In 2007, the Earth Institute helped to create the special concentration in sustainable development for undergraduate students. The concentration was designed as a cluster of specialized courses that complemented the expert training in existing disciplinary majors at Columbia. The energy and interest that the special concentration generated from faculty and students foretold the need for a full major in sustainable development, which was launched in the fall of 2010.

Graduates must develop a strong foundation in the natural and social sciences and expertise in critical areas such as food, water, health and climate change. They are trained in important skill areas such as economic and GIS modeling, and taught to draw from interdisciplinary perspectives in science, policy and the process of decision making.

Drawing from cutting-edge research and practical work done at the Earth Institute, graduates of the major and the special concentration will be uniquely prepared to approach issues of sustainable development from all angles in the public, private and non-profit sectors.