Through the workshop, student teams add value to their clients’ current and future programs through focused desk reviews, field research and analysis, and practical recommendations. The workshop encourages multidisciplinary approaches to development challenges. Organized by SIPA’s Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentration, the workshop collaborates with other SIPA concentrations, and specializations including Gender and Public Policy; Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, International Conflict Resolution, International Finance and Economic Policy, International Organizations; Technology, Media, and Communications, and with other parts of the university including its regional institutes and the Earth Institute. The workshop also seeks opportunities to collaborate with universities and student researchers in the country where the client is located.
Workshop Clients and Projects
Workshop clients include national and local governments, NGOs, development agencies, corporations, research institutes and others. Past clients have found the workshop extremely valuable, and several have partnered with SIPA over a number of years. Previous workshop projects have included needs and sector assessments, program evaluations, strategies for expanding existing projects, development of mobile apps, dashboards, tools, case studies, mapping exercises, facilitation of workshops and conferences, and other activities.
The workshop process begins over the summer (June–August), when possible project ideas are discussed with clients. By September, preliminary terms of reference are developed. In late October, teams of students are matched with projects based on their language proficiency, skill sets and interests. Supported by a faculty advisor, each student team starts work by early November on a draft work plan. Depending on the needs of the project and available budget, students can travel to carry out field work over Columbia's winter and spring holidays (in early January and in mid-March).
Based on their desk and field research, each team prepares a report and recommendations (or other deliverables) for review by the client in April. The student teams present their final reports during a two-day workshop at SIPA at the end of April. For clients who cannot attend the workshop, other arrangements can be made to present the students’ findings and recommendations to the client and other stakeholders.
The only costs associated with the workshop are the costs of the students' field travel. SIPA provides a limited budget to cover some of these expenses, and clients are asked to share a portion of the costs.