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University Forum on Global Columbia

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A university-wide forum querying the nature, purpose and possibilities of a global university and in particular what is a "Global Columbia." Columbia has embarked on a wide ranging discussion focused on what is involved in becoming a global university in the twenty-first century. The Forum invites the entire community—students, faculty, administrators—to consider the substance and directions of Global Columbia.

Columbia has embarked on a wide ranging effort to understand what it means to be a global university in the twenty-first century and to identify changes that will transform Columbia into an effective global university.  The University Forum on Global Columbia (UFGC) invites the entire community—students, faculty, administrators—to consider the substance and directions of Global Columbia. 

Columbia has long been an internationally oriented research university, but the globalizing conditions of the twenty-first century world require more than a series of relations with territories, objects, and concepts elsewhere in the world. They entail inter-relations in which events and decisions in one part of the world have consequences for all other parts in varying degrees and forms. These new conditions of globalization require new ways of thinking about forms of connectivity, new modes of comparative and synthetic thought, and new methods for understanding the ultra-local and multi-dimensional causes and ramifying effects of global processes.  To meet the demands of the twenty-first century, all research universities need to develop new forms of research and pedagogy without losing their core areas of specialized research. 

Because such a transformation is neither readily imagined nor easily implemented, it is important to engage the entire university community in a discussion about the future of Columbia as a global university.  The forum provides a space to consider the university’s global agenda-- the current initiatives underway and the future possibilities—as well as new forms of infrastructure to implement such a vision. 

Last spring, President Lee C. Bollinger formed a committee of professors and deans to create a pathway for implementing the idea of the University-wide Forum.  The Committee has been meeting for the past several months and the members have developed a series of background notes to help facilitate the discussion. Divided in two sections, information notes and discussion notes, these notes are intended to spur further discussion and debate.  Information notes are designed to create shared understanding about the globalization landscape Columbia is now navigating, whether by choice or by necessity.  The discussion notes identify questions and issues that can help frame a broader exchange of ideas.  Written by individual members of the committee, the notes do not represent the views of the entire committee. It is our hope that as the process unfolds, there will be robust discussions around the topics mentioned here, along with new postings on specific topics that can provide a more nuanced approach to making the university more globally responsive and relevant.  

We hope you will participate actively in discussions underway at various schools and provide robust feedback. We have posted a similar set of questions here to further facilitate your participation. 

Please consider responding to the questions below and post other questions that could further enhance the discussion around Columbia’s global agenda:

1. How do you see your teaching and research changing in the context of Global Columbia? 

2. As a student, what do you require from the university to better prepare you for the new conditions of globality? 

3. What opportunities, obstacles, or dangers do you see in the processes of globalizing the university? 

4. What do you need from the university in the way of infrastructure, policy, and resources to successfully implement your own global projects and to strengthen the global vision of Columbia? 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

University Forum on Global Columbia Members:

  • Carol Becker, Arts
  • Shih-Fu Chang, Engineering
  • Sarah H. Cleveland, Law
  • Donald R. Davis, Economics
  • Richard Joseph Deckelbaum, Pediatrics; Epidemiology
  • Mamadou Diouf, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
  • Thomas A. DiPrete, Sociology
  • Nabila El-Bassel, Social Work
  • Sandro Galea, Epidemiology
  • Carol Gluck, History
  • Marianne Hirsch, English and Comparative Literature
  • Sheena Iyengar, Business
  • Merit E. Janow, School of International and Public Affairs
  • Nicholas Lemann, Journalism
  • David Madigan, Arts and Sciences; Statistics
  • Mark A. Mazower, History
  • Rosalind C. Morris, Anthropology
  • Timothy Mitchell, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
  • Pedro Sanchez, The Earth Institute
  • Ursula Staudinger, Sociomedical Science
  • Philip Michael Tuts, Physics
  • James Valentini, Columbia College; Chemistry
  • Co-chair: Vishakha N. Desai, School of International and Public Affairs
  • Co-chair: Kenneth Prewitt, School of International and Public Affairs
I. Discussion

Forces both external and internal to Columbia press toward the university's greater globalization. Allowing for considerable variation in how globalization is defined, and what features should be resisted and what welcomed. This Section invites faculty and students to actively shape Columbia's response to the multiple opportunities and challenges associated with these forces of globalization...

We start with a few discussion notes prepared for illustrative purposes. The success of the Forum will rest on whether individuals and groups from across the campus post their discussion notes, and whether they are actively debated, challenged, improved on.

