The Rio Center celebrates its first anniversary

March 21, 2014

On March 20th, 2014, Columbia Global Centers | Rio de Janeiro, the State Government of Rio de Janeiro, and FAPERJ - the main funding agency for academic research in the state of Rio - signed an agreement which will lead to a Request for Proposals (RFP) for academic collaboration with Columbia University. The occasion marked the celebration of the first anniversary of the Rio Center. The ceremony took place at the Guanabara Palace, home of the governor of Rio de Janeiro state, where President Lee C. Bollinger launched the eighth global center of the network exactly a year ago.

During its first year, the Rio center has concentrated efforts on building a solid relationship both on campus and with local partners. The partnership with FAPERJ is one of many great outcomes of this process. The Request for Proposals that follows this agreement focuses primarily on three academic areas: public health, education and sustainable development, and the total amount of funds available will be in the order of 4 million reais (around US$1.7 million). Funds go to local researchers in Rio working in collaboration with Columbia faculty; it will indirectly (and directly) benefit faculty involved in joint research and academic projects.

In this short (and intense) year, the Rio center has been involved in a number of initiatives that have attracted attention throughout campus. In Spring 2013, for the first round of the President’s Innovation Fund, the Rio center received 37 proposals and is involved in 10 out of 20 projects awarded. Our programs have welcomed deans, professors and students. More than 70 members of the Columbia community have visited the center in this time, amongst them students, faculty and staff. One of the highlights of the year was the success of the Columbia Global Debates, which happened in October, mobilizing the global center network around the themes of sustainability and urban planning, democracy and economic development. 

The center has strongly supported professional oriented programs. The Rio Center is currently running two training programs with the support of the municipality of Rio. The first one is the Picker Center Training Program, which will bring 35 top-level city officials (líderes cariocas) to Columbia for a weeklong intensive workshop on public administration, with a strong practical component, and case studies filmed around the globe in China and India – combining the campus experience with the benefits of distance education tools.

The second program is the result of a fruitful collaboration with the Columbia University School of the Arts, which began in March, when Professor Chris Washburne and his band S.Y.O.T.O.S performed at the center launch. The collaboration continued with a two-day event in Rio de Janeiro in October when the Dean of the School of the Arts Carol Becker, the chair of the Film Program Ira Deutchman and cinema Professor Richard Peña gathered to launch the TV Writing Intensive in Rio – a program endorsed by the school and taught by Columbia Professors in Rio. The workshop was designed for professionals in the field of audiovisual in Brazil and is sponsored by RioFilme (connected to the secretariat of culture of the city of Rio). A second edition of the program is planned for the Fall.

These are good examples of positive engagement and good dialogue carried along this past year. Next steps include the elaboration of a capstone project for Columbia undergraduate and graduate students carrying researches at our headquarters in Brazil, and the formatting of two projects focused on Public Administration and Engineering.