gave us even more confidence in our result,” Vardarajan says.  
The two groups combined the data on their 11,000 participants, which allowed them to calculate that the mutation reduces the odds of developing Alzheimer’s in APOE4 carriers by 71% and forestalls the disease by roughly four years in those who eventually develop the disease. 
The researchers estimate that 1% to 3% of APOEe4 carriers in the United States—roughly 200,000 to 620,000 people—may also carry the protective fibronectin mutation. 
Wide therapeutic potential
The fibronectin variant, though discovered in APOEe4 carriers, could protect against Alzheimer’s disease in people with other forms of APOE. 
“There’s a significant difference in fibronectin levels in the blood-brain barrier between cognitively healthy individuals and those with Alzheimer’s disease, independent of their APOEe4 status,” Kizil says.  
“Anything that reduces excess fibronectin should provide some protection, and a drug that does this could be a significant step forward in the fight against this debilitating condition.” 

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A Pesah Message from Chancellor Schwartz

Chancellor Schwartz shares how we can find ourselves in each of the four children in the seder.

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The Pesah seder has long been the most observed Jewish ritual by American Jews, and many look forward all year long to gathering with loved ones, friends, and community members. We come together for good food and company and to recount and discuss the religiously, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally complex experiences at the heart of the Israelite liberation from Egypt and the formation of the Jewish people.   

This year our anticipation is mixed with heartbreak and heaviness that we can’t shake. Israel has been traumatized by the massacre of October 7, Israeli hostages remain in captivity, the country is at war—with the bombardment from Iran freshest in our minds—and we remain fearful for what may come next. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza tears at our hearts as well. Moreover, we’ve experienced a dramatic rise in antisemitism in North America and worldwide, leaving us feeling vulnerable and concerned. We may also feel anxious about how varying perspectives on each of these matters will impact this year’s seder experience.   

For me, the variety of human responses is best represented in the brilliant illustration of the four children in the Feast of Freedom Haggadah edited by Rachel Anne Rabinowicz. The four children are depicted as nondescript human adults, each a unique patchwork of four colors: royal blue, orange, red, and navy. All four colors appear in all four humans but in different-sized shapes and positions. Without a single word, the illustration offers a thought-provoking midrash, providing an astute commentary on the Haggadah’s characterization of the four children. Rather than four children with distinct and, at times, opposing personalities, the illustration suggests that all humans are wise, evil, simple, and unknowing and that each of us embodies these aspects to varying degrees and at different times in our lives.   

Four Aspects in Each of Us:  Dan Reisinger
(Israel, 1982)
Four Aspects in Each of Us: Dan Reisinger
(Israel, 1982)

Perhaps this illustration also comes to teach us that certain situations especially elicit our wisdom, stubbornness, curiosity, or ignorance. Or that our own ego does not allow us to confront vulnerability in areas where our own wisdom is lacking and that we must learn to seek guidance from others with different life experiences or knowledge. Each of the questions that the four children ask in the Haggadah comes directly from the Torah, though each represents a different point of view. This calls to mind the ancient parable of four visually impaired people encountering an elephant for the first time. By grabbing a leg, one concludes it is a tree trunk; another holds the tail and assumes it is a whip. The third person touches the elephant’s trunk and decides it is a hose, while the fourth person pats the elephant’s side and imagines it is a wall. The onlooker tells them, “All of you are right.”   

What guards us, then, from the same type of atomized experience recounted in the parable, each person with their own unique and intractable truth? It’s a fact that each of these questions is posed when everyone is sitting at the same table, in relationship and community. The verses are phrased in such a way that there is an expectation that all of us will eventually ask each of the questions that fulfill the four archetypes. It is not a question of “Which child am I?” It is a question of “Which part of me am I channeling in this unique moment of my life?”  

This all makes good sense psychologically, but it’s hard to wrap my head around the harshness of the word rasha (רשע; wicked)—not errant, rebellious, or defiant, but wicked. Furthermore, we are to subject this particular child to punishment, as the Haggadah tells us to blunt the child’s teeth and say, “This is done for what Adonai did for me when I went out of Mitzrayim.” The response goes further, noting that had the questioner been in Mitzrayim, they would not have been redeemed. Why such severe repercussions for someone who has chosen to participate in the seder, a ritual that encourages questioning?   

My understanding of this builds on Rabbi Elijah Gaon’s teaching in his commentary on the Haggadah. Utilizing Gematria, Hebrew numerology, the Gaon teaches that when we subtract the value of the Hebrew word שניו (his teeth) from the Hebrew word for רשע (wicked), we have a צדיק (righteous one). In other words, when you remove the child’s “biting words,” a righteous person emerges. This interpretation reinforces the view that people encompass many seemingly contradictory qualities. Under a rasha is a tzadik who may need a caring teacher, a loving parent, or a curious friend to recognize their goodness. An attentive listener is able to filter out the defiance and hear the words of an earnest questioner.   

This Pesah, may we open our arms to all our children and seder guests—whatever their age, perspective, politics, beliefs, or observance level. Let’s encourage and listen to one another’s questions. Let’s seize the opportunity to soften our perspectives and make room to listen to others. Fully embracing the inquisitive exchange of questions is the hallmark of the seder. Doing so can help us break down the silos of difference and discover the truth of our commonality.

