News Release

Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation Gift establishes inaugural Columbia Climate School Fellowships

Increasing access to a world-leading program

Grant and Award Announcement

Columbia Climate School

The Columbia Climate School and the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation announced on February 1 the establishment of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Fellows program. The program creates the first two full tuition fellowships at the university’s new school. One fellowship was made in honor of Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger; the other is in honor of Climate School founding dean Alex Halliday. The fellowships seek to make the Climate School accessible to high-achieving students regardless of financial circumstances.

“The value that diverse student viewpoints and experiences bring to innovation and the discovery of new knowledge is undeniable, and nowhere is the need for this intellectual approach more urgent than in the work of the Columbia Climate School,” said President Bollinger. “The contributions to research, scholarship and practical insight that will flow from this gift will be substantial, and I am proud to be personally associated with the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Fellows.”

“We are tremendously grateful to Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel for her incredible forward-thinking gift,” said Halliday.“Climate change stands to affect people from diverse regions and societies. We need to make sure the Climate School and its programs are accessible to the most talented students, who will become tomorrow’s leaders. Our goal is to train a new generation of students who have a deep knowledge of how a changing climate will affect human society. We are grateful for the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation’s partnership and support.”

"The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation is pleased to expand and continue its commitment to the public good with the establishment of these new fellowships,” said Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. “Climate change is one of the most pressing global problems of our time, and it demands fresh, science-based, informed solutions. With this support, the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation hopes to enable members of underserved communities to fully participate in the Climate School’s innovative programming, and to help bring diverse communities together to address this critical, and difficult issue.”

The Columbia Climate School, established in 2021, brings together Columbia University’s strengths in climate research to help address this major global challenge. The school is now in the middle of its first academic year, with 86 master’s students in its inaugural program, the Master’s in Climate and Society.

The M.A. in Climate and Society is an academically intensive, interdisciplinary one-year program that trains students to understand and address the impacts of climate variability and change. The program prepares students to translate complex scientific information and understand the risks a shifting climate poses, as well as how to take advantage of the predictable aspects of natural climate variability. Students in the program come from around the globe and bring experience in a wide variety of backgrounds with them. A signature capstone project brings together groups of students to work directly with an outside client, preparing them to have a real-world impact after they graduate.

The gift comes at a time when Columbia University has made increasing student support a major focus. The Student Support Initiative, announced by President Bollinger in April 2021, is dedicated to raising $1.4 billion in financial assistance for students at Columbia across its 16 schools.

About the Columbia Climate School

The first new school to be established at the university in 25 years, the Columbia Climate School’s goal is to marshal Columbia University’s academic resources to meet the challenges of climate change. This unprecedented commitment to tackle humanity’s greatest challenge builds on the unique history of climate change research at Columbia. Columbia’s faculty include some of the world’s leading climate experts across multiple disciplines of science, law, business, policy, engineering and more. The University is harnessing its talent, infrastructure, and reach to address this unprecedented global challenge.

 About the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation

The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Foundation seeks to encourage an informed and vibrant democracy by funding projects that demonstrate innovative approaches to strengthening public and civic engagement and democracy in the United States and abroad. The Foundation supports projects undertaken by proven leaders in the civic, urban, and governmental areas, who are working to support the development of critical thinking, analytical, and leadership skills in the public sector, or who have promoted strategic diplomatic engagement to produce positive change and advancement.

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