Global Programs

The faculty of the School of the Arts has long held the view that art and the craft of storytelling, whether on the page, stage, canvas, or screen, are critical forces for building bridges and cultivating empathy. In today's changing world we see our role in the formation of young artists as especially significant, aiming to produce emerging voices that are confident, critical, and deeply globally attuned.

To that end we have endeavored always, and ever more so in recent years, to encourage across all four of the School's disciplines engagement with international arts and culture, and to form partnerships with institutions and individuals abroad with whom we can share the work and practice of our diverse students, faculty, and alumni, and from whom we might have the opportunity to learn ourselves.

Global Curriculum, Global Community

This mission is first and foremost woven into the curricula of the School's four Programs. Each regularly offers classes focused on the artistic traditions of a particular nation or region: recent courses have focused, to reference but a few among many, on the Latin American literary form of crónica, the Brazilian Theatre of the Oppressed, the history of French cinema.

Public lectures and events every semester feature world-renowned international artists. Recent visitors have included: Salvadoran novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya, Brazilian telenovela writer/director João Emanuel Carneiro, Turkish/Iranian poet Solmaz Sharif, German/Uruguayan conceptual artist Luis Camnitzer, Polish poet Adam Zagajewski, Chinese video artist Wu Tsang, Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman, and British/St. Lucian installation artist Isaac Julien.

The School also collaborates with other University departments to present symposia and series devoted to international artistic work – for example The Clarice Factor, a three-day event with the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures of scholarly panels, translation craft talks, and performance installations around the work of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, or Filming at the Borders: Migrating to Europe Today, a francophone film series presented in tandem with Columbia’s Maison Française.

The interdisciplinary course of study Literary Translation at Columbia (LTAC) also provides an opportunity for students to try their hand at the art and craft of translation and read deeply into international literature. Based in the Writing Program, but open to students from all programs, LTAC seeks to increase awareness of the art of translation and how it enhances a writer's development and imagination, presenting workshops each semester on translation craft, and seminars on literature in translation.

The School of the Arts is by its very nature, in fact, an international community, where peers have the opportunity to learn from one another's diverse cultures and backgrounds within their own classrooms. The graduating class of 2017 alone represented writers, filmmakers, theatre, visual and sound artists from 52 countries.

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Global Events, 2016-2017

International Exchanges and Student Opportunities

Though the Programs’ rigorous courses of study do not allow students the time to undertake traditional study-abroad activities, the School of the Arts works to provide creative opportunities for current students to engage in artistic exchange with peers around the world.


Each year the Film Program offers students an international exchange with the prestigious French film program La Femis.  Three students participate in the six-week international co-production seminar in France.  Collaborating with French, German and American students, our SoA filmmakers take part in seminars, lectures and a full time internship with an international company during the Cannes Film Festival. One directing student participates in their summer directing seminar in Paris, and six Film Program students enroll in a four week class in NYC to study alongside six French students in a screenplay and television writing workshop.


Each year, two second-year playwrights are selected by the concentration head to travel to the Shanghai Theatre Academy in the fall of their third year. The Theatre Program also maintains a Dramaturg-Director Residency with the National Theatre of Croatia in Rijeka, now in its second year.


Word for Word is a collaborative translation initiative under the auspices of Literary Translation at Columbia (LTAC), the Writing Program’s translation curriculum and joint course of study. The program’s purpose is not only to provide emerging translators with valuable experience and a global network, but also to encourage writers to engage with their own language in a new and deeper way through the medium of literary translation and the experience of cross-cultural collaboration.

Word for Word currently operates on two models: a one-semester workshop that does not require travel (though students may apply for dedicated travel funds at the conclusion of the course), and a fully-funded international exchange. The spring-semester workshop is open to students translating French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The current  spring/summer 2017 exchange has paired two Writing Program students paired with MFA students from the University of the Arts Helsinki. Past exchanges have sent students to Barcelona, Turin, Leipzig, Amman, and to Washington, D.C. for an American Sign Language program with Gallaudet University.

Dean's Travel Grants

Students may also apply to conduct their own international research or attend global festivals and events supported by funds from the Office of the Dean. Grants usually average $675, and generally do not exceed $1000, and have in the past supported such diverse projects as: conducting cross-cultural research on the performance of traditional music in Tokyo and Beijing, photographing in western Ukraine, finishing principal documentary photography in Mumbai, India, researching the Fukushima power plant in Japan, and writing on Krim culture in Sierra Leone. (These may be used to support domestic travel as well). Applications are emailed to the student body at the beginning of each semester.

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Contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO)

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Register an international trip with ISOS travel tracker

Students in Barcelona
Word for Word in Catalonia

Word for Word alumni Alicia Maria Meier and Scott Shanahan participate in a Catalan-language exchange with the Universitat Pompeu Fabra-IDEC, co-sponsored by the Fundació Han Nefkens and the Institut Ramon Llull.

Students on camels

Columbia Global Centers

Beyond the walls of Dodge Hall and the Lenfest Center for the Arts, the School of the Arts aims too to engage directly with the international community. At the center of this endeavor are the School of the Arts' relationships with the Columbia Global Centers. Located in Nairobi, Beijing, Paris, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Amman, and Mumbai, the CGCs are not traditional campuses abroad, but rather international offices staffed with regional experts intended to promote and facilitate the collaborative and impactful engagement of the University's – and, in turn, the School's – community with local resources and institutions in service of enhancing understanding, addressing global challenges, and advancing the exchange of knowledge. 

The School of the Arts currently maintains a number of programs in partnership with local institutions supported by the Global Centers. The Television Writing Intensive in Brazil, for example, has brought School of the Arts Film faculty to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo biannually since 2013, providing resources and training to local students wishing to address a change in Brazil's broadcast laws in 2012 that demanded an increase in the percentage of television on public airwaves be written and produced in the country, despite few opportunities for formal study of television and screenwriting in Brazil's higher education system. The Writing Program is set to launch an international literary conference for Spanish, Portuguese, and English-speaking American writers, Creative Writing in the Americas, in August 2018.

School of the Arts faculty regularly travel to the CGCs to share their expertise with students abroad, from former Film Program Chair Ira Deutchman teaching a master class on creative producing at Koç University in Turkey, to Professor Richard Peña sharing American Fringe Cinema with audiences in Nairobi, to Professors Binnie Kirshenbaum and Elissa Schappell in conversation with Brazilian author Noemi Jaffe at the Instituto Vera Cruz on what it is to be a female writer in either national context.

Full-time faculty are eligible for grant funding through the President’s Global Innovation Fund (PGIF). Due each February, PGIF grants support international projects that require the resources of the Global Centers. For more information about eligibility and requirements, visit the PGIF site.

The Global Centers also provide resources for prospective students, students, and alumni located in their cities and regions, from informational sessions to career assistance. For more information, visit the Columbia Global Centers site.

The role the arts play in communicating across borders, affecting positive social engagement, challenging the way people think about and interpret change on a large scale, is powerful yet not always obvious, essential yet often undervalued.

Carol Becker, Dean of Columbia University, School of the Arts
Writers in India
Festival des Écrivains du Monde, Columbia Global Centers | Paris

SoA Writing Program students and their Indian partners participate in the Global Center's World Writers Festival | Writers of India, 2014