The Earth Clinic: Solving Real-World Problems

The Earth Clinic: Solving Real-World Problems

Water Committee

Practice is a core activity of any problem solving entity of academia that provides solutions to real world problems. Practice is informed by basic and applied research, thus bringing the most advanced knowledge base to the field, the ultimate test bed of theories and hypotheses developed in the research and teaching environment of academic institutions. At the same time, practice is a constant source of new scientific problems that require further basic and/or applied research. This fruitful synergy between research and practice forms the foundation for achieving change in the ways society responds to the challenge of sustainable development through academically informed problem solving.

As the Earth Institute’s main practice instrument, the Earth Clinic is designed to serve the immediate needs of clients in developing countries by creatively responding to pressing economic and environmental problems. These needs are identified and analyzed; then suitable applications or interventions that help to ensure sustainable development are devised. The Earth Clinic offers science-based assistance to urgent issues of economic development, public health, energy systems, water management, agriculture and infrastructure. The clinic’s work differs from traditional consulting in that it brings a solid academic component to problem solving. An important element in this effort is close work with local partners on design and implementation to ensure long-term project effectiveness. Much of the Earth Clinic’s work stems from current Earth Institute research projects (like those in the CCI) that have developed interventions ready for application in the field. Current projects include the Millennium Villages Project, the Millennium Cities Initiative, expanding healthcare in Ethiopia, and reducing arsenic exposure in Bangladesh.

The Earth Clinic Steering Committee guides the Earth Clinic’s further development, as well as the investment of seed funding and the Countess Moira Charitable Endowment. To learn who is a member of the Earth Clinic Steering Committee, please visit the Earth Clinic Steering Committee webpage.

Click here for information on how you can help support the Earth Clinic.

Story About Projects of the Earth Institute

In the face of diminishing natural resources, exposure to pollution and extreme poverty, impoverished communities can greatly benefit from interventions such as improved cook stoves or new bicycles that can be made locally and sustainably. On March 12, 2009, the Earth Clinic at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, held a conference to showcase these and other interventions made possible through Earth Clinic seed funding grants. Opening remarks by the director of the Earth Clinic and associate director of the Earth Institute, Peter Schlosser, highlighted the purpose, motivation and meaning behind this clinic. Schlosser said, “The Earth Clinic is the Earth Institute's mechanism to transfer academia's immense knowledge base to problems in the field of sustainable development and it is a test bed for its research findings in real-world situations.” Read more...

 Powerpoint presentations

Arsenic Contamination in Bangladesh
(File size: 4.4 MB)


Evaluation of the Efficacy of a School-Based Educational Intervention for Reducing Arsenic Exposure in Bangladesh
(File size: 4.4 MB)


A pilot subsidized cook stove program for sub-Saharan Africa
(File size: 3.3 MB)


Bamboo bicycles as sustainable transportation in Africa: A feasibility study
(File size: 24 MB)


Pastoralist Education in Dertu: Challenges, Milestones, Lessons Learnt and Way Forward
(File size: 2.7 MB)