An Interdisciplinary Investigation of Water

Columbia is proud to announce the Year of Water. Throughout the next two semesters, the University will hold art exhibits, concerts, lectures, and symposia focused on the Earth's most precious resource in all of its social, political, cultural, economic, and environmental complexities.

"It is exciting for the School of the Arts to spearhead the Year of Water and to play a central role in convening the institutes, schools, and programs at Columbia engaged in research and action around these concerns."

Carol Becker, Dean, School of the Arts
A woman, wearing a dark teal dress and standing in front of a sea blue background, rests her head on her hand and smiles into the camera.

More Events

Upcoming Events

Woman standing in her art studio in front of her artwork.
1919: Black Water Exhibition, by Torkwase Dyson

September 27 - December 14
Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Buell Hall

Dyson's latest art project, 1919: Black Water, explores Chicago's tragic "Red Summer" of 1919 and the historical framework it provides in thinking through the contested geography of water, and the relationships between race, climate migration, and architecture. This exhibit is organized by the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and is free and open to the public. 

Cartoon character of a little girl standing in the water on a beach.
Lenfest Kids: H20 Presents 'Song of the Sea'

Saturday, October 19
11:00 am and 3:00 pm

Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, go on an adventure to free the fairies and save the spirit world. This 2014 animated film was directed by Tomm Moore. Ages 7+.  $7 for tickets purchased in advance;  $9 for tickets purchased at the door.

Blue waves of light with shadows of four people standing in the foreground.

October 22, 23 and 24
7:30 pm to 11 pm

WATERLICHT is a site-specific, large-scale light installation by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde. Translated as "water light," this immersive, monumental public art event illuminates the power and poetry of water, while raising awareness about rising global sea levels. This event, brought to you by the School of the Arts, is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

A man with blue shirt and navy blue blazer standing in front of a body of water.
Discussion With Artist Daan Roosegaarde

Wednesday, October 23
5:00 pm

Daan Roosegaarde will discuss WATERLICHT and other visionary projects such as Gates of Light, Van Gogh Path, Smog Free Project, and Space Waste Lab with Carol Becker, Dean of the School of the Arts. His new Phaidon monograph will be available for purchase. This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration does not guarantee seating; early arrival is suggested.

A man in a dark suit and tie sits on a stool, looking downward slightly and smiling into the camera.
Miller Theatre Composer Portrait: Vijay Iyer

Thursday, October 24
8:00 pm

A MacArthur Fellow, a Doris Duke Performing Artist, and four-time recipient of DownBeat Magazine’s Artist of the Year, Iyer will perform the world premiere of his Song for Flint and the New York premiere of Trouble, written for violinist Jennifer Koh. The Knights, a Brooklyn-based ensemble, will make their Miller Theatre debut.

water faucet with water pouring out.
Water Design Challenge: Lead Contamination in Newark, NJ

November 15 - November 16
Facilitated by Columbia Design Studio 

This challenge invites you to use the tools of design thinking to explore how communities and individuals can take action by working on interdisciplinary teams to innovate ideas and prototypes alongside community partners. This event is open to all Columbia University students.

Past Events

Flooded city street.
Storm Surge Barriers for New York and New Jersey?

Thursday, October 17
7 pm

A panel discussion, including presentations by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, about sea level rise and how intensifying coastal storms pose increased risks of flooding in the New York and New Jersey area. A question and answer period will follow. This free public event is sponsored by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Earth Institute.

Woman with long black hair, wearing red shawl and white dress, with her back to camera looking out to the sea.
Water, Sound, and Indigenous Film: 'Ushui'

Thursday, October 10
6:30 pm

Ushui is about Sagas—women shamans—and their wisdom and relation to water. Produced by the Bunkuaneyuman Communications Collective of indigenous Wiwa people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. Screening will be followed by a conversation with experts. 

A collage of images of the ocean, glaciers, and groups of people talking
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Open House

Saturday, October 5
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Whether you’re an aspiring young scientist or a long-time science enthusiast, you’ll enjoy Lamont-Doherty’s Open House. Tour a lab, participate in earth science demonstrations, and learn from world-renowned researchers about their latest discoveries. This event is free and open to the public, with a $5 suggested donation.

A young boy drinking from a glass of water.
Manhattanville Community Day: 'Bodies of Water'

Saturday, September 28
11:00 am to 4:00 pm

As part of Manhattanville Community Day, the Columbia Wellness Center will be celebrating "Bodies of Water," with an interactive program for families and community members to learn about the impact water has on their communities and overall well-being. The event will include a hands-on activity for kids of all ages to enjoy. This event, along with other programs and a screening of "Inside Out," courtesy Lenfest Kids: H20, is free and open to the public.

Bearded man being applauded on a stage by a woman with curly hair.
World Leaders Forum: Olafur Eliasson

Thursday, September 26
6:30 pm

Introduced by Carol Becker, dean of the School of the Arts, renowned visual artist Olafur Eliasson will discuss his large-scale works that have sparked critical dialogue about climate change and our relationship to nature. This event, which will be live-streamed, is free but registration is required.

Man holding a container of water.
Aligning Corporations With Sustainable Development Goals

Wednesday, September 25
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

This year's 14th Annual Columbia International Investment Conference sponsored by the Center on Sustainable Investment will focus on corporations and sustainable development goals in the face of climate change, water stress, deforestation, health crises and malnutrition epidemics. This event is free, but registration is required.

Stream of water running along side a dirt road.
Climate Change, Water, and National Security

Tuesday, September 24
7:00 pm

The Sabin Center for Climate Change presents a panel discussion on what the combination of water scarcity, social tensions, and political conflicts mean for Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. 

This event is open to the public without charge but registration is required.

A large group of people parade down a pathway holding aloft large, lanterns shaped like animals and flowers illuminated against the dark sky.
Morningside Lights: 'Island'

Saturday, September 21
8:00 pm

The beloved neighborhood tradition returns for its eighth consecutive year. Starting September 14, Miller Theatre opens its doors for a week of free lantern-building workshops, culminating in a magical, illuminated procession through Morningside Park.

A composite photo of the Earth inside a drop of water
No-Boundaries International Art Exhibit

August 12 – August 16 

Lamont-Doherty will be hosting the No-Boundaries (NO-BO) Art Exhibition, now in its fourth year, from August 12 to 16, 2019. The theme this year, “A Drop of Water,” encourages exploration of the relationship between people and water through art. The exhibit of 500 artworks from children from all over the world will be shown in Beijing, Paris, Nairobi, New York, and Rio de Janeiro from August 2019 to January 2020.

Centers on Water Research

Dozens of research centers and departments across Columbia are engaged in interdisciplinary research on water. Here are a few of them.

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Seeking fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution, and future of the natural world

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International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Improving the resilience of water systems worldwide

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Columbia Water Center

Our mission is to creatively tackle water challenges of a rapidly changing world where water and climate interact with food, energy, ecosystems, and urbanization.

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Kartik Chandran Lab

We develop technologies that provide clean water and sanitation to populations worldwide, while concurrently transforming wastewater into resources, including water, energy, and fertilizer.

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Gentine Lab

Investigating continental water and carbon cycles using big data

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Environmental Tracer Group

Research on water movement in natural systems, oceanography, rivers and estuaries, and paleoclimatology