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AlumniTALK is a virtual speaker series in which prominent Columbia College alumni share their knowledge, insights and wisdom on salient topics.

Upcoming AlumniTALKs

Headshots of Larry Jackson, associate dean of Academic Affairs, director of the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia College and Sara Just
EVENT POSTPONED – Crisis and Community: The Importance of the Core Curriculum in Times of Turmoil

Crisis and Community: The Importance of the Core Curriculum in Times of Turmoil

This event has been postponed. Please check back for updates.

Join Larry Jackson, associate dean of academic affairs, director of the Witten Center for the Core Curriculum and lecturer in philosophy for a virtual conversation with Sara Just CC’88, senior executive producer of PBS NewsHour Productions and SVP of WETA.

The Core Curriculum is the heart of the student academic experience at Columbia College. How do these required courses prepare students to grapple with the challenges of an ever-changing world? This talk discusses the ways the Core fosters a community of inquiry in which students learn to have difficult conversations.

AlumniTALK Archive

Headshots (left to right): Jen Maxfield Ostfeld CC’99, JRN’00 and Professor David Schizer, dean emeritus of the Law School
How Columbia is Ensuring Its Campus is Safe and Inclusive

Tuesday, March 19

Revisit this virtual conversation between Jen Maxfield Ostfeld CC’99, JRN’00, an Emmy Award-winning correspondent for NBC New York, and Professor David Schizer, dean emeritus of the Law School, co-leader of Columbia’s Task Force on Anti-Semitism and author of How to Save the World in Six (Not So Easy) Steps: Bringing Out the Best in Nonprofits.

The conversation highlights the important work of Columbia’s Task Force on Anti-Semitism and its efforts to protect free speech and academic freedom while promoting a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment for all members of the Columbia community. Schizer discusses the recommendations of the Task Force’s first report, analyzing the university's rules governing demonstrations, as well as the Task Force's other work.

Participants had the opportunity to opt in to receive a free copy of Schizer's new book courtesy of the Ranieri Fund for Nonprofit Management at Columbia Law School and the Columbia College Alumni Association.


Emily Drabinski CC ‘97, President of the American Library Association and Larry Jackson, Director of the Witten Center for the Core Curriculum
Book Bans and the Attack on American Democracy: A Conversation with Emily Drabinski (CC ‘97), President of the American Library Association

October 23, 2023

Libraries are a central part of American democracy. As public institutions, they promote civic engagement, provide community space, and ensure that all people — regardless of class — have access to books and other materials offering a wide range of perspectives and ideas. But today, libraries and library workers are under attack in the United States. Throughout the country, there have been efforts this year to censor thousands of book titles  — most of them written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Library workers have reported being harassed, and libraries in Chicago and New York City have even received bomb threats. American Library Association (ALA) President Emily Drabinski CC’97 spoke with Director of the Witten Center for the Core Curriculum Larry Jackson about ongoing campaigns to censor titles, attacks on libraries and the ALA, and the efforts of library workers throughout the country to fight book bans and protect our democracy. 

AlumniTALK Presenters
AlumniTALK: A Conversation on Black Women’s History and Barbie

February 9, 2023

In this exclusive AlumniTALK presented by Columbia College Women, A’Lelia Bundles JRN’76, vice-chair emerita of the University Board of Trustees, joins in conversation with Carlyle Nuera, Barbie Signature’s lead designer at Mattel, and Crystal Moten, a historian and curator, with moderator Elizabeth Yuan CC’96, JRN’98, CCW programming co-chair. They will discuss entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire in America; Black entrepreneurship, including in the Midwest; representation in Hollywood and dolls; and Black women’s scholarship. Nuera will also show how personal, historical and sartorial details are captured in Barbie’s “Inspiring Women” series, including in the Walker doll.

AlumniTALK: From the ER Frontlines to the Far Reaches of the World

January 25, 2023

In this exclusive AlumniTALK , Dr. Calvin Sun CC'08, recounts the early months of Covid-19. In conversation with Dr. Zahrah Taufique CC’09 BU’15 PS’15, he will discuss lessons learned from from growing up as a young Asian American in New York to his calling first to medical school and then to the open road. He believes that the fight for a better world creates meaning when all feels meaningless, and he hopes that telling his story will help readers reframe this tragic moment in our lifetimes into possibility, with the goal of building a more empathetic society.

