Pomp & Circumstance (Rebroadcast)

Note: This is a rebroadcast of an episode about the 2016 Commencement ceremony.

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It's my favorite day of the year. Because it's tens of thousands of people out here being excited about what our students have done. And it's awesome.

- Katharine Conway '02CC, '06TC, '07TC, '12TC
‎Chief of Staff & Secretary of the College at Teachers College

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Columbia's Commencement week ended two weeks ago. New graduates moved out of University housing to start their lives off-campus and the streets of Morningside Heights have emptied out for the summer. In September, new and returning students will move in and the streets will vibrate with excitement and energy again.

But, in this episode, we're not going to look ahead. Instead, we're going to look back at the height of Columbia excitement and energy: Commencement. If you've never experienced Columbia’s Commencement, that's ok. We interviewed alumni, faculty, staff, and students to give you a glimpse at the day.

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Our Brains, Ourselves

brain-banner-copy-2_cropped.jpegFor this episode, we're diving into the archives to play you excerpts from a discussion that took place in 2012. The discussion was called "Understanding Our Brains, Understanding Ourselves," and it brought together an expert panel of Columbia alumni and professors to talk about the brain.

If you've ever wondered what smell New Yorkers like the most and what smell they hate, you've definitely come to the right place.

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An Essential Friendship: Buffett and Gates

Gates___Buffet.pngEarlier this year, Columbia hosted a conversation between two iconic public figures—billionaire investor Warren Buffett '51BUS and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. For that conversation, Buffett and Gates sat down with PBS and Bloomberg TV host Charlie Rose to discuss their friendship, philanthropy, business, innovation, and leadership.

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BONUS: Looking for Thinkspiration

Attachment-1_(1).jpegWe enjoyed talking to the Design Studio so much that we wanted to share more of the candid conversations we had about Design Thinking (and much more).

We wanted to get a better idea of who Adam and Alice are, not just as Design Studio representatives, but as design thinkers in general. What we got was a look into how they look at the world around them and what they see in the future of design thinking.

Spoiler alert: There's a blooper reel at the end!

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Think Human

Design-Studio.jpgFor this episode, we visited one of the forward-thinking initiatives taking place at Columbia. Tucked away on a side street near the Morningside campus, we found a place where thinkers, doers, and general challengers of the status quo come together to design a better future.

It's called the Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio and it's a project that developed through the Columbia Entrepreneurship program. The Studio brings innovators and entrepreneurs from across campus to pitch human-centered design ideas, identifying problems and dreaming up solutions for everything from micro-gardening to a dream team of surgeons in East Africa.

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BONUS: Here's Looking at You, Casablanca

casablanca.jpgLast week, we heard from Professor Robert Young, an eminent humanities scholar, who gave a lecture last year at the Columbia Global Center in Amman. Professor Young recounted the story of Walter Benjamin, a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany but was caught at the border of France and Spain, where he resorted suicide rather than be sent back.

During the lecture, Professor Young played a clip from Casablanca, drawing parallels between the Hollywood story and the truth behind it. We did not have room to include his analysis in last week's episode, so we created a bonus mini-episode just for it.

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The Lucky Few

2015_42_walter_benjamin.jpgWe went into the vault for today’s episode, all the way back to a lecture that Professor Robert Young gave last year at the Columbia Global Center in Amman. We chose this particular lecture because Professor Young offers a historical perspective on an issue facing today’s society: migration.

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The Power of the Sun

Easy_Solar.jpgIn sub-Saharan Africa, 650 million people lack access to electricity. In Sierra Leone in particular, only 5% of the population is on the grid. That means that six and a half million people can’t study, cook, eat or work after the sun goes down except by dim candlelight or expensive kerosene lamps. To charge their mobile phones, most Sierra Leoneans have to go to public charging kiosks.

Three Columbia alumni from the School of International and Public Affairs found a solar solution to this challenge. Their startup, Easy Solar, hopes to introduce solar-powered products into Sierra Leone households, replacing the kerosene lamps that have negative environmental and health impacts.  

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Astro Tim Returns to Earth


Kopra_space.jpgWe often like to talk about how our alumni reach grand heights in their successes and go far in their contributions to society. And not many have gone quite as far as Business School alum Timothy Kopra '13BUS. That is...as far as outer space.

Kopra is a NASA astronaut with not one but two space trips on his resume. He has lived on the International Space Station for a total of 244 days, completing three spacewalks and Instagramming with captions like #citiesfromspace and good night from @ISS. Once he got back to Earth, he visited Columbia to speak with students about engineering, teamwork, and what he looks for in an aspiring astronaut. 

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StorySpace (Part 3: Perseverance)

photo-1470472304068-4398a9daab00.jpegThis week is the third and final installment of StorySpace @ Columbia from the Office of University Life. If you haven’t heard Part I or Part II, go listen to them! We’ll wait.

But here’s a quick refresher:

StorySpace @ Columbia is a new storytelling project that presents personal and inspiring stories from students across Columbia.

Today, we wrap up the theme of identity with stories about perseverance, confronting challenges, and finding inspiration in unusual places.

Advisory: We want to warn our listeners that some of today’s content deals with sensitive topics.  

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