For specific suggestions on how to best prepare for such conversations, please read this thoughtful guide by Rabbi Jan Uhrbach, director of JTS’s Block / Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts.  

The vibrancy of Judaism has always hinged on keeping our tradition alive through intergenerational storytelling and refreshing our tradition, by questioning discussion, and through experimentation. May we together chart a path toward a more hopeful future.  

I wish you a Hag Kasher v’sameah, and a sweet Pesah.  



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Announcing Roberta Albert, TC’s new Vice President for Institutional Advancement Data Reveals New Insights on Transgender Workpl…


Dear Members of the TC Community,I am excited to share with you that Roberta Albert will join Teachers College as Vice President for Institutional Advancement beginning on May 31, 2024. In this role, Roberta will lead our fundraising and communications efforts to raise the profile of the College and ensure its ongoing support, and she will serve as a member of my cabinet. Roberta received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College and her Master’s in Arts Administration from Teachers College. She brings to TC extensive experience in fundraising and alumni development, as well as a deep understanding of how to work with philanthropists and academic leaders to shape capital and programmatic commitments. Roberta has also managed and recruited Dean’s Advisory Councils, including recruiting new board members and developing committees. Embedded in her work is a passion to increase scholarship and programmatic support for all students, providing more equitable access to institutions such as TC.



Roberta Albert

Since 2010, Roberta has been the Associate Dean of Development at Columbia University School of the Arts. During her time at Columbia, she staffed the committee on Manhattanville, a Presidential-level task force that provided input and, ultimately, significant support for the development of Columbia’s Manhattanville campus. She also partnered with the Dean of the School of the Arts to fully transform the school’s philanthropic program. She has taken part in two Columbia University multi-billion-dollar campaigns, leading and participating in efforts supporting scholarships, programming and the new Lenfest Center for the Arts.Prior to her work at Columbia, Roberta spent eight years at Barnard, serving first as their Director of Alumnae Affairs and then as Director of Strategic Development Projects. While at Barnard, Roberta spearheaded the creation of the College’s first alumnae center. She also developed several award-winning initiatives for alumnae, specific to their stages in life.Roberta has recruited, trained and mentored a generation of advancement professionals, including several who have gone on to serve in leadership roles with non-profits around the world. This dedication to staff development will serve her well as she takes over leadership of the Institutional Advancement team. Roberta has shared with me her passion for TC’s mission and her great excitement about returning to an institution that helped shape her career. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Roberta back to her alma mater.I also want to express my sincere appreciation to Tamara Britt, who has, in addition to serving as Vice President and General Counsel for the College, led the Institutional Advancement team during the search process over the past nine months. Tamara has been a strong and trusted leader and will be vital to Roberta’s successful transition in this new role.Warmly,Thomas BaileyPresidentTeachers College, Columbia University

Published Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024

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Data Reveals New Insights on Transgender Workplace Experiences Teachers College Appoints New Vice Dean for Research, Caroline Eb…


Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to extend federal protections to LGBTQ+ employees in 2020, along with the Equality Act by the House of Representatives in 2021, recent data reveals that 17 out of 50 states still maintain laws and policies that discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) individuals in the workplace. 
“Now, more than ever, TGNC employees need support from their employers to ensure that they feel supported and safe,” shares TC’s Melanie Brewster, Professor of Counseling Psychology, whose work focuses on psychological correlates of minority stress for marginalized groups in the United States.
Today, TGNC individuals are faced with various workplace challenges impacting their well-being and career trajectories. Understanding and addressing these experiences is vital for employers to work towards a more inclusive and safe workplace climate. 
“Explicit, affirmative workplace policies are fundamental, especially when we look at TGNC job satisfaction or mental health outcomes,” adds TC’s Brandon Velez, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology. “Sometimes, employers must go above and beyond to ensure everyone feels comfortable.”
 



Melanie Brewster, Professor of Counseling Psychology (left) and Brandon Velez, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology (right).

 
What We Need to Know
Velez shares that change starts with a healthy workplace climate. Current indicators of a healthy workplace climate include organizational policies that make employees feel heard and valued, such as support resources, adequate compensation, medical benefits and more. However, workplace climate can also negatively impact employees, from retention transparency and conflict resolution to unlawful termination. 
So, how does workplace climate impact TGNC experiences specifically? Research gathered by the United States Transgender Survey (USTS) collected data from over 27,715 trans people living in all 50 states, with 70 percent of the sample having held or applied for a job the prior year. Out of the participants, 27 percent of individuals were denied employment or promotion or even fired because of their gender identity. Even further, 15 percent of all respondents reported being verbally harassed, physically attacked, or sexually assaulted at work because of their gender identity.
“We spend all of our waking hours as adults on the job, so if you feel like you have to conceal a part of your identity or modify it, it’s really stressful,” adds Brewster. “Many transgender folks, especially transgender women, face safety concerns, too. These things are likely to impact job performance.”
Even simple tasks like changing one’s legal name or seeking a gender-neutral restroom can be stressful. “Employers may require legal name and sex assigned at birth to be used on company-issued documents and other forms of communication,” adds Velez, noting that these practices are demeaning and even increase the likelihood of an employee being outed. “Gendered environments are common points of contention for TGNC employees and their employer.”
Brewster echoes sentiments in her similar findings, sharing that, on the contrary, cisgender colleagues are struggling with name and pronoun change requests from their TGNC coworkers. “Cisgender employees may be confused or feel awkward when interacting with their TGNC colleagues. Hostilities or tension surrounding gender-specific spaces (e.g., bathrooms) are likely to emerge, making it difficult to feel safe at work.”
 
