“When President Bollinger had the idea to start global centers around the world,
it was just a concept—a university like Columbia needed to connect to the world, but be humble and really learn from the world. That idea has now become a reality in multiple ways. Through the Committee on Global Thought, where I have been privileged to work with lots of different colleagues, and with Global Centers, we've really taken to heart that our connection to the world can actually happen through the Global centers, such as in Istanbul.
My own relationship with the Istanbul Center is now more than 5 years old. When I first started thinking about arts and culture in megacities, I immediately thought, of course, of Istanbul. It was one of the locations that I wanted to work from and to discuss the role that arts and culture can play in the presence of a city. Since then, we've been working on the idea of arts and its intersection with political developments, with the new rise in populism, with social media, things of that sort. Because of the Global Center in Istanbul and their local connections, I've been very privileged to now have established relationships with local curators, local leaders, and with the art leaders. These are the kinds of networks that (Columbia faculty) could not (easily) establish or develop without the help of friends and colleagues right here at the Center.
The other project that we've been involved with is Youth In A Changing World. This idea came up because of my discussions with the Global Centers, where all nine Centers, one way or the other, felt that in this current climate we needed to pay attention to how young people are engaging with the world and are being affected by the world. That project has now had workshops— we did one in Rio, in Amman, in Tunis. We are doing one here in Istanbul and will do another one in Nairobi in a couple of weeks. All of this is to suggest that the idea of global is not simply to understand what we have in common with the idea of global, but to understand the local specificities of an issue that may have global implications as well as understanding how you do comparisons and understand each other, What is different and particular to that community? So these are really the ways that we can redefine how to think globally, critically and learn from local dimensions of globality. Thank you.”