By Nancy J. Brandwein
Two years after the successful establishment of GS's pioneering dual degree program with French university Sciences Po, GS is piloting a dual degree program for the 2012-2013 school year with City University (City U) of Hong Kong. Four students from City U will enroll in Columbia for their junior year this fall and will graduate in 2014 with two degrees from two world-class universities.
The partnership with City U is a natural progression according to Curtis Rodgers, GS's dean of enrollment management, who said, "When Columbia President Lee Bollinger challenged the University to define what it means to be a global university, we responded at GS with the dual degree program with Sciences Po." He added that the dual degree program between Columbia and Sciences Po is really "a model for collaborative, innovative, and truly international undergraduate education. That model can be applied in other regions of the world." When it came to choosing this next region, Rodgers said that East Asia, with its booming development and influence, is an obvious choice.
Launched as recently as 1984—230 years after Columbia University was founded—City U was not an obvious choice; but it may turn out to be the perfect one. While City U did not gain accreditation until 1995, in its short history this comprehensive research university has grown fast and received international acclaim for its academic achievements; it is already ranked 110 among the world's top universities, according to QS World University Rankings. "It's young and innovative and it has great ambition. It's an institution that's going places and has achieved a great deal already," confirmed Rodgers.
City U is equally enthusiastic about GS. Its provost Arthur B. Ellis wrote in an email, "Columbia is an ideal partner because, like City U, it is located in an international financial hub that caters to individuals of all nationalities, and we share common educational values ... In addition, our two campuses have already shown they can work together in designing a dual degree program in mathematics that provides a seamless curricular experience for our students." In order to ascertain how well the two Universities' curricula would mesh, the program's planners looked at math majors and mapped the core requirements. "We asked 'how well would a [City U] student transition to GS?"' said Rodgers, "and we were pleased to see that the math majors mapped so well."
Four students who will arrive this fall are in City U's Bachelor of Science Computing Mathematics programme (BSCM). Like all City U students, Quanmiao Gao, Sicong Mo, Hua Tong, and Chenyu Zhou have benefited not only from City U's rigorous core classes but also from its unique Discovery Enriched Curriculum (DEC). "The goal of the DEC is for all City U students to have the opportunity to make an original discovery ... students at City U have created commerciallly successful apps, online businesses and award-winning animations," wrote Provost Ellis. And the four BSCM students jointly stated, "Our BCSM curriculum is well embedded with the Discovery Enriched components. We have ample opportunities to work in groups with professors on mini projects. For instance, in mathematical modeling class, we have to formulate mathematical models and deal with real life problems."
Never divorced from "real life" with its myriad nontraditional students, GS is a fitting launching pad from which this—and future nontraditional pilot programs—can take flight.