Human Rights and Climate Change
Focus areas: The role of natural disasters in reducing or enhancing development opportunities for poor and emerging societies
On Leave for the Spring 2024 Semester
John Mutter's research focuses on the role of natural disasters in constraining development opportunities for poor and emerging societies. Meteorological extremes are expected to increase as a result of human-induced climate change, and his work attempts to assess who are most vulnerable to disasters such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina.
At SIPA, Mutter created and teaches the core course Environmental Science for Sustainable Development which provides the basis of understanding Earth systems behavior needed for students in the PhD program in sustainable development as well as masters candidates in several programs. He also created and teaches Climate Change, Development and Human Rights.
In undergraduate programs, Mutter co-teaches Disasters and Development and Science for Sustainable Development which is a core course in the undergraduate major in sustainable development in Columbia College. He also teaches graduate level marine seismology in Earth and Environmental Sciences.
He leads the Earth Institute's partnership with the UNEP's Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, researching environmental degradation as both an outcome and driver of disasters and conflicts.
Mutter's work in the natural sciences focuses on the use of marine seismology technologies to study processes in the formation of the earth's crust and mantle at mid-ocean ridge and continental rift settings. In 2008, he served as chief scientist aboard Columbia University research vessel Marcus G. Langseth, conducting the first 3-D seismic imaging experiment of seafloor spreading at the East Pacific Rise. This study will reveal how magma rises from deep in the Earth's interior to create new crust and controls the distribution of biological communities at hydrothermal vent systems.
Mutter is also a principal investigator on the National Science Foundation-funded ADVANCE program, designed to create institutional change that will improve the opportunities for women in earth science and engineering at Columbia.
Mutter is co-founder of the Bamboo Bike project, which creates a new type of bicycle for Africans.
- Principal Investigator, ADVANCE program
- Bamboo Bike Project
Research And Publications
In The Media
John Mutter comments on why New York City experiences numerous small earthquakes every year, and the impacts that these have on infrastructure.
As climate change drives hurricanes to become more severe around the world, John Mutter says, “poorer communities could bear the brunt of the destruction."
John Mutter writes on science communication, in the wake of New Zealand's White Island (Whakaari) volcano disaster.
A look at SIPA’s past, and future, at the intersection of policy and the environment.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the School gathered multiple speakers and other online material to help celebrate 727 graduates representing 69 nations.