Read more about courses that were developed by RCSS scholars and advisory board members.

[Ongoing Project] ‘Glass Half Full or Empty’: Illuminating the Human Transcriptome

A great breadth of academic courses are driven by a hermeneutical question. Cellular biology is no different. We can imagine this field as a tale of many cities. Each avenue and street holds thousands of buildings, all of which hold thousands of more workers, which all produce some quantifiable product. Picture our avenues and streets as dense collections of DNA, workers (us!) as messenger RNA, and our products as protein, and voila, we have a rough idea of how cells work!

[Ongoing Project] At Your Service

The At Your Service Volunteer Program connects Columbia and Barnard students to the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center through a unique volunteer experience: volunteers are expected to both assist staff as necessary and spend one-on-one time as companions to long-term care residents. At Your Service hosts biweekly reflection sessions to share volunteer experiences, article discussions, educational presentations, and talks by guest speakers discussing relevant topics with regards to palliative care, healthcare demographics, communication, grieving, and more.

[Ongoing Project] Intergenerational Narrative Medicine Workshop

Stories comprise the substance of our lives, imparting meaning and enabling connection. Narrative Medicine holds that by engaging with and reflecting on our stories, creating a space in which new connections and relationships become possible – with ourselves and with others. Despite aging being a natural part of life and a part of more people’s lives, age segregation, ageism, and urbanization has increasingly led to tension and distance between generations.

[Ongoing Project] The Hispanic Youth Health Advocacy Program

The HYHAP aims to target health disparities that exist in the Hispanic and non-native English speaking communities of New York City. Through partnerships with local Hispanic organizations, the HYHAP aims to provide educational workshops fully in Spanish to children who are learning English as a second language. These workshops focus on educating children about their own health, and try to foment healthy daily habits by communicating them in the children's native language.

Current project lead: Hector Himede CC'26

[Past Project] Agora Project

As a result of the COVID pandemic of 2020 we’re to interact with the world at a minimum distance of 6 feet. We’re increasingly visual in communication and physically distant for many months now. 

Additionally, many cultural centers globally are shut down and most of their content is shown on social media platforms. The Agora Project is a survey that investigates to what extent students miss the experience of being in a gallery space together, as well as their skills in visual analysis and literacy. 

[Past Project] Charles Borrok Lunches

Thanks to an ongoing gift from Advisory Board member Charles Borrok, RCSS scholars have been able to organize a series of weekly lunches around a table for ten people at Faculty House.  Each lunch falls on a different day of the week. 

The Fall semester lunches will meet on the following days:

[Past Project] College Board Merit Prize

The College Board Merit Prize is a scholarship award in the TASC program. It is awarded to a student from Level E who (1) meets the qualifications listed in the prize description and (2) exhibits excellent potential to become a successful college student based on stated criteria. The awardee with demonstrate their interest and eligibility during the term and based on the listed criteria, a small committee of TASC Faculty and Staff will choose the winner. The award will be a $1,000 cash prize for books and academic support materials to help ensure success in the first year at college.

[Past Project] Constellations in the Sky

The field of ethnoastronomy is about uncovering the lost knowledge that ancient peoples had about the skies around them. Both the Inca and the Aztecs interpreted the world around them through the lens of religion. As anthropologists have discovered through fieldwork and primary sources, the knowledge these peoples acquired from their observations and calculations informed not only their agrarian lifestyles, it contributed to the growth of their respective civilizations as well.

[Past Project] Interdependence of Care: Centering Haudenosaunee Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

Indigenous nations and peoples face unique challenges in regard to healthcare, policy, and accessibility of care. This has only been made more apparent by the global COVID-19 pandemic in which the inspiring responses of indigenous people across the country further revealed a great disparity in access and organization between Indigenous Nations and their neighbors. With the help of the Columbia Research Center for Science and Subjectivity (RCSS) and the Columbia Medical School, under the supervision of Dr.

[Past Project] Intergenerational Housing Project

This project seeks to create an opportunity for Columbia University undergraduates to live alongside the elderly residents of a nursing home. By creating a long term care facility in Manhattanville or by partnering with a pre-existing facility, members of the RCSS are proposing that Columbia University plan to select approximately 10 juniors to take up residence in the facility each academic year. This arrangement would benefit both young and old participants by creating a unique community rooted in an appreciation for the value of intergenerational companionship.

