About the University Seminars


The University Seminars is a consortium of more than ninety independent seminars. It is an evolving academic enterprise. Individual seminars consist of professors and other experts, from Columbia and elsewhere, who gather on an ongoing basis to consider issues of practical and theoretical importance that cross the boundaries of academic departments. In this way, The University Seminars links Columbia University with the intellectual resources of the surrounding communities. This outreach offers the fruits of interaction and mutual intellectual enrichment to all participants.

Seminars are closed to the general public; however, 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.


There are currently over 90 independent University Seminars, from “Affect Studies” to “Population Biology” to “Women in Society,” all of them supported by an endowment established by founder, Frank Tannenbaum and his wife, Jane Belo. Seminars may bring in outside speakers, or keep the discussion between members. Some seminars organize public conferences and other special events to continue the conversation beyond their private meetings.

Each seminar elects a chair or co-chairs who administer meetings. Chairs hire a graduate student rapporteur, who takes minutes at all seminar meetings and submits a copy to the office. The office keeps these records private for five years, at which time they are incorporated into the University Seminars Digital Archive.


  • Meetings are private; scholars and other experts are invited to join on an ongoing basis
  • No honorarium is paid to any speaker
  • Membership is voluntary; dues are not collected
  • Seminars are meant to foster unfettered intellectual exchange
  • Membership is intended to create a collegial community; a sharing of meals and ideas
  • Guests and graduate students may be invited to attend meetings


The University Seminars Office is located in Faculty House on Columbia’s East Campus. Enter campus through the gates at 116th and Broadway. Follow College Walk across Amsterdam Avenue towards Morningside Drive. After passing Jerome Greene Hall on the left, enter Wien courtyard through the gates. Follow courtyard around to the right. Faculty House will be the last building on the right. The Office is on the second floor, between the elevators.

Morningside Campus Map | Download Directions