Columbia Goes Global: Studying Abroad

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Alma revamped: new and improved model, now featuring several balloons in honor of the Global conference.

On April 20, Columbia hosted a conference called “Columbia Goes Global: The Next 50 Years,” featuring speakers like PrezBo and Kenneth Prewitt. Several Bwoggers headed over to cover parts of the event. The first installment comes from studying-anywhere-but-Butler enthusiast Victoria Wills, who reports from the “A New Way to Study Abroad” segment of the event.

When Columbia announced its full-day “Columbia Goes Global” event, including a presentation about “A New Way to Study Abroad,” many hoped for follow-up to President Bollinger’s fireside chat proposition of an expenses-paid fifth year abroad.  Sadly, PrezBo and his enigmatic plan were far from the topic of this chat.  Instead, Interim Director of Columbia Global Centers Europe Victoria de Grazia presented a powerpoint on a new new way Columbia students will study abroad: at Reid Hall, in Paris.

“At Reid Hall?” you might ask, “doesn’t Columbia already have programs at Reid Hall?”  Well… yeah. But, once it’s renamed an Advanced School for Global Studies (and presumably decked out in the cutting-edge grass photoshopped into the Parisian alleyways de Grazia’s powerpoint slides), the Reid Hall we know and love will become “Reid Hall 2020,” the way of the future.  On a serious note, de Grazia offered insightful comments on the need for undergraduate programs that integrate students more fully in the language and culture of the host nation, and drew interesting comparisons back to her own immersive study abroad experience in Europe and North Africa in the 1960s with Smith College.

However, the program envisioned by De Grazia and the working group on the Global Scholars Program hardly lived up to the presentation’s lofty title.  Essentially, Grazia presented a plan for “adventurous students” to pursue independent research projects at Reid Hall in their junior year, while taking courses at Parisian universities as well as a master class taught by a Columbia professor.  Students would then return in their senior year to collect and present their research in a thesis.  Really then, the only difference between this 2020 version of Reid Hall and Reid Hall as it stands would be the added independent research and the guarantee that the master class would be taught by a Columbia professor (as opposed to an adjunct or assistant professor as is now the case, Vice President for Global Centres Kenneth Prewitt explained after the session).

To add to the confusion, the new-fangled Reid Hall will not debut in 2020 as indicated, but would ideally start up next fall (Prewitt later explained that “Reid Hall 2020” was from an old slide).  “Would any sophomores be interested?” de Grazia posed to the mostly middle-aged audience at the end of her presentation.  As one sophomore in the back expressed confusion at the immanency of the start date and a  greying man followed with a question about how Reid Hall could benefit his sophomore niece studying German, the limited scope of Grazia’s new way to study abroad became clear.  For research-minded sophomores interest in spending half a year in Paris, De Grazia wants to hear from you.  However, for our still-directionless seniors, Columbia will unfortunately not fill your post-grad year with be an expenses-paid to a foreign city of your choosing.  Alas, we return to our old ways of studying.

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  1. Zach Kagan  

    Great article. I was there but I was rather bored by the whole thing. It had a very "marketing pitch" vibe that didn't sit well, but what it came down to is "who doesn't want to take 3 classes and hang out in Paris?" I sat next to one of they guys from the program, a French professor with a very French name which I didn't catch. He told me he didn't like how the program was pitched, saying it is more about breaking our Anglo-Saxon ways of thinking. Still a sweet deal for French majors.

  2. Anonymous  

    Bwog, could you provide De Grazia's email please?

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