Building the Future: UGE and the Columbia Global Centers | Paris

Shannon Marquez, Dean of Undergraduate Global Engagement, reflects on the transformation of study abroad programs as a result of Covid-19.

Editor's note:

This article appears in the Reid Hall Annual Report 2019-2021.

July 05, 2021

This past academic year has been a transformative moment for the field of international higher education.  Every aspect of our work has been affected by the double pandemic we have experienced during this period, which includes the COVID-19 global crisis, as well as the escalation of racial discrimination against non-citizens and people of color in many places around the world. 

Now more than ever, it is crucial to promote exploration of diverse ideas and experiences

This moment has tested our leadership like never before, and it is against this backdrop that the Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement (UGE) affirms our commitment partnering with the Columbia Global Centers to leverage Columbia’s unsurpassed leadership in scholarship, research, and teaching to foster discovery, and transmit knowledge to empower students as “global citizens” who desire to  better the human condition on a local and global scale, and address challenges that transcend geographic boundaries and make an impact around the world. 

Now more than ever, it is crucial to promote exploration of diverse ideas and experiences so that our students gain the training and confidence necessary to be more effective – both in their careers and in their lives – in collaborating with people who have diverse cultural, racial, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds; thinking critically and analytically; problem-solving; and acting on issues of global importance. Students must consider alternate perspectives, understand diverse cultural frames of reference, and learn to value the historical, political, cultural, and socioeconomic interdependencies among local, regional, national, and global communities in order to critically and ethically engage with the world and address global challenges. In this regard, UGE is the only Columbia unit with staff working on campus and around the world – including at Reid Hall in Paris – that are exclusively dedicated to this as a central mission, and the creation of the Center underscores the value that Columbia attaches to developing globally competent, knowledgeable, and mobile global citizens now and in the future.  Working closely with Columbia’s undergraduate colleges, graduate and professionals schools, and Columbia Global Centers | Paris, we will continue to deliver a global curriculum with multiple pathways and modalities, including virtual programming, and prioritize the recruitment and retention of diverse students – including Columbia and Barnard undergraduates, students from French universities and direct enrollment students from elite and peer institutions around the world – who will thrive and excel in the Reid Hall academic and experiential learning programs, strengthen their self-identification as global citizens as part of their global engagement journey, and promote their learning and success at Columbia and throughout the world.