Students choose four to five elective courses (depending on the credit units) over two semesters with the advice of the Graduate Program Director. They may choose from courses offered by CGT Faculty, as well as from hundreds of available graduate courses across the university. The students shape their own course of study to accommodate and develop their interests. Courses must be taken at 4000-level or higher.

Students may harmonize their electives with the topic of their MA essays, or split their electives between their research concentration, global themes, methodological work, or other areas of interest that enhance their intellectual and professional prospects.

Use Columbia’s Directory of Classes to find the widest range of courses open to students of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Global Thought Elective Courses

Availability of elective courses varies each semester. Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Thought is open ONLY to Global Thought MA students, but all other elective courses are open to both Global Thought MA students and students across the University.

Global Latin America

Within the Global North social-science mainstream, Latin America (like other parts of the Global South) has often been conceptualized as a region of analytical interest due to its complex internal dynamics (relating, for example, to recurring authoritarian rule, democratization, transitional justice, “modernization” and economic development, and social mobilization). Yet until recently, these have infrequently been conceptualized as global processes in which Latin America plays a substantive role. To be sure, various external forces—namely, colonialism, imperialism, interventionism, and their legacies—are of course widely understood to have shaped Latin American in myriad ways. However, the notions that Latin America exercises agency (or at least matters) in world affairs, is more than a generally passive recipient of global flows, and is meaningfully connected to other regions (including through migratory, political, economic, and cultural linkages), have only recently begun to resonate within the Northern academy.    

In contrast to the “methodological nationalism” (or “regionalism”) that has long characterized outside analysis of Latin America, this course foregrounds the region’s global embeddedness and world-making potential—as a protagonist in the generation, adaptation, and diffusion of diverse border-crossing flows, frameworks, and imaginaries. These include: global discourses concerning modernity, postmodernity, liberalism, and postcolonialism; global understandings of race, class, gender, and the intersections between them; global policy frameworks related to human rights, democracy, and economic development; historical and contemporary globalizing relations with distant parts of the world, including the Middle East and Asia; and global alternatives to a world order based on exclusion, extractivism, and environmental degradation.

Throughout, we will highlight the agency of state and non-state actors throughout “Latin America”—itself a homogenizing, Eurocentric label imposed from the outside—as constitutive forces in creating the world that we all inhabit, contributing to the problems that confront us, and helping to generate solutions. To do so, we will engage with a series of texts and materials produced by diversely situated interdisciplinary scholars, writers, artists, and political figures—many of them based in Latin America, and operating in languages other than English—who are all seeking to make sense of the region’s place in the world. From a transnational perspective, we will also identify pockets of “Global Latin America” that exist beyond the region’s borders, including in parts of New York City.

Global New York

“Wall Street is a disaster area”—so declared a real estate lawyer in a 1974 New York Times story on the pitiful state of lower Manhattan. The World Trade Center had been inaugurated in 1973 as a beacon of global capitalism with a mandate to lease only to international firms. A year later, much of the Twin Towers went unoccupied. Some eight million square feet of financial district office space sat empty, brokerage houses were shuttering at a rate of more than one per day, and the surrounding city was hurtling towards a full-blown fiscal crisis. The New York of the mid-1970s did not appear destined to become the model global city we know today. Within a decade, however, the city had transformed into a central node—arguably the central node—in the ballooning global financial industry and its accompanying class and cultural formations. But this outcome was never guaranteed. How did New York go from “Fear City” to “Capital of the World”? What historical structures, contingencies, and policy decisions produced Global New York?

This course examines New York City’s long history as a site of globalization. Since European colonization, New York has served as a hub in world-spanning networks of capital, goods, and people. At the same time, the city’s reinvention in the late-20th century as a “global city”—defined in large part by its deep embeddedness in world financial markets—represented a fundamental shift in the city’s economy, governance, demography, cultural life, and social relations. We will interrogate how this came to be by exploring New York’s historical role in global business, culture, and immigration, with attention to how local and national conditions have shaped the city’s relationship to the world. While critically analyzing how elites both in and outside New York have wielded power over its politics and institutions, readings and discussions will also center the voices of New Yorkers drawn from the numerous and diverse communities that make up this complex city.