Why It Matters
With so many obstacles at play and a challenging legal landscape, Brewster shares that it’s “understandable that individuals may hesitate to openly identify as TGNC or pursue gender-affirming processes while employed.” In her co-authored study, she reveals data from a national study by Brad Sears that “58% of TGNC employees attempted to hide their gender identity while at work.”
These stressful circumstances often lead to greater consequences and adverse physical and mental health outcomes. Research by Velez explains that TGNC individuals are at increased risk for mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depressive disorder, and even suicide. “Consistent evidence suggests that trans individuals are placed at a higher risk for mental, physical, and behavioral health issues, given their experiences with ongoing systemic and interpersonal discrimination and harassment,” adds Velez. “People feel like they have to choose between being their most authentic self and being safe.”
“If a person is at a job and they’re just beginning their transition journey, it’s likely to be noticed by the people around them, and if it’s not received well, that’s a problem,” shares Brewster. “TGNC employees are faced with a sense of self-surveillance and self-scrutiny that, in turn, does cause severe cognitive distress.” 
 



(Photo: iStock)

Support is Crucial 
While there is still work to be done, 2023 data from the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) shows that many employers are already taking steps in the right direction. The report — which measures corporate social responsibility — revealed that this year, more companies scored a 90 or higher on the survey than ever before, exemplifying their corporate commitment to inclusion. This might look like providing more corporate training around inclusive, safe spaces or inviting external consultants to talk to employees about healthy workplace climate. 
“It’s important to understand that TGNC employees often feel burdened by constantly educating those around them about their identities. Not everyone will have the same educational experiences or personal access to information about different identities, but it shouldn’t fall upon TGNC employees to teach them.”
Communities play an equal role in promoting awareness and affirmative climates.“Community advocacy for TGNC employees can look like many things, from writing op-eds for psychology outlets to talking with journalists about research as we’re doing here today…maybe even getting involved in local town halls,” Velez says. “All of these things can be at the service of making the workplace climate more affirmative and gender expansive.”
Brewster notes that amidst current challenges like debates around sports, gender-neutral bathrooms, and more, support is everything. “One of the things that I’ve seen TGNC individuals appreciate the most is having people check in on them,” she concludes. “As allies, the most important thing we can do is offer our support to those who need it most.”
 
— Jacqueline Teschon

Published Monday, Apr 15, 2024

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To Address Climate Change, New Findings on Climate Attitudes & Learning Outcomes Offer Insight Sad News: the passing of Mun C. T…


A set of forthcoming papers by the Center for Sustainable Futures uncovers American attitudes toward climate change and education. The initial findings, which use data from a 2023 survey conducted by the Center and The Public Matters at TC offer a broader perspective on how Americans view the role of education in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Research led by TC student Sarah Lewis reveals that the majority of Americans want to know about responses to climate change. However, the research team identified several trends among different demographics. For example, the findings highlight a stark divide in attitudes and concerns when it comes to people who have accepted climate change and those who have not. In outlining the differences between the groups, researchers can then explore effective strategies for climate communicators to reach wider audiences. 
“Public opinion studies serve as a ‘window’ to the ways members of society think about climate change and education,” explains Oren Pizmony-Levy, Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education, and the research’s principal investigator. “These studies could also inform public discussion, policy, and practice. Teachers attending our Summer Institute and other workshops feel relieved to learn that the public support climate change education.” 
The Findings

Emotions on Climate Change

Sadness, anger and fear are most commonly reported emotions among respondents, especially those who strongly believe that human activity has contributed to climate change, reveals research by Carine Verschueren, policy analyst at the Center, and Pizmony-Levy However, anger is also common among those who reject the scientific evidence of the climate crisis.

Impact of Media and Messaging

Media and messaging encountered outside the classroom impacts participation in activism according to research from doctoral fellow and Center research associate Darren Rabinowitz and TC students Niklas Nyblom, Noa Urbach and Sarah Lewis. They found that books, social media and newspapers are the strongest determinants of climate action, while TV and family have little impact.

Teaching About Food and Nutrition

96% of respondents view school instruction on food and nutrition as important according to analysis by Fiona Gao and Wen-Yuan Wang.

Teaching Climate Change in Schools

Opinions on the importance of teaching climate change in school are strongly influenced by a respondent’s concern about the climate and less so by their political ideology and location, explains research by Christina Torres, coordinator and research associate for the Center, and Pizmony-Levy.

