The Three Cairns Fellowship at Columbia Business School provides support to MBA and EMBA students who complete semester- or year-long projects at the intersection of climate change and business. Students may apply individually or in teams for projects that work with Columbia research faculty, or any type of organization or business in the U.S. or abroad that is addressing sustainability and climate change issues. Projects should focus on using markets and business knowledge, skills, and tools to identify and implement solutions to mitigate, adapt to, or reverse climate change and its impacts. The Three Cairns Fellowship was endowed by Lise Strickler ’86 and Mark Gallogly ’86. Their mission-driven investment and philanthropic firm, Three Cairns Group, works to build and support innovative organizations, platforms, and initiatives to accelerate climate action.
Questions? Contact [email protected].
Projects can be semester or academic year-long projects, but must be completed by the end of April. Applicants may apply for projects scoped by the center (these will be circulated prior to the application deadline) or source their own proposed project with a Columbia faculty member, or client organization from any sector in the U.S. or abroad. Students who find their own project should also provide a project description that includes the key questions for the project team, data sets (if applicable) and sources of research to explore, faculty or organization contacts the students will work with, a timeline, and deliverables. Student projects without an external client (e.g. projects to develop your own social venture) are ineligible. Students should instead scope a project for an external business or organization in a relevant industry or sector.
Criteria for Project and Team Selection
Fellowship applications should include:
- A clear purpose of the project and it’s potential to address climate change using business knowledge and skills, practices, or approaches;
- Clear expectations, realistic scope and deliverable(s) given the semester timeline;
- Collective skillset of the individual or team that applies to address the project needs and timeframe; and
- Internal organizational contacts and/or external advisors including Columbia faculty that have agreed to work with the applicant/student team.
Award and Student Obligations
Three Cairns Fellowships will be awarded to between four to six projects each academic year. The fellowship award provides individual students without a team with up to $3,000, or project teams up to a maximum of $6,000 per team, upon completion of the project. Project teams can be any size, though we suggest not more than four per team unless a compelling case can be made (e.g. unusual skillsets, significantly large project scope etc.) that requires a larger team.
In addition to the final deliverables specified in the project description, Three Cairns Fellows must:
- Provide a short written summary of the project and its impact, to be made available online;
- Deliver a project presentation in April, which will be open to students, faculty, alumni, supporters, and external organizations; and
- Complete a short online survey about the project experience.
Students also have the option of reaching out to Professor Bruce Usher to see if he would be willing to engage with them for independent study course credit for their Three Cairns Fellowship projects.
Application Process and Deadlines
For MBA/EMBA students
Information will be circulated by email to students every fall, and a team finder spreadsheet will also be circulated by email prior to application deadlines. MBA and EMBA student applications are due early in the fall semester every year. Students have the option of finishing their project at the end of the fall semester or completing it over the course of the whole academic year. All projects, however, must be completed by the end of April each year and must participate in a final project presentation in April. Apply online here.
For potential client organizations
If you are interested in working with a Three Cairns Fellow (individual or team of MBA/EMBA students), we accept applications on a rolling basis. Project descriptions are circulated at the start of the academic semester to which students may apply for the Three Cairns Climate Fellowship prior to the application deadline. These climate change projects may address research or strategic questions, market/customer segmentation growth, competitive or impact analyses, product development, or operational/supply chain/financial issues faced by your organization or business. Students can typically work up to 10-15 hours per week on projects during the academic semester.
Please note that if you are matched with a student team, they will be required to make a presentation about their project that is open to the public, and provide a short written description of the project for the Tamer Center’s website. Client organizations may work with their teams to determine the information to be shared. In addition, student teams should not be asked by client organizations to sign confidentiality agreements.
Download the application form online here.