University Senate                                            

Proposed: February 1, 2013

Adopted: February 1, 2013 by voice vote without dissent

 

RESOLUTION TO APPROVE AN M.A. IN GLOBAL THOUGHT (GSAS)

 

WHEREAS, over the past half century, the academic study of globalization has become an established field of inquiry into the transnational movement of ideas, people, commodities, and technologies as well as the cultural, social, political and economic processes that shape our contemporary world, and

WHEREAS, the proposed Master of Arts in Global Thought is an interdisciplinary program that brings together existing and emerging research to explain and analyze global issues and processes, both historically and in the present, and

WHEREAS, the program is designed to prepare students for the professional world or doctoral study, and

WHEREAS, the proposed program will not replace existing programs but aims to attract new students who wish to study globalization from a variety of disciplines, and

WHEREAS, the proposed program will be part of Columbia’s expansive global programming, including the Global Centers, the World Leaders program, the International Network to Expand Regional and Collaborative Teaching program, and the undergraduate Global Core, and

WHEREAS, Columbia’s breadth and depth of scholarship and course offerings relating to modern and contemporary globalization make it the ideal place to train the brightest students to develop new knowledge to cope with the complexities of our dynamically evolving world, and

WHEREAS, Columbia students have requested such a program,

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Senate approve the program leading to an M.A. in Global Thought.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the proposal be forwarded to the President and the Trustees of Columbia University for appropriate action.

Proponent: Committee on Education


Purpose and Content

I. PURPOSE

A. Describe the purpose of the proposed program and the professional and educational assumptions that underlie it.

Over the past half century, the academic study of globalization has become an established field of inquiry into the transnational movement of ideas, people, commodities, and technologies as well as the cultural, social, political and economic processes that shape our contemporary world. Globalization is thus a broad subject, which involves multiple disciplinary and theoretical approaches to its study. The proposed program links a set of interrelated core issues with a range of disciplinary methods to provide a cohesive understanding of the daunting complexities of global processes. The proposed Master of Arts in Global Thought at Columbia University is a graduate-level interdisciplinary program that brings together existing and emerging research to explain and analyze global issues and processes. The program will establish a framework and context for thinking about globalization, both historically and in the present. Students will be exposed to relevant topics in politics, international relations, and economics as well as to the cultural and social formations that underlie them.

The program is designed to prepare students for the professional world or further doctoral study. The proposed MA in Global Thought differs from other programs in its emphasis on the development of new conceptual categories for organizing our knowledge of the contemporary world. Calling it an MA in Global Thought helps to make this point and differentiate it from other degrees. In addition, the program has an unusually wide disciplinary reach, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, law, business, health, architecture, and urban planning. In this way students will have direct access to the expansive scholarship of the Committee on Global Thought and of the large academic and professional school faculty at Columbia University in the City of New York.

Graduates of the program will have: A) strong foundational knowledge of the logics of globalization and the norms and ideals that support them; B) expertise in one thematic specialization; and C) the ability to design and undertake an original research project. The courses treat both theories and processes of globalization, questioning existing paradigms and developing new conceptualizations that can account for both Western and global experience. One goal is to overcome such conventional dichotomies as global/local, developed/developing, formal/informal, and the like. Global modernity is treated not as a linear development that moved across space over time but as an interrelated phenomenon with commonalities around the world. These shared histories have produced today’s global interdependencies, the nature of which scholars and practitioners have yet fully to grasp. Understanding these interdependencies and developing new ways to think about them is a central goal of the program.

The proposed MA is designed to be completed over two full-time semesters (two residence units), requiring ten courses totaling 30 credits. Three required core courses will address foundational questions of substance, method, data, and interpretation to provide the intellectual framework for all students in the program. These three courses are: Global Governance, Global Political Economy, and Global Culture and Politics. Completion of the degree requires intermediate-advanced (through 6 semesters of study at Columbia University or equivalent) proficiency in a language other than English. To connect this intellectual framework to the world of practice, the MA structure allows a mix of academic content and examination of diverse “acute issues,” that relate scholarly analyses to current global affairs. An interdisciplinary thematic specialization will anchor the MA student’s curriculum and guide the thesis project. The specializations will be based on around the three core courses: Global Governance, Global Political Economy, and Global Culture and Politics. Students will take five courses in their specialization, drawn from interdisciplinary approved course lists, and may take no more than three courses in any one discipline. Students will plan their unique course of study in consultation with the Program Director.

In the required MA Thesis Seminar, a two-semester course, students will write a thesis paper that draws together their interdisciplinary work with rigorous research and writing on a topic of their choice, as approved by the Program Director and thesis advisor.

On a final note, Columbia University stands among the most prestigious universities in the nation with an impressive breadth and depth of scholarship and course offerings relating to modern and contemporary globalization and is home to some of the leading scholars on the subject. The University is the ideal place to train the brightest students to develop new knowledge to cope with the complexities of our dynamically evolving world.