The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University brings together rising leaders from the United States and around the world who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions to challenges in their communities and countries. Scholars complete a fully-funded 9-month residency on campus at Columbia World Projects, deepening their knowledge and skills, and building new capacities and networks to accelerate their impact.
Scholars participate in an immersive program that brings together academic, skills-based and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation. Key components of the program include:
- A Weekly Seminar that runs the length of the academic year, exploring questions in tandem with key global trends including inequality, technological developments, the diffusion of power, population movements, and climate change.
- Personal and Professional Development Workshops designed to strengthen practical skills to enhance Scholars’ ability to lead. Previous workshop topics include conflict management and resolution, public speaking, data analysis and interpretation, and resilience.
- An Experiential Learning component that engages Scholars in the work of Columbia World Projects.
- Audited Coursework that provides Scholars with the flexibility to select and enroll in up to two graduate level courses each semester at Columbia.
- A Thought Leadership Speaker Series that introduces Scholars to seasoned practitioners from the NGO community, philanthropy, government, and international organizations to expand Scholars’ networks and perspectives to help advance their work.
- Partnership with a Columbia faculty adviser selected for their subject matter expertise to provide Scholars with new insights and perspectives to inform Scholars’ work.
- Meaningful opportunities for Scholars to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus and gain exposure to different perspectives by engaging with the Columbia University community.
Scholars participate in a robust, immersive program that includes networking, guidance from Columbia faculty advisers, and values-based leadership development, among other activities. These experiences enable the Scholars to learn from some of the world’s most innovative leaders and build connections with the Obama Foundation and Columbia University.
“Witnessing the powerful impact of this program on the remarkable individuals participating as Obama Scholars, and the communities they are dedicated to changing, has left Columbia even more deeply invested in this special endeavor and all that it can accomplish.”
– Columbia University President Emeritus, Seth Low Professor of the University and Professor of Law, Lee C. Bollinger
Obama Foundation Scholars reside at Columbia World Projects (CWP), an initiative that mobilizes the university’s researchers and scholars to work with governments, organizations, businesses and communities to tackle global challenges. Scholars participate in CWP activities during the academic year. The program is central to CWP’s mission of putting Columbia research into action by training the next generation of global leaders to bring about worldwide change.
Upon completion of the program, Obama Foundation Scholars, empowered by their experience, return to the regions where they have been working and continue along a path of service. The purpose of the program is to help Obama Foundation Scholars take the connections and skills they acquire during the program and apply them for the benefit of their communities, countries, and regions. Obama Foundation Scholars are expected to remain engaged with the Obama Foundation and Columbia World Projects after the conclusion of the program.
The support provided by the School of Professional Studies and International Students and Scholars Office for the Obama Foundations Scholars Program is deeply appreciated. We are also grateful for the many faculty members from various Columbia schools who participate in seminars and workshops as well as those who serve as mentors for the Scholars.