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.


Kartik Chandran, man with glasses talking into the camera, with a shelf of books behind him.
How to Go (and Stay) Green

Kartik Chandran explains how treating wastewater is one way for engineers to effect change and work toward a sustainable Earth and environment.

Clouds and setting sun on horizon over blue body of water
How Will Climate Change Impact Water?

Access to fresh water is a critically important societal challenge posed by climate change. Columbia scientists examine how water availability affects agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, and human society.

Global shaped image of Earth showing white patches of melting ice and blue water
What's Happening to the Ice Sheets?

Robin Bell, a glacialogist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, explains how the ice sheets are changing.


Photograph of water splashing in a container. Colors are shades of blue with bubbles and white light in the center.
Local Student Photographers Reflect on Water in Online Exhibition

A virtual photo exhibit shows the different ways that local middle school students think about water.

Ice filled water with snow covered mountain in the background
Lamont Scientist Honored With Antarctic Namesake

Ducklow Inlet recognizes Columbia's Hugh Ducklow, who advanced marine biology in a region where few scientists had set foot.

Woman with long blonde hair and glasses standing in front of a body of water.
For This Teachers College Alumna the Glass Is Half Full

Anne Feighery is fighting the world's looming water crisis with a digital app, bold market theory and hope. 

Man with glasses, wearing a hat, surrounded by green leaves.
As Climate Warms, Plants May Demand More Water

A new study suggests interactions between plant leaves and the atmosphere will starve streams and soils of water, cutting supplies for people.

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

Past Events

Poster with tan and blue colors of an industrial scene, including ships, cranes and water.
The Year of Water: Selections From Columbia's Book Arts Collection

January 20 to July 3, 2020
RBML’s Chang Octagon Gallery

Items range from New York City Rainfall 1987 by Sandy Gellis, a portfolio of prints which document a year’s rainfall, to this year’s My Mighty Journey, which traces 12,000 years of a waterfall’s existence, with illustrations created with natural materials found by the river and  wood engraving by Gaylord Schanilec.

Concentric circles in bright and bold colors: shades of green, blue and red.
The Wild Lyric I: An Exploration of Poetry and Water

Saturday, March 7
11 am to 5:30 pm

In this symposium, led by Dorothea Lasky, poets will explore the symbol of water, and its many ramifications in their lives. Water, both ephemeral and timeless, carries with it its own history. It connects us to our ancestors and to our future. Most importantly, it is a form that is intrinsically connected to poetry, with poetry’s watery and associative, fluid, electrified, and occult properties. During this daylong event, we will consider: What is a poetry of water? What does a world look like without water? How can poets save the planet?

Modern artwork with black, gray and off-white shapes on a white background.
Waterways in Contemporary Chinese Ecological Art

Saturday, February 29
2 pm

Eric Fan Feng, assistant professor, Institute of Contemporary Art, Tsinghua University, Beijing, and Betti-Sue Hertz, director and chief curator, the Wallach Art Gallery, discuss the far-reaching influence of the ancient concept of shan shui—literally “mountain water painting”—for ecologically sensitive contemporary Chinese artists.

Group of people holding a blue banner that reads "Detroit Flint."
Water Activism: Detroit, Flint and the Great Lakes

Thursday, February 27
6:30 pm

Screening and discussion of film about Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v Nestlé Waters North America Inc., which curbed the mining and pumping of local spring waters for bottled-water usage. Environmental lawyer Jim Olson, of the Traverse City-based FLOW will talk with medical anthropologist Nadia Gaber, of We The People of Detroit. Catherine Fennell, Department of Anthropology, will be the moderator.

Cartoon image of a mermaid with green hair and purple fin, floating in green water.
Lenfest Kids: H2O Presents 'Lu Over the Wall'

Saturday, February 22
11 am and 3 pm

When teenager Kai’s family leaves Tokyo to live in the small fishing village of Merfolk, he discovers his musical talent can conjure mermaids from the sea. Lu arrives and trades in her fins for feet, but can she and Kai use their friendship to save the village? This 2017 animated film is directed by Masaaki Yuasa. Ages 6+.  $7 for tickets purchased in advance;  $9 for tickets purchased at the door.

About a dozen people dressed in colorful tribal costumes sitting on a rocks and logs near a river with mountains in the background.
Water, Sound, and Indigenous Film: 'Antonio and Piti'

Thursday, February 13
6:30 pm

Screening at Lenfest Center of the Arts of an Amazonian story of a rebel love that breaks the moral and cultural boundaries of the time, told by Dona Piti, daughter of Chico Coló, a “rubber soldier,” and by Antonio, an Ashaninka from Peru. Panel discussion will follow with director Vincent Carelli, Wewito Piyãko, Esther Imperio Hamburger.

