Education and Knowledge

The Nairobi Center promotes knowledge sharing by providing a platform where ideas are shared among peers through a collaborative process between Columbia University and local institutions.  This ultimately provides an enhanced understanding and a pathway to finding solutions for pressing global challenges.

One of the Global Center’s vision and mission is to be at the heart of global conversations and to be part of a network that seeks solutions to the continually complex global challenges.  In this regard, the Nairobi Global Center creates and hosts forums to cover diverse topics that address current pressing issues and invites the participation of local experts, Columbia University faculty and industry experts.  Some forums that the Nairobi Center has hosted in the past are on; refugee crisis, climate change, war and conflict among others.


Programmatic Highlights

Through the President's Global Innovation Fund (PGIF), the Center has, over the years, worked with Columbia Faculty to nurture relationships with local, regional, and national governments and academic institutions in Eastern and Southern Africa to increase and connect academics to global and regional educational opportunities for research, teaching, and service.

This PGIF project sought funding for a geological field trip program to the Turkana Basin and the Columbia Global Center in Nairobi. The project planned to leverage the position of the Global Center to open collaborations with local geologists and students in Nairobi and forge a long-term collaboration between Columbia and the Turkana Basin Institute. The project also aimed to serve as the basis for more extensive grant proposals to the National Science Foundation that are expected to allow the collaboration between scientists at Columbia University, the Nairobi global center, scientists in Nairobi, and the Turkana Basin Institute. 

The Research Team 

  1. Principal Investigator: Sidney Hemming, Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.
  2. Co-Principal Investigators: Stephen Cox, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.
  3. Local Collaborators: Lawrence Martin - Director, Turkana Basin Institute; Isaiah Nengo - Associate Director, Turkana Basin Institute

This PGIF project was built on existing collaborations between Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies and institutions in West Africa, North Africa, and France to explore innovative approaches to researching, writing, and teaching theory and methodology in an African context through summer seminars to be held at the Columbia Global Center in Nairobi. It brought together faculty and students working within disciplines across Arts & Sciences in the fields of history, anthropology, philosophy, political science, urban planning, and literature, and in doing so, encouraged all participants to think across these disciplines and between the social sciences and humanities to generate new approaches and ways of thinking about African philosophy and epistemologies as well as issues of urban space, politics, religion and citizenship.

The Research Team 

  1. Principal Investigator: Mamadou Diouf, Director, Institute of African Studies & Leitner Professor of African Studies and History)
  2. Co-Principal Investigators: Kai Kresse, Associate Professor of African and Swahili Studies, Columbia University Institute of African Studies; Jinny Prais, Associate Director, Columbia University Institute of African Studies.
  3. Local Collaborators: Brian Larkin - Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Professor of French and Philosophy, Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies; Jacqueline Klopp - Associate Research Scholar, Earth Institute, Columbia University, Philosophy Department at the University of Nairobi, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Technical University of Kenya

Convened in response to the proliferating forms of violence facing black populations in the US and diaspora, the mission of the Practicing Refusal Collective (PR Collective) was to articulate black feminist strategies for addressing the precarious state of black communities resulting from policies that treat black bodies as disposable and expendable – a state of duress described as black fungibility. The project sought to develop strategies for confronting black fungibility and create alternative possibilities for living otherwise through expanding the conversations begun by the PR Collective by creating multi-directional dialogues in a range of sites in Africa and its diasporas with local artists, activists, scholars, and thought-leaders working to develop their strategies for addressing black precarity, fungibility, and anti-black violence.

The Research Team 

  1. Principal Investigator: Saidiya Hartman, Professor, Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Columbia University.
  2. Co-Principal Investigator: Mabel Wilson, Professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University.
  3. Other Columbia Participants: Tina Campt – Professor, Barnard College & The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWGSS)/Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Monica Miller – Associate Professor, department of English/Africana Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University; Kaiama Hartman – Associate Professor, department of French/Africana Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University.

The 'Building Resilience in Crisis through Education' (BRICE) Program.

In a consortium headed by Oxfam IBIS consisting of global, regional and national partners and including members from Oxfam in South Sudan, Uganda and Oxfam Novib, AVSI, FAWEU, UNATU, Luigi Giussani Institute for Higher Education and the Community Development Initiative, as well as the international teacher trade union Education International and CGC | Nairobi/Columbia University Teachers’ College as a research partner, BRICE aimed at building the resilience of learners, teachers and education systems by providing education to 31,150 youth in more than 22 schools in South Sudan and Northern Uganda. 

Related News

January 05, 2021

Women and the Return to Poverty

While women's rights are already suppressed across the world, the pandemic has exacerbated these situations in the region during lockdowns and in an absence of adequate response. From this stems a need to host a discussion on the measures to address the impact of the pandemic and the lockdown, which has put women and girls in more vulnerable positions and let them slide into poverty further.

September 08, 2020

Covid-19: Guarding against the misuse of highly pathogenic agents. By Talkmore Maruta

There is a need to consolidate global efforts to control and manage highly pathogenic agents like SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19). The legal framework under development by Africa-CDC will address this by assigning government agencies to regulate research activities that include high-consequence pathogens, and to ensure ethical boundaries are not breached.

September 08, 2020

Beyond lockdown: Africa needs to ramp up its testing, tracing and treatment efforts

Lockdowns and physical distancing have proved crucial to slowing the spread of Covid-19 in the short term, but looking to the future these measures are unsustainable and have caused a lot of social and economic damage. As the race for the vaccine continues experts are now focused on improving testing, tracing and treatment efforts, especially in Africa, where life-threatening gaps exist.  

September 08, 2020

A global investment in public health is vital for the survival of future generations.

Every evening during the early days of the pandemic, people opened their windows at a set hour to applaud the heroic women and men who were putting their health on the line in the fight against Covid-19. In New York, London, Madrid and other cities, it became something of a ritual. For me, it was a daily reminder of those invisible workers, the public health professionals who battle the pandemic behind the scenes. It was also a reminder of how now, more than ever, we must invest in public health.

September 08, 2020

Africa needs to do more to position itself to benefit from future Covid-19 vaccines.

Never before has the public had an opportunity to see, in glaring detail, the difference good governance makes. As Covid-19 spreads across the globe, we witness how different leaders address the same crisis. Some have the skills, qualities and appetite required to best guide their countries through the crisis, while others demonstrate their incompetence on a near-daily basis.

July 22, 2020

Digitizing K-12 Education: Capturing the COVID-19 Experience and Imagining the Future

COVID-19 has exacerbated structural inequities and revealed gaps in pedagogical knowledge and infrastructure to support the use of technology for instruction. From this Webinar, we will hear the impact COVID-19 has had on education and instructional strategies in primary and secondary education that can support online teaching and learning - in the US, Kenya, Turkey, and globally.

July 17, 2020

Part 1: Oral Health and Healthcare during COVID-19: Lessons from India, Kenya and the United States

This was the first panel of a two-part panel series hosted by the Columbia Global Centers| Nairobi and Columbia Global Centers| Mumbai. The purpose of this series was to discuss lessons learned from India, Kenya and the United States in finding innovative ways to provide in-person and virtual clinical and outreach services in dental healthcare delivery during this pandemic. 

July 14, 2020

Navigating Work and Home Responsibilities during the Pandemic

Along with the terrible toll it has exacted in lives lost, as well as negative health and economic impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced dramatic changes in how families must navigate work both inside and outside of the home. This webinar brought together a team of experts who addressed issues that are being experienced in the home as a result of the pandemic and provided helpful tips on how to deal with these challenges.

July 14, 2020

Stigma and Discrimination in the midst of a pandemic

This was the third panel of a three-part panel series hosted by the Columbia Global Centers| Nairobi and Columbia Global Centers| Rio de Janeiro. The purpose of this panel was to bring together experts and community members to talk about their experiences with and perceptions of stigma and discrimination in informal settlements in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and to hear their strategies and recommendations for addressing stigma and discrimination in these communities.

July 14, 2020

Floods Management: Prevention, Protection and Mitigation

Water-Related Disasters account for about 90% of natural disasters globally. Global warming and climate change have resulted in changing weather patterns around the world. In various regions, rainfall patterns have changed drastically resulting in unprecedented river flows. This webinar sought to minimize the impact of flooding both in Kenya and India through the development of mitigation measures geared towards minimizing the impacts of floods.

July 19, 2018

Equity Foundation - 2018 College Counselling Bootcamp

On July 19th, 2018, the Director of Columbia Global Centers |Nairobi – Dr. Murugi Ndirangu, was invited by Equity Foundation to speak to a group of students who were attending the 2018 College Counseling boot camp at Brookhouse School Karen.  The group comprised of 100 scholars – these being those who were going through the application process to IVY League Schools abroad including Columbia University, and over 15 mentors – these being those with some experience abroad.

