July 1, 2020

Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought (CGT) is pleased to announce Dr. Vishakha N. Desai as the new Chair, succeeding Professor Carol Gluck. Dr. Desai joined the CGT when she arrived at Columbia in 2013 as Special Advisor for Global Affairs to President Lee Bollinger. An active member of CGT, Dr. Desai became Vice-Chair in 2017. A leading voice in guiding the CGT’s multi-disciplinary scholarship, Dr. Desai has helped to create and lead multiple signature research projects, including Politics of Visual Arts in a Changing World and Youth in a Changing World. She has also taught one of the core seminars in the Global Thought MA program. In addition to her CGT duties, Dr. Desai continues to serve as senior advisor for Global Affairs to President Bollinger and as Senior Research Scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs. Prior to joining Columbia, Desai served as President and CEO of Asia Society, a global institution committed to promoting greater understanding among Asians and Americans in a global context.  An art historian by training, Desai is the author of major exhibition catalogues and editor of “Asian Art History in the 21st century.” Her commentaries on culture, politics and global education have been published in major newspapers and periodicals in Asia and the United States. A recipient of five honorary degrees, Dr. Desai received her BA in political science, MA, and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. We look forward with anticipation to this new chapter at the CGT under Dr. Desai’s leadership.

“The current twin crises of Covid-19 and social justice profoundly exemplify the necessity of interdependent global thinking that precedes coordinated global action.  The role of CGT at this point in time becomes more urgent than ever. As Chair of the Committee on Global Thought, I look forward to working with exceptional faculty members to develop new modes of global thought and preparing the young people who will become the global leaders of tomorrow.” – Dr. Vishakha N. Desai


The CGT would like to extend its sincerest gratitude for the tireless work and devotion of Professor Carol Gluck, a founding member of the Committee and its Chair since 2015. Under Professor Gluck’s steadfast leadership, CGT faculty membership more than doubled, the M.A. in Global Thought was established and expanded; the Undergraduate Committee on Global Thought (UCGT) and new undergraduate seminars gave the CGT a growing presence in the undergraduate curriculum.  She played a leading role in the formation of a globally minded Advisory Council, developing Global Think-ins, the Lunchtime Seminar series, and other public events.  She also created and led several signature research projects, among them The Politics of Memory in Global Context and Thoughts on a Changing World. Professor Gluck will serve as Past Chair and continue to participate in these and other CGT activities.

“It has been my privilege and pleasure to work with the faculty, students, and advisory council members who together make the CGT so vibrant an enterprise. I have learned from their intellectual dynamism, open-minded interchange, and commitment to thinking across disciplinary and national boundaries in pursuit of ideas that do work in the world. Academically ambitious, institutionally anomalous, and intellectually intrepid, the CGT has always had its task cut out for it. Now with Vishakha Desai as Chair, its challenge will be met and its horizons extended, both at Columbia and in the world. It is an exciting prospect.” – Professor Carol Gluck