Admissions Blog

GPPN Conference 2023 Experience in San Paolo, Brazil

By Davira Chairunnisa '24
Posted Dec 08 2023

Columbia SIPA is part of the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN), a partnership between renowned public affairs schools around the world. The school includes Columbia SIPA, London School of Economics and Political Science, Sciences Po, Hertie School, National University of Singapore, University of Tokyo, and Escola de Administração de Empresas​ de Sao Paulo.

Since its establishment, the GPPN has arranged several activities, including exchange and dual degree programs to give students access to a global network of the world's most prominent public affairs institutions. It also holds an annual international conference to bring together deans and students from member schools to discuss public policy concerns, known as the GPPN Conference, where SIPA students can participate and compete with students from other policy schools.

This year, GPPN invited students to work on an important policy challenge with the theme Policy challenges in an ever more divided world’. Amy Darajati Utomo (MPA-DP’24), together with her team, was one of SIPA’s representatives for the GPPN Conference 2023 in San Paolo, Brazil. Let's hear about Amy's experiences participating in the GPPN Conference and her recommendations for future participants.

What motivated you to participate in the GPPN Conference 2023?

I was motivated to participate in the GPPN Conference 2023 as I want to seize every opportunity and experience available during my time at SIPA! It was also a good opportunity to practice what I have learned in SIPA on how to make innovative policy solutions :)

Can you share the overall process of GPPN selection?

The GPPN selection process involved applying through a link provided by SIPA. My team’s project, YZdemos underwent a rigorous selection process by SIPA. In the initial selection, we were requested to answer several follow-up questions. A few days later, we received an email confirming that our project was chosen as one of the 3 SIPA representatives GPPN Conference in Brazil. I am forever thankful to Dean Tsuya Yee and Gabriela Barajas for their tireless work to make it all possible.

What is your proposed solution?

My team’s solution, YZdemos, is an online platform to engage Indonesian youths in government policies and initiatives while advocating for youth-friendly policies. The initial phase involved team formation and brainstorming sessions. I was fortunate to collaborate with like-minded individuals, Rahmat Hidaya Effendi and Yanti Silviana. We all hail from Indonesia, and our shared concerns about the upcoming election year steered us towards youth empowerment. Our strengths complemented each other and our ideas resonated well! Rahmat's creativity, Yanti's expertise in youth advocacy, and my passion for inclusivity, collectively shaped the project.

What were some challenges you faced during the competition?

One of the significant challenges I encountered during the competition was managing time, as the competition coincided with the SIPA exams. This was a hurdle not only during the initial phase, where I had to finalize the proposal immediately after my micro exam but also during the Conference itself, which fell during the Spring midterms. This constraint also limited my ability to explore Brazil.

What’s the highlight of the GPPN Conference 2023?

The highlight of the GPPN Conference 2023 was the opportunity to present our project to the Deans of eight of the most prestigious schools of public affairs and to network with students from across the globe. The conference was an enriching experience that reinforced my belief in the pivotal role that youths can play in addressing policy challenges. Additionally, interacting with other policy school students was an exciting experience. One friend I made at the conference was particularly impressed when I mentioned SIPA's Gender and Public Policy Specialization and our cool classes. Moreover, the experience was exceptional as it marked my first visit to Brazil, and indeed, to Latin America. Sao Paulo resonated with me instantly, exuding a vibe strikingly similar to Jakarta, which made me feel at home right from the start!


What would you do differently during the conference?

If I had the opportunity to revisit the conference, I would have planned my time more effectively to balance the demands of the competition and my exams, and perhaps, to explore Brazil more extensively.

Can you share any tips for students who want to participate in the future?

For students aspiring to participate in future GPPN Conferences, I would advise embracing every opportunity that comes your way. Forming a team with like-minded individuals can be advantageous, as you can leverage each other's strengths. Effective time management is also crucial, especially if the competition coincides with other significant academic commitments. Remember, participating in the conference is not solely about the competition; it's also a platform to network with students from around the world and to learn from their experiences.