Columbia is rolling out a brand new program for this year’s class of graduating seniors. The program (first hinted at by PrezBo at a Fireside Chat last Febrary) offers an opportunity for up to 10 students to become “Fifth Year Fellows” by “adding a year of liberal arts education” at one (or more!) of Columbia’s Global Centers. Participants are given the freedom to design their own itinerary, and take full advantage of Columbia’s eight Global Centers on their quest for “travel-based learning.” There will be pre-departure and follow-up seminars, as well as bi-monthly web seminars during the program. Upon completion, students will receive a “Columbia University credential,” which is explicitly not a degree. The application deadline is February 29, 2012. Read the full email after the jump.

Dear Graduating Senior:

I am pleased to announce a pilot Fifth Year program for graduating CC, GS, and SEAS seniors. As graduating seniors you clearly have many opportunities and options, but some among you might wish to consider adding a year of liberal arts education, using the world as a classroom, before turning to career preparation.  If so, please take a moment to review this program description, and, if it intrigues you, go the web site for more detail.

This specialized yearlong, global program will be available for up to 10 graduating seniors, who will become ?Fifth Year Fellows.?

1. Campus-based three-week Introductory Pro-Seminar, September   2012.

2. Six-month global travel based on an individualized itinerary presented by student.

3. Bi-monthly web-based seminar based on intellectual issues introduced in the pro-seminar as they are being experienced by each Fellow.

4. Campus-based six-week Follow-Up Seminar, April/May, 2013

5. Fellows will be registered as at-large students, and on successfully completing the program will be awarded a Columbia University credential (not a degree).

Brief Overview:

The Fifth Year Fellows program prepares graduates of Columbia University for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century with a unique combination of guided study and independent learning in the globalized world of the new century.  Building on the rich education received at Columbia, the program allows a select group to travel the world, study and learn from direct encounters with others, while receiving one-to-one tutorial advice and intensive seminar-based learning in the Columbia tradition.  Participants design their own itineraries for travel-based learning anywhere in the world and in any field of endeavor. They are assisted in their regions of focus through the university?s eight Global Centers, and with advisory support based at Columbia.

Vigorous campus-based seminars before departure help participants refine their plans and prepare them with questions and readings that can help to translate classroom-based experience into the basis for more direct engagement and a lifelong practice of learning from and with others. Regular international video-conferencing with faculty will link program participants and permit them to share their learning.  Upon return, an intensive seminar led by Columbia faculty enables participants to reflect on their experiences and share lessons learned, not only transforming their own futures, but also feeding back into the curricular review process within Columbia. For a more extended program rationale and design, answers to frequently asked questions, and application procedures and deadlines, please follow the link:


Kenneth Prewitt
Vice-President for Global Centers and
Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs