Under the leadership of Portia Williams, now Associate Provost for International Affairs, the following recently established partnerships bring the College into areas where it has not previously done extensive work.

North Africa

In October, ZhaoHong Han and James Purpura, both Professors of Language & Education in TC’s Applied Linguistics & TESOL program, were awarded a total of $1 million to design and deliver professional development programs to ESL and ESP faculty at universities in Tunisia and Algeria over three years. The grant opportunities, which were coordinated through the Office of International Affairs and Columbia’s Global Center in Tunisia, are part of a regional effort by the U.S. State Department to support recent policy shifts to expand English Language instruction in the two countries.  


In October, Professor of Education Victoria Marsick of TC’s Adult Education & Leadership Program and Associate Professor of Psychology & Education Lena Verdeli of the Program in Clinical Psychology, were awarded a total of $100,000 in small grant funds from the Higher Education Partnership Program to partner with and support the professional development of university faculty in Iraq.  The program, which is funded by the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), focuses on two areas. Marsick’s team will deliver a custom, online program on transformative learning to support sustainable change in learning methods. The intensive program will be delivered to six core faculty from three universities. Verdeli’s team will deliver an online Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) program to 21 participants from multiple Iraqi universities. 

South Africa

The South African government ​had sponsor​ed​ 20 faculty members from the University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban University of Technology, and the University of Zululand to spend the spring 2020 semester at TC under the mentorship of four faculty members — Nancy Lesko, Maxine Greene Professor for Distinguished Contributions to Education; Felicia Mensah, Professor of Science & Education; Carol Hammer, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Vice Dean for Research; and Oren Pizmony-Levy, Associate Professor of International & Comparative Education. The participants, who, in addition to their faculty positions, are all enrolled in doctoral programs had to return to South Africa during the pandemic outbreak, but they have continued to work with their TC mentors online, and funding was recently approved to continue the program into 2022. 

The program is part of South Africa's University Capacity Development Programme, which, among other things, aims to increase the qualifications of Black ​and other underrepresented ​South African faculty members. The program is closely coordinated with the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), which leads the consortium. 

TC’s Office of International Affairs ​oversees the program and ​hold​s​ ​occasional meetings​ with participants ​throughout the semester ​to provide general, academic advising and to allow participants to share their research and progress across the entire cohort.


Under former Provost (and current Professor of History & Education) Thomas James, the Office of International Affairs established a partnership with the University of Heidelberg in Germany which has since blossomed.  It involves several faculty members at both institutions who have created interdisciplinary teams to build around research initiatives at the two colleges. The purpose is to create a trans-Atlantic focus on teacher education, particularly in the area of critical media literacies.