May 21, 2018

Re-thinking Sage Philosophy

On Friday, 25th May 2018, Columbia Global Centers hosted a full day conference on, "Re-thinking Sage Philosophy" this was organized in collaboration with the Institute of African Studies, Columbia University, and the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Nairobi.

March 22, 2018

Model International Mobility Convention Launch in Nairobi

Columbia Global Centers Nairobi hosted the launch of the Model International Mobility Convention.  This brought together participants in the areas of refugee law, human trafficking, economic migration, labour rights, public policy, international law, labor migration and forced migration.  The event was moderated by Prof. Sarah Deardorff, an Adjunct Professor with Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.  The panel of speakers were drawn from government, academic and NGO sectors.  These were; Mr.

March 10, 2018

International Women's Day Kenya Celebrations

In marking International Women Day, Columbia Global Centers Nairobi partnered with a working committee of women leaders from the African Gender Taskforce - a virtual forum comprising of about 130 women who are passionate about all issues pertaining to and that affect women. The Women deliberated on plans / programs to empower women through training in key areas such as in productivity, security, sustainability, personal development and assertiveness.

The committee established 5 thematic areas under which training would be established and implemented. These are;

June 16, 2017

Teachers In Crisis Contexts Workshop

The INEE Teachers in Crisis Contexts (TiCC) Working Group, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development’s Education in Conflict and Crisis Network (USAID ECCN) coordinated the “Teachers in Crisis Contexts Introduction, Contextualization and Implementation Workshop for Kenya,” from June 12-16, 2017 at Columbia Global Centers Nairobi. The workshop brought together practitioners, teacher trainers, policymakers and academics. Participants were introduced to the Training Pack for Primary School Teachers in Crisis Contexts, which was launched in April 2016.

June 16, 2017

New guidelines set high publishing bar for Academics

Kenya’s Commission for University Education has issued stringent new guidelines for the appointment and promotion of academic staff in a system that gives heavy emphasis to publication in reputable, peer-reviewed journals and discourages publication in so-called predatory journals. While the move is intended to raise academic standards, it has also raised concerns about the hurdles to publication facing many Kenyan academics.

June 10, 2017

New PHD Scholarship on Food Security and Nutrition

The rare opportunity – the first in Africa – is a major collaboration with Columbia University. The ANSRC is a partnership that brings together academic and research institutions across the East African region with the goal of building a PhD training programme in basic research in nutritional and agriculture science. The main aim is to address food insecurity in the region and raise the number of trained manpower in the selected fields of study across East African universities.

April 24, 2017

Nairobi - Global Think-In Event

The Global Think-In Event titled, ‘Thoughts On A Changing World’, was held on 24th April 2017. It brought together academics and experts in various fields discussing the global issues facing and affecting Kenyans.

December 01, 2016

Africa Nutritional Sciences Research Consortium (ANSRC)

The consortium is being facilitated by Professors Richard Deckelbaum and Debra Wolgemuth of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University, Dr. James Ntambi, professor of Biochemistry and Nutrition at the University of Wisconsin, and Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, adjunct professor at the University of Nairobi. The Institute has established a coordinating office for this program at Columbia University’s Columbia Global Centers | Africa (Nairobi), under the direction of the East Africa Coordinator and Kenyan native, Dr. Murugi Ndirangu.

November 03, 2016

Columbia University Global Centers aim to prove university’s ‘Relevance’

Columbia’s Safwan Masri says that to understand a region today, you must consider the entire world. "There’s a very different feel and a very different impact that’s realised by being on the ground and having real conversations and dialogue that I think advances the notion that universities are relevant and neutral places of inquiry,"

Universities must adopt global, rather than international, outlooks, says scholar.

March 25, 2014

Failure of Education undermines the Arab world, Professor Safwan Masri reveals in Columbia Global Centers | Africa lecture

The event, held at Strathmore University’s business school, was the inaugural lecture in a series to be hosted by the Nairobi Center throughout 2014. Professor Masri’s distinguished academic career, including his former role as executive vice president for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University, provided the basis for his unique insight, shared with a packed hall of Kenyan university students, faculty, and Columbia University alumni and partners.

Related Events