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The Heart of the Enterprise

Reciprocal Education

A member of our football coaching staff recalls that one of his key players had to miss an important practice because his Art Humanities class was scheduled that afternoon to go to the Metropolitan Museum—an incident that speaks volumes not only about the priorities of Columbia and its scholar-athletes but about the stimulating environment of New York City.

While Columbia gives much to New York, the city gives even more to us: New York is the most exciting educational milieu on the planet, a unique working laboratory, a powerful force in our curricula. Undergraduates enrolled in the Architecture School's "Shape of Two Cities" program spend one semester exploring the social and political development of urban form in New York City, then head to Paris for a second semester to compare and study further. Students in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) gain enormously from being based in the city that is home to the United Nations and to our nation's most prominent municipal government. Business students learn dynamic lessons and gain vital experience thanks to our location in a world capital of finance.


The University offers a wide variety of courses that focus on our city, a sampling of which appears in the adjacent list.

Columbia College Dean Austin Quigley observes that Core Curriculum students are afforded the opportunity to see live performances of plays and other texts studied in Core classes. Students in Art Humanities are indeed required to visit museums and galleries. It is mandatory for all students in Music Humanities to attend a concert or opera in Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House, or another of the great music halls. Through the Urban New York Program, Columbia College students join with peers from Barnard and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science in experiencing the sights and sounds of major events around the city.

A Columbia student I.D. card serves as a "Passport to New York" for visits to cultural and educational institutions, including free or discount admissions to the outstanding musical and literary programs of the 92nd Street Y. Columbia students enjoy free access to three of the world's greatest museums—the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Metropolitan and MoMA also offer research facilities, work-study positions, and internship opportunities that augment the more than 4,000 internships in such areas as business, law, education, and public service available through Columbia's Career Development Office.

We increasingly reciprocate New York's gift of resources to our undergraduate and graduate students by offering programs designed to enhance the skills and qualifications of residents throughout the area. Mid-career education in particular has proven to be a major ingredient in the development of the city's human capital; medical training offered by schools in the Health Sciences Division and the Business School's executive education programs are among our most popular offerings. SIPA's new Picker Center for Executive Education also provides opportunities for working professionals in New York to enhance their skills.

Frank Wolf, dean of continuing education and special programs, reports that, in all, 2,090 students took part last year in our American Language Program, the Creative Writing Center, computer training programs, and overseas programs in Paris and Berlin. The Columbia Summer Session celebrated its centennial with an enrollment of 2,470.

Last year also brought approval of three new master's degree programs: African-American Studies, Museum Anthropology (in which students work as interns at city museums), and Biotechnology, which will connect with the hiring needs of many New York City firms.

The First-Year Teacher Program, to connect novice teachers with TC faculty as mentors.

Nowhere is the ongoing renewal of skills more critical than in the effort to equip talented New Yorkers to meet the challenges facing the city's public schools. At Teachers College (TC), led by President Arthur Levine, some 170 programs provide training opportunities to area supervisors, principals, novice teachers, and public school students, as well as to TC graduate students who serve as teaching interns in 400 city schools while earning their credentials. Efforts now under way include:

  • The Principals' Institute, which provides a year's training at Teachers College for exemplary supervisors and assistant principals;
  • The First-Year Teacher Program, to connect novice teachers with TC faculty as mentors;
  • The Reading and Writing Project, which helps New York City teachers to improve students' reading and writing skills;
  • The Peace Corps Fellow Program, to train volunteers returning from Peace Corps duty to embark on careers as teachers in the city;
  • The Teacher Opportunity Corps, designed to attract minority educators to teach in New York City's most challenging public schools;
  • Professional development collaboration, to bring Columbia and public school staff together to support local teachers; and
  • The Capstone Program, which provides current and former Teachers College students experience working with secondary school students in New York City alternative schools.

In other areas of the University, the Liberal Studies master's degree program offers a 50 percent tuition reduction to local teachers accepted into the program, where their work toward an interdisciplinary M.A. helps to broaden the expertise they bring to their classrooms. A similar tuition reduction has now been extended to the M.A. programs in Slavic Cultures and Romance Languages.

Secondary school science teachers looking to enhance their skills are offered hands-on experience in a summer research program founded by Dr. Samuel Silverstein, the John C. Dalton Professor and chairman of physiology and cellular biophysics. Participants spend two consecutive summers as members of research teams led by P&S faculty, gaining important new perspectives and skills that lead ultimately to improved understanding of science among middle and high school students.

The Story Hour, instituted by TC to promote the love of reading among children of different ages, while fostering relationships between TC and elementary schools near the College.

In The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Dean Zvi Galil and Vice Dean Morton Friedman oversee a program that enables engineering majors to pursue a minor in education. On the way to earning their teacher certification, these committed undergraduates serve as student-teachers in math and science in Bronx and Manhattan high schools under the auspices of the Barnard College education program.

