Thursday, January 21, 2010

EVENT: Global Poetry Reading

In our efforts to make the humanities play a significant role in globalizing the curriculum, the International Council and Global Cultural Studies are arranging a series of events.  First in the series is what we’re calling a “Global Poetry Reading,”  with Abena Busia, Meena Alexander, and Marilyn Hacker on March 25, 2010 in the Library of the Casa Italiana (1161 Amsterdam Avenue) from 6:00p-8:00p, to be followed by a reception and book signing.  Rosalind Morris will be the discussant.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Bridge Between Columbia and Africa

The number of international students at Columbia from Africa has been on the rise since 2004, according to data provided by Columbia University’s International Programs and Services (ISSO) office, which provides support for visas and other documents for international students who come to Columbia University. ISSO is responsible for international students who enroll in and/or intern at Columbia, and the students whose place of origin is Africa make up 2.7%. There are 195 African students enrolled in and interning at Columbia University for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Of these African students, 1.1% of Columbia’s international population hail from West Africa, 33 of the 147 enrolled students are from Nigeria, 10 of the 48 interns are from Morocco, and at 39 total students, Nigeria is the country of origin for 20% of the total number of international students at Columbia whose place of origin is Africa.

However, according to Dean Kathleen McDermott, the director and assistant Vice President of Columbia University’s Office of Global Programs, there is still a lack of general cohesion among Columbia’s various affiliation attempts with the African continent.

Columbia’s various units—such as the Business School, the Mailman School of Public Health, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences—each have their own respective programs through which they send students to Africa, but according to Dean McDermott, there is very little communication between these programs unless a problem—such as a safety issue in one of the countries—arises, making it very difficult to form comprehensive plans to increase Columbia’s correspondence with African countries.

The Office of Global Programs itself does not currently run very many programs in Africa that are solely through Columbia University. However, through outside schools and programs it sends students to North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa every year. Many of the programs that students travel through are field study programs, research programs, and volunteer programs. Students who are interested in research and/or volunteering in Africa have access to several summer programs that are located in most countries throughout the continent. Dean McDermott would like to establish more of its own programs in African countries; they are currently discussing a program that it will have in affiliation with Senegal.

Through the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, the African Consortium, which is affiliated with Columbia University as well as the Universities of Cape Town in South Africa, Ghana, Ibadan in Nigeria, and Nairobi in Kenya, has conducted a series of pilot courses and strategic policy discussions, and is currently developing a program of language-based socio-cultural studies. The Consortium also includes a student exchange program with the University of Ghana.

The Mailman School of Public Health’s International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) and the Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Projects operate in the region with large staffs and a substantial number of established programs in affiliation with African countries. ICAP takes a ‘family centered approach’ to its mission to fortify health systems through programs that address the issue of HIV/AIDS and other related health concerns. It was founded in 2004, and it has already provided access to HIV care to over 750,000 people, and provided HIV treatment to about 358,000 people.
ICAP’s staff, led by Global Director Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, consists of around 1,200 people, with approximately 1,000 physical sites across 13 African countries, with no current plans to expand. This vast staff as well as various students and medical professionals who work through ICAP’s programs provides services such as monitoring and evaluation of HIV programs, research on epidemiology, prevention and management of infectious diseases, real-time data collection and reporting, training and mentoring of medical professionals and students, education, medical equipment and supplies, HIV care and antiretroviral treatment (ART) for children and adults, HIV testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), treatment adherence and psychosocial support, and care and treatment for related diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) is a partnership between the Earth Institute, Columbia University, Millennium Promise, and the United Nation Development Programme. Over a five year period, MVP hopes to help communities and local governments to develop the capacity to continue MVP’s initiatives and build a foundation for sustainable growth. So far, MVP has touched an approximated 400,000 people in 79 villages. It has 12 groups across 10 African countries, which consist of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Although needs vary from sector to sector, the greatest overall need is funding to launch community-based development projects that have been set up to be self-sustaining after several financial injections. Because of the various agro-ecological zones, MVP’s services also vary from sector to sector, but some of the resources it provides are high yield seeds, fertilizers, medicines, drinking wells, materials to build school rooms and clinics, and access to resources such as agroforestry, insecticide-treated malaria bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the internet, remote sensing, and geographic information systems.

The study of Africa from an intellectual standpoint is integral to the academic life on campus. One such resource is the Center for African Education (CAE) through Teacher’s College. CAE supports research and teachings about education in African and in the African Diaspora. Another resource is the Institute of African Studies (IAS). Established in 1959, IAS is one of the ten regional institutes at Columbia, and it provides a resource for African-centered academic research, program development, curriculum, student advising, and local, national, and international dialogue and action in Africa. IAS seeks to provide a forum for faculty, students, scholars, and the more general community that is engaged in policy initiatives in Africa.

Friday, January 8, 2010

President Bollinger Discusses His New Book on a Free Press for a Shrinking World

Click on the link above to hear from President Bollinger on his ideas about global society, free press and the University's global agenda.