Notes
Discussion Note #1
Globality: The Task of the University Now, Rosalind C. Morris
Notes
Discussion Note #2
The goal is Scope, not Scale, Nick Lemann
Notes
Discussion Note #3
Protecting Epistemic Diversity, Ursula M. Staudinger
Notes
Discussion Note #4
Relevant, Perhaps, but Insufficient Reasons to Globalize, Kenneth Prewitt
Notes
Discussion Note #5
The Languages of Collaboration, Marianne Hirsch
II. structure

How deeply and thoroughly should Columbia’s global initiative alter basic structures, procedures, and practices on which its core activities – teaching, research and service – depend? What is lost, or in danger of being lost, at what cost and with what resulting benefits?...

In 1865, Columbia’s just appointed President, Frederick Barnard, referred to Columbia as a University, though it was then legally and familiarly known as Columbia College.* This was no slip of the tongue. In his 25-year presidency Barnard often used the term and more consequentially put in motion measures intended to transform Columbia from a teaching college into a research university. The transformation was not conflict free. The “College Believers” fought to keep the College as the core identity and purpose, but gradually they lost ground to the “College Agnostics,” who viewed “the professional, graduate, and research functions as not only distinct from its undergraduate teaching functions but as taking precedence over them.”*

By the beginning of the 20th century, the research university had become a wholly new institution of higher education, not just at Columbia. Everything shifted – the criteria for faculty positions; the organization of curriculum and research by departments and disciplines; the design, use, and especially expansion of the physical plant; degrees awarded, from the BA to the PhD; funding sources; library holdings; role of trustees; mission statements; competitors and collaborators – a nearly endless list. Here the key point is that no part of Columbia (or of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc.) was untouched.

Is Columbia’s 21st century use, even if informally, of the label “Global University” a transformation similar in scope and depth to that experienced more than a century ago? Or is it simply one more important university development that will be absorbed into the dominant research university model -- developments such as expanding from a regional to a national to an international university; proliferating multiple centers and institutes that cross departments and schools; breaking the gender barrier and more generally pushing for diversity; aggressively moving into huge new transdisciplinary fields such as sustainable development, personalized medicine, data science, and mind, brain, and behavior.

This section invites debate on that large question, and of course on the particulars as presented in the Notes below and other Notes that might follow.

*Robert A. McCaughey, Stand Columbia: A History of Columbia University in the City of New York, 1754-2004. p.170.

Notes
Structure Note #1
Structures and Procedures in the Global University, Nick Lemann
Notes
Structure Note #2
Structural Transformation of the Research University in the Era of Globality: Concerns from the Core-as-Periphery, Rosalind C. Morris
Notes
Structure Note #3
Infrastructure for a Global University, Mike Tuts
III. information

Forces both external and internal to Columbia press toward the university's greater globalization. Allowing for considerable variation in how globalization is defined, and what features should be resisted and what welcomed. This Section invites faculty and students to actively shape Columbia's response to the multiple opportunities and challenges associated with these forces of globalization...

We start with a few discussion notes prepared for illustrative purposes. The success of the Forum will rest on whether individuals and groups from across the campus post their discussion notes, and whether they are actively debated, challenged, improved on.

Notes
Information Note #1
Drivers & Landscape, Ursula M. Staudinger
Notes
Information Note #2
Comparative Landscape: Global Efforts by Select Peer Institutions, Vishakha N. Desai
Notes
Information Note #3
Guidance on Structuring Global Entities and Global Relationships PowerPoint Presentation, Kenneth Prewitt, Edward Silver.
Notes
Information Note #4
Student Views on 5th Year Experiment; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Charles R. Armstrong, Rosalind C. Morris
Notes
Information Note #5
Undergraduate Survey, by Evan Tachovsky -- Research Assistant, Quantitative Methods in the Social Science - Columbia University, with Kenneth Prewitt.
IV. Academic Freedom, Human Rights & the Global University


 

Notes
Note #1: Ethical Standards
by Ken Prewitt, Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs
V. Statements from Schools, Departments, Institutes & Centers


 

Notes
Select Global Initiatives
by David M. Schizer, Columbia Law School
Notes
Distinguishing between International and Global: Potential Directions from the Health Arena
by Richard J. Deckelbaum, Institute of Human Nutrition
Notes
Response to Questions of the Global Columbia Committee
By Sheena Iyengar, Jerome Chazen Institute for International Business
Notes
Lamont Doherty Town Hall Discussion on the Concept of a Global University
By Pedro Sanchez and Alison Rose, Earth Institute
Notes
Response to Questions of the Global Columbia Committee
by Carol Becker, The School of the Arts
What does Global Columbia mean to you?
The University Forum on Global Columbia invites you to share your thoughts by completing our survey. To begin, first select your Columbia University affiliation below:

Thank you for your feedback!

For all other inquiries related to this University Forum, please contact us.