As high school seniors near the end of the college application season, we invite them to review the resources available to the them through the Education Program, including blog posts about school with a strong international relations program and Campus Connections.
Nestled in the northwestern flanks of Manhattan, Columbia University assembles thousands of students from around the world. While their interests may be varied, students share one passion: New York City- a city of manifold ethnicities, languages and heritages. If you speak to a proud student (full disclosure: this author being one), you may pick up the university’s unofficial slogan: “the greatest university in the greatest city in the world”.
New York is indubitably a remarkable city, operating at an unfathomable pace. The location of the university within NYC naturally lends to the school’s stellar international relations and political science programs. The political science faculty at Columbia and its sister school, Barnard, are experts in their respective fields of study – from war strategy to human rights to nationalism. When they’re not busy leading lectures, they’re speaking at conferences, making press appearances, or writing books and textbooks to be adopted by universities and curious minds around the world.
While housing its undergraduate programs (Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Barnard, and General Studies), Columbia also houses world-renowned graduate schools, including the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). SIPA is both a remarkable physical resource for budding political scientists, home to a stunning collection of books and data including full United Nationw archives, as well as a noteworthy academic resource. Students in the undergraduate schools can sit in on SIPA lectures, meet SIPA faculty and even take graduate level SIPA courses. If you’re ambitious enough, you can even apply for the dual bachelor’s and master’s degree program with SIPA; a select group of rising college seniors are accepted to this five-year program in international relations.
That’s just what you can do in the classroom. Some of the most outstanding resources provided to international relations students are extracurricular. I had the honor of serving as president of Columbia’s International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA), one of the school’s largest clubs boasting a membership of 300+. CIRCA annually hosts traditional Model United Nations (MUN) conferences, both for high school and college students, bringing thousands of students from around the world to NYC for two weekends of ridiculously fun, crisis-driven MUN simulations. CIRCA also hosts a speakers series throughout the year, bringing politicians, pundits and interesting political thinkers to Columbia for evening lectures. CIRCA runs a charitable program for NYC high schools called E-SIMS, where Columbia students teach MUN to high school students across the city. Lastly, CIRCA itself travels to conferences across the United States and the globe, having taken delegations to San Francisco, Cambridge, Taipei and Cairo.
When you arrive at Columbia in the fall, you’re not only welcomed by your orientation facilitators and resident advisors. You may also find yourself walking alongside world leaders such as the president of Turkey or former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Each September, the president of the university hosts the World Leaders Summit, running in tandem with the United Nations General Assembly sessions. An appropriate welcome back for a school that lives and breathes international relations in its classrooms, libraries, dorms and curious student minds!
By Rhonda Shafei, Chair, International Forum