About the University Seminars


The University Seminars at Columbia University is an ongoing community of partnerships each of which is constituted by scholars from multiple academic departments and disciplines, often including experts from outside academia, and is devoted to the study of an institution, practice, or issue of theoretical and/or practical importance.  The University Seminars originated in, and maintains its vitality through, spontaneous intellectual initiatives and is therefore considered a movement.  The mission of The University Seminars collectively is to enable the intellectual missions of its individual constituent seminars.

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.

We value equity, collaboration, cross-disciplinary dialogue, and openness, and we aspire to create a professional space hospitable to the diverse intellectual interests of our members. Each member of The University Seminars community has a responsibility to contribute to a working environment where every participant feels equally valued.


  • Seminars are meant to foster unfettered intellectual exchange
  • Meetings are private; they are attended by members and invited guests
  • No honorarium is paid to any speaker
  • Membership is voluntary; dues are not collected
  • Membership is intended to create a collegial community through sharing ideas

Please see also the University Seminars CODE OF CONDUCT.


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 the 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