The forthcoming research coincides with new revelations related to teacher preparation on sustainability and climate education, when approximately 40 educators returned to Teachers College this month to discuss how they’ve integrated professional development from last year’s Summer Climate Education Institute into their schools and classrooms. 
Lessons covered topics such as food equity, sustainable building methods, environmental racism and the role of greenhouse gasses. The product of nearly 10 months of collaborative effort, presentations showcased the breadth of work created during the institute and exemplified the variety of ways climate change can be taught to elementary school students.

Presentations also demonstrated how a learning community of teachers facilitates the creation of more innovative methods. During the course of one project — a mini-unit that introduced climate change concepts to kindergarten students through observation and classroom activities — educators found a need to explore solutions to climate issues like extreme heat and did so by incorporating a lesson on the importance of shade designed by other Summer Institute participants. The unit culminated with students building their “dream playgrounds,” designed to withstand heat and flooding.
Sustaining their growing community of climate educators is a priority for the Center for Sustainable Futures. As such, alumni of the summer institute will have long-term support through mentorship programs, continuing professional development and community building opportunities
“It is exciting to learn with and from the teachers on ways to integrate climate education across different subjects in elementary school,” says Pizmony-Levy. “We are looking forward to working with teachers on publishing their lesson plans and materials on platforms such as Subject to Climate. This will help expand the impact of our work to other teachers in NYC and worldwide.”
— Sherri Gardner

Published Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

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Four Columbians Win Guggenheim Fellowships

Four Columbia professors will receive Guggenheim Fellowships this year to pursue​ an independent​ project​​ of their choice. They are among 188 American and Canadian scientists, scholars in the>>>

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climate change earth month 2024 social card

To Address Climate Change, New Findings on Climate Attitudes & Learning Outcomes Offer Insight Sad News: the passing of Mun C. T…


A set of forthcoming papers by the Center for Sustainable Futures uncovers American attitudes toward climate change and education. The initial findings, which use data from a 2023 survey conducted by the Center and The Public Matters at TC offer a broader perspective on how Americans view the role of education in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Research led by TC student Sarah Lewis reveals that the majority of Americans want to know about responses to climate change. However, the research team identified several trends among different demographics. For example, the findings highlight a stark divide in attitudes and concerns when it comes to people who have accepted climate change and those who have not. In outlining the differences between the groups, researchers can then explore effective strategies for climate communicators to reach wider audiences. 
“Public opinion studies serve as a ‘window’ to the ways members of society think about climate change and education,” explains Oren Pizmony-Levy, Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education, and the research’s principal investigator. “These studies could also inform public discussion, policy, and practice. Teachers attending our Summer Institute and other workshops feel relieved to learn that the public support climate change education.” 
The Findings

Emotions on Climate Change

Sadness, anger and fear are most commonly reported emotions among respondents, especially those who strongly believe that human activity has contributed to climate change, reveals research by Carine Verschueren, policy analyst at the Center, and Pizmony-Levy However, anger is also common among those who reject the scientific evidence of the climate crisis.

Impact of Media and Messaging

Media and messaging encountered outside the classroom impacts participation in activism according to research from doctoral fellow and Center research associate Darren Rabinowitz and TC students Niklas Nyblom, Noa Urbach and Sarah Lewis. They found that books, social media and newspapers are the strongest determinants of climate action, while TV and family have little impact.

Teaching About Food and Nutrition

96% of respondents view school instruction on food and nutrition as important according to analysis by Fiona Gao and Wen-Yuan Wang.

Teaching Climate Change in Schools

Opinions on the importance of teaching climate change in school are strongly influenced by a respondent’s concern about the climate and less so by their political ideology and location, explains research by Christina Torres, coordinator and research associate for the Center, and Pizmony-Levy.

The forthcoming research coincides with new revelations related to teacher preparation on sustainability and climate education, when approximately 40 educators returned to Teachers College this month to discuss how they’ve integrated professional development from last year’s Summer Climate Education Institute into their schools and classrooms. 
Lessons covered topics such as food equity, sustainable building methods, environmental racism and the role of greenhouse gasses. The product of nearly 10 months of collaborative effort, presentations showcased the breadth of work created during the institute and exemplified the variety of ways climate change can be taught to elementary school students.

Presentations also demonstrated how a learning community of teachers facilitates the creation of more innovative methods. During the course of one project — a mini-unit that introduced climate change concepts to kindergarten students through observation and classroom activities — educators found a need to explore solutions to climate issues like extreme heat and did so by incorporating a lesson on the importance of shade designed by other Summer Institute participants. The unit culminated with students building their “dream playgrounds,” designed to withstand heat and flooding.
Sustaining their growing community of climate educators is a priority for the Center for Sustainable Futures. As such, alumni of the summer institute will have long-term support through mentorship programs, continuing professional development and community building opportunities
“It is exciting to learn with and from the teachers on ways to integrate climate education across different subjects in elementary school,” says Pizmony-Levy. “We are looking forward to working with teachers on publishing their lesson plans and materials on platforms such as Subject to Climate. This will help expand the impact of our work to other teachers in NYC and worldwide.”
— Sherri Gardner

Published Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

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Four Columbians Win Guggenheim Fellowships

Four Columbia professors will receive Guggenheim Fellowships this year to pursue​ an independent​ project​​ of their choice. They are among 188 American and Canadian scientists, scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and writers and artists of all kinds selected from over 3,000 applicants for a 2024 fellowship.

