Columbia World Projects, an program launched in November 2017 to encourage the University’s faculty to generate solutions to real world problems, will offer work-study jobs for students and hold public events about areas of interest in academic research in an effort to increase involvement from undergraduates.
University President Lee Bollinger first announced CWP as an initiative intended to promote the University’s research on a global scale and foster collaboration across departments in all schools. Its first project, titled ACToday, addresses issues of food shortage and agriculture in light of climate change. Faculty of Arts and Sciences, expressed concern when the projects were announced over a disconnect between the goals of the initiative and the general academic inquiry of their departments, pointing to CWP’s narrow focus on solving problems “within a certain time frame.”
Though the program has hired post-doctoral students, graduate student research assistants, and an MFA candidate this year for short-term research, it has yet to extend this opportunity for collaboration to undergraduates.
According to international relations professor Jack Snyder, CWP will begin hiring work-study students on an ongoing basis as program assistants involved in general administrative work, research, and implementation of projects on a campus level later this spring.
The initiative will also begin to hold public events regarding its world projects in the coming months, specifically tied to ongoing research areas that the projects have identified, called “Studios,” details of which will be announced later in the spring. Throughout the semester, CWP will also convene around 35 experts, including faculty within and outside the University, to hold forums on significant contemporary issues such as cybersecurity and consequences of economic inequality.
So far, the initiative largely works with graduate students, who have the opportunity to participate in research across the country. A cohort of over a dozen School of International and Public Affairs students worked with senior researchers on ACToday in locations such as Colombia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam last summer, and a second cohort will begin its work this coming summer.
CWP plans to announce more projects later this year, according to its website, though details regarding these projects have yet to be released.