EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

2020 US ELECTION SERIES

In the days and weeks following Election Day 2020, SIPA hosted a number of panel discussions, roundtables, and other events that convened its own faculty, distinguished outside experts, students, and alumni to reflect on the recent US election and its impact on varied areas, including domestic and foreign policy, campaigning and organizing, managing presidential transitions, and race and inequality.

GREEN RECOVERY FROM COVID-19: PERSPECTIVES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE

As part of Climate Week NYC’s roster of awareness-raising events, Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a candid and far-reaching discussion on a green recovery from COVID-19 with global leaders on September 22. The panel — which included Mauricio Cárdenas, Mayor Eric Garcetti MIA ’95 of Los Angeles, Jason Bordoff, and Dean Merit E. Janow — explored various governments’ approaches to creating jobs and cutting emissions through elements such as clean energy transition funds, carbon taxes, and green infrastructure.

APSIA DEAN’S MEETING

In January Dean Merit E. Janow hosted the annual Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs’ Deans Meeting with special guest Jacob J. Lew, SIPA visiting professor and former secretary of the Treasury. Created in 1989, APSIA brings together the leading graduate schools specializing in international affairs.

MAKING MONEY MORAL: HOW A NEW WAVE OF VISIONARIES IS LINKING PURPOSE AND PROFIT

On February 10 Judith Rodin, philanthropist and former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, joined SIPA to discuss how private capital can better link purpose and profit. She was joined in discussion by Dean Merit E. Janow and Keiko Honda, an adjunct professor and senior research scholar at SIPA who focuses on environmental, social, and corporate governance, known collectively as ESG.

A CONVERSATION WITH BILL GATES: HOW TO AVOID A CLIMATE DISASTER

Bill Gates (pictured above with Sarah Braverman MPA-ESP ’21), cofounder of Microsoft, spoke about his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster at a February 23 event sponsored by the Center on Global Energy Policy.

THE FUTURE OF DIPLOMACY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

Speaking on March 24, Ambassador Christopher Hill highlighted the greatest foreign policy challenges facing the United States and explored how diplomacy could be successful in navigating relationships with different nations in the semiannual lecture named in honor of George W. Ball.

A DISCUSSION ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: THE WILLIAM S. BEINECKE LECTURE FEATURING LETITIA JAMES

Letitia James (pictured above), attorney general of New York, reflected on the nationwide reckoning surrounding criminal justice reform in the inaugural William S. Beinecke Lecture on March 29

FIRESIDE CHAT WITH BRAD SMITH, PRESIDENT OF MICROSOFT

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, spoke about his new book, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, as part of SIPA’s annual Niejelow Rodin Global Digital Futures Policy Forum on March 31.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES: THE FIRST 100 DAYS OF THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION

On April 10 Dean Merit E. Janow moderated a dynamic conversation with a distinguished panel of SIPA alumniErin Banco MPA ’15, health care reporter for POLITICO; Frederick Kempe IF ’72, ’72JRN, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council; and John Neuffer MIA ’86, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) — on the domestic, international, and political impact of the new US administration and the public policy challenges and opportunities ahead.

VIRTUAL GRADUATION CEREMONY

On April 28 and 29 SIPA honored the 636 new graduates in its Class of 2021, who represent more than 70 countries around the world. The online festivities featured remarks from distinguished guests Madeleine Albright and Eric Holder.

TSINGHUA PBCSF ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE FORUM

On May 22 Tsinghua University PBC School of Finance and SIPA cohosted the Tsinghua PBCSF Annual Conference of Global Economic Governance Forum 2021. SIPA faculty Dean Merit E. Janow, Patricia C. Mosser, Arvind Panagariya, and Jan Svejnar participated, along with Columbia Business School’s Glenn Hubbard and Eli Noam and the Columbia Data Science Institute’s Jeannette M. Wing.

 

CENTERS AND INSTITUTES

CENTER FOR DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS AND POLICY (CDEP)

Founded: 2013
Codirectors: Eric Verhoogen and Cristian “Kiki” Pop-Eleches

In 2020–21 CDEP published 10 working papers from affiliated scholars, hosted 24 academic seminars and 26 graduate student workshops, and provided partial funding for three dissertation projects.

CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS AND POLICY (CEEP)

Founded: 2019
Codirectors: Douglas Almond and Wolfram Schlenker 

CEEP has 17 faculty affiliates across the University and since its launch in fall 2019 has generated 18 new working papers, many of which received substantial coverage in the national press. CEEP oversees a weekly seminar series of external speakers and during 2020–21 added a joint monthly seminar co-organized with environmental economics faculty from MIT, Stanford, and Cornell. In 2020–21 CEEP also began planning its second major conference and secured an agreement from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to co-organize this seminar in March 2022. CEEP awarded three PhD in Sustainable Development candidates grants to support their pre-dissertation or dissertation research on ecosystem services, climate change, health effects of pollution, or environmental policy design.

CENTER ON GLOBAL ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE (CGEG)

Founded: 2012
Director: Jan Svejnar

In 2020–21 CGEG faculty associates and scholars published 42 research papers, 46 working papers and reports, 14 book chapters and books, and 95 articles and op-eds. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the center shifted to virtual events, holding 20 online research symposia and conferences, with 133 guest speakers, including academics, policymakers, and business and government leaders; 52 Columbia faculty speakers; and 1,880 attendees.

CGEG was able to continue its annual lecture and seminar series, including The Changing Role of the State, in partnership with Columbia Global Centers | Rio de Janeiro; The World Economy: Views of Chief Economists, which featured renowned economists from the private and public sectors to discuss global economic challenges and opportunities; and the annual Ambassador Donald and Vera Blinken Lecture on Global Governance.

The BRICLab visiting scholar program, an initiative that hosts Brazilian journalists focusing on topics related to politics, the economy, foreign relations, corruption, and governance at Columbia each spring, and other in-person programming, was interrupted by the pandemic, but CGEG looks forward to continuing these programs in the current academic year.

CENTER ON GLOBAL ENERGY POLICY (CGEP)

Founded: 2013 
Founding director: Jason Bordoff

In 2020–21 CGEP published 50 reports, commentaries, op-eds, and articles in scientific and academic journals. There were more than 1,200 news articles quoting scholars from the center. To further the policy work of the center, our scholars engaged with members of Congress and their staff along with other government officials more than 30 times.

The center produced 50 episodes of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, which features in-depth conversations with the world’s top energy and climate leaders from government, business, academia, and civil society. CGEP also launched a new podcast, The Big Switch, which through narrative-based storytelling gives listeners an understanding of what it will take to transform energy systems and make them sustainable. Podcast downloads reached nearly half a million in total.

CGEP continued to thrive in a virtual environment, hosting more than 95 events which drew a diverse global audience that included policymakers, journalists, business and civil society leaders, students, and the general public. This year CEGP’s annual Columbia Global Energy Summit also went virtual. It featured energy experts from around the world who spoke at multiple sessions over three days, focusing on understanding trends shaping our current energy system and what’s ahead for energy policy, energy markets, geopolitics, technology, and efforts to reduce emissions and address climate change. The reach of these events is enhanced by our investment in a full range of digital channels, including a secure and interactive online meeting platform, livestreaming capacity, online video recordings and podcasts, and social media campaigns.

DEEPAK AND NEERA RAJ CENTER ON INDIAN ECONOMIC POLICIES

Founded: 2015
Director: Arvind Panagariya

In 2020–21 the Raj Center hosted virtual events that featured guest speakers like N. K. Singh, chairman of the Fifteenth Finance Commission of India. These events were attended by viewers from around the world.

Center director Arvind Panagariya continues to conduct research and publish articles in the Times of India on pertinent issues and is looking forward to publishing a new book in the upcoming year.

SALTZMAN INSTITUTE OF WAR AND PEACE STUDIES (SIWPS)

Founded: 1951
Director: Keren Yarhi-Milo

In 2020–21 SIWPS members published five books, two research papers, 15 journal articles, and 45 op-eds. Due to the pandemic, institute members used Zoom to deliver lectures and performed their scholarly research from remote locations. The institute hosted 30 public and 9 private events, welcoming over 2,000 attendees.

