Deans from Columbia graduate schools met with Global Center directors Tuesday to discuss opportunities for future collaboration.
The meetings, part of the week-long Global Center directors’ summit, focused on funding more research opportunities, particularly by bringing humanities and architecture overseas.
Vice President for Global Centers Safwan Masri said that the President’s Global Innovation Fund, which supports projects at the Global Centers, selected 20 proposals of 87 applications.
Most of the programs at the centers are in collaboration with professional graduate schools, and eight of the winning proposals come from the humanities. That’s an encouraging sign for Masri.
“From the get-go, it was very easy for some professional schools to become engaged,” he said. “I think with the arts and sciences and the humanities, it’s not as obvious.”
Most of the winning proposals also involved collaborative projects between two or more Global Centers, in accordance with Columbia’s ultimate goal of creating a unified network.
“Some of the proposals were great,” Masri said. “A proposal should really try to engage more than a couple of centers and really try to have a network effect.”
Administrators are working to expand humanities at the Global Centers in more ways than just the innovation fund.
Women Creating Change—a research initiative launched by Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference to examine how global and political issues affect women—is housed at the centers in Turkey and Mumbai, while the Amman and Turkey centers will host a conference on press freedom in September.
Representatives from the School of the Arts and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation were on hand Tuesday to suggest ways to connect with the Global Centers.
Mark Wigley, the dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, expressed an interest in working with the Global Centers to transform the Studio-X programs—which provide design and studio space for students in Amman, Mumbai, Beijing, Moscow, and Rio de Janeiro—into research hubs for urban development, planning, and reservation.
“They have been, up until now, spaces of reflection, production, and communication,” Wigley said.
Wigley suggested the creation of microfellowships to fund graduate students for three to six months.
“We feel strongly that those microfellowships will be transformative and curate the research aspects of Studio-X,” Wigley said. “It’s actually an incredibly small number given what we can do.”
Discussions with representatives from Columbia’s science programs prioritized research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students.
“I think we all understand the global nature of science and research,” Michael Purdy, the executive vice president for research, said.
Purdy and Amber Miller, Columbia’s dean of sciences, said they wanted to facilitate communication between faculty and researchers and prioritize research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Miller also identified major research focuses, including sustainable development programs from the Earth Institute and molecular architecture, that faculty members want to study at the centers.
Discussion between graduate schools and the Global Centers will continue as the network focuses less on building more Global Centers and more on internally developing projects and research opportunities that can strengthen Columbia’s global community.
“We made a decision a year ago to stop for now,” Masri said. “We really want to bring stability to them, really let them thrive, and then we can build from that.”
Abby Abrams and Elena Nicolaou contributed reporting.