The new global center won't look anything like these peppers.

Yesterday, in the land of swanky catering that is the Columbia Faculty House, PrezBo announced Columbia’s latest move toward international expansion—a Global Center in Santiago, Chile.

Joining Columbia’s four other centers in Beijing, Paris, Amman, and Mumbai, the Santiago global center will be Columbia’s first in Latin America. This initiative, co-established by President Bollinger and Andronico Luksic, vice chairman of Banco de Chile, is in keeping with Bollinger’s global mission for Columbia.

Why Chile (pronounced CHEE-leh, as a Santiago native and friend of Bwog insists that we note), you may ask? In a discussion titled “Rethinking Chile’s Social and Economic Challenges,” a panel of Columbia and Barnard professors addressed this very question. After listening to answers of entrepreneurial, environmental, and even journalistic bents, Bwog gleaned at least this much: Chile is an understudied country, and the particularity of its social and economic inequalities make it worth serious exploration. As one panelist puts it, one of the center’s goals will be to “solve Chilean puzzles.”

Apart from that, though, the center’s purpose appears decidedly vague. Though they offered their own departmental hopes and speculations for Columbia’s future in Santiago, the panelists all seemed clear on one fact: this new center is about international research and collaboration—it is not a satellite campus. Naturally, this will mean different things to different areas of academia.

As elaborated in the event’s official press release (check it out after the jump!), the B-School’s Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness in Latin America Program, the Earth Institute’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and the J-School all have ideas for their involvement in Santiago. For undergrads, the Santiago center will mean a new opportunity to study abroad, along with all of the research and university exchange opportunities that that entails. Essentially, the goal of a center in Santiago, like Columbia’s other outposts in Europe, East and South Asia, and the Middle East, will be to facilitate new networks and partnerships across academic disciplines in order to better address global challenges.

Hint of spice via Wikimedia Commons.

University press release:

Columbia Announces Global Center in Chile
Santiago, Chile, will become University’s fifth international locale for deepening academic partnerships, and student and alumni affairs

NEW YORK, September 12, 2011 — In an ongoing effort to broaden the University’s already extensive international perspective, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger, is signing an agreement today to establish a fifth Columbia Global Center, in Santiago, Chile — the University’s first in Latin America. He will be joined by Andronico Luksic, vice chairman of Banco de Chile.

“With next year marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of Columbia’s renowned Institute of Latin American Studies, the opening of the Global Center in Santiago comes as a timely reminder of our University’s long and rich history of studying Latin America,” President Bollinger said. “The Santiago center will take its place alongside Columbia Global Centers in East and South Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, each one offering fresh opportunities for students and faculty to engage an international network of scholars, researchers and citizens. We are very grateful for Andronico Luksic’s role in making this possible and look forward to our partnership with him.”

Columbia Global Centers promote and facilitate international collaborations, research projects, academic programming and study abroad, enhancing the University’s historical commitment to global scholarship.

The signing ceremony coincides with a roundtable discussion on Rethinking Chile’s Economic and Social Challenges, moderated by Thomas J. Trebat, executive director of Columbia’s Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS). Faculty members joining the discussion include economists Guillermo Calvo and Miguel Urquiola, John Dinges of Columbia Journalism School, Nelson Fraiman of Columbia Business School, Nara Milanich of Barnard College, climate research scientist Lisa Goddard and architecture professor Enrique Walker.

Columbia is a pioneer in Latin American studies and research. In 2012, ILAS marks its 50th year at the University. The U.S. Department of Education designated the institute a National Resource Center on Latin America and it is part of the New York City Consortium on Latin America. The 150 faculty members associated with ILAS are drawn from nearly all of Columbia’s professional schools and academic departments, including the School of International and Public Affairs, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Teachers College, Barnard College, Earth Institute and Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.

Programs and projects planned for the new center include:

  • The Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness in Latin America Program (ECLA) is an executive education program for Latin American entrepreneurs designed by the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business at Columbia Business School, in partnership with Endeavor. Led by business school faculty, it provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to learn from world-class teachers, build a global professional network, and enhance their organizations’ strategy and operations.
  • The Earth Institute’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), through its Latin America/Caribbean (LAC) regional program, led by director and scientist Walter Baethgen, seeks to introduce IRI’s Climate Risk Management approach and tools to stakeholders so they can incorporate climate knowledge into key socioeconomic sectors including agriculture, health, water resources, natural ecosystems, and disaster risk management. They are collaborating with INIA (Ministry of Agriculture of Chile) in the creation and implementation of an Information and Decision Support System to improve climate risk management in the Chilean agricultural sector. They are also working with partners in the northern Coquimbo region to improve water resources management and planning to develop a drought early warning system to improve preparedness and response to drought related emergencies.
  • Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism is enhancing its existing activities in Chile and Latin America. For more than seven decades, the school has administered the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, the oldest international prizes in journalism, annually honoring excellent reporting on Latin America. Several faculty members led by John Dinges, the Cabot Professor of Journalism, have written extensively about Chile and have first-hand experience in Latin America. They include Joshua Friedman, Mirta Ojito and Edward Schumacher-Matos. The school promotes high journalistic standards, encourages and supports press freedoms, and host events that stimulate public discussion of journalism and media.

Columbia Global Centers encourage new relationships across schools, institutes, and academic departments at the University. Some of the research and scholarly initiatives are regionally focused while others involve multiple centers engaged in truly global conversations. The centers also support a significant expansion of opportunities for Columbia students to do hands-on research and service-learning abroad, particularly those who may not want to spend a full semester or academic year off-campus.

Some universities in the United States have built branch campuses and degree-granting schools abroad. Columbia is taking a different path. The Columbia Global Centers provide flexible regional hubs for a wide range of activities and resources intended to enhance the quality of research and learning at the University. They are built on the belief that establishing an interactive network of partnerships across geographic boundaries and collaborations across traditional academic disciplines can help address complex challenges by bringing together scholars, students, public officials, private enterprise and innovators from many fields.