Thomas J. Christensen

Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations

Appointment of Douglas Almond as Vice Dean - Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to share the news that Professor Douglas Almond will assume the role of Vice Dean for Academic Affairs for the 2022-23 academic year.  I am very grateful to Doug for taking on this important role.

As many of you know, Doug serves as Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs, jointly appointed at the Department of Economics and Columbia SIPA. He also serves as co-director of SIPA’s Energy and Environment concentration, and as co-director of the Center for Environmental Economics and Policy.

Doug’s primary research areas include health and applied micro-economics, with a particular interest in the environment and infant health. He has written extensively on the fetal origins hypothesis, showing that conditions during early childhood can have long-lingering effects, including environmental conditions. He has recently spearheaded innovative new studies examining compliance of Chinese firms with environmental regulations as well as China’s carbon trading program.

Among his activities outside of academia, Doug previously served as a staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton administration and studied the health effects of air pollution in China as a Fulbright scholar. He earned his BA in Economics from Carleton College, and his PhD in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

As we welcome Doug to this new role, I want to give special thanks to Professor Wolfram Schlenker for serving as Vice Dean during the 2021-22 academic year. Professor Schlenker will be on leave next year, and we look forward to welcoming him back to SIPA the following year.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations
Director, China and the World Program


Professor Emeritus Douglas Chalmers - Saturday, April 9, 2022

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,
It is with great sadness that I share the news that Douglas Chalmers, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and former Acting Dean of SIPA, passed away earlier this week after a long illness.
Professor Chalmers was a deeply respected, long-time member of the SIPA and Columbia University community. He served in numerous key faculty and administrative roles, including as a Professor of Political Science, Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies, and Chair of the Department of Political Science.  He also served as Acting Dean of SIPA from July 1996 to April 1997. 
As a scholar, Professor Chalmers was a foremost expert on Latin American governments and politics. He authored or co-edited numerous books and articles, including The New Politics of Inequality in Latin America (1997) and more recently, Reforming Democracies: Six Facts about Politics that Demand a New Agenda (2013).
After 38 years of teaching, Professor Chalmers retired in 2005, however, he continued to remain active at the University, serving as President of the Emeritus Professors in Columbia (EPIC), Executive Director of the Society of Senior Scholars, and Special Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Retirement.  He also continued to teach a class in the Core Curriculum at Columbia College until Spring 2019.  That same year, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from Columbia.
Please keep Professor Chalmers’s family, colleagues, and friends in your thoughts today as we remember his remarkable legacy and impact.

For more information about memorial arrangements, please visit 
Sincerely yours,

Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations
Director, China and the World Program


Statement on the Passing of Secretary Madeleine Albright - Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

It is with tremendous sadness that today we mourn the passing of Madeleine Albright, a trailblazing public servant, scholar, teacher, and business leader who served as the 64th U.S. Secretary of State and the first woman to hold the position.
Secretary Albright was a consequential and immensely well-respected leader. In addition to her pioneering role as Secretary of State, she served as US Permanent Representative to the United Nations. As a business leader, she chaired the global consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group. In academia she was a gifted, generous, and immensely popular educator of future policy leaders as Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. For her championing of human rights and her many significant contributions to international peace and democracy, Secretary Albright was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
SIPA and Columbia University are proud to call Secretary Albright one of our own. She was a SIPA alumna (CERT ’68) and earned her MA and PhD at Columbia. Just last year Secretary Albright spoke to SIPA’s graduating Class of 2021, sharing inspiring words with our graduates and bringing “a renewed sense of optimism about freedom and justice worldwide.” I welcome you to view her remarks here.
In the coming days we will provide a more complete tribute to Secretary Albright’s remarkable life and career.
Sincerely yours,

Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations
Director, China and the World Program


Statement on Ukraine - Friday, February 25, 2022

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

The scenes of death, destruction, and fear that we have seen as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are horrifying and concerning to us all. This is a moment of crisis for the world, and while it impacts all of us in different ways, we know that our Ukrainian students - and their families and friends - are impacted most directly.  I have written to them individually and the University and SIPA have offered them services in this terribly difficult time. I urge all of you in the SIPA Community to offer your support to them and to each other.

On an urgent basis, we are organizing an online event this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. to provide a forum for members of our community to hear from and ask questions of our faculty members with relevant expertise in the region. I invite you to register for this forum via the following link:

Times of crisis like this amplify the importance of SIPA’s educational mission.  As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in that mission with you.  


Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations
Director, China and the World Program


Updated Guidance for Requesting Visitors at Events/Gatherings for Spring 2022 - Thursday, February 10, 2022

Dear Colleagues, 

As announced on January 28 by the University, in light of improving conditions in New York City and reassuring data on the effectiveness of vaccines and boosters against severe illness and hospitalizations from COVID-19, guidance on gatherings and events has been adjusted with many restrictions being lifted for CUID holder-only events. 

While we are excited by this news, please note that the University’s Visitor Policy remains in place, meaning that all visitors to campus who do not hold valid CUID cards must be pre-approved. Therefore, any gathering or event involving a non-CU affiliate will need to be submitted to SIPA for review and approval. Going forward, these types of requests will no longer need to be submitted to the President’s Office for further review; all approvals will happen at the school level. 

Below (and on the SIPA website) please find new guidance on how to request approval for your (1) visitors to classrooms, (2) visitors at gatherings or events – including speakers, panelists, and guests – and (3) large-scale events at which you intend to include numerous non-CU affiliates. As a reminder, all visitors, including those who enter any campus facility for any period of time, must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination as part of visitor attestation. As the requestor, you will be responsible for collecting and verifying proof of vaccination (including booster dose, if eligible). 

I believe this measured approach will contribute to the vibrant academic and intellectual exchanges that are essential to the SIPA experience, while prioritizing our community’s continued health and safety.  Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and compliance. 


Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations
Director, China and the World Program



SIPA Procedures 

Regarding CU’s Policies on Events/Gatherings and Visitors for Spring 2022 

This Spring, SIPA is dedicated to fostering a vibrant academic and co-curricular experience on campus while also ensuring the health and safety of our community. The below procedures are designed to facilitate the school’s compliance with Columbia University’s Spring 2022 policies and guidance on events and gatherings(review the details here) and visitors to campus (review the details here)

As a reminder, masking indoors at Columbia will continue through March 31. We strongly recommend wearing of masks even outdoors when in crowded settings.  

Please note that off-campus events and gatherings sponsored by Columbia are subject to the same considerations, restrictions, and approvals as those on campus, and CUID attendees must be compliant with the Columbia Community Health Compact. 

CU Affiliate-Only Gatherings & Events 

In-person events for members of the Columbia community, both on and off campus, may go forward without capacity restrictions.  

Gatherings & Events with Non-CU Affiliates 

Restrictions on events with non-affiliates, both on and off campus, will continue to be governed by the University’s Visitor Guidelines for Spring 2022All visitors who do not hold valid CUID cards must be pre-approved by SIPA using one of the forms below. Non-affiliates will be required to show proof of vaccination and booster as well as comply with other Columbia University safety protocols, including symptom attestation and wearing a mask.  

Visitors to Classrooms 

For non-affiliate visitors to classrooms, kindly submit requests via this form as early as possible, but no less than five business days prior to the proposed class visit date. Questions can be directed to the Office of Academic Affairs ([email protected]).  

Visitors at Gatherings & Events 

For non-affiliate visitors (including speakers, panelists, and guests) at gatherings and events, kindly submit requests via this form as early as possible, but no less than five business days prior to the proposed event date. Questions can be directed to SIPA Events ([email protected]).  

Large-Scale Events 

Plans for large-scale events, such as workshops and conferences involving non-affiliate attendees should be submitted via this form at least 21 days in advance of the event date. Questions can be directed to SIPA Events ([email protected]).  

If approved, you will receive an email with further instructions to convey to the approved visitor(s). Event organizers/instructors are responsible for communicating in advance to visitors all Columbia public health and safety protocols, verifying vaccination and booster status, and ensuring compliance with masking, symptom attestation, and other requirements that may be in place at the time of the approved visit. 

Student Groups  

Student groups should continue using Campus Groups to submit their event proposals for approval by the Office of Student Affairs. Student events involving non-CU affiliates must be pre-approved by SIPA pursuant to the guidelines listed above. The Office of Student Affairs will work with students to submit the appropriate request form(s) for approval. 

Eating and Drinking 

Beginning, February 14, 2022, eating and drinking onsite (indoors or outdoors) is allowed at gatherings with the proviso that all attendees make every effort to minimize the removal of their masks.  

For all questions, please contact [email protected]. 


