Columbia University in the United States has launched a new Global Center in Nairobi for the African continent, to serve as a regional hub for research and collaboration as part of the institution’s strategy to achieve a global presence.
The Nairobi centre – which has 35 staff members and is based in a large, modern building – will also host initiatives such as the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) founded by the university’s Earth Institute and headed by celebrated economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Launched last week by Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki in a ceremony also attended by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the centre will be a focal point for African scholarly and research initiatives and will seek collaborations with higher education institutions, governments, NGOs and civil society.
It is the latest in a chain of seven other centres opened across the world, including in Santiago (Chile), Amman (Jordan), Paris (France), Beijing (China), Istanbul (Turkey) and Mumbai (India).
Columbia University President Lee C Bollinger said during the event that the Nairobi hub would link with other global centres to complete the global character pursued by the university in its bid to respond to challenges of globalisation.
“Each opening of a Columbia Global Center holds great promise, not only for new academic partnerships in the host nation and the region, but also for the continuing reinvention of Columbia’s home campuses in New York City, where our scholarly mission demands a global presence”, Bollinger said.
Nairobi, he added, was chosen to host the centre in Africa because of its location, availability of infrastructure, cost-effective research, international connectivity and willingness of the government to embrace and support the initiative.
The Nairobi centre, he said, would promote and facilitate international collaborations, research projects, academic programming and study abroad for certain categories of students, enhancing the university’s commitment to global scholarship.