Research serves as the cornerstone of our endeavors at the Nairobi Global Center, driving innovation and progress across our spectrum of activities. By leveraging the wealth of expertise within Columbia University's faculty, we harness a rich resource that translates into tangible improvements for communities on the ground.

At CGC | Nairobi, we proudly stand as a regional nexus for research and collaboration, epitomizing Columbia University's global strategy. Through this strategic alliance, we bridge continents, infusing Africa with Columbia's renowned scientific rigor, technological innovation, and academic excellence. Our center not only facilitates research but also nurtures a culture of collaboration, fostering meaningful connections between Columbia students, academics, and the African continent.

To catalyze and sustain this spirit of inquiry, Columbia University's President Emeritus, Lee C. Bollingerestablished the President's Global Innovation Fund (PGIF). This initiative offers vital support to Columbia faculty members who harness the vast resources of our nine Global Centers for their teaching and research endeavors. Through the PGIF, we empower faculty to explore new frontiers of knowledge, driving transformative change both locally and globally.

Demonstrations by R. Subramanian of the Kigali Collaborative Research Center (KCRC) during the Nairobi Air Polluiton Roundtable.

Health Research

The Nairobi Center has consistently garnered recognition as a key recipient of the prestigious President’s Global Innovation Fund (PGIF) awards, reflecting our commitment to pioneering research and impactful collaboration. Through these awards, we have forged dynamic partnerships with Columbia University faculty members and students, collectively tackling pressing health concerns spanning oral health, pediatric brain cancer, nutrition, and agriculture.

The Center has been undertaking a nutritional study on Pediatric Oncology in collaboration with Columbia's International Initiative for Pediatrics and Nutrition (IIPAN), headquartered at the Irving Medical Centre, University of Nairobi, and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). The study involves training staff members at the pediatric department, and part of the objective is to research nutrition interventions on the incidence of malnutrition at diagnosis and during treatment. In May 2021, Columbia University, through its regional partner (Columbia Global Centers | Nairobi), delivered a donation of five weighing scales and five
stadiometers to KNH.

Education Research

The Nairobi Center secured an EU grant, receiving $50,000 annually for a span of four years from 2018. This significant funding fueled the project, which aimed to tackle crucial aspects of education and conflict resolution in South Sudan and Northen Uganda.

Centered on the overarching themes of Safe Learning Environments, Teaching and Learning, Conflict Sensitivity, and Research Data Management,the project was poised to make substantial strides in enhancing educational quality and promoting peacebuilding efforts.The Nairobi Global Center served as an intermediary between Columbia Teachers College and Oxfam IBIS.

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

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.

Climate Research

After more than 25 years, Columbia announced that it would be establishing its first new school, the Columbia Climate School, in July 2020. Columbia Climate faculty and staff have been consulting and engaging experts, change agents, community groups, policymakers, and concerned citizens worldwide on what the school can and should be.

In a program led by Columbia World Projects, that involved more than 10 countries where Columbia already has a presence based on the Global Centers and ICAP offices, Columbia Climate was supported by these two institutions to investigate and understand the climate risks and concerns of people in Africa, Asia, South - America, and North - America. The exercise also examined practical ways to address climate challenges. 

The Nairobi Center facilitated this process by conducting consultative workshops with the most vulnerable and often obliterated voices in these spaces - the youth, farmers, pastoralists, and people living in informal settlements in Kenya and also issued surveys to concerned parties. The results revealed that besides flooding, droughts, famines, food shortages, and water contamination, Kenyans are also concerned about other transactional effects such as mental health degeneration, increased sexual activities among the youth, and increased prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases. These results will form the basis for further research and projects, including training programs. A comprehensive report on the findings is yet to be shared once the data is consolidated. 

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