Information about SIPA Graduation (Class Day) Ceremony - Monday, February 7, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff, 

I am excited to share details with you about this year’s graduation for the SIPA Class of 2022! 

SIPA Graduation (Class Day) 

SIPA’s Class Day graduation ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. ET.  

Our plan is to host this year’s Class Day graduation ceremony in person on the south lawn of Columbia’s Morningside Campus. Students may invite up to five external guests to the graduation ceremony. All guests will need to abide by the University’s COVID-19 guidelines and policies and submit proof of vaccination. The ceremony will be broadcasted via livestream for those unable to attend in person. Additional details will be announced soon regarding our ticketing process, academic attire, additional public health protocols, and other important information. It is energizing to be moving forward with plans to finally celebrate as a community in person. 

Graduation Speaker 

I am also excited to share the news that Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Representative of the United States to the United Nations, will serve as our class day graduation speaker on May 15. I thank our students, particularly our SIPASA leadership, for your input on her selection. 

As many of you know, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is a seasoned diplomat and remarkable public servant who served 35 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. Among her career milestones, she served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2013-2017, where she led the development and management of US policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to that, she held the position of Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources, overseeing the State Department’s 70,000-person workforce. Her time in the Foreign Service also includes an ambassadorship to Liberia as well as postings in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica, among other roles. 

Upon her retirement from the Foreign Service in 2017, she served in both the private sector and academia, leading the Africa Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group and holding the position of inaugural Distinguished Fellow in Africa Studies at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University from fall 2017 to spring 2019.  
Following her confirmation by the US Senate in February 2021, she returned to public service as Representative of the United States to the United Nations, and as Representative of the United States to the United Nations Security Council, where she advocates on behalf of US global interests before the UN. 

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees. We are honored that she accepted our invitation, and we are excited to welcome her to SIPA and Columbia this spring to address our 2022 graduates and share insights from her broad-ranging career. 

University Commencement 

Lastly, as announced by the university, Columbia’s University-Wide Commencement Ceremony will take place on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, also expected to be hosted in person on Columbia’s Morningside Campus. The University will announce and publish additional details on the University’s Commencement website


Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations


Appointment of Professor Ebonya Washington - Thursday, February 3, 2022

Dear students, faculty, and staff, 

I am excited to share the news that Ebonya Washington will be joining the SIPA faculty as Professor of International and Public Affairs starting in summer 2022. Professor Washington will also serve as the Laurans A. and Arlene Mendelson Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics, where she will be jointly appointed. She is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

Professor Washington is a leading scholar of political economy, public economics, and the economics of inequality. Since 2018, she has served as the Samuel C. Park Jr. Professor of Economics at Yale University, where she has also been jointly appointed with the Department of Political Science. She has conducted path-breaking research to advance our understanding of the interplay of race, gender, and political representation, the behavioral motivations and consequences of political participation, and the processes through which low-income Americans meet their financial needs. Her work has appeared in the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of EconomicsJournal of Economic Perspectives, as well as the American Political Science Review among other publications. She received her PhD in Economics from MIT and a B.A. in Public Policy from Brown University. 

We are thrilled to welcome her to the SIPA faculty, and we look forward to the many ways she will enrich our community through her scholarship and teaching. 


Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations


Welcome Back to SIPA - Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

Greetings and Happy New Year. It is an honor for me to be writing you today as Interim Dean of SIPA. As a member of the faculty since 2018, I’ve been fortunate to work with many of our students, faculty, and staff, and as Interim Dean, I’m looking forward to deepening my engagement even further and meeting even more members of our remarkable community. Rest assured I’ll also be seeking your guidance and advice as we continue to advance SIPA’s mission and activities in the coming weeks and months. Thank you in advance for your collaboration.

As we begin the Spring 2022 semester, we find ourselves at a challenging period in the world.  Perhaps most immediate, the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated by the Omicron variant, has once again strained public health systems and caused hardship and disruption on a global scale, including within our own community.

As much as we wish this were not the case, current conditions will require all of us to continue to take precautions and make necessary adjustments. I append to this message some updates on University Covid-19 policies and procedures for spring semester.  Some changes have been made and some additional requirements have been put in place.  Please strictly follow these guidelines and look for periodic updates on what is required of you over the course of the semester.

