What is the Committee on Global Thought?

The Committee on Global Thought was established by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger in 2006 with the mission of enhancing the university’s engagement with issues of global importance. To understand the changing conditions of our contemporary world, we require new concepts and categories that pertain to and are derived from global phenomena as they are rapidly evolving. Not only does this challenge require a transnational perspective but it also demands thinking across the established academic disciplines, since issues such as global governance, varieties of democracy, economic inequality, new communication technologies, and diversity of cultures and religions often fall between or across conventional disciplinary borders. The Committee is therefore committed to cross-disciplinary and transnational approaches in order to address the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first-century world.

The Committee on Global Thought, chaired in succession by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Saskia Sassen, Carol Gluck, and now Vishakha N. Desai, consists of over thirty distinguished faculty members from across the University: from the Arts and Sciences, the Schools of Law, Business, Journalism, Architecture and Planning, Social Work, the Mailman School of Public Health, the School of the Arts, and the School of International and Public Affairs. Their scholarship addresses a broad spectrum of issues, linked by the global parallels and connections that assert themselves ever more forcefully. In this respect, even seemingly disparate lines of inquiry often prove to be intertwined.

The Committee on Global Thought provides a forum in which to make such connections, to examine and understand them toward the end of making a difference in thinking and acting in the world today. For these reasons the Committee pursues its mission not only within the academy but also in cooperation with policy-makers, journalists, architects and urban planners, practitioners from the international financial community, filmmakers, artists, and representatives of international, non-governmental, and not-for-profit institutions. The Committee currently includes signature research projects; pedagogical innovation in its new M.A. in Global Thought and undergraduate initiative; Global Think-ins and other public events on campus and at Columbia Global Centers. Future plans include professional learning in hybrid online-classroom format as well as expanded undergraduate curricular opportunities.

The Committee on Global Thought is a part of the enlarging circle of President Bollinger’s vision of Global Columbia. It not only draws on the breadth of activities related to international and global matters for which the university has long been well known, but also collaborates with more recent initiatives such as the Global Policy Initiative, the Global Reports, and the Global Centers to expand global connections in research, teaching, and practice.

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