Earth Institute: Fostering Interdisciplinary Conversations

Professional Trainings
About This Project


Building a strong foundation for a leadership transition with professional development and collaboration.


Columbia University’s Earth Institute brings together many disparate research units to address complex issues facing the planet, particularly focusing on sustainable development and its impact on poverty. Under the direction of international recognized economist Jeffrey Sachs, the Institute has pioneered research and served as a model for institutes across Columbia’s campus and beyond. Facing an upcoming change in leadership, the Institute sought TYTHEdesign’s support in aligning and strengthening the organization’s foundation.




Working collaboratively, TYTHEdesign and the Earth Institute staff developed a full-day workshop that addressed the Institute’s specific challenges and focused on team building as a form of problem solving. . The workshop brought together individuals from several research centers, as well as the Institute’s central office, encouraging collaboration and strategic thinking through inclusive activities and engaging dialogue. The workshop was the first event of its kind in the Institute’s 20-year history. TYTHE brought structure to the conversation around change, providing a tailored agenda, customized facilitation guide and training to their supporting team members, in order to ease potential tensions and guide energy toward productive problem solving.




Interdisciplinary Connections

Over 75 interdisciplinary participants walked away with a stronger connection to their peers and actionable items to carry the organization through its transitional year. The event organizers noted: “TYTHEdesign’s creative, collaborative approach was a great asset during the planning process, and helped us to see outside the box on a lot of activities we were proposing.”


A New Communications Format

The group developed set of core values to share with existing and new leaders and a series of recommendations to improve the quality of the Institute’s day-to-day communication and collaborative styles, which they plan to roll out in the new school year.


Member-led program recommendations

A series of more than ten recommendations for improving the quality of work, day to day environment, communication, and collaborative practices developed by the participants are currently being implemented by the Institute.



Client: Earth Institute, Columbia University


Collaborators: Kristina Drury, Grace Moore


Year: 2015