But first, and on a happier note, please allow me to give you some of the reasons that I am so excited about this coming semester. I am sharing below information about our incoming class, new faculty, and new courses and capstones:

Spring 2022 Incoming Class

Please join me in extending a heartfelt welcome to our Spring 2022 incoming class. In all, 67 students join us this semester. They are a diverse and accomplished group, representing 24 nationalities and bringing a range of interests to SIPA.

The new cohort is 67 percent international and will be undertaking studies across all of our degree concentrations as well as our MPA in Development Practice.  Welcome to SIPA!

New and Visiting Faculty

This semester we are joined by several new and returning faculty, including full-time, visiting, and adjunct scholars. Among them:

  • Caroline Flammer, Professor (Full-time) – Professor Flammer is an expert in sustainable investing and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. Her research examines how, and under which conditions, firms can enhance their competitiveness and long-term profitability while strengthening—instead of undermining—the very system in which they operate by playing a critical role in addressing climate change, inequality, global health, and other challenges related to society and the natural environment. Professor Flammer is our newest member of the full-time faculty, coming to SIPA from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University, and she will teach a new course “Social Impact: Business, Society, and the Natural Environment.”
  • Juan Manuel Santos, George W. Ball Visiting Professor – President Santos joins SIPA in Spring 2022 as the George W. Ball Visiting Professor. President Santos was the President of Colombia from 2010 to 2018 and the recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.  His new course “Leadership Lessons for Important Battles” will guide students on the skills needed to lead countries and organizations to address issues such as poverty and inequality, climate justice, the devastation of drug use and drug markets, and the struggle for peace.
  • Jacob Lew, Visiting Professor – Secretary Lew has a long-standing public service record, most recently as US Secretary of the Treasury (2013-2017) and White House Chief of Staff (2012-2013).  Since 2017 he has served as a managing partner of the private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg. We are delighted to welcome him back to teach his new course “Democratic Institutions Under Stress,” which analyzes the history and key texts of US constitutional democracy while also considering contemporary global challenges to democracy.
  • Paul Simons, Adjunct Professor – The former U.S. Ambassador to Chile (2007-2010), Ambassador Simons brings to SIPA a wealth of public service experience, including serving as the COO for the International Energy Agency and as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy and Sanctions. Currently a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, Ambassador Simons will teach a new course “Managing the Clean Energy Transition.”
  • Cristina Schulman, Adjunct Professor – A leading specialist in Latin American banking, with more than 25 years of experience, Ms. Schulman is currently the Managing Director of Latin American Debt Capital Markets for Santander Investment Securities. In teaching her new course “Debt Financing for Sovereign and Quasi-Sovereign Entities in Emerging Markets,” Ms. Schulman will show students, from the perspective of an insider, how sovereigns view their balance sheets, manage credit ratings, interact with quasi-sovereigns, and weigh alternative funding strategies.
  • Rebecca Weiner, Adjunct Associate Professor – Ms. Weiner brings deep experience and a practitioner perspective to the complex issue of countering terrorism and cyber threats; she has worked in the Intelligence Bureau for the New York City Police Department for 15 years—and currently serves as Assistant Commissioner, Intelligence Analysis since 2016.  She is a frequent public face of the NYPD, briefer for the Commissioner, and a mentor/instructor to NYPD counterterrorism analysts, and students taking her new course “Counterterrorism and Policing” will gain significant insight into the theory, law, and practice of this field.

New Courses and Capstone Projects

This semester we will offer 18 new courses.  In addition to those mentioned above, some of our new courses include:

  • Social Justice Movements in the Age of Social Media
  • The Politics of Defense in the United States
  • Failures and Successes of Three Decades of Peacemaking
  • Justice for Black Veterans
  • Arab Identity and its Politics
  • Public Policy & Inequality in Developing Countries

For a full list, please visit the SIPA website.  

SIPA also will offer 65 Capstone projects (including 14 Economic and Political Development projects) this spring, working with a range of local, national, and international organizations. 

Many of this year’s capstones will include a focus on taking action to address pressing issues, such as climate change; social injustice and inequality; and cyber-technology, cryptocurrency, misinformation, and AI. For more information visit the SIPA capstone website.

With the promise of spring ahead, I know we are all excited to return to our classes, teaching and research, and other essential activities that make SIPA the thriving and dynamic global policy school we are today.