 

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

Building on previous efforts, and in coordination with the SIPA Diversity Committee, students, faculty, and staff, Dean Merit E. Janow announced a set of new DEI efforts in July 2020, including a Schoolwide self-assessment, new programming and conversations, new courses and Capstone workshops, student programming and support, and new faculty hiring.

Here are some of the concrete steps taken over the past year.

FACULTY AND COURSES

SIPA added five new part-time faculty teaching new courses in the spring semester on issues related to race, policy, inequality, and social justice, including Rethinking Policing in the 21st Century, co-taught by New York attorney general Letitia James, the William S. Beinecke Visiting Professor, and political strategist and policy adviser Basil Smikle Jr. MPA ’96. The Harlem Community Engagement Practicum, taught by Barbara Askins, president and CEO of the 125th Street Business Improvement District, explored the Harlem community by immersing students in conversation with community members who represent diverse organizations and interests.

CAPSTONE PROJECTS

SIPA’s Capstone program was bolstered by five new offerings focused on race and social justice, including several that partnered directly with the Harlem and broader NYC communities. The new Capstone workshops foster collaborations with clients like the Harlem Children’s Zone (From Cradle to College — Measuring Success and Program Development) and the Center for Popular Democracy (Healthcare Is a Human Right — Barriers to Access with a Race and Gender Lens), among others.

DEI STEERING COMMITTEE

In November SIPA established a DEI Steering Committee, cochaired by professors Eugenia “Jenny” McGill and Suresh Naidu, comprising students, faculty, and staff to help guide its DEI initiative. The committee reviewed past and ongoing efforts to promote DEI at SIPA, identified areas for improvement, and developed a set of concrete recommendations. To support its work, the committee engaged an independent DEI consultancy to assist with a comprehensive Schoolwide assessment that engaged more than 1,000 SIPA students, faculty, staff, and alumni through surveys, focus groups, and interviews. In July the DEI Steering Committee provided its initial findings and recommendations, drawing on the consultant’s report to recommend a multidimensional strategy over the short and longer terms to advance SIPA’s long-standing goal to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive. 

 

INITIATIVES

CENTRAL BANKING AND FINANCIAL POLICY INITIATIVE

Central Banking in the COVID-19 Era, a webinar series sponsored by the Central Banking and Financial Policy initiative, brought together current and former policymakers from central banks and regulators, as well as SIPA faculty and other scholars, to discuss the extraordinary economic policy responses by central banks, financial regulators, and other financial policymakers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initiative director Patricia C. Mosser’s article “Central Bank Responses to COVID-19” was published in Business Economics in November 2020.

The fifth annual Conference on Bank Regulation, cosponsored by the Bank Policy Institute, took place over the four Fridays in February 2021. This year’s overarching theme was lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis for banking and financial markets under stress.

DEAN’S PUBLIC POLICY CHALLENGE GRANT 

The winning teams in this year’s Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant competition were awarded a total of $25,000 in prize money to support the implementation of their projects. The first-place team, EZ Health, received $20,000, and the runner-up, Tech2Protect, received $5,000. 

At the onset of COVID-19, telemedicine claims increased by 8,336 percent nationally, yet the vast majority of health-care platforms were only providing services in English. EZ Health Amanda Papir MPA ’21, Nami Patel MPA ’21, Sebastian Rositano MIA ’21, Etizaz Shah MIA ’21, and Lifeng Zhang MPA ’21—is addressing this emerging communications and health-access gap by developing a technology that directly connects patients with health-care providers (doctors, psychologists, and others) who speak the same language or share similar ethnic backgrounds. 

Tech2ProtectJulia Vieira de Andrade Dias MPA ’21, Madeleine Dejean MPA-DP ’21, Minji Ko MPA-DP ’21, Saiful Salihudin MIA ’21, and Marjorie Tolsdorf MPA-DP ’21—plans to develop a technological tool, Athena, that would empower educators to monitor and respond to child sexual abuse. The platform would provide learning tools for children, intervention resources for teachers, and data for policy advocates to share best practices on abuse prevention.

