Word for Word Anthologies, by Ugly Duckling Presse

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.

Global Events

Recent 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.


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.

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.

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.


Columbia Global Centers | Amman

Professor Binnie Kirshenbaum and Writing alumna Hannah Assadi visit Columbia Global Centers | Amman for a program in literary translation.

Columbia Global Centers | Rio de Janeiro

The entrance to Columbia's Brazilian center in historic central Rio de Janeiro.

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