There are currently eight Columbia Global Centers operating in Amman, Beijing, Mumbai, Paris, Istanbul, Nairobi, Santiago, and Rio de Janeiro. Functioning as a network, the global centers encourage teaching and research that require working across disciplinary boundaries, having a presence in multiple regions, and engaging non-Columbia experts and scholars from those regions. Some of the centers’ programs and research initiatives are country-specific, some regional, and an increasing number are multi-regional, even global. The network is in its infancy, and each center has started by building strong links with universities and institutions in its respective region. The long-term ambition is that many programs will have a global reach and involve multiple centers in the network engaged in truly global conversations.
The network is not viewed as “Columbia abroad,” but, rather, as Columbia embedded in what is emerging as a global community of scholarship. The global centers will help transform Columbia into a global university for the 21st century, a university in which faculty will base their research and students their learning wherever their intellectual interests take them—finding fellow scholars and fellow students across the growing world of tertiary education. Starting from its base in a global city, Columbia will partner with many others seeking to fashion a global perspective on global challenges.
What we expect to change the most, but in ways that cannot be anticipated, is Columbia University itself. The initiative is not about “changing the world.” It is about the world changing what Columbia knows, teaches, studies, and learns.