Archive for highlights

Conference Reports for “The Success of Failure” Published

The Center for Science and Society, along with it’s co-sponsors – Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policyand Teachers College – are proud to present the event reports from “The Success of Failure: Perspectives from the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, Education, and Law” conference, held December 7-8, 2017.

“The Success of Failure” explored the broad typology of failure across disciplines by offering perspectives from law, psychology, tech startups, education, experimental theater, and jazz music – just to name a few. Each field discussed its own struggles and solutions as participants and audience members grappled with the central question: How do we reconcile the contradictions of success and failure?

Visit the Success of Failure Past Event Information Page to view a session-by-session report, an executive summary, and event program, along with select conference media.

Making and Knowing Project Co-Organizes Symposium in Toulouse, France

The Making and Knowing Project (a Center for Science and Society Research Cluster directed by Seth Low Professor of History Pamela Smith) has co-organized and will participate in the symposium “Du Manuscrit au Livre. L’écriture des Savoir-Faire à la Renaissance” (From the Manuscript to the Book: The Writing of How-To in the Renaissance) to be held March 15 – 17, 2018 in Toulouse, France.

The symposium will open the Toulouse Renaissance exhibit, an examination of the city’s cultural landscape during the Renaissance period. The exhibit will be on display in Toulouse at the Musée des Augustins from March 17 – September 24, 2018 and at the Bibliothèque d’Étude et du Patrimoine from March 17 – June 16, 2018.

The exhibition includes objects created by the Project as part of their research on the sixteenth-century French technical manuscript, BnF Ms. Fr. 640, compiled in Toulouse. The manuscript itself will also be on display.

Center for New Narratives in Philosophy Volunteering Opportunities

The Center for New Narratives in Philosophy (CNNP) at the Center for Science and Society is excited to announce new volunteer opportunities and resources.

On February 25, 2018, CNNP hosted “The Pedagogy of Dignity: Teaching in Prisons” workshop supported by the Marc Sanders Foundation. After a day of panels and collaborative discussions with formerly incarcerated students and friends, activists, professors, graduate and undergraduate students, many participants were interested in volunteering further. This workshop also celebrated the launch of CNNP’s Rethinking Justice Initiative (website forthcoming).

Cluster Leader Christia Mercer suggests the following programs for those interested in criminal justice reform:

— Individuals 21 or older (or will be soon) are eligible to teach in the Rethinking Justice Initiative’s Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center Mini-Course program. Fill out the Teaching in Prison Interest Form for more information.

— For those who are unable to participate in the above teaching program, Easing Reentry (ER) is a Columbia University, student-led initiative that connects skilled volunteers with people returning home from jail and prison. Complete the Easy Reentry Interest Form for more information.

Project Pro Bono has a variety of volunteering opportunities located across the country.

Call for Applications: 2018 Collaboratory Fellows Fund at Columbia University

The goal of the Collaboratory Fellows Fund is to support innovative curriculum development that meets the data and computational literacy needs of a given discipline, set of disciplines and/or cohort of students at Columbia University. The program will award grants to pairs of instructors, one with disciplinary/area expertise and one with data-science/computational expertise, to collaborate on the development and teaching of new material that embeds data or computational science into a more traditional domain or the reverse, embeds business, policy, cultural and ethical topics into the context of a data or computer science curriculum.

Example curricula offerings might include classes, workshops, studios, out-of-semester offerings and “boot-camps.” Student cohorts can be undergraduate students, PhD students or graduate students undergoing professional training. The goal is to create diverse course offerings that are accessible to student at all levels, including those who have no previous data science exposure. In addition to the subject areas suggested above, this year we are encouraging proposals that: create curricula aimed at undergraduates; integrates Genomics and data science; and tailors entrepreneurship and/or business literacy curricula for STEM students.

Eligibility: Full-time officers of instruction, professors of practice, lecturers within discipline and/or adjunct professors of Columbia University. At least one member of the instructional team must be appointed full-time. All full-time members on the team must hold primary appointments at Columbia University.

The deadline for applications is April 20, 2018. For more information and to apply, please visit the Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Design website.


Call for Applications: Hybrid Learning Grants and Start Small! Mini-Grants

Requests for proposals are being accepted for two new grants programs: the Hybrid Learning Course Redesign and Delivery grant program, which supports faculty who are developing innovative and technology-rich pedagogy and learning strategies in the classroom. Awardees will receive a grant ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, along with access to resources and support from the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) for content development, instructional design, media production, software design, and assessment.

