Columbia Global Centers Open in Beijing and Amman

March 20, 2009Bookmark and Share

In a concerted effort to deepen its already extensive global perspective, the University is establishing Columbia Global Centers in Beijing, China and Amman, Jordan. They are the first of what the University plans as a network of centers around the world to promote and facilitate international collaborations, new research projects, academic programming and study abroad, enhancing Columbia’s historical commitment to global scholarship. 

In Amman, Andrew Dolkart, director of the Historic Preservation program at Columbia’s Graduate school of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, works with graduate students to preserve a local building.
Architecture Professor Andrew Dolkart is helping oversee one Columbia project already underway in Amman, the restoration of a historic house in the old city center.

With panel discussions, special events and alumni gatherings in each city, Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, is traveling to officially launch both centers together with other members of the University community. The Beijing center opens on Friday, Mar. 20 and the Amman center opens on Sunday, Mar. 22.
“Columbia University is proud to mark the opening of these Columbia Global Centers,” said President Bollinger. “It is essential to a great University that our students and faculty know and understand more about our world and we are committed to providing new opportunities to deepen our engagement with scholars, ideas and challenges across the globe.”
The centers will leverage the University’s diverse intellectual capacities from across the undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, including independent Columbia affiliates Teachers College and Barnard College. To maintain and build on its longstanding international presence on many continents, Columbia envisions the establishment of four to six additional research centers abroad in the years ahead.
While some U.S. universities have built new branch campuses and degree-granting schools abroad, Columbia is taking a different path. Columbia Global Centers will provide flexible regional hubs for a wide range of activities and resources intended to enhance the quality of research and learning at the University and around the world. The goal is to establish a network of regional centers in international capitals to collaboratively address complex global challenges by bringing together scholars, students, public officials, private enterprise, and innovators from a broad range of fields.
When social challenges are global in their consequences, the intellectual firepower of the world’s great universities must be global in its reach,” said Kenneth Prewitt, vice president of Columbia Global Centers and Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs. “Columbia’s network of Global Centers will bring together some of the world's finest scholars to address some of the world’s most pressing problems.”
Among the new collaborations is Studio-X Beijing, a project of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. It is an industrial loft space in a historic neighborhood near the Forbidden City to be used for collaborative research, events, projects, exhibitions, and cultural exchanges involving students, scholars, and designers from Columbia and China.
The China 2049 program is a research partnership through which the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, will work with Columbia’s Earth Institute and the Brookings Institution of Washington, D.C., to formulate policies to ensure that China’s long-term growth and development are economically efficient and environmentally sustainable.
In Beijing, Susan Fuhrman, president of Teachers College; Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkley; and Jeanette Takamura, dean of Columbia’s School of Social Work, participate in a panel discussion.
In Beijing, Susan Fuhrman, president of Teachers College; Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkley; and Jeanette Takamura, dean of Columbia’s School of Social Work, participate in a panel discussion.
In Beijing, launch events include a discussion of the current economic crisis and the global economy with Columbia faculty member Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel laureate in economics, and a discussion of perspectives on the Obama presidency featuring Susan Fuhrman, president of Teachers College, and Jeanette Takamura, dean of Columbia’s School of Social Work. President Bollinger leads a conversation focusing on universities in the 21st century joined by the presidents of two Chinese universities.
Teachers College has been active in Jordan for the past two years providing a course on the teaching of English to speakers of other languages. In July 2008, Teachers College sent a delegation of faculty members and consultants to Amman to assist Jordan’s ministry of education in making improvements to the nation’s public schools. Members of the delegation led a five-day retreat to design pre-employment training for newly hired teachers.
New collaborations in Amman include the launch of a major research lab for faculty, students and scholars associated with Columbia’s Architecture School and their counterparts in the Middle East. Students are currently working on restoration projects in historic downtown Amman. The School of Social Work has partnered with Jordanian nongovernmental and government entities to offer an intensive course on the foundations of social work.
In Amman this weekend, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah will join with President Bollinger and deliver welcoming remarks. Activities include panel discussions on Middle East issues featuring Alan Brinkley, Columbia’s provost; John Coatsworth, dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs; and Rashid Khalidi, professor of modern Arab studies. Carol Becker, dean of Columbia’s School of the Arts, and Mark Wigley, dean of the University’s Architecture School, engage in a dialog about art and architecture. And the School of the Arts presents an installation of works on loan from its LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies and provides entertainment by the Columbia University Jazz Ensemble.
Columbia Global Centers are established to encourage new collaboration across academic disciplines at the University. Some of the research and scholarly initiatives will be regionally focused; others will involve multiple centers, and in some instances the full complement of centers will be engaged across many continents. The centers are also intended to support a significant expansion of opportunities for Columbia students and researchers to do work abroad, with the flexibility to pursue long or short term projects.