CEEP Internships

CEEP Internships bring together undergraduate Scholars to support the needs of local not-for-profit community groups. In this innovative service-learning program, Scholars work together in teams, marshalling their academic knowledge and co-curricular experiences to complete projects originating in and benefiting the community. Working with community partners allows students to apply historical and social knowledge to real-world situations, gives them a taste of the challenges that they’ll face after graduation, and provides tangible benefits to community organizations lacking staff or resources to carry out these projects.

Projects for participant Scholar teams are comparative and analytic in nature, such as exploring a problem’s background, identifying different approaches to similar problems, and analyzing data from city, state, and federal levels of government. Community partners have identified three basic project types: (1) white papers (including historical and social analyses); (2) market research; and (3) fund-raising documents (primarily grant proposal research). Interns selected for the program work in interdisciplinary teams, providing valuable expertise to community partners. Teams meet regularly with instructors as well as interact frequently with community partners and relevant experts.

While CUSP collaborate with many partners to engineer these unique internships, our most instrumental partner in sustaining and developing this construct has been Dr. Jack McGourty and the Columbia Center for Innovation, Technology, and Community Engagement (CTICE).  CTICE is a research, development, training, and consultation organization devoted to promoting and expanding technology-based community service learning initiatives originating at Columbia. Located in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, CTICE links Columbia’s rich technical and academic resources with community needs. It is an institutional home for service learning programs, which take students and teachers out of the classroom and into the local community to work on real projects. CTICE encourages students of all ages to learn technical and professional skills necessary for careers in business, science, and technology; it promotes a life-long orientation to social responsibility, ethical behavior, and community service; and it develops, evaluates, and disseminates new service learning programs both within the New York metropolitan area and across the United States.


Global climate change has become a reality. There is consensus among scientists that these changes will continue and accelerate in the coming decades. The New York Region is already feeling the impacts associated with climate change. In the Region, average annual temperature has increased more than 2°F since 1950 with nine of the last ten years achieving the highest temperatures in the instrumental record. In addition, the sea level, as measured at the Battery, has risen over a foot in the last century due to thermal expansion, glacier melt, and local subsidence, and is projected to continue to rise by as much as rise 5 inches more by 2030. Furthermore, local storms and droughts are anticipated to become more frequent and intense due to climate change. The sea level rise and more severe storms increase the likelihood of coastal flooding, which will impact vital infrastructure, homes, and businesses in New York City’s waterfront neighborhoods. In fact, New York City is considered one of the top three cities in the United States vulnerable to the destructive effects of storm surges. While all five boroughs have vulnerable coastline, each community’s risk and the optimal solutions to mitigate that risk will likely vary. Therefore, preparing for these impacts must include community-specific planning.

A successful community planning process provides the community with the tools necessary to understand the challenges, engages in problem solving, and effectively communicates preferred solutions. In addition, the process must take into account the unique challenges associated with planning for climate change. First of all, the general public is not familiar with climate change issue. Most publications on the topic are extremely technical and difficult to read. Finally, planning will be based on projections that continue to evolve. The exact timing, extent, and locations of climate change impacts are unknown.


Spatial environment shapes social behavior. The Broken Windows theory proposes: “consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there,” (Atlantic Monthly, 1983). This is only a slight exaggeration of the situation on 125th Street in Harlem, where the proliferation of fast food franchises and street vendors has led to a proliferation of waste. This project aims to help the 125th Street Business Improvement District address waste management challenges, research different technologies to create sustainable solutions, and facilitate and centralize communication with local businesses.

Possible solutions included the following:

  • Initiating a Harlem Earth Day to launch the community clean up campaign
  • Partnering to support a feasibility study for bio-diesel research
  • Utilizing pre-existing (and free) resources of Columbia University’s Engineering School to create a better website
  • Composing a grant proposal for the BID’s future office space and technology Showcase

HARLEM 50/40

St. James Church (140th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue) developed the Harlem 40 and the Harlem 50 projects to support Harlem youth. The Harlem 40 supports youth who joined in the 6th grade and are now in the eighth grade. The Harlem 50 group is reserved for older male street leaders who dropped out of school but now have to commit themselves to going to college and to helping other local youths. Recently, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church donated a new home for the Harlem 40 and Harlem 50. A student Gateway team is working on the design and layout of three floors, including a computer room, study center, classroom, game room, music studio, and gym. The project will identify and approach potential donors to underwrite the cost of renovations as well as help Harlem 40 and Harlem 50 develop their programs into models that can be replicated.


