University Life Discussions

The Office of University Life organizes and facilitates campus discussions for students and faculty across disciplines and all Columbia schools. Learn more about our University-wide conversations below.


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2020-2021 University Life Forums

University Life Forum: COVID-19 Update: A Year Into the Global Pandemic

January 27, 2021 – Experts from across Columbia discuss University protocols, the vaccine, self care and answer audience questions.

University Life Forum: Reflections on the 2020 Election and the Road Ahead

November 11, 2020 - Experts from Columbia University discussed the outcome of the U.S. election, the state of the union and what might happen next.

University Life Forum: Returning to Campus — What You Need to Know

August 19, 2020 - This conversation and Q&A focuses on how students can prepare to return safely to campus. You'll hear updates on COVID-19 testing requirements, the Columbia Community Health Compact and symptom self-check app, self-care during quarantine, Columbia Libraries and more.

University Life Forum: Returning to Campus

July 22, 2020 - Updates and a Q&A on COVID-19 transmission, campus facilities health enhancements, gateway testing, the Columbia Community Health Compact and strategies for managing stress. 

Past University Life Discussions

University Life Forum: Black Lives Matter, Protest and Creating Change

June 11, 2020 - This virtual Columbia University community gathering will focus on addressing racial injustice in our society and the ways in which we can individually and collectively achieve transformative change.

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University Life Forum: COVID-19 and Economic Recovery 

April 29, 2020 - This Q&A focuses on the economic impact of COVID-19 and possible paths to recovery and features leading economy experts from Columbia University and Barnard College. 

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University Life Forum: Your Questions Answered on COVID-19

April 13, 2020 - This Q&A focuses on the scientific, public health and medical aspects of COVID-19 and will feature leading medical and public health experts from Columbia University.

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University Life Forum: Update on COVID-19

March 25, 2020 - A University Life-hosted discussion about COVID-19 with leading experts from Columbia University, followed by a Q&A session. 

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Citizen Leaders: A Conversation with the Obama Foundation Scholars

November 12, 2019 - Columbia’s new cohort of Obama Foundation Scholars discuss active global citizenship and the power to effect change in our communities. 

In Conversation: Slavery, Reparations and Reconciliation

October 15, 2019 -  The conversation focuses on the legacy of slavery and the question of reparations and featured Katherine Franke, Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Linda Villarosa Journalism Program Director, The City College of NY. 

Citizen Leaders: A Conversation with the Obama Foundation Scholars

April 17, 2019 - Columbia’s inaugural Obama Foundation Scholars discuss active citizenship and the power to effect change in our communities.

Whose Freedom, Whose Speech? The Future of Campus Community

April 4, 2019 -The Office of University Life and PEN America host a thought-provoking discussion about free speech on campus and the recent controversies that have impacted college and university communities. The panel features leading speakers on these issues and is followed by small-group conversations, led by student facilitators, focusing on how can we advance inclusion on campus and uphold free expression as a community value.

Let's Talk: A Conversation about Identities in Public Spaces

March 27, 2019 - Students, staff, and faculty from across Columbia gather for a facilitator-led discussion as part of the Let's Talk series. A collaboration between the Office of University Life and the Students of Color Alliance (SoCA), this dialogue focuses on issues of identity and expression on campus while maintaining an inclusive community.



In Conversation: Living with Difference: An Interfaith Dialogue

November 27, 2018 - A candid conversation about finding common ground and navigating difference, while building community. Featuring: Ustadha Amina Darwish, Muslim Life Coordinator for the Office of the University Chaplain, and Campus Rabbi Yonah Hain.




Let's Talk: U.S. Midterms 2018 - Post-Election Reflection

November 8, 2018 - A student-led discussion, with cookies, coffee and food for thought from student speakers: Ben Clark, GS '20, former Chief of Constituent Engagement, Baltimore County, Maryland, Jasneet Hora, SIPA ’19, president of Columbia Public Policy Review, Kanika Sethi, Social Work '19, co-chair University Life Events Council Inclusion & Belonging committee

In Conversation: Exploring Race and Whiteness in America

March 7, 2018 – University Life hosts a candid discussion between author and poet Claudia Rankine (Arts ’93) and Columbia Oral History Master of Arts faculty, research scholar and documentarian of “Whiteness Project” Whitney Dow (General Studies ’86) about identity, race and social constructs in America - with moderator Joy Reid of MSNBC.

Forum on Immigration 

January 27, 2017 – Within days of President Trump’s first immigration executive order, University Life convenes a campus conversation featuring legal scholars, Global Centers leadership and the director of the International Students and Scholars Office to speak about legal and political issues as well as important resources for Columbia community members affected by the travel ban.

Understanding Charlottesville

September 19, 2017 – University Life convenes a campus conversation on what happened in Charlottesville, the conditions that gave rise to it, and the challenges for our communities in its wake. Featuring: Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism and New Yorker contributor; Suzanne Goldberg (moderator), Executive Vice President for University Life and Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law; Fred Harris, Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Political Science; Jeremy Kessler, Associate Professor of Law; Stephanie McCurry, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of "Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South;" Van Tran, Assistant Professor of Sociology

U.S. Presidential Inauguration and Discussion with Deans 

University Life provides live coverage of the Presidential Inauguration and Address followed by a discussion with deans of Journalism; Law; Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine.

University Life Forum on Free Speech

November 29, 2017 – Students, faculty and staff discuss addressing and debating controversial ideas while co-existing in a shared University community, with Professor of Philosophy Akeel Bilgrami, Associate Professor of Sociology Shamus Khan and Professor of Journalism Alisa Solomon. Executive Vice President for University Life and Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law Suzanne Goldberg moderated.

Post-Election Conversation with Faculty

November 11, 2016 – Students, faculty and staff from across the University community discuss the 2016 Presidential election and what’s ahead with Michael A. Nutter, former Philadelphia Mayor and David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs; Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science Ester Fuchs, Nash Professor of Law Kendall Thomas, Professor of History Mae Ngai, and Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President for University Life and Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law. 

Post-Election Informal Conversation and Reflection

November 9, 2016 – Graduate and undergraduate students from across Columbia's many schools gather for informal conversation and reflection.

Reading Columbia: An Evening with Faculty Authors

Brings university faculty authors, students and staff into conversation about recently published work, creative processes and relevant issues of the day.