Local/Global Worlds: Place-based Investigations of an Interconnected World

Even in the midst of resurging nationalism, we continue to live in an intensely interconnected world where distant protests trigger local action, local pathogens seed global pandemics, global maneuverings cause local wars, faraway wars bring migrants and refugees to one’s community, global finance reshapes cityscapes, and a mounting climate crisis creates new living conditions everywhere. While studies of “globalization” often take a birds-eye view of the impacts of global interconnectivity, this course focuses also on localities and regions; and hones methodologies for investigating the complex and uneven ways global phenomena continually reshape communities and individual lives. This course is timely and urgent as the world confronts challenges that require intervention at local, regional, national, and global levels of coordination and collaboration. This moment requires us to think locally and globally at the same time, as we endeavor to understand, define, and address global problems. 

Students situated in or originating from diverse locations will collaborate with classmates to investigate a common global theme or challenge from multiple places and disciplinary perspectives, utilizing a variety of methodological approaches from oral history to data dives.  They will develop comparative and contextual perspectives on global issues by investigating how they resonate across different geographical scales; and develop final group projects that both investigate how issues reverberate across these scales and explore ways to address the challenges that confront the world.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Thought

This course supports the interdisciplinary MA in Global Thought by encouraging students to attend events, workshops, lectures, and conferences on global issues at Columbia, throughout New York City, and in the era on online everything—around the world at relevant institutions. It supports and encourages students to maximize their intellectual enrichment during their time at Columbia and supports their research projects and plans for placement post-degree.
Students earn credit in this course by writing thoughtful and critically engaged reflection papers on the substance of lectures, workshops, and academic meetings attended at Columbia and other institutions in New York City and beyond.

For each event, the student writes a brief response (no less than 1 page/350 words) that is posted to CourseWorks within three days of the event. The work receives comments from the instructor intended to provoke further thought and engagement.

Students may register for one, two, or three credits:
• One credit = students must attend four events (one must be CGT-related event)
• Two credits = students must attend eight events (two must be CGT-related events)
• Three credits = students must attend twelve events (three must be CGT-related events)
Additionally, students must attend two online sessions for the course – one at the start and the other at the end of the semester. In the first session, we will discuss what types of event qualify for the course and how to compose reflection papers.

Three criteria will be introduced: 1) Writing analytically; 2) Thinking across disciplines, and 3) Critically reflecting on global issues through event selection and response papers.

Past Elective Courses

In addition to Global Thought elective courses, our students enrolled in courses in Columbia’s:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)

Chinese Political Economy ● Contemporary African Politics ● Reincarnation and Technology ● Processes of Stratification and Inequality ● Architecture and Human Rights ● Managing and Adapting to Climate Change ● Human Rights & Human Wrongs ● History of American Capitalism ● Armed Groups & Political Violence ● Buddhism & Neuroscience ● Capitalism and Political Subjectivity in Latin America ● Creativity/Technology: War & Commerce ● Data Analysis for the Social Sciences ● Engineering & Ownership of Life ● Exhibition Cultures, Feminist Postcolonial Theory ● From the Inquisition to Guantanamo ● GIS & Spatial Analysis ● Global Politics of Reproduction ● Human Rights: History, Law, Literature ● Language Documentation and Field Methods ● Narrative, Health & Society ● Parties/Elections in Developing Countries ● Psychology of Culture & Diversity ● Sociology of Expertise ● US-Asia Relations/Global Perspective ● Processes of Stratification and Inequality ● Cultural Rights as Human Rights ● Dark Ecologies ● Feminist Activism in Latin America ● International Political Economy of Developing Countries ● Philosophy of AI ● Race, Ethnicity, and Politics ● Capitalism and Democracy ● The Frequency of Black Life ● Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights ● China and the Politics of Desire ● Religion and Public Life ● Climate and Empire ● Populism ● Indigenous Peoples ● Disease Ecology