Since launching in spring 2014, the Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant has supported 328 students with $1,065,197 in total funding.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND POLICY INITIATIVE

Columbia SIPA’s Entrepreneurship and Policy initiative once again brought together world-renowned scholars, global and New York City entrepreneurs, and leaders from the public and private sectors to advance understanding of the conditions and means to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship. The initiative continued to focus on entrepreneurship that leverages digital technologies and implicates public policy globally. The initiative supported research and activities in three core areas: cities and innovation, digital innovation and entrepreneurial solutions, and emerging global digital policy.

On April 15 Dean Merit E. Janow invited current, prospective, and former SIPA students to engage in a discussion about data and development, titled “The Future of AI in the Brazilian Judicial System,” with Ronaldo Lemos, adjunct research scholar.

Lecturer Sarah Holloway continues to co-teach (with Adam Royalty, designer-in-residence at Columbia Entrepreneurship) the popular course Design for Social Innovation, a project-based course where students work in teams to solve real-world problems on behalf of social-sector clients including nonprofits, social enterprises, and government agencies. Students work as intrapreneurs on innovation projects on behalf of client organizations, looking at their client’s organizational or programmatic challenges through the lens of design thinking and human-centered design.

KENT GLOBAL LEADERSHIP PROGRAM ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION

In 2020–21 the Kent Global Leadership Program on Conflict Resolution built on the momentum of its December 2019 launch through the sponsorship of two inaugural Kent Fellows, as well as virtual events that included an October lecture by Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, a December kickoff event featuring discussion between some of the world’s foremost conflict practitioners, and, in March, the first annual lecture by the inaugural Kent Visiting Professor on Conflict Resolution, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former under-secretary general for peacekeeping operations at the United Nations. Guéhenno subsequently became the Kent Program director after the untimely passing of its founding director, Edward C. Luck.

These events culminated at the end of June with the program’s flagship event, the Executive Seminar on Conflict Resolution. The seminar engaged 26 diplomats from UN missions across the world in a week of discussions with expert panels and debriefing sessions on conflict issues relating to the intersection of business, government, and civil society. This inaugural seminar took advantage of the virtual format to draw a total of 377 audience members to the 10 seminar sessions, which ranged from case studies on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia — including a discussion with former Colombian president and Nobel laureate Juan Manuel Santos — to expert panels on geopolitics and impact investing.

TECH AND POLICY INITIATIVE

Senior research scholar Jason Healey published four major research pieces and five analytic pieces in different outlets, including the Texas National Security Review, Parameters (the US Army War College Quarterly), and Lawfare. He also participated in 21 external engagements, appearing in an HBO documentary on David E. Sanger’s book The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age, a War on the Rocks podcast on cyber escalation with Erica Borghard and Dmitri Alperovitch, and various panel discussions and keynotes at academic, military, and governmental institutions.

SIPA’s New York Cyber Task Force, led by Gregory Rattray, adjunct senior research scholar, released its full report on operational collaboration in February. The findings of the report, which focused on creating crisis contingencies and devising a cyber response network, were mentioned in Security magazine, Cyberscoop, and Dark Reading. Throughout the year Rattray and other task force members held events with the Council on Foreign Relations, Atlantic Council, and R Street Institute, and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Rattray also leads the Global Cyber Dialogues, currently conducted with Japan’s Keio University. This dialogue has resulted in seven events that delve into the cyber and digital challenges affecting the US-Japan bilateral.

This year’s Niejelow Rodin Global Digital Futures Policy Forum featured multiple panels spread over the semester to discuss thematic topics around “Saving Cyberspace.” The forum featured a fireside chat with Brad Smith, president of Microsoft and coauthor of Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, as well as the launch of the New York Cyber Task Force report. The events brought together a total of 170 attendees, including students, faculty, cyber professionals, and journalists.

Tech and Policy’s main student organization, the Digital and Cyber Group (DCG), hosted or collaborated on a range of events for students, including the fifth annual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, which was held virtually, in addition to hosting a number of speakers, such as Nicole Perlroth, a cybersecurity journalist for the New York Times.