Summer Ideas Exchange

Summer Ideas Exchange

Columbia's Summer Ideas Exchange

Columbia’s Summer Ideas Exchange features timely and dynamic conversations with some of the University’s most accomplished and celebrated faculty. Last year's series explored how a variety of fundamental structures, intellectual origins and cultural roots shape values systems, social practices, institutions and meaning in our lives and society. 

The Summer Ideas Exchange will continue into Summer 2021. These intimate and thought-provoking discussions and interviews will preview some of the courses available as part of Columbia’s Summer Sessions. If you'd like to be notified about upcoming events, sign up here



Understanding the Social World: A Conversation with Shamus Khan


Director, Columbia World Projects and Columbia Global Reports, and Dean Emeritus, Columbia Journalism School, Nicholas Lemann interviews Columbia Sociology Chair Shamus Khan about his writing on sexual health and violence and its groundbreaking influence on policy, as well as his intellectual journey—from his early start as a violinist, to the milestones that shape his research today. They will also discuss the key questions and methods that enable us to achieve a deeper understanding of the social world we live in.

Recorded May 27, 2020

From Beginning to End: A Conversation with Brian Greene


Professor of Physics & Mathematics, and best selling author, (The Elegant Universe, Until the End of Time), Brian Greene shares insights and ideas with Emmy-winning contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning, Faith Salie. The conversation will explore our collective understanding of the earliest beginnings of the universe, what science can tell us about the very far future, and how this influences the long-standing human search for meaning.

Recorded May 28, 2020

Religion and Hip Hop: A Conversation with Josef Sorett


Professor Josef Sorett and award-winning author Darnell L. Moore (No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America) take us on a journey through the entangled histories of religion, race and hip hop that illuminates how religious ideas and practices have animated rap music’s evolution since 1970.

Recorded June 3, 2020

Get Out the Vote: A How-To Guide


The upcoming election is critical, but fewer than two-thirds of eligible voters are expected to cast ballots. How can voter turnout be encouraged? Field experiments have become increasingly important ways of studying political behavior and guiding campaigns. Hear political science Professor Donald GreenMark Mullen, founder of the innovative non-profit organization Turnout Nation, and Jess Morales Rocketto, Political Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, discuss new concepts for increasing voter turnout and the experiments that prove they are effective. Moderated by Juju Chang, co-anchor of ABC News’ Nightline.

Recorded June 9, 2020

Is Reason Overrated? Rethinking the Whole History of Western Thought


There is a growing awareness that philosophy’s past is richer and more diverse than previously understood. In this conversation, philosopher Christia Mercer and political scientist Melvin Rogers share plans to shine a light on hidden figures from the history of western philosophy and African-American political thought, and explain why rewriting them back into history is essential. Moderated by June Cross, Emmy-award winner; Professor of Journalism and Director, Documentary Journalism Program at Columbia Journalism School.

Recorded June 17, 2020

What You Didn't Know About Viruses and How to Cure Them


In this conversation, virologist Vincent Racaniello and chemical biologist Brent Stockwell talk with Claudia Dreifus, School of Professional Studies Lecturer in Professional Studies and contributor to The New York Times Science section, about research into potential therapies to combat COVID-19. They'll discuss how quickly we are learning, what we know now, what is different now versus 20 years ago, why it’s surprising that a pandemic of this nature has not happened sooner, and what needs to be done to better equip ourselves for the inevitable next 'big one.'

Streamed June 24, 2020