Energy Journalism Initiative - Frequently Asked Questions

Overview and Background

What is Energy Journalism Initiative?

The Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative is a program at the Center on Global Energy Policy within Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. The Initiative will educate journalists about the various disciplines associated with the energy sector, including policy, markets, finance, climate change, technology and geopolitics. Moreover, it will introduce participants to a variety of leading sources who can help inform their reporting on this vital topic. The Initiative will hold its first program in summer 2017, and will grow and evolve in subsequent years with additional support to offer more resources, programs and technology tools that meet the changing needs of energy journalism. The program’s initial phase is supported with generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and CGEP Advisory Board Member Reid Hoffman.

The changes underway in the energy sector are creating challenges and opportunities, the complexity of which will require important decisions by both the public and private sectors. But making good choices requires a well-informed populace and a sophisticated level of discussion and dialogue. Journalism is key to improving this dialogue.

In its initial year, the Initiative will feature a three-day seminar [June 20-23, 2017] held in CGEP’s New York City headquarters for approximately 15 energy journalists. The seminar will be taught by a selection of academic, business and public-sector experts and focus on various topics critical to the global energy debate. In the future, to complement an expanded seminar, the Initiative will also develop and catalogue relevant educational materials and tools, provide webinars on specific issues, and create a network of high-quality resources to improve the level of understanding of these complex issues.

What is the Center on Global Energy Policy?

The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs seeks to enrich the quality of energy dialogue and policy by providing an independent and nonpartisan platform for timely, balanced analysis and actionable recommendations to address today’s most pressing energy challenges. The Center convenes energy leaders, produces policy-relevant, accessible research and trains students to become the next generation of energy scholars, executives and policymakers. Based at one of the world’s great research universities, the Center leverages its location in New York City, proximity to financial markets, business and policymakers, and Columbia’s world-class faculty and global reach. Columbia University is where the world connects for energy policy.

What is Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs?

Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs educates students to serve and lead, as well as to produce and share new knowledge, on the critical public policy challenges facing the global community. The study of policy at SIPA—be it international finance and economics, international security, climate change, energy, economic development, or global urban challenges—trains young leaders to engage multiple levels of governance and to reach effective solutions. 


About the Three-Day Seminar

When is this taking place (Dates of program/timeline)?

It will be a three-day seminar from June 20-23, 2017.

Where will the program take place?

The program will take place on the Columbia University campus in New York City.

What can I expect to learn from the seminar?

The program strives to impart specialist knowledge that will help reporters look deeper at the stories they cover in a more holistic, integrated way. While we do not expect participants will emerge as experts in the topics addressed, they should have greater awareness of said topics and how they relate, thus creating the potential for fuller stories in the future.

Please note that this program does not teach basic journalism skills, as that is outside the goals of the program and expertise of the lecturers. The program also does not assign stories to reporters, or participate in any reporting efforts.

Who will teach the initiative?

Energy Journalism Initiative seminars will be taught by Columbia faculty and scholars as well as other academic, private-sector and government experts.

What topics are covered in the seminar?

Topics will cover a broad range of economic, policy and technology issues in a survey-course fashion. Focus will be on the relationship between the sectors and the need to examine and understand the energy ecosystem in total to analyze discrete components. A working agenda for the seminar can be found here [PDF].

What format will the sessions take?

The program will strive to ensure that sessions are interactive and participatory. A lecture format will be used sparingly.


Application & Selection Process

How do I apply?

You can download the application here [PDF]. 

All submissions should be sent to

When applying, the header should read – LASTNAME, FIRSTNAME, EJI Application

When is the deadline?

The deadline is March 31, 2017, by 11:59 PM EST.

How will I be notified?

You will receive a confirmation email once your application has been received.

Admission decisions will be made at the end of April.

What are the eligibility criteria for applicants?

The selection committee seeks to admit reporters who are relatively new to the energy beat. Priority will be given to reporters who have 5 years or less of direct reporting experience covering energy and the environment, although anyone with 10 years or less of direct reporting experience is eligible to apply. The Initiative has identified print reporters (defined in the broader sense to include major and local newspapers, wire services, trade outlets, and internet/new media outlets) as the primary candidate pool.

Are freelance journalists eligible to apply?

Yes. Freelance journalists must still submit a completed application with all the required documents and meet all eligibility criteria. In terms of a letter of recommendation, freelance journalists can fulfill this requirement via two options:

1. A letter from an editor with a news outlet that has published your work and can confirm your engagement in energy

2. A letter from a professor attesting to the same thing

I’m currently in school. Can I still apply?

No, this program is specifically designed for currently working journalists.

I live abroad. Can I apply?

Yes, but all visa arrangements and costs must be borne by you.

I’m a journalist who doesn’t cover energy or the environment. Can I apply?

If you are a journalist who does not currently cover energy or the environment but will begin to do so in your professional capacity in the near future, you are eligible to apply. You must, however, show that you will be covering energy and environmental topics prior to or upon completion of the program, attesting to this fact in the recommendation letter from your supervisor.  

What is the admissions process?

A Review Committee will look at the applications of all candidates and, from those who meet all the requirements, make its selections.

Is this a certificate or degree program from Columbia?

No, this is not a certificate or degree program.

Will I be considered a Columbia student?

No, you will not be considered a Columbia student.

Do I need letters of recommendation?

Yes. You must submit one letter of recommendation from your direct supervisor or manager.


What is Expected from Participants?

Participants in the program will be expected to complete an evaluation form examining the topics and sessions, which will be consulted in improving the program going forward. The participants will also be expected to produce a brief report six months after the Initiative that references 2-4 articles they wrote during the intervening period and describes how the program enhanced their coverage and changed their approach to the stories. The report should include as an appendix all the relevant energy stories the reporter has written.

In addition, the participant’s direct manager will be required to fill out a short, questionnaire at this same six-month period after the seminar to provide an independent assessment of the progress of the reporter, and whether the manager believes that the Initiative contributed to those gains. Managers will be made aware of this requirement when they sign off on the attendance of their reporters.



When is this taking place (Dates of program/timeline)?

It will be a three-day seminar from June 20-23, 2017.

Where will the program take place?

The program will take place on the Columbia University campus in New York City.

Can it be done remotely?

No, you must attend all sessions in person.

Will hotel accommodation and transportation costs be covered?

Yes, the program is able cover hotel room fees and transportation costs for participants up to a threshold level. Meals will be provided as part of the seminar.

How much will this cost me?

The program is intended to cover all costs directly related to participation.

How will I stay connected?

Participants will receive regular communication and materials from the Initiative in an on-going fashion

I want more information. Whom do I contact?

For more information, you can contact us at