Columbia World Projects mobilizes the university’s researchers and scholars to work with governments, organizations, businesses and communities to tackle global challenges.
Columbia World Projects is a major new initiative that aims to forge a closer and more useful connection between the vast research capabilities of a great university and the needs of the world. Our work begins with thinking about urgent and difficult challenges that have not been sufficiently addressed. We bring together university experts across a wide range of disciplines — people who usually do not work together — with leading practitioners from non-academic institutions to think about what might create positive change.
Our work is not abstract. In consultation with colleagues within and outside Columbia, we devise projects that we staff and operate with partners in New York City, across the United States, and around the world. These projects span a range of topics and are always rooted in university research. Each project has a finite duration and clear, measurable objectives. When our direct involvement in a project ends, the work should continue and have a broad, systemic impact beyond the project itself.
We have many activities beyond our projects. We are an active presence on the Columbia campus and in the surrounding community through a wide range of events and convenings that engage faculty, students, and community members in our larger mission to connect the worlds of knowledge and action.
In the same spirit, we operate the Obama Foundation Scholars Program to use university resources to help make an annual cohort of rising activists more effective in their work. And we are researchers ourselves, on broad topics like cities and democratic institutions, rigorously studying how research can translate into successful practice.