By IssamBarhoumi - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Synagogue de la Ghriba Djerba

Global Scholars Program in Tunis and Paris: Islam and the Modern World

Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer

Supplement and extend the ideas discussed in the Core Curriculum by reading texts from North African and Muslim thinkers, and by completing an independent research project in the field

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The Global Scholars Program (GSP) is an innovative study abroad program, offering undergraduates a unique hands-on international research experience in topics of transnational importance, using social science, humanities, and scientific frameworks. Global topics are explored in more than one location, giving students first-hand opportunities to understand and compare how local communities approach these issues.

Program Overview

The Global Scholars Program in Tunis and Paris: Islam and the Modern World program will survey historical texts that emerge in and around Europe’s engagement with Muslim societies and the creation of a “modern world.” It will explore key issues surrounding the history of the Enlightenment, the rise of historicism and the growing interest in universal histories through the engagement with Arabic texts and North African histories from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century.

All interested GSP students must enroll in an accompanying course held on Columbia's campus. The course is designed to expand the intellectual worlds students are generally exposed to in Contemporary Civilizations and similar “Big Books” courses by having them engage with primary texts from Muslim intellectuals--- primarily from North Africa. The course is also designed to expand the material worlds of students by taking them to do field research in Paris and Tunis, where they will meet their own peers; intellectuals and teachers; and conduct guided work in archives and repositories.

This three-week field research and study abroad experience will allow students to put into practice the analytical and research skills they gained in the spring in order to finalize their fuller research project that they will continue to work on during and after their visits to Paris and Tunis.

Visits will be made to libraries, archives, museum collections, and literary societies in both cities as well as time set aside to work alongside local academics, social workers, creative and visual artists through classroom and site visits.

NOTE: Please continue to check back here for more information about the syllabus and itinerary.

Eligibility and Application

  • Open to undergraduates from Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of General Studies, and Barnard College in good academic standing.
  • Must have completed Contemporary Civilization or the Barnard equivalent
  • Must plan to enroll in and successfully complete the accompanying Columbia course to be announced in late Spring
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.


Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application" button at the top of this page. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s)

Grades and Transcripts

Grading Policy

Click here for the Columbia summer program grading policies.


Upon successful completion of the program, grades are entered into Columbia's online grading system and students can request a Columbia University transcript. Non-Columbia students (including Barnard) can request electronic transcripts online through the Columbia University registrar.

No credit is granted to students who do not complete the full program.

Financial Considerations


Program fees will be posted in late October/early November. Please check back here frequently for updated information.

Tuition and fees are subject to Board of Trustees approval and may change.


If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to studying abroad. In general summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students should check with their home schools for funding availability.

Scholarships will be made available for all students in need on the GSP through generous funding provided by the Office of the Provost. Please check back here for more information in the coming weeks!

For more general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:


If you decide to withdraw from the program once it has already started, please be aware of the financial consequences and the office policies by clicking here.


Marwa Elshakry is an Associate Professor in the History Department who teaches on the history of science, modern intellectual history, Arabic and Islamic Studies, translation and reading studies and international and global history. She has taught previously in the History of Science Department at Harvard, and since joining the faculty in the History Department at Columbia in 2009 has regularly taught Contemporary Civilizations and a host of other courses on the modern Middle East, modern Arabic intellectual history as well as offered a broad-range of seminars, including on “The Archives of Colonialism,” “Utopia: The History of an Idea” and “The Passions: An Introduction to the History of Emotions.” She is the author of Reading Dawin in Arabic, 1860-1950 (University of Chicago Press, 2013), which received the 2014 Morris D Forkosch Prize of the Journal of the History of Ideas for the best first book in intellectual history, and Science, Race and Imperialism, co-edited with Sujit Sivasundaram (Victorian Science and Literature Series, vol. 6 : Pickering and Chatto, June 2012). She has also written a series of articles, book chapters and edited a number of journal for a, including “History’s Golden Ages: Universal Histories of Science, the Arabs and Islam,” in Power and Time, ed. Stefanos Geroulanos, Daniel Edelstein and Natasha Wheatley (University of Chicago Press, 2017, forthcoming); “Historicizing Science and the Modern State,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 47:3, August 2015, 555-558 (Introduction and forum organizer); “Knowledge in Motion: The Cultural Politics of Modern Science Translations in Arabic,” Isis, 99:4, December 2008, 701-731; and “The Gospel of Science and American Evangelism in Late Ottoman Beirut,” Past and Present, 196:1, August 2007, 173-214. Her current research project and manuscript is on Universal Histories of Islam and the History of Science, which looks at the intersections between universal histories, orientalism and the history of science from the 18th to 20th centuries.

Manan Ahmed is an Associate Professfor for Islam in South Asia in the History Department. His research focuses on medieval and early modern intellectual history, South Asia, and philosophy of history. He is the author of A Book of Conquest: Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia (Harvard University Press, 2016). He teaches regularly in Contemporary Civilizations, as well as undergraduate and graduate courses in South Asia, Intellectual History and Borderlands. Ahmed has previously conducted study abroad at institutes in Cairo, Delhi and Mexico City.

Resources for Accepted Students

Fact Sheet

Arts and Architecture, Humanities, Social Sciences
Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies
Language of Instruction:

Dates & Deadlines