Mike Ford

PhD Candidate in Historical Musicology

Mike Ford is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. His research focuses on improvisation in non-musical settings such as corporate management and lean startups. By transposing understandings of musical improvisation from musicology and critical improvisation studies, his research provides insights into the day-to-day activities and thinking of business leaders and founders.

His dissertation, under the supervision of George E. Lewis, is provisionally entitled "An Agile Musicology: Improvisation in Corporate Management and Lean Startups."

Mike has presented papers at regional, national, and international conferences. His research has been published in European journal Musicologica Olomucensia and Afrikaans online journal LitNet Akademies: 'n Joernaal vir Geesteswetenskappe, and he is a contributing editor of the first volume of the Vladimir Drozdoff Publication Project. Before coming to Columbia, Mike completed an MA in Musicology at Rutgers University and a BMus in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Pretoria. In addition to various university scholarships and grants, his studies have also been supported generously by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.

Mike teaches Music Humanities in the Columbia Core Curriculum and fills positions in student government organizations including External Affairs Vice President of the Arts and Sciences Graduate Council and GSAS Humanities Senator in the University Senate. In 2018 and 2019, he also participated in Susan Boynton's FAB-Musiconis exchange, a digital humanities project, with students at Sorbonne University in Paris, helping to index a bilingual database of medieval music iconography.

Aside from his academic pursuits, he also participates in entrepreneurship programs and applies his knowledge of improvisation in the context of corporate change management. He co-founded a cybersecurity company, Predictive Cyber Protection, LLC, which is active in the defense and cyber insurance markets and is currently under contract with the US Air Force.

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Columbia Degrees: 
MA, Historical Musicology
MPhil, Historical Musicology
Degrees from Other Institutions: 
Performing Arts (Orchestral Conducting)
University of Pretoria
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey