As a branch emanating out of an academic institution, the Tunis Center needs to have a strong education component. Through scholarships, workshops, conferences, e-courses and other academic events, the Center aims to become a lighthouse of knowledge, dedicated to West and North Africans. It will also comprise the introduction of Tunisia and West-North Africa to Columbia University.
It is under this axis that the Tunis Center, in cooperation with Tunisia's Ministry of Culture, helped disseminate Columbia University Press (CUP) books. In 2017, Columbia University was the guest of honor of the International Book Fair of Tunis. CUP was represented with staff and books, while Gayatri Spivak came and delivered a lecture. The event allowed for interaction between CUP and major local publishers and booksellers which led to further partnerships. CUP participation to the Book Fair has now become an annual event and CUP books are available in Tunisian bookshops. The Tunis Center is working on importing more CUP books to be stored in Tunisian public libraries, where there is a shortage in English language books.
The Tunis Center has also facilitated the establishment of the Rambourg Fellowship at SIPA. It is a full scholarship funded by the Rambourg Foundation for Tunisian students to enroll in a Master's degree at SIPA. The Tunis Center will regularly host information sessions for Columbia College and the different graduate schools, while disseminating information on financial aid opportunities for admitted students. This would increase the number of West-North African students applying to Columbia, and possibly expand the pool of alumni from the region. In addition, the Center will organize pre-departure events for prospective Columbia students from the region.
CGC Tunis will relay the calls for proposals of projects, conferences, etc. to scholars from West and North Africa. The Center will, in parallel, try to include Columbia scholars and graduate students in research projects from West-North African countries, and strive to give them access to local archives and libraries. A special emphasis will be given to Humanities and Social Sciences. There is already a conference aiming for these goals and planned for Fall 2018 in Tunis in cooperation with the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life (IRCPL): Pluralisms in Emergencies.
The Center will keep hosting and organizing public lectures. In January 2017 for instance, we helped organizing the visit of Tunisian professor Yadh Ben Achour to Columbia. He was the first Columbia Global Centers scholar-in-residence and he gave a series of conferences on Tunisia. In September 2017, Pr. Safwan Masri launched his Arab Anomaly book in Tunis. In October and November 2017, the Tunis Center, the Middle East Institute and the Department of Italian hosted a Tunisian Art Historian in New York to talk about 19th century Tunisia. In April 2018, the Tunis Center and the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures invited another Tunisian historian to talk about 16th century Tunisia. Other events on various topics ranging from public health to arts and political science are scheduled for 2018-19 in Tunis and on campus.
Other activities include inviting Columbia faculty to offer classes in Tunisia, such as the film festival organized by Pr. Richard Pena from the School of the Arts. For our first session in July 2017, we organized a workshop on Latin American Film, in partnership with L’Agora Cinema and the US Embassy. Pr. Pena gave lectures, showed movies and led discussion groups. The program is already running in several centers and its second Tunis iteration is schedule for December 2018.
The Tunis Center is committed to help implementing academic projects focusing on the region. Hence, in 2018-19, we will host Pr. Craig Spencer's Measuring Human Rights Violations and Mortality Amongst Migrants and Refugees in the Sahel Region project. Pr. Spencer will use the Center's facilities and we will help him recruit assistants and develop the project.
The Tunis Center will also facilitate visits by Columbia faculty and students to the region. One of these programs is that of Chaplain Jewelnel Davis and her Kraft program, scheduled in Tunis for December 2018. Another program where the Tunis Center aims to play a key role is the now-regular Global Immersion: Doing Business in North Africa class, by Pr. Kamel Jedidi, scheduled to visit Tunis in January 2019. The Tunis Center is also willing to host the Summer Arabic language program of Columbia University.
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