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has given nearly $400 million in fellowships to more than 19,000 individuals; over 125 of its alumni are Nobel laureates, members of all the national academies, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, and National Book Award, among other top honors. 

Here’s what the Columbians plan to accomplish in the next year:

Bruno Bosteels, Acting Dean of Humanities, and Jesse and George Siegel Professor in the Humanities, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, will be writing about the social function of literature, and examining literature as a set of forms of reality.

Adama Delphine Fawundu, Assistant Professor, Visual Arts Program, School of the Arts, will create an experimental film, Circadian Riddims, filmed entirely in slow motion, which will provoke healing in a time of post-trauma.

Jack Halberstam, David Feinson Professor of Humanities, Department of English and Comparative Literature, will be writing about a new generation of trans and queer artists who reach back to the 1970s to retrieve a vocabulary of unbuilding, unmaking, unbecoming, and undoing to represent sexual and gender variance. 

Nicola López, Associate Professor, Visual Arts Program, School of the Arts, will, through her artwork, The Haunting—a series of large-scale drawings with video projected onto them—explore the intersection of nature and the built environment.

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Statements From the April 17 Congressional Committee Hearing

Statement of Ms. Claire Shipman, Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees, Columbia University, before the Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives

April 17, 2024

Chairwoman Foxx, Ranking Member Scott, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today and discuss Columbia University’s efforts to combat antisemitism.

Antisemitism is dangerous and reprehensible. It has no place at Columbia, or in our society. I am grateful, as a citizen and a co-chair of our Board, for the spotlight that you are putting on this ancient hatred, and the critical role you play holding our most important institutions to account. As a reporter, I always have a bias toward transparency and accountability.

It is difficult, and heartbreaking, to hear, as we do regularly, that members of our community feel unsafe. I am a parent of college-age children, I know dozens of students at Columbia, and I feel this current climate on our campus viscerally. It’s unacceptable. I can tell you plainly that I am not satisfied with where Columbia is at this moment. As co-chair of the Board, I bear responsibility for that. This role is one of the great privileges of my life, and I take the weight of its responsibility seriously. I am dedicated to addressing these concerns.

The days immediately following October 7 are the most painful I have experienced on our campus. I knew, as word of the horrific Hamas terrorist attack started to spread, that the tragedy would have a devastating impact, especially on our Jewish students. Two days later, President Shafik and I joined hundreds of members of our community for a somber, candlelight vigil on the steps of Low Library. The grief was intense, but it was a moment of comfort. It would be fleeting.

The last six months on our campus have served as an extreme pressure test. Our systems were not equipped to manage the unfolding situation. But with each challenge, we have moved to adapt decisively. Physical safety was, and is, paramount, and we were seeing protests unprecedented in type and scale, a level of threats and harassment, especially directed at our Jewish students that was unacceptable. We shut our gates and backed the critical decision to invite the New York City Police department onto our campus during demonstrations for the first time since 1968. We’ve also brought on other law enforcement experts, rewritten our rules, and beefed up our enforcement process, suspending two student groups for non-compliance, more than a dozen individual students, and also disciplining faculty members. We’ve created an independent antisemitism task force, and launched training across the University on antisemitism. I hope to discuss more of our efforts later, but let me say something equally important: We are far from done. I am outraged by the vile sentiments I continue to hear, by those who ignore our rules, and we are holding them accountable. This problem, though, goes deeper than discipline. It’s about returning to our core values as an institution.

Late last fall, I moderated a powerful event with two brilliant women—the Israeli dean of our foreign policy school, Keren Yarhi Milo, and her friend, Amani Jamal, the Palestinian dean of Princeton’s foreign policy school. They didn’t agree on everything, but the women spoke with empathy, wisdom, common sense, and respect. That should be our steady state.

40 years ago—I arrived in New York from Columbus, Ohio, a full financial aid student with little sense about the school, the city, or the world. I was challenged by the breadth of ideas and outlooks—I drank up the chance to rub shoulders with cutting edge DNA researchers, and frontline cold war strategists who upended my political point of view. Columbia changed my life. That is what universities are meant to do—teach students how to think, not what to think. To challenge and broaden, not to intimidate and terrorize. We can be a campus that both battles antisemitism and all bigotry, and a place that allows for vigorous debate. A place that can weigh the most difficult questions in the world—in a civilized, respectful fashion. We are determined to create, again, a flourishing ecosystem. But, a healthy Columbia must start with respect for each other, and our rules. Let me be clear: Antisemites, bigots of any sort, those without common sense and common decency are not welcome at the Columbia we are rebuilding.

We are committed to being honest about where we are, and doing the hard work, going forward, of making Columbia better. I look forward today to getting your input.

More specifically, the Hamas terrorist attack, and subsequent war in Gaza, and the effects on our community, have revealed shortcomings in our system that we must, as leadership, come together and resolve. As they existed six months ago, our systems were not equipped for crisis management. Our process had been built, broadly, to respond to issues like academic dishonesty, and the use of alcohol or illegal substances, and it struggled to handle new realities on campus after October 7. But we have moved to adapt quickly, with our most fundamental goal, at all times, being the protection of our community.  