Architect Bjarke Ingels, brown hair, dressed in dark colors, speaking on a stage with red neon letters, spelling TED, behind him.
Lecture by Bjarke Bundgaard Ingels

Monday, January 27
6:30 pm

The Danish architect, founder and creative partner of Bjarke Ingels Group, talks about his projects with their emphasis on sustainable development, at Avery Hall's Wood Auditorium. Introduction by Amale Andraos, dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. 

Two emperor penguins walking fin to fin on a sheet of ice.
Lenfest Kids: H20 Presents 'March of the Penguins'

Saturday, December 14
11:00 am and 3:00 pm

The 2005 documentary, directed and co-written by Luc Jacquet and co-produced by Bonne Pioche and the National Geographic Society, depicts the yearly journey of the emperor penguins of Antarctica. Ages 6+.  $7 for tickets purchased in advance;  $9 for tickets purchased at the door.

Architect Renzo Piano: Man with gray hair and beard with glasses wearing a lime green sweater and blue collared shirt sitting in front of maps and architectural drawings.
Renzo Piano on Designing an Inclusive City

Wednesday, December 11
6:30 pm

Speaking at The Forum, one of his three Manhattanville buildings, Piano will discuss how architecture can create more open, permeable neighborhoods, provide arenas for cross-cutting exchanges and opportunities and enrich civic life. This event is organized by Columbia World Projects and co-presented with the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the School of the Arts.

A dozen solar-powered windmills stretched across a barren field with sunsetting in the distance.
Regional Responses to Global Challenges

Tuesday, December 3 
3:00 pm

Climate change will increasingly impact every aspect of every life in every region around the world. Through the lens of the Columbia Global Centers, Columbia faculty will share their perspectives on the impacts of climate change in different regions around the world and how each region has been working to mitigate these effects. This event is part of the Columbia Global Centers 10th anniversary celebration.

Cartoon of two fish -- one orange and white and one blue and yellow -- looking at each other surrounded by purple coral.
Lenfest Kids: H20 Presents 'Finding Dory'

Saturday, November 16
11:00 am and 3:00 pm

A 2016 3D computer-animated adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios, released by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by Andrew Stanton, follows the friendly but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory, as she searches for her long-lost parents. Ages 7+.  $7 for tickets purchased in advance;  $9 for tickets purchased at the door.

Musician Annea Lockwood: Woman with gray hair and glasses with black shirt with silver necklace in front of a turquoise-colored background.
Miller Theatre Composer Portrait: Annea Lockwood

Thursday, November 14
8:00 pm

A tiger’s purr, burning pianos, helium balloons and the Hudson River have all played a part in the music of this New Zealand-born composer and sound artist. The Yarn/Wire returns to perform a world premiere commission, alongside three other works, including Becoming Air, written for and performed by trumpeter Nate Wooley.

A woman with long dark hair stares into the camera.
'Atlantics' ('Atlantique')

Thursday, November 12 
6:30 pm

Atlantics (Atlantique), a 2019 internationally co-produced supernatural romantic drama film, is a Cannes Grand Prix award-winning film by Mati Diop. A discussion with Mamadou Diouf and Souleymane Bachir Diagne, will follow the screening.

Dr. Alex N. Halliday, director of the Earth Institute: Man with gray hair and glasses in a suit and tie standing next to a column with a tree in the background.
Climate Change Task Force Student Town Halls

Friday, November 8 and Monday, November 11  
3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, respectively

A town hall, chaired by Alex Halliday, director of The Earth Institute, will introduce you to some of the members of the task force. Come to share your ideas on how the University can have a greater impact on society and face the challenges of the future. Registration is required. Open to current students from Columbia, Barnard and Teachers College.

A bus being driven through a heavily flooded city.
Climate Change in Cities: A Problem in Urban Ethics

Wednesday, November 6 
6:30 pm

A lecture by Richard Sennett, the Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and a Senior Fellow of the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia. Weiping Wu, Director of the Urban Planning program at Columbia GSAPP will respond.

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.

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

October 22, 23 and 24
7:30 pm to 11:00 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.

Body of water with bridge and city in the background.
Implementing New York's New Climate Law

Wednesday, October 23
6:00 pm

New York State’s nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act will require drastic changes to our transportation, buildings and energy sectors. This event will bring together experts across sectors to explore pathways to achieving carbon neutrality.

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.

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.

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.

The artist, Torkwase Dyson, a woman in a blue shirt with long black hair, standing in her art studio in front of her artwork.
1919: Black Water Exhibition, by Torkwase Dyson

September 27 - December 14

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.

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.