SIPA offers four academically rigorous degree programs — Master of International Affairs, Master of Public Administration, Executive Master of Public Administration and Doctor of Philosophy in Sustainable Development that prepare students for professional success in many diverse fields.
MASTER OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (MIA)
The MIA program prepares students to address major international issues as experts and leaders in governments and organizations around the world. The program’s core curriculum includes the choice of more than 65 courses in international politics and political economy.
In January, Professor Daniel Naujoks led SIPA’s inaugural global immersion course. Based at the Columbia Global Center in Istanbul, 20 students focused on issues related to Syrian refugees. The first course in the enhanced MIA curriculum, Beyond the ‘Refugee Crisis’: Refugees in Turkey and Global Public Policy offers a deep immersion into the processes, challenges, and impacts of designing public policies for Syrian refugees and their host communities.
MASTER OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (MPA)
The MPA program emphasizes a comparative approach to domestic politics and institutions that prepares students to address major national policy issues and manage organizations in the US and other countries around the world.
SIPA’s MPA degree program was reaccredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation, effective September 1, 2020. NASPAA is the recognized global accreditor of master’s degree programs in public administration, public policy, public affairs, nonprofit, and related fields. All of SIPA’s master’s degree programs have been reaccredited by NASPAA. The program’s next accreditation review will be in 2026–27.
MPA IN DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE (MPA-DP)
program trains current and aspiring development practitioners to design, implement, and manage results-oriented, integrated approaches to sustainable development.
During summer 2020, 48 MPA-DP students completed professional summer placements remotely with 37 organizations, spanning grassroots organizations, research centers, multilateral institutions, corporations, and development consulting firms.
MPA IN ECONOMIC POLICY MANAGEMENT (MPA-EPM)
The MPA-EPM program
provides midcareer policymakers and professionals with the skills to design and implement economic policy in market economies, with a strong emphasis on the economic problems of developing countries.
As a midcareer program focused heavily on international students, the MPA-EPM program was disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our international students faced closed consulates and international airports, and a large number of students deferred admission to 2021. In an effort to avoid the worst of the crisis, the class’s start date was postponed to September 2020; the MPA-EPM Class of 2021 will finish the program in August 2021.
Fall 2020’s incoming class of 11 new students should be applauded for their resiliency and determination in continuing their education during these difficult times. The cohort included two Americans, two Colombians, two Peruvians, and one student each from Argentina, India, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. They are central bankers, regulators, ministry of finance officials, and other professionals.
MPA IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND POLICY (MPA-ESP)
The MPA-ESP program prepares graduates to address the most serious and complex environmental problems the earth will face. The program integrates science with environmental policy and management, providing students with the practical knowledge and training to become leaders in this rapidly growing area. Courses are taught by the world’s foremost sustainability academics and researchers, along with leading sustainability practitioners in New York City.
Graduates hold key positions in organizations worldwide in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The program’s fall 2020 entering class is 14 percent international, hailing from China, India, and Nigeria, among other countries.
PHD IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The PhD in Sustainable Development prepares graduates to conduct rigorous multidisciplinary research — combining the social sciences and natural sciences — on the most challenging issues in sustainable development.
Two of the three 2020 Sustainable Development graduates are appointed as postdocs at NYU and UC Santa Barbara and will begin tenure-track jobs in economics departments in Europe in 2021. The third graduate has taken a research position at UC Santa Barbara.
The EMPA degree positions midcareer professionals to advance their careers in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors through part-time study.
In 2020, the EMPA program welcomed 75 new students and expanded its academic offerings to meet increased student demand. Curricular highlights include a revamped curriculum with five total concentrations in International Economic Policy, Management and Innovation, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, Global Policy Studies, and Urban and Social Policy.
An Executive Diversity Committee was formed to strategize on and implement major anti-racist, mission-driven changes to student life, academics, and student and faculty recruitment.
The Picker Center for Executive Education offers a part-time Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) as well as nondegree customized and open-enrollment executive education programs for midcareer professionals from around the globe.
