Global Challenges

“Global Challenges addressed by an Alliance supported course”

Once again this year the Alliance program is supporting a dual course "Global Challenges and the Common Good," that focuses on how to engage the world’s most pressing issues like climate change and environmental justice across borders.  Created by Greg Witkowski from Columbia University and Sophie Le Mouel Picone from Sciences Po, this innovative course brings together students from both institutions into a virtual environment to reflect together on how to address these global challenges. Students are encouraged to think about how a cross-sectoral approach involving government, nonprofit, and for-profit actors can begin to address these challenges and create social change.  The course is offered through SPS (School of Professional Studies) at Columbia and PSIA (Paris School of International Affairs) at Sciences Po. 

“Global Challenges” includes discussion of means and metrics to create and measure social change at scale. Students praise the course goals and content.  A Columbia student, Melanie McLennan, calls it: "A brilliant and eye-opening class revealing that good intent alone cannot solve global problems; turning the key in the lock requires systematic exploration of the points of intersection between different cultures, the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and asynchronous regulatory regimes to identify creative and effective pathways."   

By design the course focuses on interaction, as the Sciences Po Affiliate Lecturer Sophie Le Mouel Picone explains, “By bringing together students from different cultural, educative and professional backgrounds, we aim at fostering diverse viewpoints to study, discuss and think collectively about specific pressing questions such as climate change.”  Students meet synchronously on zoom to create a true spirit of collaboration from the New York and Parisian based students. There is seamless interaction in the online environment that extends to classroom discussion, real-world simulations, and engagement with faculty and experts.

The course has benefitted from open engagement not only across borders but also across the private and public sectors, as Columbia Senior Lecturer Greg Witkowski details, “We reached out to our collective networks of colleagues in the US and Europe with the help of Emmanuel Kattan from the Columbia Alliance to find experts who could share their lived experience engaging with these Global Challenges.” 

Students appreciated as well the connection across the Atlantic, as the Sciences Po student Lorenza Contin declares: “The diversity within the student body was matched by the diverse approaches of our instructors. Recognizing the need to tackle issues at various scales, the dual-cultural teaching approach was enlightening. Our American professor, who specialized in NGOs and American culture, and the French professor, with expertise in the private/social enterprise sector and French culture, offered complementary insights.”

Emmanuel Kattan, Director of the Alliance Program, said: “I am very grateful to Sophie Le Mouel Picone and Greg Witkowski for creating this course, which inspires students across the Atlantic and provides them with new tools to impact on the world around them.”

The world is facing a number of global challenges that require collaboration and cooperation across borders and private and public sectors.  This course is one effort to bring together expertise to engage with these pressing issues.