The Let’s Do It Better! Workshop on Journalism, Race and Ethnicity fosters coherent, complete and courageous coverage of race and ethnicity in America. It seeks to supplement appropriate criticism of news media by honoring outstanding journalism on race and ethnicity, and by encouraging its spread across the nation. A nationwide competition brings these examples of outstanding reporting into the spotlight. The creators of the very best stories are brought to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to deconstruct their work. Sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the workshop, now in its eighth year, proves that quality journalism can be achieved through work that punctures stereotypes and stirs fresh discussion. Participants learn how to use the honored pieces to improve the cultural competency of their own content and newsrooms. The workshops create a deeper commitment among news media gatekeepers to improve coverage of race and ethnicity. By arming these gatekeepers with fresh information, sources, ideas and insights applicable to race and ethnic issues, they have the ability to advocate better coverage and implement it at newspapers and TV stations across the country. This not only improves the newsroom environment in which journalists of varying race and ethnicity function, but it also deepens the multicultural dialogue which helps retain talented young journalists in the profession.

In 2006, The Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity was published by Columbia University Press. Arlene Morgan, program director, co-edited the book with Alice Pifer, director of the school’s continuing education program, and Keith Woods, dean of the Poynter Institute for Journalism Education in Florida. Comprised of a book, a companion DVD, and a Website, it is the most comprehensive multimedia tool to date on the coverage of race and ethnicity in America. It contains award-winning stories and insights on race reporting in our diverse society, and is a resource for students, journalists and educators. The research interns play a significant role in the creation and coordination of the Let’s Do It Better! Workshop. At every phase of development – the judging of entries; the selection of winners; arranging travel and accommodations; constructing an agenda; preparing materials; updating the Web site; writing the final report – the intern will participate in the workshop process.  The culminating report is published on the school’s Web site and is sent to the Ford Foundation as part of their ongoing monitoring and assessment of the grant they supply to operate the workshop.


Morningside Area Alliance, a community based non-profit, Columbia University Oral History Research Office, Barnard College, and the Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program have partnered with PS 125, a Harlem public school, to create an innovative curriculum to teach social studies, language arts and the arts to elementary school students. As part of a larger school-community initiative, Morningside Area Alliance works with P.S. 125 to connect resources and develop partnerships between the school, community organizations and the Alliance member institutions.  After learning the techniques of oral history interviewing, the elementary students will conduct their own oral history interviews based around a relevant historical question.  Working with teaching artists and interns, the classes will then use the arts to create digital and performance-based art works to share their interviews, and their interpretation of them, with the public.  The Columbia University Oral History Research Office is involved in training and curriculum development, and provide a seminar on oral history theory and practice for interns. Student teaching artists from Barnard College and Columbia University develop the arts component of the project and implement in-class activities; interns work directly with teaching artists and classroom teachers during the life of the project.

The Morningside Alliance—Oral History Interns work with education professionals, scholars and elementary school children to implement an arts-based oral history project for students at PS 125 (425 W 123rd St. between Amsterdam and Morningside Avenues). Interns participate in curriculum design and weekly in-class workshops.  They are expected to lead at least one class session and to play a key role in creating a multimedia or performance-based final product, to be presented at a culminating event where students present and perform their work for the school and their families.   Interns coordinate the work of teachers, teaching artists, and oral historians in developing and implementing the curriculum, and are responsible for collecting and presenting primary and secondary source research materials to frame the oral history interviews. We expect each intern to work with students and project partners in one classroom The internship provides the opportunity to learn about oral history interviewing, research and archiving, digital technology, multi-cultural and interdisciplinary approaches to curriculum, as well as arts and humanities education. 

Students with an interest in history (especially oral history), education, and/or the arts, will be considered for this position. This internship is ideal for students who are considering working in education or non-profits. It provides the opportunity to work closely in project planning, implementation, and assessment, as well as to gain substantive understanding of and experience with the discipline of oral history.


Designed by Professor Owen Lewis of Columbia’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Mental Health Internship is a unique opportunity to work closely with professionals in the world of mental health.  Such an in-depth experience that is emotionally involving will, it is hoped, influence future career choices – perhaps in the direction of children/adolescent’s mental health, education, psychology, social work, or education. Furthermore, the internship offers the opportunity to develop transferable skills that  will serve the intern well in leadership roles as active members of the community (in areas as diverse as policy-making, environmental issues, urban and ethnic studies, human rights, not-for-profits, etc.). 

The Mental Health Internship provides for direct clinical experience with adolescent psychiatric patients in the Children’s Day Unit of New York State Psychiatric Institute (1051 Riverside Drive at 166th Street), which is a day treatment center/research unit for adolescents with psychotic or psychotic spectrum disorders. The Unit provides a variety of therapies as well as school for these patients who are participating in a variety of pharmacological trials. Interested students apply for this competitive internship (application attached) and are interviewed by Dr. Owen Lewis.  The program runs for the entire academic year -- 7.5 months (October to mid-May).  Please note: this internship is a commitment for an entire academic year.    Internship participants spend a minimum of 2-3 hours per week on the unit and assist with the patients when they are in the unit school, participate in variety of group treatments (social skills, art, recreation) and informally promote social interaction with the patients.  There is also the opportunity for interested students to learn about clinical research. Participants will also meet on a monthly basis with Dr. Owen Lewis, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, to discuss their “cases,” process their experiences, and read relevant material. Internship participants are registered with New York State Psychiatric Institute as volunteers and need to be cleared by the Institute’s volunteer office.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


403 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-6378

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