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Terms and Dates:

  • Summer 2020
One Time Opportunity

Cornell Affiliations:

Atkinson Center

Off-campus partner:

Environmental Defense Fund


Opportunity Description

Job Title: Social Resilience Intern
Program/Department: Coastal Resilience, Ecosystems
Reports to: Paxton Ramsdell

Are you interested in exploring a career at an internationally-recognized environmental organization? By joining EDF as an Intern, you too can be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, where innovation and a focus on results are a way of life. EDF’s Internship Program welcomes intellectually hungry leaders to join us, advance our work, and cultivate the skills and relationships needed for a successful career working for the environment. Alumni of our Internship Program have gone on to important leadership positions, most notably our own President, Fred Krupp. Could you be the next Fred Krupp?

EDF offers internships and fellowships for students and recent graduates in a variety of programs and departments throughout the organization. The ultimate goal of our internship and fellowship program is to provide high-quality experiences (including relevant projects and opportunities for networking) that form the foundation for any individual who is serious about pursuing an environmental career.

Program Overview 

The goal of EDF’s North Carolina resilience initiative is to design and develop solutions to address the impact to communities and working lands from climate change. Part of building resilience is to reduce the social, ecological, and economic impacts from shifting precipitation patterns and more extreme storm events. EDF is implementing a community-driven landscape resilience initiative in Eastern North Carolina, where two hurricanes in less than two years have spurred demand for new, climate-smart solutions to extreme weather. Our work includes using natural infrastructure - restored streams, wetlands, and other nature-based practices - to reduce flood risk and exposure while providing year-round benefits. 

Natural infrastructure can reduce flood peaks and flows, reduce nutrient loading, and provide wildlife habitat. Yet the use of natural infrastructure is new to North Carolina’s residents, landowners, and policy makers. To advance our goals, EDF is interested in understanding residents’ preferences and perceptions of nature-based approaches that are designed and managed to provide flood reduction.  
The Social Resilience Intern will conduct research to help EDF understand farmer and resident perceptions of green versus gray infrastructure for flood reduction. This research proposal will first assess existing data to uncover landowner perceptions of green and gray infrastructure where such practices are in place (e.g. California, Iowa, Louisiana, and/or a TBD mid-Atlantic state). This study will explore perceptions of risk, safety, economics, and other benefits (water quality, wildlife habitat, aesthetics) related to green or gray infrastructure.

As non-farmers are important beneficiaries and potential advocates for these solutions, the second stage of this study will collect urban resident perceptions, preferences, and views of green infrastructure contrasted with gray infrastructure. The combined findings from both residents and agricultural producers will be used to inform the design of a survey to be administered in Eastern, North Carolina.

Ideal candidates will have a strong background in social sciences supplemented with ecology, conservation biology, and/or natural resource management, together with experience in stakeholder engagement and with conducting qualitative and quantitative research. The intern will deliver a research report and presentation summarizing their findings to EDF staff.

The intern will be located in EDF’s Raleigh, NC office, and have ample opportunity to interact daily with EDF scientists and program staff. 

Key Responsibilities - tasks will include but are not limited to:

•    Research, analyze, and synthesize information related to natural infrastructure, hazard mitigation, and landowner and resident preferences and perceptions of conservation practices.
•    Engage with conservation professionals from other organizations to better understand resilience practices in the field.
•    Synthesize results into a report and supporting presentation.
•    Work closely with EDF staff and partners to develop a survey instrument to be shared with residents and landowners in Eastern NC.

10 weeks during the summer.

Full-time (35 hours per week).


Application Materials
Interested applicants should submit their cover letter and resume through the application portal at the link provided.