School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

Political Economy of Finance ● Gender and Development in Southeast Asia ● Security and International Politics of the Persian Gulf ● International News: Reporting, Propaganda, and Disinformation ● Diplomacy in Practice: European Union ● Corporations and Human Rights ● Crowdsourced Storytelling ● Communications for Corporations, Nonprofits, and Governments ● The Transatlantic Economy ● American Decline? Locating the United States in World Order ● Communications Policy in the Digital Age ● Corporate Sustainability and the Role of Government in Advancing Environmental and Social Performance ● Culture and Foreign Policy: China, India ● Economics of Sustainable Development ● Effective Management in the Public Service ● Environment, Conflict & Resolution Strategies ● Global Financial Services in the 21st Century ● Human Rights and Development Policy ● International Environmental Policy ● Leadership and Innovative Policy-Making ● Managing Data Science for Social Innovation Development ● Media Campaigning and Social Change ● Practical Problems in Urban Politics ● Public-Private Partnerships to Foster Effective, Sustainable and Scalable Nonprofits ● Human-Centered Design ● Comparative Development ● Central Issues in American Foreign Policy ● Finance for the World’s Poor ● System Corruption ● Adaptation to Climate Change ● Impact Investment and Financial Innovation ● Foreign Policy Crisis Decisions ● Sino-African Relations ● African Development Strategies ● International Banking ● Creating Social Impact Campaigns ● EU Policymaking and New Global Challenges ● Climate Change and Migration ● Cyber Risks and Vulnerabilities ● Oil, Rights, and Development ● Social Justice in the Age of Social Media ● Russia’s Energy between West, East, and South

School of Professional Studies (SPS)

Public/Private Partnerships ● Fundraising for Nonprofits ● Global Emerging Markets ● Global Environmental Markets ● Women in Cities: Sustainable Urban Design ● Planning, Management, Water Resources & Climate ● Writing Global Science in International Media ● Ethics & Values for Sustainable Development ● Policy & Legal Context for Sustainable Development ● Practical Innovation ● Sports Business Communications/Public Relations ● Sustainability Management ● Innovation and Entrepreneurship ● Ethical Decision Making for Communications ● Impact Finance for Sustainability ● Social Purpose Business ● Negotiation for Everyday ● Introduction to Comparative Media

Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP)

Conflict Urbanism ● Land Use Planning ● Local, Global, Postcolonial: Contemporary Urbanism in Emerging Societies ● Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism, and Humans ● Our New Normal ● Philosophies of the City ● Building China Modern

Teachers’ College (TC)

Education Across the Americas ● Foundations of Bilingual and Bicultural Education ● Urban Politics and Education ● Education in Emergencies ● ISS/Institutions & International Education ● International Perspectives in Peace & Human Rights ● Globalization and Mobility ● Group Dynamics: Systems Perspective ● Global Citizenship Education ● Education Equality

Business School

Launch Your Startup ● Launching Social Ventures ● Family Enterprise & Wealth ● Family Business Management ● NYC Immersion Seminar ● Managing Brands and Identity ● Digital Marketing ● Think Bigger ● Game Theory and Business ● Retail Fundamentals

School of the Arts

The Business of Film ● Digital Storytelling ● Documentary Activism ● Reporting Non-news ● New Media Producing ● The Documentary Tradition ● Reality Television

School of Journalism

Disinformation and Democracy ● Narrative Writing ● Seminar & Production: Long Form Digital Memory ● China Seminar ● Journalism and Society

Law School

International Law ● Foreign Direct Investment & Public Law ● Global Constitutionalism ● Refugee Law and Policy ● Law and Policy: Homelessness

School of Public Health (SPH)

Introduction to Medical Sociology ● Disparities in Women’s Health

School of Social Work

Research Methods for Policy ● Research Methods for Foreign Policy ● Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Please be advised that these courses vary year by year.