Monday, January 4, 2010

From Mumbai: Outward and Onward

In March of 2010, Columbia will open the newest Global Centers in Paris, France and Mumbai, India, the latest in an expanding international web of research centers. The Center in Mumbai will be an important outpost for scholarly collaboration in India and worldwide.
The new research center is a huge project both physically, in its building, and in its programming. Nirupam Bajpai, economist and Director of South Asian Programs for Columbia’s Earth Institute, will be leading efforts to open the Center. As a renowned researcher in India, he will no doubt be up to the challenge. The Mumbai Center will be Columbia’s fourth hub for global scholarship with three already operating in Beijing, China, Paris, France, and Amman, Jordan. A new center in one of Southern Asia’s leading cities will strengthens Columbia’s research efforts in India.
“Being physically present makes outreach and involvement with local institutions easier while still maintaining a close relationship with Columbia,” explained Bajpai.
But it is the opportunity for individuals to collaborate transnationally in Beijing, Paris and Amman that makes this Center exceptional. The arrangements and connections between the four centers will make Columbia’s Global Centers a unique model in comparison to other universities.
As researchers look outward from Mumbai to a web of international research centers they will also look onward to the future. The location in Mumbai will allow Columbia’s Earth Institute to work alongside Indian leaders in sustainability research and policymaking. Researchers may continue working on future-oriented projects such as “India 2047,” a sustainable development initiative recognizing the centennial of India’s 1947 independence. Bajpai explained that having a physical presence in Mumbai is helpful, “not just to impact India but South Asia in general; Nepal, Sri Lanka, and surrounding countries.”
Check back on our blog for more news as the Center’s opening approaches.

Middle East Global Center Institute for Scholars

Visiting Scholars and Visiting Fellows Program

The Institute for Scholars at the Columbia University Middle East Research Center (CUMERC) creates new research opportunities and facilitates scholarly exchanges among Columbia University faculty and researchers and regional partners. The Institute enables members to pursue individual and collaborative research, as well as interact with experts throughout the Middle East. In addition, the Institute contributes to the vitality of the Center’s intellectual community and enriches educational programming. The Visiting Scholars and Visiting Fellows programs provide the backbone of the Institute by establishing funded research slots for qualified academics.

Visiting Scholar and Fellow positions are available to faculty and PhD students of Columbia University and its affiliates, as well as academics who identify as Middle Eastern or live in the MENA region. Candidates from any discipline with any geographic focus are eligible to apply. The Institute welcomes all research areas, including Middle Eastern languages and cultures, environmental studies, education, archeology, sustainable development, political theory, social work, agricultural studies, computer science, geology, management, journalism, and religion. To promote intellectual exchange and cooperation, the Institute also encourages group proposals and collaboration with Columbia University faculty. Funding is available for two to three candidates in each of the following categories:

Visiting Scholars include faculty members and accomplished writers.
Visiting Fellows include PhD students and post doctoral fellows. (Preference will be given to candidates with a working relationship with tenured faculty from Columbia University, or an academic institution of its caliber.)

Visiting Scholars and Fellows will be named for terms consisting of semesters or a full academic year, with the possibility of renewal for additional terms. Exceptions may be made for shorter residency periods, depending on the needs and assessments of the Center and the selection committee.

While pursuing their research agendas, Visiting Scholars and Fellows are expected to enrich CUMERC’s intellectual life by participating in activities at the Center and by convening roundtable discussions or conferences related to their subject area. CUMERC will host weekly Institute for Scholars meetings to encourage informal discourse and idea exchange within the CUMERC community and, occasionally, with the public. Whenever possible, CUMERC will also connect Scholars and Fellows to existing academic institutions in the region and facilitate collaboration.
Members of the Institute for Scholars are expected to recognize the Columbia University Middle East Research Center in any publication that draws on knowledge gained or based on work conducted during their stay at the Institute. Scholars and Fellows are also expected to share publications, research findings, and data collected during their residency at the Center.

The Institute for Scholars will provide Visiting Scholars with a maximum annual award of $35,000. Visiting Fellows will receive a maximum annual award of $25,000. Scholars and Fellows may also apply for an additional annual research allowance of no more than $10,000, to cover costs related to fieldwork, symposia, conferences, and acquisition of materials, for example.
The Center will also provide Institute for Scholars members with office space, access to institutional resources (IT support, laptop, Columbia University’s online library resources, and CUMERC’s Resource Center), and access to meetings and conference facilities. Scholars and Fellows can utilize the Center’s administrative and research staff, when this support is available, to assist their research endeavors. The Center will also provide support in finding housing and acquiring residency permits.
The Center encourages schools at Columbia University to designate Fellows to pursue projects that develop the school’s presence in the region. Research stipends will not be granted to such Fellows, unless otherwise determined by the Institute’s selection committee.

Selection Process 
Applications must be submitted to CUMERC’s Senior Academic Manager, Nisreen Haj Ahmad (, by February 28, 2010 and should include the following components:
 CV
 research proposal
 project budget
 two letters of reference from former employers or academics specializing in the applicant’s field

Selection of Scholars and Fellows will be determined by a five-member selection committee composed of CUMERC’s Director, members of CUMERC's faculty steering committee, and a Columbia University faculty member representing the applicant’s discipline. Candidates may be contacted for interviews from the selection committee in spring of 2010. The Institute for Scholars will inform successful applicants and confirm their acceptance of by June 2010.

Selection Criteria 
The selection committee will evaluate applicants based on previous publications, strength of research proposals, collaborative research methodologies, relevance to the region, and originality. Awards will be granted not only based on strength of scholarship and coherence of research proposals, but also based on CUMERC’s research priorities and the distribution of disciplines, methodologies, and backgrounds best suited to fostering a vibrant research community.