The new Start Small! Mini-Grants provide support to faculty who are interested in experimenting with one new pedagogical strategy or tool. Awardees will receive in-kind support from the CTL and receive up to $2,000 for a one-semester period.

Eligibility: Full-time and part-time faculty are eligible. Individual faculty, groups of faculty from the same department, and interdisciplinary teams are welcome to apply; however, teams receive one award. Courses must be offered during either fall 2018, spring 2019 or summer 2019.

The deadline for applications is April 16, 2018. For more information and to apply, please visit the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning website.

Call for Applications: LifeSci NYC Internship Program

The LifeSci NYC internship program is designed to ensure both the success of the life sciences industry in New York City and the employability of New York City college students majoring in the life sciences and in support functions (management, finance, accounting, legal, IT, and others) connected to the life sciences.

The program will provide quality internships for college and graduate students, while offering curriculum and training support with refined “hard” skills in the sciences and “soft” skills of professional and personal development. Additionally, it will convene a working group of academic and industry partners to problem-solve around the gap between student preparedness and industry needs. This will strengthen the internship program in the short term, while creating a feedback loop to enable industry to help shape academic curricula so students develop skills necessary for industry careers

Application Deadline: March 31, 2018. However, placements are on a rolling basis. Applying early increases your chances of securing an internship.

The program is particularly interested in:

— Students interested in business – especially among students who have lab and/or industry experience. Students should be sure to indicate in their personal statement that they are interested in serving in a business role.

— Junior and Senior undergraduates with art or design skills. Students should indicate their interest in using these skills in their personal statement.

— Students in Ph.D. or postdoc programs in Drug Delivery, Biotech, Biochemistry, Biomaterials, Materials Science, Polymer Chemistry, Rheology, or Chemical Engineering; requires lab experience and/or genetic engineering expertise. Medical students and/or those with ophthalmology training are also great candidates.

— Masters and Ph.D. students interested in business roles in the life sciences: In many cases, there is no requirement for a major in biology, the life sciences or a related field. However, applicants with expertise in medicine, digital health, data science, consulting, finance and/or advocacy are encouraged.

— Masters or doctoral students with expertise in immuno-oncology – note that this opportunity requires students who could travel to Pearl River, NY.

— Undergraduates, ideally in biomedical engineering, who could travel to Pearl River, NY.

Program Objectives:

— Assemble a cohort of participating interns that reflects the diversity of New York City university students with a special focus on students from disadvantaged communities and economic backgrounds.

— Work with New York City life sciences industry partners to develop relevant and attractive experiences in New York City’s industry, including frameworks, resources, and structured activities to expand, diversify, and cultivate emerging talent pool.

— Position New York City’s life sciences industry as a valued partner to the university community to identify student career development needs, share resources and information to support fieldwork/career experiences, inform short- and long-term program outcomes, and disseminate program learnings to make internships scalable and sustainable/

— Attract and prepare a diverse range of New York City students for careers in the life sciences sector to ensure that the sector has a wealth of talent to fill the industry demand for good quality jobs.

Please visit the LifeSci NYC website for additional details and full application instructions.

Call for Proposals: Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience Seed Grants

ELIGIBILITY: All full-time faculty at Columbia University and Barnard College. Non-faculty may apply with the support of a faculty co-investigator.

AMOUNT: Up to $50,000.00 for projects one-year in duration, with the possibility of renewal for a second year of funding.

DEADLINE: One-page Letters of Inquiry due March 19, 2018.

PROPOSAL INSTRUCTIONS: See below or download as a PDF here.

The Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience Program (PSSN) invites Letters of Inquiry for interdisciplinary projects that lie at the intersection of neuroscience and the arts, humanities, and/or the social sciences.

Faculty Seed Grant Competition

The PSSN Program will offer annual seed grants to enable collaboration between Columbia and Barnard faculty in the humanities, arts, or social sciences, and faculty in the natural sciences whose primary focus is the empirical study of mind, brain, and behavior. This request for proposals is open to all full-time faculty at Columbia University and Barnard College who contribute to these interdisciplinary goals. Applications from non-faculty (including postdocs and senior Ph.D. students) will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with at least one full-time faculty member serving as a co-investigator. Please contact if you have any questions regarding eligibility.

Unlike previous years, a Letter of Inquiry will be the first step in the application process for 2018. The committee will invite selected applicants to submit a full proposal. Grants will be awarded on or before July 1, 2018.

Letters of Inquiry should outline interdisciplinary research that involves either direct collaboration between neuroscientists and researchers from other disciplines, or traverses traditional disciplinary boundaries in order to investigate issues relevant to society and neuroscience.