We knew that securing physical control over the campus, within days, was necessary for safety. We typically have an open campus, but that approach, especially in New York, posed substantial risk. As a Board, we considered decisions to hire outside security firms, to close the gates of our campus to those unaffiliated with the school, and to invite the New York City Police Department onto our campus, and we decided to implement all three options. We knew we might face internal criticism, Columbia had not had the NYPD on campus for demonstrations since 1968, but it was important to keep our community safe. We now know that NYPD presence is making a difference, we are grateful for their excellence and their help, and we are committed to working with the police indefinitely.   

We quickly began work to review and revise University policies—especially around events and discipline—to ensure that the policies are sufficient to address the situation at hand. Especially in light of the protests we saw on campus that were unprecedented in type and scale, we recognize that the University needs better rules and enforcement. We have adopted measures to limit the time, place, and manner of protests. These measures are meant to help protect our community from fear and threats, and simultaneously protect speech freedoms. We are also working to enforce these rules. Following a series of rules violations and non-responsiveness by group leaders, the University’s event policies were used to suspend indefinitely two student groups on November 19. We are committed to continuing to consider revisions and additions to the rules as we see how they operate in practice  

In addition to focusing on the physical safety of students and faculty on campus, we took concrete actions to confront antisemitism and support the Jewish members of our community. To help connect with Jewish students and better understand the needed resources, Columbia’s trustees met with students or attended campus events, including at Hillel. I met with Israeli Defense Forces veterans, for example, in our General Studies program, incredible young women from Israel who were struggling to comprehend the attacks at home. These students shared their fear of being targets walking across campus. That was unacceptable to me. In response to hearing devastating information like that, we worked to add resources to hotline and escort services to ensure students who felt threatened could get the protection they needed.

The University has also taken extensive actions to confront antisemitism by improving reporting and training processes. We have enhanced the process by which members of our community can institute complaints regarding discrimination and harassment, making reporting easier. We have added additional resources—through both internal staff and hiring external support—to address these complaints. We have enhanced our training process for everyone working with students and student groups and brought in outside training on Title VI and reporting obligations. We’ve also brought in significant outside investigative help to assist in efficient processing of harassment and discrimination complaints, and to allow a more rapid administration of justice.

President Shafik, less than a month after October 7, launched a Task Force on Antisemitism, one made up of three of the University’s most respected Jewish community members, to identify the challenges ahead of us and provide recommendations for the University’s response. The Task Force has already given us constructive feedback and suggestions. On the Board of Trustees, we also created a task force that tracks ongoing events and feeds recommendations to the administration. In addition, Columbia is working to foster productive conversations through programs like Dialogue Across Difference and connecting our community through listening forums. This is something our students, over and over, have said they need. 

As we continue improving, we have a number of longer-term efforts underway. Our ongoing rules review will provide comprehensive guidelines for demonstrations and protests that will lead to even greater accountability and a safer campus. That will provide one method of longer-term education. But rules and consequences will only get us so far. In the long term, it is our duty to educate deeply. To help our students to learn to listen with respect. To that end, we have invested extensively in antisemitism training for faculty and staff, which is already underway. We are also adding antisemitism education to our student orientation programs. We will continue investing in scholarship and academic programming that elevates campus debates on difficult issues. And we will focus on educating our community about the dangers and realities of antisemitism.  

We recognize that, despite our best efforts and intentions, Columbia did not always respond swiftly and forcefully enough, and we therefore fell short of addressing the enormous outpouring of grief and fear that our Jewish community was experiencing. Although we have not always gotten it right, and we still have much work to do, we are committed to making progress and overseeing improvements. We have also heard our Palestinian students, and other students from the region, who have felt unfairly doxxed, or targeted for their identity. I’ve met with and heard from a number of them. That is also unacceptable. It is our first imperative that all our students feel safe attending classes, sharing their perspectives on the conflict, and participating in campus life to the fullest. We are committed to hearing feedback from our community, this Committee, and our alumni and supporters around the world.  

Right now, Columbia is facing a critical moment and a serious challenge. We have significant and important work to do to address antisemitism and to ensure that our Jewish community is safe and welcome and that all of our community can continue to thrive. Our first—and most important—duty is to our students, and at every step of our response, I will keep that in mind.  

The remainder of my testimony has additional details on the University’s efforts to confront and combat antisemitism. 

Board of Trustees of Columbia University

The Columbia Board of Trustees advises the President and other senior University officials. We hire and oversee the President, who is responsible for hiring officers and running the day-to-day operations of the University. We also act in an oversight capacity, overseeing the University’s operations, finances, and compliance with the law. We take great care in executing our role and guiding the implementation of the strategic direction of the University in close consultation with the University’s senior leadership. All Trustees, other than the President, are volunteers. We are not paid, and do not make a career out of being Trustees. Our work comes from our love for Columbia, and our desire to support and improve the University in every way we can.  

