Access to this e-course is restricted. For more information and access, please contact CCNMTL at


Professor Marc Levy and CIESIN and Columbia Interactive welcome you to:

Environmental Sustainability: Perspectives on the World
From Columbia University/Hosted by: Professor Marc Levy

This e-seminar is an exploration of the many facets of environmental sustainability, taught in conference-style format with the perspectives of nine Columbia University faculty members associated with the Center International Earth Science Information Network.

Please read the entire contents of this page to learn about systems requirements and features of this seminar. You may want to print this page for your reference. You should also bookmark it because it will remain your entry point to the seminar for the time that the seminar is open to you.


"Environmental Sustainability: Perspectives on the World" is divided into nine modules. Each module begins with an introduction to the contributing faculty member, followed by a series of video discussions and activities based in our Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) mapping tool. Throughout the course you will be encouraged to respond to five essential questions in the Course Forum.

While this course is not for credit and your responses to questions are not required, we strongly encourage you to participate in the discussion.

Discussion Tools:

Columbia Interactive Seminars have discussion tools so you can respond to questions posed by the faculty members and your peers throughout the seminar experience.

Reading Assignments:

"Environmental Sustainability: Perspectives on the World" is completely self-contained: there are no additional required materials. At the end of the seminar, Marc Levy has listed additional web resources and texts for those of you interested in further study.



Introduction by Marc Levy
  1. Introduction to Lessons
  2. Introduction to the Environmental Sustainability Index and Viewer

Part I: Environmental Systems

  1. Introduction, by Marc Levy
  2. Human Impacts on the Arctic Environment, by Stephanie Pfirman
  3. El Niño and the Peruvian Fishing Community, by Kenneth Broad
  4. Sustainability in the Sahelian Environment of Mali, by Sally Findley
  5. Climate Change and Past Civilization, by Peter de Menocal
     Part II: Human Responses
  1. Introduction, by Marc Levy
  2. Economics and Sustainability, by Geoffrey Heal
  3. Industrial Ecology, by Iddo Wernick
  4. Sustainable Design, by Danielle Smoller
  5. Ecological Architecture, by Joel Towers
  6. International Environmental Regimes, by David Downie


Conclusion: Thoughts on Sustainability

  1. Concluding Remarks, by participating faculty
  2. Further Reading


Technical Requirements

To appreciate this seminar experience, it is critical that you have the appropriate software, plug-ins, and network connections. Please take the time to download the latest versions of the plug-ins mentioned below if you do not already have them:

  1. Browser: Netscape versions 4.x up to 4.76, or Internet Explorer versions 4.x or later. Your browser must have JavaScript enabled and it must be set to accept cookies.
  2. Plug-in:
    • RealPlayer 7 or later
  3. Network Connection: The recommended minimum connection is 56K modem with throughput of 44Kbps or more. A faster connection is suggested.

If you do no have RealPlayer already installed, please download the plug-in from the following site: