Announcement Regarding University-wide Forum

April 13, 2014

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I am writing to announce the creation of a University-wide discussion, or forum, on the question of what is a global university, and, in particular, what is a “global Columbia.”  Let me acknowledge at the outset that any attempt to engage an institution of Columbia’s breadth in a collective conversation about pretty much anything, let alone a subject of this magnitude and generality, can seem overly ambitious, maybe even quixotic.  But there are a variety of questions concerning matters of extraordinary importance—the future direction of scholarship needed for the world ahead, the subjects and experiences we should be teaching and providing for our students, the ways in which we must be organized in order to meet our responsibilities and remain consistent with our own values—that deserve attention.  

Columbia has been, and is today, the most international university in the United States, in terms of the character of our students, our faculty, and our basic work.  And we have added, and now have in place, countless initiatives, projects, institutes, and infrastructure that make us even more engaged in the sphere of global problems.  Yet many of us believe, or are eager to consider whether and how, a truly great university should address the transformations (for good and for ill) underway across the globe, not least the results of an emergent global economy and the first ever truly global communications system.  This seems worthy of whatever conversations we can muster.  

I am very grateful to Ken Prewitt, Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs and Special Advisor to the President, and Vishakha Desai, Special Advisor for Global Affairs and Professor of Professional Practice, along with a distinguished and committed group of faculty (listed below), for undertaking this effort.  They will announce shortly the forums, questions, structure, timeline, and hoped-for end results of this venture.  I will also participate as much as I possibly can, and hope you will too.  


Lee C. Bollinger

Faculty Committee Members:

Vishakha Desai, Co-chair
Kenneth Prewitt, Co-chair
Shih-Fu Chang, Electrical Engineering; Computer Science
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
Linda P. Fried, School of Public Health; Epidemiology
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
Timothy Mitchell, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Katharina Pistor, Law
Pedro Sanchez, The Earth Institute
Ursula Staudinger, Sociomedical Science
Philip Michael Tuts, Physics
James Valentini, Columbia College; Chemistry
Dorian Warren, Political Science