I thank you again for welcoming me so warmly as Interim Dean. I want to give special recognition and thanks to Merit Janow for helping ensure a smooth transition, and for her eight plus years of dedicated service to SIPA as its Dean. She leaves a remarkable legacy as Dean and we look forward to her continuing contributions to scholarship and teaching at Columbia. I also thank President Lee Bollinger for giving me this opportunity to serve a University that I have loved since my own days as a graduate student in IAB.

I wish you great success for the start of the year, and I look forward to all the wonderful things we will accomplish together in the days ahead.


Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations


Updated COVID-19 Policies and Guidance

Please find below some important updates to the University’s COVID-19 policies and requirements for the Spring 2022 semester.

  • The first two weeks of classes will take place remotely, however, the first day of in-person learning will be January 31st (not February 1st, as originally communicated).
  • Gateway testing will be required for all students, faculty and staff (please see here for specifics). Please note that the testing period deadline has been extended from January 31 to February 4.
  • Booster vaccines will be required for all students, faculty and staff who are currently eligible. Please see here for information about compliance and deadlines, and here for information about how to upload your vaccine documentation if you have already received your booster dose.
  • Masks will be required indoors on campus at least through March 31st, however, cloth masks will no longer be acceptable protection. The University will be providing surgical masks at multiple locations across campus, and individuals can also choose to wear N95, KN95, or KF94 masks.
  • In person non-academic activities will be limited for the time being.

Your adherence to these requirements will help all of us prevent further spread of the virus and enable us to continue with in-person instruction later in the semester. Thank you for your compliance and for the many ways you have continued to support each other and our community through the pandemic.


Important COVID-Related Information for Spring Semester - Friday, January 7, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am writing to supplement the various reminders you have received about spring semester instruction and COVID-19 testing and other protocols.  Some of the information that follows repeats information you have received; some is new.  All of it is critically important to our collective ability to weather the remaining weeks and months of the worldwide pandemic in good health and with appropriate regard for the health and safety of our surrounding community.  Thank you all for your cooperation and help in complying with these public health requirements.

Instruction in January

As you know, the first two weeks of spring semester classes, from Tuesday, January 18 through Monday, January 31, will be conducted remotely, not in-person.  In-person instruction will resume on Tuesday, February 1.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements

All continuing SIPA students are required to take a Columbia Gateway Test within 72 hours of returning to campus, but in all events no later than January 28.  All SIPA students and faculty who are new to campus must take a Columbia Gateway Test upon arrival to campus and before further access to campus and CU buildings.  Gateway Test scheduling and requirements are detailed here.  

Please note that the University also strongly recommends that all students, faculty and staff take a PCR test from a local testing site 48 hours prior to returning to campus.  Anyone testing positive outside of Columbia must notify [email protected] and isolate before returning to campus in accordance with New York State policy.

Booster Dose Requirement

All members of the Columbia community—faculty, students, and staff—are now required to get a vaccine booster dose as soon as they are eligible, but no later than January 31.  Students should upload evidence of their booster dose using the Columbia Health Portal.  The University will be providing links next week for faculty and staff to upload booster dose documentation.

Continuation of Mask Mandate

Masking indoors in all campus and SIPA facilities will continue at least through March 31. 

Restrictions on Non-Academic Gatherings and In-Person Events

All Columbia-sponsored non-academic gatherings and in-person events, both on and off campus, are prohibited until the end of January, at which time the University Covid Task Force will evaluate the conditions on campus and in NYC and provide additional guidance.

The University also is strongly urging all faculty, staff and students to avoid indoor social gatherings wherever located unless you are aware of the vaccination and testing status of all attendees.  Masking at all indoor gatherings and at crowded outdoor social gatherings is strongly recommended.

Columbia Compact

The health and safety of all University community members depends on everyone’s continued compliance with the requirements of the Columbia Community Health Compact.  Thank you for your ongoing cooperation. 



Thomas J. Christensen
Interim Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations


ARCHIVE: Messages from Dean Emerita Merit E. Janow

Professor Robert Jervis - Friday, December 10, 2021

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

I write to share the heartbreaking news that Robert Jervis, the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics, passed away yesterday after a battle with lung cancer. 

Professor Jervis was a member of the SIPA and Columbia University community for more than 40 years and by any estimation, one of the most consequential and groundbreaking scholars of international relations theory, security policy, and decision-making in the modern era.  He was an incredibly generous teacher and mentor to generations of his students, and a treasured colleague, member of SIPA’s executive committee, and trusted and wise advisor to numerous deans, including myself.

