At Wood Auditorium, located on the lowest level of Avery Hall, Kate Ascher And Andrew Smith are finishing a course they are co-teaching this semester, The City of the Future: Transforming Urban Infrastructure.
This session is devoted to the theme of urban resilience. Ascher, Milstein Professor of Urban Development at the Graduate School of Architecture, Urban Planning and Preservationand Smyth, the Robert AW and Christine S. Carleton Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Engineering Colombiaspent the first part of the course being “talking heads,” as Ascher puts it, explaining how climate change (floods, water shortages, heat) and natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes) are affecting cities and provide examples of strategies that have been implemented. been used in cities across the United States to combat the climate crisis.
“Now,” says Ascher, turning his gaze from the screen at the front of the room to the fifty or so students, “we want to discuss the relevance of urban resilience on a global scale. How does this affect you?
“Who should pay for protective infrastructure or resilience solutions in the poorest urban communities? » asks a student, who cites a case study on urban equity that was just covered in the course: New Orleans, before and after Hurricane Katrina.
“We must protect all citizens,” says Ascher, “for the public good. That’s what FEMA is for in this country.
Grants to create interscholastic courses
How smart cities will address social vulnerability and other critical issues is at the heart of The Future City, a pilot class for Borders Interdisciplinary Coursesa new grant program funded by the Provost’s Office. The program supports the development of innovative courses spanning multiple disciplines across Colombia. As with Ascher and Smyth, faculty from different schools co-teach and expose students, also from diverse schools, to scholarship in different fields and to classmates in different fields of study. Fellows receive up to $75,000 per year for two years.
Two more pilot courses are planned for the spring 2024 semester: The Scientist and the Storyteller bridges the gap between scientific research and disseminating important health information to the public, and is taught by Columbia Journalism Professor. Duy Linh Tu And Julie Herbstman, professor of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. The Roman Art of Engineering: Traditions of Planning, Construction, and Innovation, which offers an interdisciplinary study of Roman engineering and its relevance today, will be taught by Francesco de Angelisprofessor in the Department of Art History and Archeology and lecturer in engineering at Columbia Jules Chang.
“Some of Columbia’s most vital research emerges when members of its 17 schools and many disciplines come together to explore questions and challenges from multiple perspectives,” said Samuel Sia, vice provost of Columbia and professor of biomedical engineering. “To encourage this cross-pollination in the classroom, we created this program, which aims to provide faculty with opportunities to extend the reach of their teaching beyond their own school and department, and to push the boundaries of offering educational university with courses that count. toward degree programs for students from two different schools. These courses also meet students’ interest in enriching their knowledge through scholarship at the frontiers of various fields, where they can learn alongside students from other disciplines.
Promote different paths
To better prepare its students for an increasingly complex, diverse and interconnected world, Columbia hopes to offer more courses and programs like this. Another example is Columbia College’s new major, cognitive scienceswhich encompasses concepts from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, economics, computer science, and philosophy, among other fields, and is the first multidisciplinary major offered jointly by Columbia College and Barnard.
There will be a second round of class proposals for the Frontiers interdisciplinary course program, for the 2024-2025 academic year. Sia said that while professors will determine whether courses are primarily for graduate or undergraduate students, the dean’s office plans to work with award winners to open courses to graduate and undergraduate students as much as possible.
Back to the future
Back in The Future City classroom, a Cambodian student explains how countries like hers, where developing economies are growth-oriented, struggle to finance and implement resilience plans when building primary infrastructure and connectivity.
Another student responds by discussing the proposed commitment of the developed world to finance the resolution of certain environmental problems caused by already industrialized countries, which impact countries like Cambodia.
Based on this discussion, it seems that the Frontiers interdisciplinary course program very much fills a need that students and faculty are eager to explore.