Please Note: This event will be virtual. A link to the recording will be emailed to all registrants a few days after the event.

John D’Emilio and Carlos Cruz
AlumniTALK: “Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood” with John D‘Emilio CC‘70

October 27, 2022

In this exclusive AlumniTALK in honor of LGBTQ+ History Month and in partnership with Columbia Pride, a pioneering writer of LGBTQ history, John D’Emilio describes his formative years coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s. Columbia's first LGBTQ group was formed during these years, and the Stonewall Uprising and the birth of gay liberation occurred as well. John will discuss his memoir that highlights the sharp contrast between the decade of the 1960s and the present. Opening remarks by Carlos V. Cruz CC'88, President of Columbia Pride.

Please Note: This event will be virtual. A link to the recording will be emailed to all registrants a few days after the event.

Roosevelt Montás
AlumniTALK: Rescuing Socrates with Professor Roosevelt Montás CC’95

In this exclusive AlumniTALK, Professor Roosevelt Montás CC’95 reads excerpts from and discusses his book Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation. A Dominican-born academic tells the story of how the Great Books transformed his life—and why they have the power to speak to people of all backgrounds. In conversation with Katie Day Benvenuto CC’03 BUS’12, current Senior Executive Director for Development, Arts & Sciences and Athletics and the Associate Dean of Columbia College Development and Alumni Relations

Joseph Goldstein CC'65 headshot
AlumniTALK: The Value of Mindfulness in Challenging Times with Joseph Goldstein CC'65

Joseph Goldstein CC'65, co-founder of Insight Meditation Society, discusses how mindfulness can help relieve anxiety in periods of high stress and share guidance on how to practice it. In conversation with Mila Atmos CC'96, SIPA'05.

Dr. Vivian Mougios CC'96 and Dr. Valerie Purdie-Greenaway CC'93
AlumniTALK: Child Development: Neuropsychology of Parenting During Uncertainty

Clinical psychologist Dr. Vivian Mougios CC'96 and Dr. Valerie Purdie-Greenaway CC'93 explore how the abrupt switch to distance learning and socializing is affecting children and share tangible tips that parents can use during this challenging time.

George Yancopoulos CC’80, GSAS’86, PS’87
AlumniTALK: Efforts to Fight COVID-19 with Dr. George D. Yancopoulos CC’80, GSAS’86, PS’87

Dr. George D. Yancopoulos CC’80, GSAS’86, PS’87, co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, in conversation with Dean James J. Valentini, discusses biotechnologies and therapy explorations aimed at addressing COVID-19, the most pressing public health infectious risk of our time.

Claudia Rankine
AlumniTALK: Claudia Rankine and the Making of Citizen

Author Claudia Rankine SOA'93 reads excerpts from and discusses her bestselling book Citizen: An American Lyric, a recent addition to Lit Hum's summer reading requirements. Citizen uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism and visual images to explore what it means to be an American citizen in a “post-racial” society.

Chelsea Miller and Clarence Jones.png
AlumniTALK: Race, the Presidential Election and What's Next

Dr. Clarence B. Jones '53, speechwriter, strategic advisor and legal counsel to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Chelsea Miller, a rising star of civil rights activism and founder of Freedom March NYC, reflect on how the results of the 2020 presidential election impact the continued fight for racial justice and equality in America. Moderated by Riley Jones, IV '17, president of Columbia's Black Alumni Council.

Panelists' Headshots
AlumniTALK: Race and the Workplace

While studies show that increased diversity leads to greater innovation and improved outcomes, organizations continue to struggle with a lack of diversity at the upper-management and C-suite levels. How can organizations address this issue? A panel of executives examine the barriers that professionals in marginalized groups face when seeking advancement and discuss transformative solutions.

Panelists' Headshots
AlumniTALK: Alumnae Trailblazers on Taking Risks that Pay Off

What does it take to become a CEO? To found your own company? To break the glass ceiling?

In this exclusive AlumniTALK, three inspiring College alumnae will share their insider stories and discuss the professional risks they've taken -- and how their courage ultimately paid off.

Global Health Panelists