Update Regarding Columbia World Projects

November 06, 2017

In April I wrote to the community announcing the creation of a new dimension of the University called Columbia World Projects. Broadly stated, the purpose of Columbia World Projects (CWP) is to connect academic work and the capacities of the University community with organizations and entities beyond the academy that possess the power and influence to transform research into concrete consequences benefitting humanity. I am writing now to give a very brief update on where the ongoing work on CWP stands. 
The most important item of note is that Nick Lemann, Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism, Director of Columbia Global Reports, and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Journalism, has agreed to assume the inaugural role of Director of Columbia World Projects. Nick is known to many in the University for his extraordinary service as Dean, for his remarkable writings, and for his deep intelligence and wisdom. We are very fortunate to have Nick help lead this new venture.
And I am also pleased to say that Avril Haines, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has joined the University as Senior Researcher for Columbia World Projects. She will also hold an appointment at Columbia Law School, where she will teach and serve as a senior fellow at the Law School’s Human Rights Institute and National Security Law Program. In her short time here, Avril has already provided invaluable contributions to shaping the work of CWP. It is no overstatement to say we will all benefit immensely from her presence at Columbia. 
Since the announcement of the creation of CWP, a large group of faculty and University administrators has been working hard to put it into operation. Many elements are involved in this effort, but among the most important is drawing upon the intellectual resources of the University to help us identify and better understand some of the greatest issues facing the world, and then develop projects that might meaningfully address these global problems. During the course of this academic year, we expect to convene discussions on various challenges related to key trends or themes that promise or threaten fundamental changes in our world—such as, concerns about the capacity of liberal democratic institutions to identify and deal with significant policy concerns, population shifts from rural to urban areas, and transformational technological discoveries.  We will solicit views from the University community on specific challenges CWP should consider and analyze. The upshot of these discussions will be to design specific projects that meet strict criteria we will set out in detail. Over the next few months, we expect to announce a few initial CWP projects, which will help demonstrate how CWP can help the University and broader academic community better serve the world while simultaneously informing and furthering first-rate scholarship.  
I am very grateful to the many people who have brought us to this point in this important and unique venture, and I look forward to sharing additional updates with you throughout this academic year.   
Lee C. Bollinger