New Programs, Global Locations, & Opportunities for International Students

Envisioned by President Lee C. Bollinger in 2009, the Columbia Global Centers connect the local with the global by providing opportunities for shared learning and dialogue. The Centers’ impactful, collaborative programming maximizes engagement among the University’s faculty, students, and alumni to address global challenges, and advance knowledge and its exchange.

Never has the mission been more important than now, and never has the unique, networked structure of the worldwide Global Centers proved more prescient.

Expanded Global Locations for Learning & Engagement

For the coming academic year, the Global Centers will harness their expertise, location, and network to provide learning and engagement opportunities for Columbia’s 12,000 international students, who hail from over 150 countries.   

To accommodate the anticipated demand, the nine Global Centers will upgrade their facilities and technical capabilities in order to operate as broader regional hubs for locally based international students seeking to better connect with their school and classmates. In addition, the Global Centers will establish new Pop-Up Global Centers; these will offer flexibility to meet the short-term needs of schools and faculty for students who reside in locations not currently served by the Global Centers. Combined and in partnership with schools, the Pop-Up Centers, with enhanced Global Centers now operating as regional hubs, will be able to offer bold, creative, new models of educational experiences that meet students where they are, enhance their learning, and inspire them to engage with the world, even if they cannot come to campus in New York City just yet. In other words, despite any current or potential obstacles—political or otherwise— the Columbia Global Centers will be able to offer international students a strong and vibrant Columbia University experience wherever they are.

Columbia Global Centers as Regional Hubs

The existing nine Columbia Global Centers—located in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, Rio, Santiago, and Tunis—will serve as “regional hubs” for students. They will provide physical meeting locations that Columbia schools will use to host rewarding in-person academic experiences, together with their peers, designed to complement their individual online coursework. Beyond gathering for targeted seminar discussions or short course / block weeks, these regional hubs will foster social opportunities, local network development, and cohort building–activities that will contribute to students’ overall Columbia experience and connection to one another.

Our Centers will have advanced technology and audio-visual equipment, and will be reconfigured to offer students the ability to practice physical distancing. All Centers have large meeting spaces, strong wi-fi, proximity to public transportation and parking, and the ability to augment existing capacity by leveraging their extensive partner networks for additional shared common spaces, local facilities, and nearby hotels.

As part of our enhanced set-up, we will support Columbia’s campus-based “HyFlex” model. Centers have the appropriately trained staff and the technical capacity to engage in live, online conversations and interactions, with onsite cameras, microphones, speakers, and in-room projection / displays to support student and faculty in-person needs.

Pop-Up Global Centers

The current Global Centers network will be complemented by the addition of “Pop-Up” Global Centers around the world. We have closely examined country and city data for international students, both matriculated and newly admitted, across all undergraduate and graduate schools, and have identified the locations of our greatest concentrations of students, and how we might provide an enhanced University experience for those populations through Pop-Up Global Centers designed to serve entire regions. There are obviously many cities to consider. 

The Pop-Ups will allow the Centers to meet a sudden or temporary need, customized for a school and its students.

Columbia schools will be able to use our regional hubs and Pop-Up Global Centers for a number of purposes, including:

  • Students physically coming together as a community to connect online with their faculty and other students.
  • Hybrid instruction, such as courses delivered online by faculty in New York and supported in person by a local partner instructor or a senior CGC staff member, who would provide onsite mentoring, project oversight, in-person lessons, or excursions to nearby cultural institutions or businesses, for example, to conduct field study and supplement relevant coursework. 
  • Pedagogically appropriate curricular enhancements, such as class projects and exercises, that would build upon online academic coursework and make it more distinctive and richer.
  • Short-term or one-off student co-curricular programming activities. 
  • Orientation programs for new students and reorientation for matriculated students, done synchronously with campus or asynchronously, depending on time zones. 
  • Cohort-building activities that bolster affinity, camaraderie, and connection with the University.
  • Sitting for exams.

There are obviously many variables and moving parts, including local conditions and how these might develop in different parts of the world. But the Global Centers are designed to be nimble, mobile, and—most importantly—adaptive, making it possible to mobilize quickly to respond to changing circumstances, including those presented by the pandemic and faced by the University’s international student body.  Should circumstances change once more, the Global Centers will adapt again. It’s what they do.

Columbia Global Centers Commitment

Nothing is more important to the University than sustaining education, community, and engagement, regardless of the pandemic and regardless of the temporal political winds. With new Columbia Global Centers initiatives, the increased number of regional locations, and enhanced programming, the Global Centers can ensure international students and the University will continue together in a shared experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Global Centers are currently working with each Columbia School to scope out how each respective School and degree program may be able to use these international locations. Each School will determine how its courses, activities, and events will utilize these locations to add in-person learning and engagement experiences for international students abroad. Some Schools or degree programs may not use these locations for in-person teaching and learning. Students should inquire with their specific School and degree program regarding their plans for these international locations.

Teaching and learning modalities - such as course design, frequency of use, access and utilization, and technical questions - will be determined by each School and degree program, in consultation with their staff and the Global Centers. Students should inquire with their specific School and degree program regarding their plans for these international locations.

Each School will determine how its own students will register for programs and events that will take place at the Regional Hubs or Pop-Up Global Centers. Students should inquire with their specific School and degree program regarding registration.

The Global Centers, each School, and the University administration are currently in discussion to determine the exact pop-up locations.  Some locations may be used for specific Schools and degree programs, while others may be used by all Schools. The locations will be announced once all arrangements are finalized.

Other Programs

Virtual Global Internships

In response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers rolled out initiatives tailored to this moment. They include the creation of regional communities of international students and a virtual internship program that offers wide-ranging internships for Columbia students with companies and institutions around the world.

Global Columbia Collaboratory

Most recently, they have partnered on the College-led Global Columbia Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is a program designed to help students connect and cooperate across a global network, empowering them to make a difference in the world as global citizens. The Columbia Global Centers is providing  the Collaboratory with three seminars related to the pandemic.  The seminars are created for the students who were chosen to take part of the Collaboratory but the global public is invited to attend. For more information about the seminars, go here.

Global Webinars

In addition, they have provided robust, topical, online programming of over 220 instructive webinars in a variety of languages. Topics have ranged from a discussion of globalization with Professor Jeffrey Sachs and his new book, The Ages of Globalization, to a vigorous discussion on global racial justice protests with a Black Lives Matter panel including Professors Jelani Cobb and Farah Griffin, to French Islamic scholar Giles Kepel sharing his views on Middle East geopolitical stressors.