Much of our work is not public facing. The Board does not publish press releases and does not have a social media presence. We have not released a statement about antisemitism, because we think it is important for all public statements to come from the administration, led by the President, so Columbia speaks with one unified voice.  

During this crisis we have been in constant communication with President Shafik about strong, consistent, and meaningful responses to antisemitism on campus. We have made sure that a diversity of perspectives is heard and considered in the University’s approach. The Trustees have met with students or attended campus events, including at Hillel.

The primary concern of the Board was—and is—student safety. We were involved in Columbia’s decisions to ensure the physical security of our campus and to provide additional resources to students experiencing pain and trauma in the wake of October 7.  

Columbia University’s Actions to Combat Antisemitism Since October 7, 2023

The Board is committed to building a university with an active discourse where all students, faculty, and staff can share their views on the issues important to them, but we refuse to tolerate threats, violence, and hatred. It is the Board’s responsibility, in conjunction with all University leadership, to build a community where everyone is safe and able to thrive. Our efforts will not be over until that goal is achieved in full.  

Columbia has seen a rise in complaints of antisemitic incidents on campus since October 7. We are taking these complaints seriously and have implemented a number of initiatives to address this harassment and hatred and to ensure safety on our campus. Simultaneously, these initiatives are built to ensure that all members of our community have access to the resources and support that they need to handle these incidents.  

a. Immediate Action Was Taken to Provide Physical Safety on Campus

Columbia’s disciplinary processes and support services were not prepared for the volume and the nature of violations that we saw after October 7. Traditionally, our campus has been open for public debate, including between students, faculty, and those not affiliated with Columbia. But the demonstrations and confrontations between student groups were unprecedented, and immediate action was needed to ensure the physical safety of our students.

Columbia began restricting access to campus to only Columbia ID holders during major events. Additionally, we increased the presence of public safety personnel across all of our campuses, hired outside security firms for additional support, and ensured that the NYPD were present or on standby for all major events. This is the first time in 50 years that Columbia has had a police presence on campus during demonstrations. We suspended two student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, following a series of rules violations and group leaders’ non-responsiveness to our repeated entreaties to comply. Many of these decisions were not popular, and provoked strong reactions from students, faculty, and outside groups. But President Shafik, the Board, and other University leaders felt they were essential to ensure the safety of our students on campus.  

b. Enhanced Reporting, Resources, & Student Policies

Combatting antisemitism starts with understanding the full scale of the issue. To increase the reporting of antisemitic and other hate incidents, Columbia launched the Enhanced Reporting Initiative. This initiative increased the online accessibility of the University’s reporting system, Maxient, to make it easier for community members to file reports. The initiative also created posters with QR codes directing members of our community to the system. Additionally, the initiative created a telephone helpline to answer any questions about reporting incidents and accessing support. Combined, these efforts will bring additional incidents to the University’s attention so that they can be addressed appropriately. Columbia has also created a Doxing Resource Group to assist students who have been subjected to doxing attacks. This group provides students with crucial support and has already assisted more than 90 students.  

Columbia maintains rules that prohibit antisemitic harassment, discrimination, and violence and will punish those who violate them. Since December, Columbia has undertaken a review of all event policies and the Rules of Conduct to make sure that they are appropriately formulated to prevent acts of hate against Jewish community members. The University Senate is also reviewing University rules, and the Board looks forward to reviewing their findings and recommendations in the coming months. While this larger review was essential, it was also important to provide more immediate changes to protect our community.  

Columbia also released updated Interim Demonstration Policies, which create designated demonstration areas where students are allowed to protest and share their views, so long as the protest does not disrupt the functioning of the University or otherwise violate the University’s code of conduct or the law. These designated locations are intended to be prominent and central, while still limiting interference with ongoing University activities and ensuring the safety of students. Limiting demonstrations to set areas will make it possible for students who do not wish to interact with protestors to avoid these events while still attending classes and participating in other aspects of life at Columbia. If students wish to hold a demonstration outside of one of these designated areas, they must seek University approval. All demonstrations require two working days’ advance registration to ensure that Columbia has time to make necessary safety preparations. Finally, students are not permitted to promote a demonstration on campus until after their registration is approved. The policy also lays out a clear procedure for adjudication of alleged violations and consequences for students and student groups who break the rules.  

Columbia recognizes the importance of free speech, even on incredibly divisive topics, and will not deny a group the right to protest peacefully based on their viewpoint. However, there will be consequences for those who fail to abide by the demonstration policy. If the policy is violated, student groups will be reported to their respective student governing board, which will recommend sanctions to the Administration. Individual students who violate the policy will be reported to the Center for Student Success and Intervention. Repeated violations of the policy by an individual student can result in referral to the University Judicial Board, who can recommend that the student be placed on probation, suspended, or expelled.

Four months later, these policy changes are yielding important results. The new time and place restrictions on protests, and corresponding penalties for noncompliance, appear to be reducing the number of events that violate University rules. Students are asking for more events that involve dialogue on the larger issues and can have more conversations with each other. And in the cases where things do go wrong, we are seeing faster-paced discipline.

