CU Opens Internship Program in Thailand

In light of University President Lee Bollinger's stated goal of making Columbia a global university, the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons has introduced an internship program based in Bangkok, Thailand-the first in the school's history.

Two weeks ago, the Columbia Center for Bioethics-part of the College of Physicians and Surgeons-launched a Bioethical Cross-cultural Education Program. The program allows students from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia College, Barnard College, the School of General Studies, and the Mailman School of Public Health to study bioethics and East Asian studies at Bangkok's Mahidol University. For two weeks in August 2007, students will participate in lectures and attend on-site professional visits related to bioethics and medical ethics.

"Students participating in the program will be positioned to serve as global goodwill ambassadors," said John Loike, founder of BIOCEP and professor of bioethics at Columbia. "These programs underscore Columbia's leadership role as a global university and commitment to interscholastic educational exchange and collaboration with emerging Asian countries."

The program will focus on the ways different cultures, religions, and governments respond to medical ethics challenges, including emerging infections, the integration of Western and Eastern medicine, medical tourism, stem cell research, and reproductive medicine.

"BIOCEP offers every ethically concerned student a unique opportunity to be immersed in Eastern medical culture," said Kim Atiyeh, SEAS '08, who plans to apply to the program. "I anticipate the experience to be wholly transformational and particularly effective for the study of bioethics because it will incorporate both cultural studies and biological studies."

BIOCEP's organizers hope to expand the program to other countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, and India, as well as to focus on bringing foreign students and faculty to Columbia.

"We are beginning with Thailand because it is an emerging country that is engaged in resolving a wide variety of bioethical and medical ethical issues," Loike said.

Loike added that the Center for Bioethics looked to existing Columbia East Asian internships when planning the program, particularly the Summer Business Chinese Internship Program based at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The 10-week program-organized by faculty of the East Asian languages and cultures department-exposes advanced Chinese language students to the language, culture, and customs that drive the economic development of China.

After six weeks of intensive, personalized instruction in Chinese language classes, students attend a discussion series about working in China and intern in the Shanghai offices of local or multinational companies.

"Being in China, working for a company, and learning the language and culture from within the Chinese business arena was such a well-rounded experience," said Ledger West, CC '06, who participated in the program.

Columbia undergraduates have been offered courses in Asian studies as part of their general education in the liberal arts and sciences for more than 50 years. Today, more than 20 percent of students at Columbia College, Barnard College, and the School of General Studies take at least one course about East Asia.

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