Education, Culture, and Knowledge


The goal of this concentration is to explore how education and knowledge systems can respond to the new realities of the twenty-first century.  India has the largest youth population in the world, which is faced with new technologies, experiences, and ideologies that call for re-imagining educational values, knowledge fields, and learning techniques and skills.

The Center brings issues of Higher Education to the public domain. We have organized conversations with Dean Steven Coll on the “The Future of Journalism” and Dean Sharon Marcus on “The Future of the Humanities” to highlight the new directions these fields are taking in India and globally. It also produced a performance of the play “The Prophet and the Poet” based on the correspondence and debates between Gandhi and Tagore to engage with questions on education, youth, and nationalist participation, which are relevant to India and the world even today. Upcoming programs will continue exploring new developments in disciplinary fields of study and will also expand to topics such as the place of religion in higher education, solutions to gender-based violence on campuses, and the role of higher education institutions in policy-making. 

The Mumbai Center plans to partner with the School of Engineering and the Center for Data Sciences at Columbia University to build programs around innovative digital technologies and big and integrated databases, with a view to understanding and strengthening the equitable and sustainable sharing of resources, open and accessible public information systems, digital finance and security, and urban planning.

A lecture and panel discussion organized by the Center showcased the process used to remake the New York Public Library and included a discussion with leaders of three library institutions in Mumbai.  A workshop on geospatial technology and its use in urban planning was organized by the Center and targeted specifically towards policymakers, urban planners and innovators.  The Center plans to take this forward by engaging concretely with the Smart Cities initiative of the Government of India as well as host lectures to intensify engagement with the issue of Digital Technology and Society.

Mumbai is one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world. It is India’s leading financial city and is known for its film and cultural industries. It has a vibrant and diverse civil society inhabiting social spaces that are shared as much as they are contested. Building on the Center’s location in Mumbai, we have a dedicated initiative that examines the city's historical, and contemporary forms of knowledge and practice. Our programs include archival and field research, outreach projects, educational courses, and publications.

We plan to work with faculty from Teachers College and other departments to develop programs aimed at designing frameworks for reimagining education, measuring educational outcomes, and improving performance. From 2013-17, the Mumbai Center worked on a research project entitled The Model Districts Education Project (MDEP) | Access to Achievement led by Nirupam Bajpai. This was a collaborative, five-year demonstration project with the Center for Sustainable Development, The Earth Institute, at Columbia University. The project worked with the Government of India and key education stakeholders in selected rural districts of Morigaon in Assam and Medak in Telangana. It used current scientific evidence and best professional practices to develop, recommend, monitor, and evaluate a high quality, cost-effective, transferable and scalable model of primary education. Selected districts will serve as regional pilots for scaling up improvements.

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November 25, 2017

Archiving the Mill Lands

Real estate is a hugely contested asset in Mumbai. As part of its Mumbai as a City of Knowledge series, Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai recently hosted an exhibition from November 20-25 on the erstwhile mill lands of Girangaon documented through the eyes of the people who lived and worked there. The exhibition was inaugurated by Nandita Das, film artist and social activist, and followed by an opening panel discussion. The exhibition was based on ‘Mythologies of Mumbai,’ a seven-year project of PUKAR.

November 17, 2017

Columbia Engineering for Humanity

In November, Mary C. Boyce, Dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University visited India to share the School’s new strategic vision, Columbia Engineering for Humanity. “This vision is a collective vision, where we feel we are as engineers at Columbia. It’s a very powerful school with over 1,600 undergraduates and over 2,600 graduate students,” she said. The greatest percentage of Columbia alumni in India comes from the school of engineering.

September 15, 2017

Learning from Mumbai

Nivita Arora is studying computer science at Columbia University’s School of Engineering but her internship this summer had little to do with her major. In fact, the only connection between the two was that she used a computer for both. According to her, the fact that it was unrelated to prior life experiences, made the internship all the more rewarding. “It changed the way I view the job industry, and made me re-evaluate how I want to spend my life,” she said.

July 05, 2017

Cultivating Asian Media Perspectives

Despite a growing audience for Asian cinema around the world, few opportunities exist for students to immerse themselves in its comparative study. In light of this, the Columbia Global Centers in Mumbai and Beijing launched an intensive six-week summer program on Media Practices in India and China. Led by Columbia University film scholars, 12 undergraduate students got an opportunity to pursue learning in real-world settings.

March 10, 2017

Perspectives on World Cinema

Social revolution and cinematic movements have been strange bedfellows in the history of Latin American countries since the 1950s. Richard Peña, Professor of Film Studies, Columbia University, and former Director of the New York Film Festival, offered a glimpse into Latin American cinema through the evolving histories of Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Argentina through a four-day lecture series and film screenings at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai.

January 12, 2017

Learning About Religion in India

Building upon the Center's goal of advancing global education by designing learning programs about India, the spring cohort of the Kraft Global Fellows visited Mumbai, New Delhi, and Agra from January 4 - 15, 2017, for an intensive field study on Religious Pluralism. Through site visits and interactions with academic and sector experts, the group learned about the history, practices and contemporary issues related to different religions in India.

December 09, 2016

In the Times of Dr. Ambedkar

To mark Dr. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary and celebrate the centenary of his graduation from Columbia University, CGC | Mumbai organized a public panel at the Godrej India Culture Lab and an all-day workshop on December 9-10. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–1956) is best remembered today for leading a powerful struggle for untouchable rights and self-representation, for his extensive writings on caste as a form of inequality and historical injustice, and for his enduring effect on Indian trajectories of democratic justice and affirmative action policy.

November 18, 2016

Building Globally-Conscious Classrooms

Global citizenship emerged as a buzzword among Mumbai citizens on November 19, 2016, with the metropolis hosting the Global Citizen Festival featuring British rock band, Coldplay. In the afternoon preceding the landmark event, Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai partnered with the festival organizer, The Global Education and Leadership Foundation (tGELF) to organize a workshop to explore ways in which citizenship could be practicably realized in classrooms.

October 17, 2016

Forging Cultural Collaborations with the Mumbai Film Festival

The city of Mumbai is perhaps best known globally for its film industry; films are a vital part of its political economy and cultural imagination. In October 2016, the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) organized the 18th Mumbai Film Festival to bring art house cinema as well as from Bollywood, Hollywood and other international movies to audiences in the city. The Mumbai Center facilitated the formation of a vibrant educational and cultural network for the festival by coordinating a series of brainstorming sessions with academics and civil society organizations.

June 03, 2016

Understanding Religious Pluralism in India

India is a multi-cultural and a diverse nation with a flourishing history of pluralism that has been thriving for thousands of years.  Among the many faiths represented here are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. As the world’s largest democracy, India presents a unique opportunity to understand a long and multifaceted heritage of religious diversity.  With this reality in mind, the Mumbai Center hosted University Chaplain, Jewelnel Davis, and four Kraft Global Fellows from May 24-June 3 for an intensive field study on Religious Pluralism in India.