The University also continues to expand its support for new electronic technologies as aids for teaching and learning in all secondary schools. Past funding from the federal government helped Columbia to connect six Harlem schools to our computing facilities through the Harlem Environmental Access Project (HEAP). A subsequent $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to the Institute for Learning Technologies and the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE), an education reform group, is supporting the integration of multimedia technologies with innovative curricula and teaching at forty-six public schools for the benefit of 30,000 students from minority, immigrant, and economically disadvantaged families.

The University's engagement with the city as an unsurpassed learning laboratory also takes the form of community service requirements mandated as part of the curriculum or offered in conjunction with selected courses.


The Law School, led by Dean David Leebron, puts special emphasis on community involvement as integral to professional training. A mandatory pro bono program requires every Law student to perform a minimum of forty hours of free legal work in the community, serving low-income clients through clinics focusing on such areas as Child Advocacy, Fair Housing, and Prisoners and Families. Last year saw the launch of a new clinic in Environmental Law, while the School's Center for Public Interest Law put more than 500 students, many of them exceeding the required hours, to work in projects involving domestic violence, disability law, elder law, and housing law. The School's Human Rights Internship Program, founded by Professor Jack Greenberg, offered twenty-five students an opportunity to provide legal assistance in civil rights and criminal justice in New York City.

Our Graduate School of Business, like the Law School, offers programs designed to encourage students and alumni who are interested in pursuing careers and activities in the public and nonprofit sectors. Business Dean Meyer Feldberg '65B also reports continued student activity aimed at promoting inner-city employment and entrepreneurship:

  • Working through the University's Technical Assistance Program, Business students are matched with neighborhood organizations and businesses to serve as marketing, management, and planning consultants, and tax preparation advisers.
  • The Public and Nonprofit Management Program, led by Professor Ray Horton, educates one hundred students each year for nonprofit or government sector careers.
  • The CORPS Fellowship Program provides subsidies to M.B.A. students taking summer jobs in nonprofit or government organizations.
  • The School's Public and Nonprofit Assistance Grant Program encourages graduating M.B.A. students to pursue nonprofit and public sector careers by providing one-time financial awards of $5,000–$15,000 to students who desire jobs in that sector and require tuition assistance.
  • The School's Work Readiness Program seeks to make local young people more employable, offering remedial education, job counseling, and help in developing career goals.

Reaching out from their base on the Morningside Heights campus, Architecture students take a Community Design Workshop that offers planning assistance to neighborhood organizations, while graduate students and faculty in Social Work serve the homeless at six centers across New York. Overall, M.S.W. candidates last year held field internships in 400 city social work agencies, hospitals, clinics, and mental health facilities.

A Columbia School of Social Work student at Brooklyn Veterans Administration Hospital as part of field instruction.

On the Health Sciences campus, the School of Dental and Oral Surgery conducts a minority dental specialist program in cooperation with Harlem Hospital Center, training minority dentists in a range of specialties and encouraging them to remain as practitioners in underserved communities. The program has so far prepared twenty-five African-American dental specialists, many of whom continue to serve patients at Harlem Hospital; others have joined the Dental School faculty, and still others practice in the Community DentCare network, an innovative community-academic partnership that offers screening by dentists and hygienists to junior high students in Washington Heights, Inwood, and Harlem. The Dental School also offers tuition-free training to minority students enrolled in its certificate program for future dental assistants.

Thousands of other students contribute to the city each year as part of their education, including P&S medical residents working in New York's hospitals. Worthy of special mention are twenty-two recent P&S graduates who have reached this crucial stage in their training thanks to the Malcolm X Medical Scholarships awarded in their senior year as undergraduates. Other medical scholarships available to underrepresented minority students include the Harlem Hospital Centennial Scholarship and Community Scholarships.

In the Youth Taking Charge program, local teens deliver information about AIDS prevention and testing directly to their peers.

Fourth-year medical students can learn about the health care needs of new immigrant populations through an elective offered by Columbia's Center for the Study of Society and Medicine, directed by David Rothman, professor of history and the Schoenberg Professor of Social Medicine. Columbia's future M.D.s, led by Professor of Public Health Sheila Rothman, join students from other medical schools living on the Lower East Side, that traditional first stop for newcomers to the city—and now attracting immigrants from East Asia, Central America, and the Indian subcontinent. During their rotation, students work in ambulatory care clinics, provide health education in settlement houses and schools, and participate in home hospice teams.

At the Mailman School of Public Health, led by Dean Allan Rosenfield, students pursuing the practice-based Master of Public Health degree are required to work on an individual project in one of the community service programs of the Heilbrunn Center for Population and Family Health. As an academic unit committed to the delivery of health and educational services in the community, the Heilbrunn Center sponsors such initiatives as the Adult Parent Education Program, which seeks improved communication between parents and children, and a comprehensive HIV prevention program that involves parent education as well as peer education by trained students.

The Heilbrunn Center—working in close collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, P&S, local schools, and community groups—serves thousands of clients each year, largely Hispanic residents of Washington Heights. A school-based clinic program provides primary care in six middle-grade and high schools with a total enrollment of 10,500 students. Last year more than 5,000 students made some 33,000 visits to the clinics for health care, health education, and counseling.

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