The center celebrated 10 years of successful partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, offering the Macro-Financial Policymaking in Emerging Markets program. To date, this one-week program has trained more than 300 participants from more than 35 countries.
In September 2019, the first open-enrollment program on Leading with Impact was offered, followed by a second open-enrollment program designed for women interested in running for public office, Pathways to Politics. Both programs were well attended.
In addition to fulfilling all core requirements, MIA and MPA students must also satisfy the requirements of one policy concentration.
ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT (EPD)
Since 1987–88, the Workshop in Development Practice has conducted more than 430 projects with over 2,600 students engaged in cutting-edge work with more than 200 clients in over 90 countries.
In 2019–20, 110 students worked in teams with faculty advisers on 17 projects involving field travel to 11 countries (before the COVID-19 pandemic forced all student travel to be cancelled in March 2020). Several of the EPD workshop projects in 2019–20 focused on innovative solutions to development challenges.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT (EE)
The EE practicum funded three teams, resulting in a report outlining a strategic plan for implementing taxi electrification in NYC, a cost-benefit analysis of three potential applications for vehicle-grid integration as an energy storage option, and a research project assessing whether the PAYGO solar model is a viable way to provide clean energy options in humanitarian settings, specifically focusing on the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Northern Uganda.
The EE concentration funded field trips to six sites, including the OGCI stakeholder events, visits to the UNEP and RMI offices, and a career trek to San Francisco. The EE concentration also hosted a number of online and in-person events, including a discussion with Kirsten Brosbol (Obama Foundation Scholar, member of the Parliament of Denmark, and former minister of environment), Robert Watson (founder of the LEED green building system), Maria S. Jelescu Dreyfus (CEO of Ardinall Investment Management), and Rebekah Moses (head of impact strategy at Impossible Foods).
The Annual Energy Symposium brought together over 350 attendees for six panels, two keynote speakers, a fireside chat, and 18 recruiting organizations for the career fair.
HUMAN RIGHTS & HUMANITARIAN POLICY (HRHP)
The HRHP concentration hosted its annual humanitarian conference, “Examining Varying States of Protracted Crises: Sudan and Venezuela,” in November 2019, welcoming speakers from several high-profile humanitarian organizations and UN agencies. The keynote speaker was Dr. Tom Catena, who was the 2019 recipient of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative prize.
The concentration also supported a discussion on “Innovation and Resiliency: Human Rights Organizations during the Pandemic” in April 2020, which featured speakers from Women Deliver, OUTRIGHT International, Amnesty International, and Memria.
The HRHP practicum welcomed professionals from the Center for Popular Democracy, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee, and Partners for Dignity and Rights to speak to students about current issues in the field.
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE AND ECONOMIC POLICY (IFEP)
Enrollment in the IFEP concentration has grown steadily and organically and is now the largest economics and finance concentration among SIPA’s peer schools.
The concentration requires a rigorous economics sequence and minimum grades to remain in the concentration. Depending on the track — International Finance, International Economic Policy, or International Central Banking — IFEP concentration requirements account for up to 21 of the 54 points needed to graduate SIPA.
More than 60 percent of the concentration’s adjunct faculty hold PhD degrees.
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY POLICY (ISP)
In September 2019, 24 students attended the annual ISP concentration retreat.
In November 2019, 31 SIPA students participated in the annual Cyber 9/12 competition. Eight student teams, each of which included at least one ISP concentrator, competed.
In February 2020, 28 students participated in the annual ISP Crisis Simulation.
In April 2020, 19 students participated in the first ISP virtual social. Later that month, 49 students participated in the virtual event “Captain Crozier’s Dismissal: COVID-19’s Impact on the US Military.”
URBAN AND SOCIAL POLICY (USP)
The USP concentration organized and cosponsored over 20 talks, panel discussions, and film screenings, many focusing on current urban issues and political and civic engagement, including the 2020 presidential election and the 2020 US Census. Speakers included NYC census director Julie Menin and Karine Jean-Pierre MPA ’03, who discussed her book Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America.
