President Sian Leah Beilock discusses how collaboration is the key to addressing the critical issues we face today, from global pandemics to climate change.
New York City has a special energy in the summer. But I’ve always found this to be particularly true as I walk through the gates on Broadway onto Barnard’s campus. And this year, more than ever, the energy is palpable, as the College has introduced new initiatives, expanded existing programs, and hosted numerous events that have brought faculty, staff, students, and members of the Morningside Heights community together to engage in different learning experiences.
I am thrilled to share with you that 245 students — the largest cohort to date — are participating in our Summer Research Institute (SRI) this year. This flagship program affords students the opportunity to conduct intensive STEM research in a variety of fields, from neuroscience to chemistry, under the direction of a faculty mentor at Barnard, Columbia, or throughout New York City.
Since May, we’ve offered our very first Summer semester, which has enabled students to pursue new electives or minors and to spread coursework throughout the year at Barnard or Columbia. And now with the launch of our first Pre-Baccalaureate Program, high schoolers can explore academic interests in courses led by Barnard faculty while earning college credit.
As so many of you know firsthand, Barnard is very much part of the fabric of New York City and the local community — which makes our newest initiative, STEAM in the City, so impactful. Spearheaded by Barnard and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, STEAM in the City is a training program aimed for pre-K through 8th grade teachers working at schools in Morningside Heights and Harlem. The program provides local teachers with the tools to educate students in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (“STEAM”) and also helps Barnard faculty learn what teachers of students at younger ages are focused on. Guided by Barnard’s faculty, these teachers have been invited onto campus to participate in experiential learning design at the Design Center and visit the Jon Snow honey bee lab atop Barnard Hall. In addition to these experiences, teachers gain the skills to build a curriculum utilizing the city’s very own sites and public spaces, like Morningside Park, as living laboratories and engage in discussions with Barnard faculty and staff about how Barnard can best be “of” the city — not just “in” it.
In recent months, we’ve continued to do the important and necessary work to bolster the inclusivity of our community across the College. We’ve met with affinity-based groups, such as the student executive board of Columbia/Barnard Hillel and the students who identify as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), to further a dialogue about how to meaningfully take steps to combat racism and ensure that inclusion is at the center of our efforts. And during Orientation this fall, all students will participate in workshops and training focused on anti-racism, including important conversations addressing ableism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hate and violence against Black, Latinx, AAPI, LGBTQ+ communities, and others. It is my belief that we can make collective strides in closing the door on hate.
While this year has presented its share of challenges, it has also been a time when Barnard has truly shown its ingenuity and togetherness. These summer months have been a continuation of this very can-do spirit, with the Barnard community pursuing countless opportunities for intellectual enrichment. If anything, this season is an exciting prelude to what is to come this fall.