Forum Director

  • Columbia University, Columbia World Projects
  • New York, NY, USA
  • Nov 11, 2020
Full time   Deans & Directors Grants, Sponsored Programs, Research Other Administrative Positions

Job Description


Columbia World Projects (“CWP”) is an initiative intended to better connect Columbia University with the world at-large where laws and policies are made, actions taken, and norms and attitudes shaped.  CWP will facilitate the application of academic work in the context of a broader, global discussion to address fundamental challenges in our home city, around the nation, and across the globe.

This position reports to the Columbia World Projects Deputy Director.

The Forum Director is responsible for conducting and participating in various activities associated with generating projects for CWP, in particular through overseeing all aspects of the CWP Forum process, which is how CWP generates ideas for projects that bring research and scholarship to bear, in partnership with practitioners, to have measurable impact on tackling fundamental challenges. The Forum Director will oversee a team responsible for producing approximately three Fora per year, each focused on a specific challenge, and work with faculty from schools and disciplines across Columbia University – as well as external practitioners from a range of fields and institutions – to generate ideas for and develop between one and two dozen ideas for potential projects that meet CWP’s criteria. Those ideas must be distilled into concise concept papers, which the Director is responsible for helping faculty and practitioners draft and edit. In addition, the Director is responsible for generating a Forum discussion paper for participants that defines the fundamental challenge and the key themes to be explored in the meeting, as well as for synthesizing the key conclusions and outcomes of the Forum in a comprehensive public report. Moreover, for the projects that receive the greatest support at the Forum for further development by CWP, the Forum Director will work with the Director of Project Development to oversee the transition to the project development phase, identifying the issues with individual projects that need to be addressed during the development process.


  • Oversees team responsible for identifying Columbia scholars and researchers, as well as academics from other universities, with expertise relevant to the Forum topic, as well as leading practitioners from government, NGOs, international organizations, the private sector and other entities, and then engages those faculty and practitioners to explore ideas for potential CWP projects. Provides critical feedback on those initial ideas to ensure that they meet CWP’s core criteria for projects, and with an eye towards increasing impact without sacrificing feasibility.  
  • Fosters collaboration between academics and practitioners prior to the Forum around specific project ideas. 
  • Oversees the production of concept papers, between one and two dozen, on potential projects prior to the Forum. Those papers will include a description of the project and the problem it aims to address; a rough timeline for implementation; the role of academic research and scholarship; partners inside and outside of academia; potential impact (and how the project will seek to measure it). Provides timely edits while managing the timeline to ensure that quality concept papers are completed in advance of the Forum.
  • Leads the drafting of a discussion paper for the Forum, which frames the fundamental challenge at hand and areas where research and scholarship may be part of addressing it. Based on the key themes that emerge, organizes projects into working groups, drafting concise summaries of each work group’s theme, and selects and prepares moderators for each working group.
  • Manages the budget for holding CWP Fora and other activities associated with project generation that the incumbent’s team supports. Works with the CWP Finance and Administration team to ensure proper adherence to the University’s policies and procedures.   
  • Leads the drafting of reports that come out of meetings related to project generation, including a public Forum report, which distills the Forum’s challenges, the working group themes, summaries of individual projects presented and the feedback they received from fellow participants. Articulates the key findings of the opening and closing plenary discussions; and identifies the projects that received the greatest support from participants for further development by CWP.
  • Works with the Director of Communications to shape press releases, website pages, and other public materials to raise awareness about CWP, project generation, the Fora, the projects we are developing and implementing, and other public facing communications to build knowledge of and support for CWP’s work and mission.
  • In partnership with the Director of Project Development, oversees the transition of projects that are selected for further development, facilitating an introduction to the project development process, synthesizing critical feedback from the Forum of issues that need to be addressed as the project is developed. In addition, works with the Project Development team to prepare written summaries of projects for presentation to CWP’s Advisory Committee, and assists in oral briefings on those projects to the committee. 
  • Works continually with the Deputy Director, Director of Project Development, and Director of Project Management and their teams to reflect critically on how the Forum process can be strengthened – learning from common challenges that emerge from project development and implementation. Seeks ways to improve the quality of projects and other general insights out of the Forum;  
  • Collaborates with CWP’s Director of Convenings and Scholarly Relations on identifying topics for convenings that would inform and strengthen the work of the CWP Projects Team, and in certain instances partner with the Director in developing meetings of academics and practitioners relevant to Forum topics or cross-cutting challenges.
  • Collaborates with and assists the Office of Alumni Development, philanthropies, foundations and other supporters of the University;
  • Additional duties as assigned.

Preferred and Required Qualifications

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree strongly preferred. 8-10 years of related experience required.

**Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume/CV.**

Preferred Qualifications

Masters or PhD degree strongly preferred.

Other Requirements

  • Keen interest in working in a university setting at the intersection of thinking and doing;
  • Strong writing, editing and oral communication skills;
  • Proficiency with academic-level research, review, analysis and documentation;
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects and work streams at once;
  • Experience working effectively in a multifaceted, diverse, team-oriented environment;
  • Creativity;
  • Empathy;
  • Demonstrated experience in coordinating events in diverse, complex environments;
  • Proven ability to manage complex deliverables and meet deadlines.
  • Ability to dive quickly into subject areas in which one has little prior knowledge or experience; and
  • Confidence to propose ideas and pivots as work unfolds and obstacles arise.

Equal Opportunity Employer / Disability / Veteran

Columbia University is committed to the hiring of qualified local residents.

Application Details

To apply for this position, please visit:

**Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume/CV.**



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Application Deadline

Until filled