[Past Project] Modern Genetics: Science, History, Ethics

Through a collaboration between the RCSS and the Double Discovery Center (DDC), this discussion-focused course will be taught to underserved high schoolers in the NYC area. Through open dialogues on historical precedents and contemporary ethical dilemmas, the goal of this project is to foster an environment of critical thinking and self-reflection that will help youth navigate the dynamic, ever-shifting landscape of modern genetics.

[Past Project] Music Therapy

The music therapy project at Terence Cardinal Cooke Center consists of a series of presentations of different genres of music. Bringing undergraduate musicians from the Columbia and Barnard music departments, these performances combine live music demonstrations and discussions of important works of music throughout history, and are modified to fit the needs of different audiences.

[Past Project] Perceived Health Outcomes of Therapeutic Recreation for Huntington’s Disease Patients at Terence Cardinal Cooke: Uncovering Practices of Narrative Medicine

The focus of this project is the Huntington’s Disease Unit (HDU) at Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center (TCC) and the practices of recreational therapies offered for residents. This project seeks to study the nature and efficacy of recreational therapy through analyzing the subjective experience (or narratives) of HDU residents, their family members/loved ones, and TCC staff working on the unit. This project attempts to map out, or more fully explain, the richness and complexity of the HD patient’s experience.

[Past Project] Practice Seminar Program

At Columbia, our Core Curriculum is composed almost entirely of seminar classes. A large part of success in these classes depends on one’s participation. However, many students come from backgrounds with varying levels of experience in discussion-based classes; for example, international students, as well as students from low income backgrounds, may not have experienced Harkness style learning or seminar style classes before coming to Columbia. As a result, there is a marked imbalance in the comfort levels of students in these spaces.

[Past Project] Reflections on the COVID-19 Pandemic

This project seeks to establish a virtual discussion and reflection series for students from all schools of Columbia University with the goal of building community and empowering students to develop their voices and appreciate others’, starting by discussing their subjective personal experiences due to the pandemic in small groups.


[Past Project] Rhetoric of Science

This new undergraduate seminar about the Rhetoric of Science seeks to use rhetoric both ancient and modern to empower young scientists to think creatively about their own research. The course proposal has been submitted by Professor Lisa Dolling and has recently been approved. The course will be highly recommended to all RCSS scholars with the goal of becoming part of the new Science and Society major at Columbia.

[Past Project] Student-Run Art Therapy Program (START)

The art therapy project at Terence Cardinal Cooke Center seeks to bring undergraduates from Columbia and Barnard into the discrete HIV psychiatric unit at TCC, where they can lead and participate in art activities, inspired by the history of art. The purpose of this program is to bring the pleasure of art-making and admiring to the residents in the locked psychiatric unit, to promote mental and spiritual healing through art, as well as to expose undergraduates to the intersection of institutionalization and human rights in modern American society.

[Past Project] Sunday Dinner Series: Race and Medicine

There is a strong intersection between race and science, particularly in the US, yet it is rarely acknowledged. This intersection, however, carries great implications. People of color and underserved populations receive a lower quality of care in healthcare settings and have historically been taken advantage of.

[Past Project] TCC Ballet Showcase

Performance art, particularly live dance, is an underutilized form of recreational therapy, mostly because of the difficulty of getting special flooring and getting many talented dancers to make room in their schedules for another show. However, when it is possible to bring dance to a nursing home, the magic of the performance can be so uplifting, something that I could see in the residents’ smiles, applause, and sweet comments.

[Past Project] The Tricentennial Project

The Tricentennial Project is a new undergraduate student group that will discuss, brainstorm, and collaborate with faculty to expand the university’s vision of climate action. The group will focus on the priorities of young people from diverse academic and life backgrounds–including, but not limited to, people with previous climate action experience. The project seeks to include voices from all corners of the university to create truly representative discussion, and to be student-run and student-sustained.

[Past Project] Voices of TCC

The “Voices of TCC” initiative aims to encourage TCC residents to participate in their community by sharing their stories and creativity. Resident artwork and writing will be compiled into a booklet and distributed among residents. The hope is that by reading, seeing, and hearing one another’s creative work, residents can connect with one another and build community.

[Past Project] Advanced Directives Review

The advanced care directives review project was inspired by the complicated issues that often arise in the process of putting together patients’ advanced care plans in the nursing home setting. The project has two parts: the first is an inventory of patients’ advanced care plans, and the frequency with which these plans are updated, especially when serious changes to a patient’s health or diagnosis occur. The second is an assessment of whether these ACPs align with the principles of Goal-Concordant Care. The project is being undertaken at Mary Manning Walsh nursing home.