Columbia Opens Global Center in Rio de Janeiro

In an ongoing strategy to broaden Columbia’s already extensive global presence and perspective, University President Lee C. Bollinger joins this week with faculty, alumni, Brazilian leaders and a delegation of international visitors to open a Columbia Global Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—the University’s second in South America. “The opening of our Rio center marks an important milestone in fulfilling Columbia’s distinctive vision of global engagement,” said Bollinger. “The driving principle of the Columbia Global Centers always has been to foster academic collaboration across national boundaries, discover new knowledge, and address challenges facing our society by connecting students and faculty on our home campuses in New York City to partners around the world. It is fitting that Rio de Janeiro, a truly global capital, completes the initial phase in the evolution of Columbia Global Centers, and we look forward to working here in ways that not only deepen our own understanding of Brazil and South America but enhance our contributions to life and learning.” In addition to Rio, Columbia has opened centers in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris and Santiago. Columbia Global Centers promote and facilitate international collaborations, research projects, academic programming and study abroad, enhancing the University’s historic commitment to global scholarship and problem-solving. With a series of panel discussions and special events this week, President Bollinger, Thomas J. Trebat, director of Columbia’s Rio center, and Safwan M. Masri, Columbia’s vice president for global centers, will join with deans, faculty members and local dignitaries to discuss the future of cities, global perspectives on education, freedom of expression and economic development. Initial programs and projects based in Rio include a close partnership with Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, which has already opened a Studio-X laboratory in the city for experimental work in urban design. The Center is facilitating Brazilian projects for Columbia Law School, Columbia Business School, Columbia University Medical Center, including the Mailman School of Public Health, and the School of International and Public Affairs. Columbia’s School of the Arts is looking to launch film projects in Brazil, and the Global Scholars Program also seeks a Brazilian component. “From almost any perspective—economic, political, social, cultural—Brazil exudes vibrancy and growth and has enormous contributions to make to the global community of nations,” said Trebat. “With its national focus now turned squarely toward improving education for all of its citizens and expanding knowledge in all fields, Brazil and its iconic city of Rio de Janeiro are also absolutely perfect hosts for this, the newest Columbia Global Center.” Columbia Global Centers encourage new relationships across schools, institutes, and academic departments within the University. Some of the research and scholarly initiatives are regionally focused while others involve multiple centers engaged in truly global conversations. The centers also support a significant expansion of opportunities for Columbia students to do hands-on research and service-learning abroad, particularly those who may not want to spend a full semester or academic year off-campus. Some universities in the United States have built branch campuses and degree-granting schools abroad. Columbia is taking a different path. The Columbia Global Centers provide flexible regional hubs for a wide range of activities and resources intended to enhance the quality of research and learning at the University. They are built on the belief that establishing an interactive network of partnerships across geographic boundaries and collaborations across traditional academic disciplines can help address complex challenges by bringing together scholars, students, public officials, private enterprise and innovators from many fields. The Rio center occupies about 2,500 square feet of office space in the heart of the city’s commercial center, with close proximity to local universities, research centers and the city transportation system. It houses a small classroom, a seminar room, and offices for use by faculty, students and staff. “The addition of an eighth node in Rio de Janeiro represents an important milestone in the evolution of the network of Columbia Global Centers,” said Masri. “The opportunities the vibrant city of Rio—indeed Brazil—has to offer are vast, in terms of student and faculty engagement as well as partnerships with local universities and institutions. The global center in Rio will also serve as an important hub as we embark on addressing global themes across the network; particularly universal education, health, and the future of cities and urbanization. Brazil is an incredible model of development and reform, provides easy access to the rest of the region, and has graciously welcomed and supported our presence, for which we are incredibly grateful.” —by Columbia News Staff
March 18, 2013