Instructions for Letters of Inquiry

1) Letters of Inquiry should be no more than a single page with one-inch margins in 11pt font.

2) Please include the title of the proposed project and list the principal and co-investigator(s) and their departmental affiliations.

3) All letters should include a short summary of the project, a brief statement of interdisciplinarity, and should briefly describe the timeline and the total funding amount sought.

Generally, proposals that involve research already in progress or stand-alone curriculum development will not be funded.  All Letters of Inquiry must be received in full by 5:00 p.m. ET on Monday, March 19, 2018.  Please submit letters as a PDF or Word file and email to

For a list of prior Seed Grant awardees and their projects, please click here.

Cluster Leader Christia Mercer’s Op-Ed Published By NBC News

Christia Mercer’s (Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University) op-ed piece on the value of prison literary programming has been published by NBC News. The column “Reading Gives People in Prison Hope. But Some States Want to Take Their Books Away” draws on Professor Mercer’s experiences teaching at New York correctional facilities as part of the Justice-In-Education Initiative at Columbia University.

Professor Mercer is a member of the Center for Science and Society’s Steering Committee and leads the Center for New Narratives in Philosophy Research Cluster.


Call for Applications: James Smithson Fellowship Program

The James Smithson Fellowship Program offers an early career opportunity for post-doctoral scholars interested in gaining experience in both scholarship and policy through a Smithsonian lens. The fellowship provides an immersion experience working with Smithsonian scholars and relevant collections. In addition the fellows will develop an inside view of how policy is crafted and how resource plans are designed by participating in a well-planned program offering direct experience internally with Smithsonian leaders, and externally with leaders throughout the Washington, DC network.

Applications are now open for 2018 James Smithson Fellows. Deadline: January 15, 2018. The theme for 2018 is History, Memory, Authenticity. Candidates must be U.S. citizens and not more than five years beyond receipt of their doctorate degree. Candidates with terminal professional degrees are also eligible to apply.

Although debate about public symbols and what they represent is as old as our nation itself, recently the volume of public discourse attempting to reconcile meaning attached to historic people, objects, and places has increased. As discussion about history’s “authenticity” in social media and modern society has surged, so too has dialogue about the meaning of scientific research and its uses in public life.

This public desire for modern life to be better informed by history and science presents an opportunity for researchers to engage in a number of pressing conversations on the national and global level.

In no particular order, subjects for independent study or research through the 2018 James Smithson Fellowship might include but are not limited to:

  • Names and Namesakes: What Places and Buildings are Called
  • When Research Meets Politics
  • Divisive Symbols in Public Spaces
  • Remembering the Past, Honoring Victims
  • The Ethics of Using Historical Data Obtained Unethically
  • Historic Figures, Modern Norms: The Question of Context
  • The Changing Meaning of Material Culture
  • Documenting and Preserving Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • Iconoclasm
  • When Seeing and Believing Collide
  • Popular News and Climate Change
  • The Life of Monuments in the 21st Century
  • Democracy and Public Spaces
  • When Science was Wrong in the Past
  • Portraiture and the Face in a Digital Age
  • Contemporary Ethnography as a Lens to Pre-History
  • Nostalgia and Reflection in History and Policy
  • Ambivalent or Unwanted Legacies
  • War Memorials, Trauma, and Identity
  • National Narratives in a time of Changing Borders

For more information and to apply, please visit the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships website.

Call for Proposals: The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University

The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University (CSSD) brings together faculty in humanities, law, social sciences, medicine and the arts, as well as artists and practitioners in the New York area and beyond, to investigate problems of social, economic, and cultural inequality. The Center’s working groups challenge the disciplinary divides among the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences by asking not only how historical categories of social difference intersect on the level of identity, but also how these categories shape institutions, modes of knowing, acts of representation, and processes of globalization. The Center creates the conditions for scholars, artists and practitioners to work collaboratively and internationally on problems of common interest and to set intellectual agendas for the future.

The Center welcomes proposals for a new project that would begin in Fall 2018 or Fall 2019. Funding is in the amount of $35,000 over two years with the possibility of $15,000 for a third year, contingent on working group interest and the availability of Center funds. CSSD seeks projects that align with the mission of “Women Creating Change” or “Imagining Justice” and favors proposals from an interdisciplinary core working group (usually 5-8 people, not all of whom need be affiliated with Columbia or Barnard). The Center encourages and facilitates international collaborations.

Proposals should be submitted by February 1, 2018 at 11:59PM to CSSD Associate Director Catherine LaSota ( For more information and to apply, please visit the CSSD website.

@ 2018 The Center of Science and Society at Columbia University
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