Sunday, November 15, 2009

Columbia Global Centers | Amman hosts pre-Copenhagen (Cop15) Environmental Summit

In the run-up to Cop-15—the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December—more than 100 policymakers, scientists, and business executives gathered at the Columbia Global Centers | Amman this week to discuss the environmental needs of the Middle East and potential summit outcomes. The “Way to Copenhagen 2009” was organized by Jordan’s Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden, the European Commission, and Jordan Europe Business

As the fourth most water-scarce country in the world, Jordan will face major environmental challenges in the coming years, even though its contribution to the global volume of greenhouse gasses is less than 0.1%.

Several speakers urged developed nations to take on their “fair share” of the climate change burden by providing financial support and increasing technology transfer, for example. Ibrahim Mirghani, head of the Sudanese delegation to the G-77, called on developed nations to establish a fund to “make full and effective repayment of climate change debt” that would amount to at least 1.7% of global GDP of developed countries.

Benoit Lebot, the Climate Change Technical Adviser to the UNDP, admitted that his hopes for major breakthroughs at Cop-15 were not high due to long-standing and well-known political resistances.
However, “we should not wait for global economies,” he said. “There is more happening in some villages in Sweden and in Germany.... We can act now.”

Jordan signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2003 and has committed to increase its usage of renewable energy from 1% to 10% by 2020. But both on the policy level and in terms of daily life, challenges remain. Despite many efforts to make the event “eco-friendly,” it proved impossible to find a local printer who could produce conference materials on recycled paper in the time frame required.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Century of the City

Rank the world’s most powerful cities.

What cities did you consider? What factors did you grade them on? What factors were most important? Not quite as easy as you thought? Researchers from The Mori Memorial Foundation (Tokyo, Japan) studied what differentiates today’s metropolises and created the “Global Power City Index 2009,” a ranking of the world’s thirty-five most powerful cities.

Four of the researchers, Heizo Takenaka, Keio University, Hiroo Ichikawa, Meiji University, Takayuki Kubo, Mori Memorial Foundation, and Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, presented their findings to the Columbia University community on Tuesday, November 10th at Avery Hall. An appropriate location since New York received the top ranking in the “Global Power City Index” followed by London, Paris, Tokyo and Singapore at number five.

While the Columbia community may be tempted to brag about our city’s top ranking, the researchers stressed that the purpose of the study was not to simply state which cities are best. Rather, by studying which cities are most powerful researchers can isolate the factors that set successful cities apart. As Professor Sassen explained cities and the connections between them are becoming increasingly important. Experts are calling the 21st Century the century of the city. This study will serve as a tool for urban planners who can utilize the findings in developing and designing sustainable, productive and flourishing communities.

Saskia Sassen, Takayuki Kubo, and Hiroo Ichikawa answer the audience's questions about the Global Power City Index

Researchers graded cities on six functions; Economy, Research, Cultural Interaction, Livability, Ecology, and Accessibility. Sixty-nine separate indicators from taxi fare rates and quantity of green space, to the number of top 300 global companies were used for grading. What sets their study apart is its unique focus on individual users’ perception of a city. To understand different perspectives researchers selected five actors; a manager, researcher, artist, and visitor, and a resident and re-ranked the cities according to their unique viewpoints.

More information and a copy of the study can be found at the Mori Memorial Foundation. This event was sponsored by the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, and the Mori Memorial Foundation. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

CEO: Summer Internships Abroad

The Columbia Experience Overseas program has existed since 2007, when the Center for Career Education unveiled a slew of internships in London and Hong Kong. Now going into its fourth year, CEO connects employers--ranging from the London Science Museum to BNP Paribas--with about 15 Columbia College and SEAS undergraduates in each location.

With the expansion of the Columbia Global Centers, CEO hopes to expand in kind. Currently, representatives of the Career Center are meeting with Beijing contacts including Kai-Fu Lee, who just stepped down as CEO of Google China, and Yan Lang, a Chinese talk show host.

CEO and the Global Centers already have much in common in terms of the points of entry they can offer Columbia students and affiliates. As demand for international experience increases, and students continue to seek travel and work experience abroad, Columbia's career center continues to expand its global scope.

Barnard Expands VISP in China

Barnard College , one of the nation’s most distinguished liberal arts institutions and CU affiliate, pioneered the Visiting International Students Program (VISP)  to bring students from around the world for one semester to experience an American liberal arts education. Shortly after the launching of the Global Center in Beijing, Barnard College, with the assistance of the Beijing Center, agreed to add Beijing Foreign Studies , Beijing Normal University , and China Foreign Affairs University to its array of international partnerships.

In an effort to internationalize the student body at Barnard, 17 students have been chosen by the aforementioned Chinese universities and approved by Barnard to partake in a semester-long program through which they take a full academic course load and live on-campus, starting in Spring 2010. These Chinese students, like other VISP students from Italy, South Korea and Denmark, are expected to be fully immersed in the residential and academic community of not only Barnard but Columbia University in general. Students will have complete access to all campus services and will be guided by faculty members as they explore the convergences and divergences of university life as compared to their home institutions. Students from these prestigious Chinese universities are vetted for excellence and selectively chosen in order to maximize integration into the Barnard community.

Bound by a shared global perspective and a consensus that diversity and internationalization are vital to the intellectual environment of any campus, the Global Center in Beijing and Barnard College have forged a union which, like their respective ambitions, is not limited by conventional borders.