The concentration once again partnered with Columbia College for Voting Week, designed to promote civic engagement and community involvement among students. Concentration students staffed voter registration tables and assisted new voter registrations and absentee ballot requests. WhosOnTheBallot.org, a nonpartisan voter registration and engagement initiative managed by the USP concentration, was used by over 100,000 New Yorkers in the 2020 presidential primary election in June.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, concentration director Ester Fuchs and USP concentration students partnered with Columbia University Medical School and New York City–based community organizations on CovidWatcher, an online platform that uses surveys to collect data on the health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic from city residents. CovidWatcher is a research, advocacy, and policy tool that delivers data that cities can depend on to make critical decisions about the pandemic. SIPA professors Sarah Holloway and Robert Shapiro have joined the CovidWatcher project.
Capstone workshops are real-world consulting projects sponsored by external clients. Each workshop partners a team of about six graduate students with a faculty adviser, providing clients with innovative analysis and practical recommendations.
CAPSTONE WORKSHOPS (MIA/MPA) HIGHLIGHTS
The winners of SIPA’s Dr. Susan Aurelia Gitelson Award for Human Values in International Affairs — Samara Ahmed MIA ’20, Amna Akhtar MPA ’20, Amira Dhalla MPA ’20, Kaitlin Hansen MPA ’20, Cecilie Kern MIA ’20, and Jiajia “Jorja” Ma MPA ’20 — donated funding to COVID-19 relief for Myanmar refugees.
“Our Capstone team collaborated with Equality Myanmar (EQMM) to support their campaign around Myanmar’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), conducted under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, and develop supporting advocacy materials,” team member Dhalla wrote. “As a team, we understand the importance of civil-society organizations in mobilizing movements and the support they need to convene stakeholders, attend advocacy meetings, and access resources. An organization like EQMM often faces more difficulty than most in obtaining such support.”
“Bridging the Gap Between Women-Led SMEs and Impact Investors to Move the Needle in Gender Smart Investing in Latin America”
Client: Pro Mujer
Faculty adviser: Michelle Greene
On May 21, Daniella Gómez Bonilla MPA ’20, Shivika Chauhan MIA ’20, Alejandra Cordero MPA ’20, Andrea Greenstein MPA ’20, Amun Kamran MPA ’20, Erika Martinez-Fernandez MPA ’20, David Bassini Ortiz MPA ’20, and Hugo Spaulding MIA ’20 presented their research findings and recommendations on behalf of Women Forward International and Pro Mujer Mexico at the Aspen Institute México.
Working remotely from their homes in Bogotá, Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle and connecting multiple times weekly via Zoom, the team interviewed “nearly 50 investors, accelerators, entrepreneurs, and policy experts,” Greenstein said. They found that female entrepreneurs were often “persistent in finding alternative ways to sustain their businesses.”
In spring 2020, a SIPA Capstone team partnered with the Institute for Technology and Society (ITS) — a nonprofit research institute based in Rio de Janeiro — to design a collaborative governance structure to strategically integrate all AI initiatives in the Brazilian judiciary.
The team — Katie Brehm MIA ’20, Momori Hirabayashi MPA ’20, Clara Langevin MPA-DP ’20, Bernardo Rivera Muñozcano MPA ’20, Katsumi Sekizawa MPA ’20, and Jiayi Zhu MPA ’20 — interviewed a sample of experts in the field, conducted a literature overview of AI and electronic processing systems in the Brazilian judiciary, developed a comparative analysis on both national and international case studies, and, ultimately, compiled a list of strategies and recommendations for the Brazilian National Council of Justice.
“Pension System Greening — Measuring and Monitoring”
Client: World Bank Group, Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation
Faculty advisers: Cary Krosinsky and Thomas O. Murtha
The World Bank published the final report of its spring 2020 student consultants. The same team received the Leous/Parry Award for Progressive Sustainability, which recognizes the best student paper or project highlighting environmental issues, at SIPA’s most recent graduation ceremony.
The team — Pauline Deschryver MPA-DP ’20, Patrick Dougherty MPA ’20, Jumi Kim MPA ’20, Laura Kunstler-Brooks MIA ’20, Jiaru Qin MPA-DP ’20, Jing Wu MPA ’20, Shan Wu MPA ’20, and Bingjie Zhou MPA ’20 — examined the potential impacts of climate change on pension systems worldwide.
