The Definition of an Explorer

One of the most pressing and universal issues of our day is how to address climate change. Although most do agree that the environment has evolved tremendously over time, many are not aware of how rapidly the recent changes are occurring and what the consequences can mean for us in the years to come.

That’s where researchers like Hugh Ducklow come in. 

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All That Jazz

For most Columbia students and alumni, when you hear the words "jazz at Columbia" it's almost impossible not to think of Christopher Washburne '92GSAS, '94GSAS, '99GSAS. Washburne is an Associate Professor of Music and the Director of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance program at Columbia. In addition to being a jazz scholar, he's a jazz musician in his own right. He has performed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Tito Puente, Justin Timberlake, Marc Anthony, Celine Dion, and the list goes on. His most common instrument of choice is the trombone, though he also plays the tube, the didjeridu, and percussion.

In this episode, we play you a mashup of two talks that Washburne gave at Columbia. One he gave as part of the School of Professional Studies (SPS) T@lks Columbia series. The other was delivered to Columbia staff members. In both talks, Washburne explores the creative process of jazz, paying particular attention to the role that collaboration and improvisation plays. And in this exploration, he delves into how this process can inform your everyday decisions in the workplace, from leadership and adaptability to innovation and risk management.

Who knew jazz was so useful? Well...Washburne did.

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Columbians on Broadway

When it comes to Broadway musicals, Columbia alumni have contributed a startling amount to the canon of musical theater. Rodgers and Hammerstein '16CC set the musical standard during the golden age of broadway in the 40s and 50s; the music of John Kander '54GSAS probed the darker recesses of humanity, giving legendary choreographer, Bob Fosse, innovation-inspiring scores. Most recently, Tom Kitt '96CC and Brian Yorkey '93CC were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their musical, Next to Normal, in 2008, and Jeanine Tesori '83BC made history in 2015 with Fun Home, when she was part of the first all-female writing team to win the Tony Award.

But in today's podcast episode, we’re turning our attention to Columbia alumni who work in a different capacity on Broadway. Today, we’re talking about directors.

Thanks to recent events, hosted by Columbia College Women and CAA Arts Access, we were able to record discussions with two alumni who are currently working on Broadway: Diane Paulus '97SOA (Director, Waitress) and Tyne Rafaeli '14SOA (Associate Director, Fiddler on the Roof).

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Pomp & Circumstance

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

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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I Feel the Earth Move: Walter Pitman and the Smoking Gun of Plate Tectonics

By Stacy Morford, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Fifty years ago, a graduate student named Walter Pitman ’67GSAS made a discovery that would change the way we see our planet. It was late at night, and Pitman was reviewing charts of ship data that had just come off the computer at what was then Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory. The ship, the Eltanin, had crossed a mid-ocean ridge—part of a 40,000-mile undersea volcanic mountain chain that encircles the Earth—while recording the magnetic alignment of the rocks in the seafloor below.

Pitman suddenly saw symmetry in those recorded lines, with the mid-ocean ridge as the center point. “It was like being struck by lightning,” he said.

That symmetry was the smoking gun that confirmed the theory of seafloor spreading and set the stage for our understanding today of plate tectonics.

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Columbia Global Reports

Nicholas Lemann served as the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism for two terms. After deciding not to serve a third, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger challenged Lemann to start a project that was entirely new. What resulted was Columbia Global Reports.

Global Reports are in-depth studies of globalization. Each report covers a different aspect of our expanding global economy and is released in an incredibly readable, attractively bound form. In this episode, you'll get a special look at two of those reports: Outpatients: the Astonishing New World of Medical Tourism by Sasha Issenberg and The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian '08CC, '11JRN.

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Columbia Story Time

When it comes to writing, Columbia boasts some pretty impressive alumni. Notable Columbia authors include Paul Auster '69CC, '70GSAS, Allen Ginsberg '48CC, Joseph Heller '50GSAS, Zora Neale Hurston '28BC, and Jhumpa Lahiri '89BC - just to name a few.

To celebrate this contribution to the written word and to introduce you to some Columbia writers, we’ve recorded readings of excerpts from three alumni-authored books with a little help from some Columbia staff members. 

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Primary Special: Politics in the Media

If you've been following the 2016 presidential election, it should come as no surprise that income inequality has become a (if not the) leading issue in the race. The increased attention to this disparity and the threat it poses to the middle class, is due—at least in part—to the media. An example of the kind of light that journalists have shone on the issue is the 2014 New York Times opinion series, The Great Divide, which was entirely devoted to discussing income inequality. The series was moderated by Columbia professor and Nobel Laureate, Joseph Stiglitz, and eventually became the basis for his book of the same name in 2015. 

In the midst of this growing national conversation, the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) held a panel discussion about the discourse around income inequality during the 2016 presidential election season, with a special focus on the media. In addition to Joseph Stiglitz, the panel also included New York Times economics reporter Patricia Cohen and New York Review of Books contributor Michael Massing. Anya Schiffrin '00JRN, director of the International Media, Advocacy and Communications Specialization at Columbia SIPA, served as the evening's moderator.

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A Little Friendly Competition

2016-Startup-Columbia-blue.jpgFor this episode, we spoke to some of Columbia's up-and-coming entrepreneurs, all of whom were winners in the 2015 Columbia Venture Competition. 

These entrepreneurs competed for a top prize of $250,000 at the #StartupColumbia Festival. The objective? To give the judges compelling evidence of market acceptance for their value propositions. Nearly a year later, we asked each of these companies what they're doing, how placing in the competition has affected their business, and what it means to them to be Columbia entrepreneurs.

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Stories from a Former CIA Agent

Alex Finley* '94CC, '97JRN joined the CIA in 2003, where she spent close to six years as an officer of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, serving in West Africa and Europe. Before she joined the agency, she was no stranger to Washington DC or politics. As she puts it, "she chased puffy white men around Washington DC as a member of the wild dog pack better known as the Washington media elite."

After leaving the CIA in 2009, she returned to writing and soon found that her voice lent itself well to humor. In addition to her work for Slate, Reductress, and Funny or Die, she is also about to publish a book: Victor in the Rubble: A Satire of the CIA and the War on Terror, which goes on sale April 15. The book, which was inspired by her time at the CIA and some of the bureaucratic frustrations that she had, comes out next week. In a recent interview, Alex spoke about the book, her work with the agency, and what the future of the CIA might look like. 

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