FAQs

Q: Are University Seminars open to the public?

Seminars are closed to the general public; however, some seminars welcome new members, both from Columbia and from the larger community. To be invited to attend a seminar, please write to the seminar chair expressing your interest and qualifications in the seminar’s area of study.

Q: Can students attend meetings?

Each seminar has a different policy on guests. Graduate students can be invited by their professors to participate in the seminar meetings on a regular basis with the consent of the seminar. Student participation should be limited. Most participants should be experts from different fields and institutions.

Q: Are speakers paid honoraria?

No. Honoraria are not permitted under any circumstances. There are limited funds for travel and accommodation.

Q: Do I have to RSVP to attend dinner?

Yes. You must RSVP. Dinners at Faculty House are catered, the cost is subsidized by The University Seminars, and we are charged for each seat. Dinners outside Faculty House are, likewise, reserved. RSVPs are collected by the rapporteur the week prior to the meeting.

Q: Where/how often do seminars meet?

Most seminars meet at the Columbia University Faculty House about once a month during the academic year. Each seminar has a page on The University Seminars website with a schedule.

Q: Are seminar meetings confidential?

Each seminar has a different privacy policy. Although complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, some seminars choose to keep their minutes private for five years prior to their inclusion in The University Seminars Archive. To encourage an unfettered exchange of ideas, each seminar decides whether minutes are “closed” or “open.” If the minutes are “closed,” they are not to be posted online, emailed, or otherwise distributed.

Q: Can seminar meetings be live-streamed or continued on a blog or other public forum?

No.  A University Seminar is not a public event. If a seminar would like to reach a broader audience, The University Seminars encourages seminars to plan a conference or symposium.

Q: Can you post my seminar’s minutes on the University Seminars Website?

The University Seminars office will not post minutes on The University Seminars website, even with an “open” policy. Should a seminar wish to publish additional material, Columbia University’s Information Technology Department (CUIT) offers various options for members of the Columbia community. After five years, minutes are included in The University Seminars Archive.

Q: How can I access The University Seminars Digital Archive?

The University Seminars Digital Archive is available on a dedicated laptop through Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 6th floor, Butler. Chairs and members are automatically granted remote access in the fall, with additional scholars assigned on an as-needed basis. To request remote access, contact Summer Hart.

Q: I am a Columbia Affiliate. How do I become a formal member of the University Seminars?

Columbia members may be added to the seminar’s roster at any time. The central office must be notified of the addition. An entry form for new Columbia Members must accompany the letter of nomination. Blank entry forms for both types of membership are available on The University Seminars website.

Q: I am not affiliated with Columbia University. How do I become a formal member of the University Seminars?

Every seminar has a different procedure, but most will have you attend as a guest for a trial period before you can apply for formal membership. If you have attended a few meetings and the chair invites you to become a member, the chair can submit a letter of nomination to Alice Newton. Once the nomination is accepted, you will be sent a link to our UNISEM Membership Form via Google. This application is then subject to the approval of the Director, with candidates and seminar chairs being notified of the Director’s decision within approximately 2 weeks.

Q: What benefits are available to Associate Members of the University Seminars?

Library Access: Associates have free reading and borrowing privileges at the University’s libraries; these privileges include physical access (with CUID), off-campus access to online resources (with UNI and password), and borrowing privileges with no monthly fees. Note that some electronic books are available only to Columbia University students.

Gym Access: With a valid CUID, seminar associates are eligible to use Dodge Fitness Center for a monthly fee.

Q: My Columbia ID Card expired/was lost, how do I get a new card?

Email Alice Newton the following: full name, date of birth, and name of the seminar. Alice will confirm the active status of your membership in the Seminars and, if necessary, update you in the system. Once you receive confirmation from Alice, you can go to the Columbia ID Office in 204 Kent Hall. The ID office will issue a new ID card on the spot.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for publication funding?

Members, Associates, Rapporteurs, regular guests, and speakers who have presented work at a seminar which has subsequently been accepted for publication may apply through our online submissions manager.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for conference funding?

Seminar chairs may apply for conference funding. A conference proposal must come from the work of a seminar. All or some of the members of the seminar must be committed to being central to the conference and the organization of it, and members must agree on the basic need and goal of the conference.