“Colombia and Peru: Securing Community Acceptance in Natural Resource Rich Areas”
Clients: Governments of Colombia and Peru
Faculty adviser: Jenik Radon
A student Capstone team — which included SIPA students Suhaim Al Thani MPA ’20, Fatema Alhashemi MPA-DP ’21, Hannah H. Braun MIA ’20, Catherina Gioino MPA ’20, Elizabeth Gonzalez MPA-EPM ’20, Nancy Talamantes MIA ’20, Johnny Xavier Wong Coronel MPA ’20, and Beibei Zou MIA ’20 — and their adviser, Jenik Radon, presented their Capstone report at a meeting of the National Agreement Forum of Peru. Shortly thereafter, Capstone client Luis Miguel Incháustegui Zevallos was elected Peru’s minister of mines and vowed that the students’ recommendations would be enacted to protect indigenous rights in extractive areas.
WORKSHOP IN DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE (EPD CONCENTRATION CAPSTONE WORKSHOPS) HIGHLIGHTS
“Devising a Scaling Strategy for UNDP’s 60 Accelerator Labs”
Client: United Nations Development Programme
Faculty adviser: John Lawrence
A team of SIPA Economic and Political Development (EPD) workshop students — Akshara Baru MPA ’20, Eva Hoermann MPA ’20, David Lönnberg MIA ’20, Mihret Moges MIA ’20, Alexandra de Sá Moreira Treat MPA ’21, Fares Taher MPA ’20, and Zixin “Yasmina” Yang MIA ’20 — shared in a blog post their journey collaborating with UNDP Accelerator Labs on scaling social innovation for development.
“Working in close collaboration with the 60 Labs on developing a hands-on strategy around scaling social innovation for development that works across different regional and SDG contexts,” the students wrote, “our team put together a comprehensive methodology that is both inclusive and rigorous, and provides the network with a robust evidence-based scaling framework with recommendations as well as practical tools.”
“Improving Farmer Selection for the Babban Gona Agricultural Franchise in Nigeria”
Client: Babban Gona Farmer Services
Faculty adviser: Ragini Dalal
The winner of the inaugural Isaac Anderson Rauch Award for Excellence in a Capstone Project
is the project for the Babban Gona Agricultural Franchise in Nigeria. Team members Simeon Abel MPA ’20, Walker Higgins MPA ’20, Qendresa Krasniqi MPA-DP ’20, Dohun Na MPA ’20, Aparna Priyadarshi MIA ’20, Urmi Ranchandani MPA ’20, and Pranav Singh MPA ’20 produced a Python-based machine-learning model to evaluate membership applicants, a step-by-step guide for Babban Gona to utilize the model, and data gathered from a comprehensive survey they designed.
The award was made possible by a generous donation by Lisa Anderson, former dean of SIPA, and Marc Rauch in memory of their son, Isaac Rauch MPA ’17. The winning team was selected on the basis of analytical rigor, quality of final deliverables, and the potential impact of the project.
A Sustainable Model for Career Centers to Improve Employment Options for Tunisian Youth
Client: Education for Employment (EFE) Tunisie
Faculty adviser: Lisa Anderson
An EPD workshop student team — Anuradha Agrawala MPA ’20, Fatène Ben-Hamza MPA ’20, Gabe Ghostine MIA ’20, Michelle Ellis MIA ’20, Paulo Speroni MPA ’20, and Priyanka Sethy MPA ’21 — supported by their faculty adviser, former dean Lisa Anderson, presented findings and recommendations of their study in a June webinar cohosted by Education for Employment Tunisie (EFE), the Columbia Global Center in Tunis, the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the Arab Institute of Business Leaders, and attended by over 150 participants. The study examined how the Tunisian government might strengthen its university career centers, linked to a large USAID-funded program to support youth education and employment in Tunisia. In the webinar, the minister of higher education and scientific research also announced the formation of a working group to take the recommendations on the university career centers forward.