Professor Jervis’ wife Kathe has generously allowed us to share a brief overview of his remarkable life, which you may find below. We will share more information about memorials planned in his honor once those plans become known.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law & International Affairs


Professor Robert Jervis

Robert Jervis, born April 30, 1940, in New York City to Herman Jervis, a lawyer, and Dorothy Jervis, a potter, died of lung cancer on December 9, 2021. He was at home, in the presence of Kathe, his wife of 54 years, and his daughters, Alexa and Lisa. He was a husband, father, and grandfather extraordinaire, a giant in his field of International Relations, a mentor to legions of younger scholars, an enthusiastic provider of feedback to university administrators, a museum goer and opera lover, a skilled napper, and a pioneer of the capsule wardrobe. 

Bob had his early education at the Ethical Culture Fieldston school, where teachers consistently noted his fine mind and terrible handwriting. In 1958, he departed for the wilds of Oberlin, Ohio, where he fell in with the wrong crowd – a group of future political science professors (and one geneticist). In 1962, he entered the PhD program for Political Science at University of California at Berkeley, where he distinguished himself by sleeping on a closet shelf and “almost getting arrested” for his activities in the Free Speech Movement. 

By then he had set his life on its most fateful turn when he went on a 1961 student trip to the Soviet Union, where he met Kathe Weil of Denver – they struck up a conversation while refusing to dance at an orientation event, then struck a bargain in which he carried her suitcase, and she carried his typewriter. They married in 1967, and began to raise their family in Cambridge, Mass. 

They moved to Los Angeles in 1974 to follow Bob’s beloved Dodgers, and incidentally for him to join the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles. There he wrote seminal books and articles, and won a Halloween costume party by wearing a Brooks Brothers suit. In 1980, he and his family moved back to New York and he taught at Columbia University for the rest of his life.

Bob’s productivity was legendary, as was his support of younger scholars and colleagues. His professional accomplishments and his scholarly influence are too vast to summarize. Among the highlights: the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, election to the American Philosophical Society, and election to the National Academy of Sciences. His doctoral dissertation is still in print. 

He is survived by his wife, daughters Alexa (Greg Racz) and Lisa (Jay Schwartz), grandsons Daniel and Joshua Racz, step-grandson Ezra Schwartz, brother Steven (Susan Weltman), sister-in-law Zarine Weil, nephews  Aaron Weil (Linda Perry), Darius Weil, and niece Delna Weil.



A Terrible Loss in our Community - Friday, December 3, 2021

Dear Students,

The terrible news of the killing of graduate student Davide Giri near campus yesterday evening has shocked and saddened us all. Today we stand together as one community as we try to process this unspeakable tragedy.

As communicated earlier, the University has planned a vigil this evening at 5 pm on Butler Lawn and the Office of University Life has created spaces for reflection today at Earl Hall and St. Paul’s Chapel.

Students in need of additional support, guidance, or who simply wish to connect with fellow community members, can find numerous resources at Columbia, including through Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health on Haven, and Religious Life. You can also reach out to your OSA advising dean for further help and guidance.  Please know that we are here for you.

As we mourn this tragic loss of life, let us keep Davide, his family and those who knew him in our thoughts, and let us all continue to look after each other.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law & International Affairs


Appointment of Professor Thomas Christensen as Interim Dean of SIPA - Friday, October 8, 2021

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

As you know, I have decided to step down as Dean of SIPA at the end of this calendar year. It has been an enormous honor and pleasure to serve as Dean for more than 8 years. President Bollinger has announced his appointment of Professor Thomas Christensen as Interim Dean of SIPA beginning January 1, 2022. 

Professor Christensen is a world-renowned scholar and former senior government official who currently serves as the James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations and Director of SIPA’s China and the World Program. He will bring to this new role tremendous perspective and depth of experience as a scholar of international relations and security, and as one of the world’s leading experts on China. He is also a seasoned manager and leader, having served previously as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, among other senior academic roles. 

I am very grateful to Tom for his willingness to lead SIPA, and I look forward to working with him and Vice Dean Wolfram Schlenker over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition.

 I hope you will join me in congratulating and welcoming Professor Christensen.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law & International Affairs


Former SIPA Dean John Ruggie - Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of former SIPA Dean John Ruggie. A globally renowned and respected academic, policy practitioner, and dear friend to so many in our community, Dean Ruggie was a transformative figure whose ideas and actions helped shape our understanding of the world and the fields of international relations and human rights, with a particular focus on the role and responsibility of businesses to advance sustainable practices and uphold human rights.

