Letter From the Dean

Author bio: Merit E. Janow

Merit E. Janow
February 11, 2020

There may be no greater challenge facing humanity today than that of Climate Change. It raises complex and far-reaching questions with the potential to impact every sector of society and the global economy. We are already seeing its many effects around us, whether it is more extreme weather events, damage to marine life and marine habitat, negative effects on agriculture, or changes in human migration. 

The world’s great research universities have an important role to play in both understanding and addressing this problem. At Columbia University and at the School of International and Public Affairs, we are proud that the study of climate and the environment is core to our teaching and research and has been for decades. 

At SIPA, we focus on many dimensions of climate disruption within nations as well as across national boundaries that require collective action. SIPA’s PhD program in sustainable development, our core masters programs, and many other parts of the University are actively working together to advance the study of the environment in new ways and to identify achievable solutions. 

I commend the Journal of International Affairs for producing this very significant volume on climate disruption. The essays contained herein reflect the multidisciplinary scope of the climate challenge and focus on areas such finance, public health, migration, culture, technology, and pedagogy. The essays underscore the sense of urgency we must have around this challenge. The interviews highlight current thinking from outstanding leaders from a variety of backgrounds.

Further, this volume rightly recognizes the need to bridge the gap between potential responses and solutions and awareness by the broader community. We hope it serves to advance solutions and expand understanding as we grapple with the magnitude of the challenge before us.