Working closely with partners both inside and outside of Columbia, we conceive, develop and implement a wide range of projects aimed at improving people’s lives. Details on the process we use to create, develop and implement projects are outlined below.
How We Generate Project Ideas: The Forum
Several times a year, Columbia World Projects (CWP) brings together more than 30 experts from inside and outside of Columbia for a Forum — a day-long meeting centered on a fundamental challenge facing humanity. The goal of a Forum is to generate, refine and ultimately select projects that have the potential to improve people’s lives by addressing the challenge in a significant way. It is the first step toward shaping the projects that CWP implements together with partners around the world.
Before a Forum, the participants — who come from a range of fields and disciplines — work with CWP staff to develop ideas for projects that would mobilize Columbia’s research and scholarship, partner with practitioners from outside the university and have a measurable impact on the challenge within five years.
During a Forum, participants evaluate those project ideas and indicate which projects they believe are most likely to have an impact, are plausible and reflect an area where Columbia can offer unique value.
After a Forum, CWP publishes a report that details the project proposals, key insights from the discussions and the participants' conclusions on which projects most merit further development by CWP. Information on the Forum meetings to date are on our challenges page, which is organized by Forum topic.
How We Develop Projects
After each Forum, the projects that receive the most support from participants are presented to the CWP Advisory Committee, a group of Columbia faculty and practitioners from outside the university. The committee advises on whether Forum project ideas meet CWP’s criteria and merit further development, and identifies additional considerations for project development.
Projects that do merit further development undergo a rigorous project development phase. During this phase, the project’s potential leaders work with CWP staff and outside experts to develop a scope of work, deliverables and performance indicators, a timeline for implementation, a budget and funding strategy, and a project team. These components are synthesized in a project design report, which we share with the CWP President’s Council and Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger, who decides whether to move the project forward.
How We Implement Projects
Once a project has been approved to move beyond the development phase, the project’s leaders partner with CWP project management staff to implement the project. The team works in collaboration to launch and manage project activities and to ensure that the project meets its goals and objectives. The team continuously evaluates the project and revises the scope of work as necessary. Read about our active projects.