Our hope is that these changes will make it so that our Jewish community members feel safe, secure, and welcome at Columbia, while also permitting other students the ability to make their voices heard. We are optimistic about the power of this policy, which was endorsed by the Task Force on Antisemitism. We will continue evaluating these policies over the coming months, and as necessary, we will amend the policies to ensure the safety of the Columbia community.  

c. Columbia University Task Force on Antisemitism

Shortly after the October 7 terrorist attacks, Columbia University launched a Task Force on Antisemitism led by three prominent Jewish faculty members on our campus to develop a forum for feedback and suggest improvements. The Task Force has been at the core of the University’s response to antisemitism and has met with representatives from all 17 schools at Columbia to learn more about what our Jewish community is encountering on campus.

The Task Force was entrusted with three critical efforts, which they have been relentlessly working on since. First, the Task Force was asked to assess the events and other causes contributing to the pain in Columbia’s Jewish community. Second, they were asked to review the relevant policies, rules, and practices that impact our campus. Finally, the Task Force was empowered to propose other methods to help the entire community understand the impact of antisemitism at Columbia. To better understand the experiences of the Columbia community, the Task Force hosted listening sessions. During these sessions, Task Force members heard from our community about the impact of antisemitism at Columbia to inform their later actions.  

To advance these goals, the Task Force rapidly released their first report, which focused on Columbia’s rules for demonstrations. Their report endorsed Columbia’s new Interim Demonstration Policy aimed at promoting the ability of community members to engage in debate and conversations regarding differing opinions while still ensuring student safety and allowing students to participate fully in campus life. The report also called for stronger enforcement of our policies, a goal we are working towards. While the Task Force’s praise of the new Demonstration Policy is not a sign we are done, it is a heartening indication that we are moving in the right direction. The Task Force will be releasing additional reports, which the Board is eagerly awaiting. We will continue incorporating its findings into our ongoing efforts to make Columbia a welcoming environment for all.  

d. Dialogue Across Difference (DxD)

Columbia also created the Dialogue Across Difference (DxD) Program, which has been holding programming, providing professional development opportunities for faculty hoping to facilitate difficult conversations in our community, and providing seed grants that will permit students, faculty, and staff to create their own programs focused on facilitating dialogue across difference.  

DxD has already hosted four events focused on facilitating effective and respectful dialogues amongst those with differing opinions. The events have covered a diverse range of topics, including a discussion detailing the history of Middle East conflicts and the chances for peace in the region, a conversation about divisions in our democracy, and a discussion on artificial intelligence and its future impacts on future public dialogues and freedom of speech. These events were not merely wonderful learning experiences on a wide range of topics, they were also demonstrations of how those with differing opinions can have productive debates and discussions—even regarding high-stakes issues.  

In addition to these community-wide events, the University is providing professional development and training opportunities for faculty through the DxD program. In January and February of this year, DxD trained Columbia faculty on “Having Difficult Conversations” and “Employing Empathetic Objectivity in the Classroom.” DxD also partnered with an organization outside the University to provide skills trainings to Columbia staff, aimed at responding to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, de-escalating situations that become too heated, and facilitating conversations despite difference.

Finally, the DxD program provides funding to support faculty and students who want to create their own partnerships and programming to support positive conversations across differences. This will allow individuals throughout our community to play an active role in building productive bridges across differences and promoting more beneficial conversations and collaboration. Although this program is still young, we are pleased with the incredible progress that has been made, and we look forward to continued growth and collaboration fostered by DxD in the coming months and years.

e. President’s Listening Forums

We recognize that a problem as deeply entrenched and critical as antisemitism must be addressed with consistent communication between University leadership and our broader community. It was therefore important to open a channel of communication directly from students to the President of the University to make sure a diverse array of feedback was incorporated. In this spirit, in the months after the October 7 attack, President Shafik began hosting biweekly listening forums where students can share their feedback directly. So far, more than 90 students have participated, and these listening forums will be a permanent part of President Shafik’s schedule moving forward.  

In addition to these formal listening forums, many Trustees, President Shafik, and senior administrators have attended vigils and Jewish student gatherings on and off campus. We also meet on a regular basis with Jewish campus leaders. For example, my Trustee Co-Chair and I have met weekly with the Director of Hillel.  

I am thankful that President Shafik, my co-chair David Greenwald, and I have been able to work collaboratively together—and with the rest of the Board and the administration. I am grateful for the tireless and collegial work of our Board. I am especially thankful to have President Shafik leading Columbia during this time of turmoil. When the Board of Trustees set out to find the twentieth President for Columbia University, we completed an exhaustive and time intensive search. After considering an enormous number of candidates, President Shafik was the clear choice. She is an esteemed economist who has solved problems at high levels in the real world. She is not afraid to make hard decisions, and she does so with incredible wisdom and empathy. Despite the struggles Columbia has faced in recent months, the Board of Trustees fully support President Shafik. With President Shafik’s leadership I am confident we can continue moving in the right direction.

*          *          *

 Thank you for this opportunity to discuss our ongoing work to end antisemitism at Columbia. I welcome any questions that you may have.  

University leadership, including the four of us here today, know the importance of standing up for the rights of all individuals, particularly our Jewish community at this critical time, and we are committed to ensuring the safety of all our students, faculty, and staff.

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