Mission Statement

At the Center for Jazz Studies, jazz becomes a music without borders that provides new models for innovative teaching and scholarly inquiry in the arts, humanities, and sciences. Our themes of internationalization, technology and community encourage excellence in research, in the teaching of music and culture, and in the presentation of public events. The Center views the interdisciplinary expansion of the intellectual conversation surrounding jazz, and especially its lifeblood practice, improvisation, as tracing a path toward the development of new knowledge that illuminates the human condition.

Since its founding in 1999, the Center for Jazz Studies has been integrated into Columbia’s renowned Core Curriculum, so that the College’s students gain exposure to the study of jazz. The Center’s faculty offer at least four major courses per year on jazz, attracting about 500 students, and support a jazz studies special concentration.

Generous support from the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation makes possible the Center’s Conversations and Performance Series, an initiative that aims to explore the role of improvisation in the widest array of fields and practices. The guiding premise of the series is that the study of improvisation can present not only a new animating paradigm for scholarly inquiry in the humanities, the arts, and the social, political, and even natural sciences, but also a set of trenchant models for political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action that can foster community building across national and cultural boundaries.

In addition to the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Center for Jazz Studies’ philanthropic supporters includes the Ford Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.