Letter from Dean Merit E. Janow
The 2020–21 academic year was a unique period in SIPA’s history: a time when we continued to confront the inescapable reality of the COVID-19 pandemic but also seized the moment to come together in innovative ways to sustain our community and engage some of the greatest challenges of our time.
For the first time ever, SIPA offered our entire curriculum online — nearly 250 courses — enabling students from around the world to attend class virtually, and in the spring, many of them participated in person as well as through hybrid learning. In this new environment, students continued to receive world-class instruction and found new opportunities to develop skills, undertake engaging projects, and build their foundational knowledge.
Our robust curriculum grew even stronger with the addition of a dozen new courses and nearly 70 Capstone projects, providing students with public- and private-sector consulting opportunities with 71 clients. To meet the increasing demand for quantitative and analytic skills, we also expanded STEM eligibility for four degree programs and specializations. And to further our goal of making SIPA an even more diverse, equitable and inclusive school, we added new courses, Capstones, and programming on the intersection of race and public policy as part of our broader DEI initiative.
During this year, we expanded our faculty with the appointment of Jean-Marie Guéhenno as the Arnold A. Salzman Professor of Practice and as director of our Kent Global Leadership Program on Conflict Resolution. Among visiting faculty in 2020–21, we welcomed New York attorney general Letitia James as our inaugural William S. Beinecke Visiting Professor of Public Policy and Ambassador Christopher Hill as our George W. Ball Adjunct Professor.
While events were limited to virtual gatherings, we took full advantage of online platforms to convene leading experts from around the world for illuminating seminars and discussions. Events included a weekly seminar on global policymaking during COVID-19, new programming on central banking and the pandemic, a series on the 2020 elections, and our annual Niejelow Rodin Global Digital Futures Policy Forum, which featured a discussion with Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. SIPA’s research centers also convened a wide-ranging set of speakers and programs.
As always, SIPA alumni demonstrated leadership across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including as part of the new Biden-Harris administration, where several joined in key national security and other roles. Despite the challenges of the past year, our students, faculty, staff, and alumni once again displayed their creativity, resolve, and commitment to advancing solutions to global public policy problems, and SIPA — both as a leading academic institution and as a global community — emerged even stronger.
Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs