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Columbia Spectator Staff

Columbia's global center in Paris will get its first batch of undergraduates next semester, though the new program is still working to attract students. The University's Global Scholars program, based out of Columbia's Reid Hall in Paris, is recruiting students for its inaugural class to begin study this spring. But not many students have signed up so far, with many saying they didn't realize the program existed. History professor Victoria de Grazia, director of the Paris global center, said that only 17 students have applied and that she hopes to start the program with approximately 15 students. The pilot program will last eight months, three months longer than already-existing study abroad programs at Reid Hall in Paris, where the global center is based. The bilingual program, which expects students to be able to interact with French-speaking academia, will feature a small, seminar-style class as well as independent research opportunities. The students at the eight-month "intellectual boot camp," as de Grazia called it, will receive scholarships to do their independent study. De Grazia attributed the low number of applicants to the fact that applications were not available until May, after the spring semester had finished. But some students said they've heard nothing about the new program, even after an information session in late September. When told about it, Ben Kaplan, CC '14, said that it isn't being discussed among students. "I knew nothing about this, and I have a lot of friends who would be talking about this if they knew about it," Kaplan said. "I've never had any plans to study abroad, but if I knew about this, it'd definitely make me reconsider and possibly be helpful." Vice President of Global Centers Ken Prewitt described this program as an outgrowth of the University trying to provide students with a more global perspective, in a different way than the study-abroad programs Columbia has been facilitating for decades. "We still need to figure out what a global experience education is," he said. "It's much harder to give a concrete reality, quite honestly—it's something different than having just an international experience. We're working hard on it, trying to think it through." De Grazia said that increased research opportunities are one of the main ways that the Global Scholars program will differ from already-existing study abroad options. "The students will be doing very intense work that will teach them how to think about really knotty issues and then help them get research skills to address their knotty issues," de Grazia said. "For example, the environmental movement or NGO operations tend to be rather different from U.S. traditions than when they come out of European traditions." The curriculum of the global scholars program also differs from that of a semester abroad at Reid Hall. Students in the Global Scholars program will work on individual research projects in addition to being part of the Global Center's colloquium, focused on inequality. "We're going to be focusing on the rise and fall of the middle classes across the globe," de Grazia said. "We're trying to take a colloquium that the students will feel attached to and then take their own projects to work on." Columbia has opened five global centers, including the Paris center, and has four more on the horizon. The initiative has been largely driven by University President Lee Bollinger, who told Spectator earlier this year the he thinks "the desire within the community is very strong for trying to take advantage of the centers to learn about the world." Students hearing about the Global Scholars program for the first time, like Jennifer Ong, CC '12, were enthusiastic. Ong said that if she had known about the global center option, she would have had greater incentive to go abroad. "I only know about the study abroad programs, not anything like this that sounds more research-oriented," she said. "Had I known about this, I would've really been interested. I think they could definitely market this a lot better than they are now because I haven't heard about it." Kaplan said that the Global Scholars program could be successful, but only if there is more information about it distributed to students. "If they want to drum up student interest, then they should do a better job advertising," Kaplan said. "Because I think this sounds like a really great program and I think it could benefit a lot of people."

Global Centers Global Scholars