Education News

World Economic Forum Leadership Fellows Return

2011-06-30
Last year's program focused on the arts.

Last year's program focused on the arts. (Click to view video)

From July 4-9, The Earth Institute, The School of the Arts, and the School of Continuing Education at Columbia University, welcome the Global Leadership Fellows from the World Economic Forum. The Fellows will take part in a series of workshops and programs on the importance of leadership in an increasingly globalized world.

The Fellows, who hail from over 40 countries, come to Columbia for the second consecutive year with a diversity of backgrounds, experience, and areas of interest. This year’s return visit is the result of successful workshops in which the Fellows took part in exercises and seminars that instructed how arts and theater can influence strong leadership. The workshops, which occurred in July 2010, were covered in The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine.

While still focused on the arts, the 2011 workshops for the Fellows have the added dimension of programing in the sciences and conflict resolution, organized by The Earth Institute and the School of Continuing Education. “The Fellows have a unique opportunity to learn about and reflect on individual and collective accountability, challenging conventional thinking and policy reasoning,” said Gilbert Probst, managing director and the dean of the Global Leadership Fellows Programme. “The interaction with faculty from The Earth Institute not only allows us to do a deep dive into initiatives and issues important to the World Economic Forum, such as energy, water, social responsibility and health, but also strengthens relationships and collaboration with top researchers.”

The sciences program, titled “Global Sustainability and Complexity,” aims to promote innovative thinking about global issues. It will take a multifaceted approach to these issues through curriculum on climate science and risk, global public health, resource management, and alternative energy solutions. The workshops will be guided by instruction from Earth Institute faculty and case studies from ongoing research projects, and will feature visits to campus research labs and meetings with representatives from government agencies and private sector stakeholders.

“We are excited to host the Fellows at Columbia,” said Steve Cohen, executive director of The Earth Institute. “This is a unique opportunity for them to study with The Earth Institute’s world-class researchers and learn about the cutting-edge science and practice of sustainable development, and for our faculty to learn from the diverse experiences of these future world leaders. We are looking forward to lively debates and in-depth discussions, and we hope that this experience will show the Fellows how intertwined academia, government, and the private sector are in searching for solutions to sustainability challenges.”  

The Earth Institute and School of Continuing Education-led portion of the week will conclude with a synthesis activity, where the Fellows will apply the lessons learned to a unique case study on Haiti and its multifaceted sustainability and development issues. Conflict resolution and negotiation will play a significant part in each of the issues and guided reflection on the group process will be a part of the follow-up to group activities. “Sustainability exemplifies the complexity of the challenges facing the world’s leaders of today and tomorrow,” said Kristine Billmyer, dean of the School of Continuing Education. “This seminar addresses critical environmental concerns —climate, energy, public health, water, rural development—at the same time that it introduces fellows to the School of Continuing Education’s  cross-disciplinary approach to solving complex problems.”

With the success of last summer’s concentration of workshops on improving leadership through an awareness of the arts and theater practices, the Global Leadership Fellows will again participate in “Taking the Stage,” organized and led by School of the Arts faculty.

Daytime arts and theater workshops will be taught by School of the Arts faculty members Kristin Linklater and Andrea Haring, and by Brent Blair, founding director of Applied Theatre Arts programs at the University of Southern California, and Merry Conway, co-artistic director of the Conway and Pratt Projects theater group. The workshops will demonstrate the myriad ways in which the arts, theater and improvisation can effectively bolster the qualities of strong leadership. Workshops will include “Freeing the Natural Voice,” “Physical Presence and Status,”  “The Authentic and Active Voice: Language and the Whole Self,” and “The Value of Humor,” among others.

“The role of the arts in communication across borders, in affecting positive social change and in transforming the way people think about and interpret change on a large scale, is powerful yet not always obvious, essential yet sometimes overlooked,” said Carol Becker, dean of faculty at the School of the Arts.

Evening programs in the arts for the Fellows will include a performance by IMPACT Repertory Theatre, Harlem’s youth arts company. Following the performance, Fellows will meet with Jamal Joseph, executive artistic director of IMPACT and chair of the graduate film program in the School of the Arts. The evening’s performance will be catered by Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster. Other evening programs include a lecture by renowned Chilean-born artist Alfredo Jarr, who will speak to the Fellows about a series of current projects inspired by ongoing wars, and a performance and talk by musician and associate professor in the Department of Music at Columbia, Chris Washburne. The trombonist and founder of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program at Columbia will present to the Fellows on the art of improvisation.

The depth of the programing for the Global Leadership Fellows, both in the arts and in the sciences, highlights Columbia’s international outlook and active collaboration with a broad range of global institutions and organizations. This outlook is also embodied the Columbia Global Centers in Beijing, Amman, Mumbai and Paris, and by Studio-X, the linked research and exhibition art spaces that are located in Beijing, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and New York.

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