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.


WATCH: University Life Forum: Update on COVID-19

2019-2020 Featured Conversations

Citizen Leaders: A Conversation with the Obama Foundation Scholars

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

In Conversation: Slavery, Reparations and Reconciliation

October 15 -  The conversation focused 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. 

Past University Life Discussions

Citizen Leaders: A Conversation with the Obama Foundation Scholars

April 17, 2019 - Columbia’s inaugural Obama Foundation Scholars discussed 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 hosted a thought-provoking discussion about free speech on campus and the recent controversies that have impacted college and university communities. The panel featured leading speakers on these issues was followed by small-group conversations, led by student facilitators, focused 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 gathered 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 focused on issues of identity and expression on campus while maintaing 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

On March 7, 2018, University Life hosted 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 

Within days of President Trump’s first immigration executive order, University Life convened 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

On September 19, 2017, University Life convened 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 provided live coverage of the Presidential Inauguration and Address followed by discussion with deans of Journalism; Law; Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine.

University Life Forum on Free Speech

On November 29, students, faculty and staff discussed 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

On November 11, students, faculty and staff from across the University community discussed 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

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

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.