Nearly a year after Jeffrey Sachs—a world-renowned expert on economic development and poverty—stepped down from his position as director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, the University has yet to find his replacement.
The Earth Institute is committed to finding practical solutions to promote environmental sustainability, and it includes more than 30 research centers and over 850 scientists, staff, and students. It will also play a key role in the University’s sustainability plan, which aims to reduce the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent over the next three years.
Sachs led the Institute for 14 years, during which time he also served as a special adviser to then-United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Millennium Development Goals. Sachs has also authored three New York Times bestsellers and was awarded the Blue Planet Prize in 2015 for his contributions to solving global environmental problems.
Sachs still serves as the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management.
According to Executive Director of the Earth Institute Steve Cohen, the search for Sachs’ replacement—lead by University President Lee Bollinger—is underway, but with no specific end date.
“The search has yielded very strong candidates who remain under consideration but we do not yet have a timetable for announcing an appointment,” Cohen wrote in an email to Spectator.
However, Cohen noted that the institute has been very active in launching several recent initiatives despite the open director position. Earlier this year, the institute developed a five-year strategic plan “to continue building the highest quality sustainability institute in the world,” according to Cohen.
The institute also launched a Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, which brings together various parts of the institute working to fight climate change, developed six new courses in the Sustainability Management master’s program, and increased efforts to collaborate with other graduate and undergraduate schools across the University, including Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Barnard College.