Professor Ruggie served as Dean of SIPA from 1991 to 1996, and as the Burgess Professor of Political Science and the James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations at Columbia University from 1996 to 2001. As Dean of SIPA, he advanced the mission of the school in profound and lasting ways, including by revamping the curricula of both the MIA and MPA programs, internationalizing SIPA’s student body, creating new academic partnerships with international schools, and expanding joint faculty appointments, among other achievements. As a scholar, Professor Ruggie was internationally recognized for his work to develop the concept of “embedded liberalism” and explore the role of multilateralism, state intervention, and social purpose in shaping the postwar order.

“Informed by deep reflection and vast knowledge, John shaped a whole subfield on International Relations theory while simultaneously building international institutions that reflected the increasing complexity of global society,” commented former SIPA Dean Lisa Anderson.

His influence as a policy practitioner was equally significant. From 1997 to 2001, Professor Ruggie served as Assistant-Secretary General and Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, where he proposed and gained General Assembly approval for the Millennium Development Goals and played a leading role in conceptualizing and founding the UN Global Compact, a major initiative to promote universal sustainability principles and practices within the private sector.

In 2005, Professor Ruggie was then appointed by Kofi Annan to serve as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights, where he developed what became known around the world as the “Ruggie Principles,” which created a common framework of understanding for businesses to uphold human rights – principles that were unanimously approved by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.

Following his public service, Professor Ruggie returned to academia, serving as the Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government from 2001 to 2009, and then as the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs, and as Affiliated Professor in International Legal studies at Harvard Law School.

Beyond his truly remarkable contributions to the world, many of us will always remember John Ruggie as a warm and generous colleague and an intellectual giant.

We shall be providing a tribute to Dean Ruggie on the SIPA website in the coming days.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Welcome Back to SIPA! - Thursday, September 9, 2021


Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Welcome back to SIPA!  A new semester of academic learning and engagement is upon us. It is marvelous to experience the International Affairs Building once again filled with the sounds and vitality of academic life. This week marks our long-awaited return to on-campus instruction. It is a time of enormous excitement after a long period of uncertainty and hardship for so many.

It feels great to be back together again.  And though we all recognize the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and we must take precautions, we do so informed by Columbia University’s extensive expertise and transparent approach to the current environment, which is closely monitoring trends and informed by data as well as federal, state, and local guidance. All of these features – and others – give us confidence in our approach to the semester ahead.

As a reminder, students, faculty, and staff are required to wear masks when indoors at least until September 30th.  We shall update you further as the month proceeds. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the University’s COVID-19 Monitoring Plan, which identifies the different categories of risk and what to expect should there be a change in the current alert level of low risk (yellow).

As is customary this time of year, I am writing to also share with you a brief preview of the Fall 2021 semester, including some of the new faculty, courses, and other activities that promise to make this academic year exciting and special.  As you will see, over the course of this year we will welcome new faculty (full and part-time, leading experts and one former head of state), introduce new courses, continue popular initiatives such as the Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant, and engage in numerous events and forums across our core fields. One of the joys of being at SIPA and Columbia is the opportunity to take advantage of the breadth and depth of convening and academic initiatives undertaken by our Centers, faculty, and students. Please read on to learn more.

Whether you are newly arriving to campus as a first year or continuing student, or as a member of our faculty and staff, it is wonderful to welcome you to SIPA and the Columbia campus. I look forward to a semester full of vibrancy, rich with learning and excitement, and one that further advances SIPA’s mission to educate the next generation of leaders and to address problems in the global public interest.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow

Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law & International Affairs


Fall 2021 Preview

Incoming Students


Please join me in welcoming our newest members of the SIPA student body. In all, more than 500 new students have entered our two-year MIA, MPA, and MPA-DP programs this fall. They join more than 140 new students in our MPA-ESP, MPA-EPM, EMPA, and PhD programs. Welcome to SIPA!

New Faculty, Visitors, and Research Scholars

We are excited to welcome several new full and part-time faculty, visitors, and research scholars, who will bring their expertise and wide-ranging experience to our community this academic year. Among them:

  • Jean-Marie Guehenno, Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Practice, International and Public Affairs (full time).  Professor Guehenno, who served as the Kent Visiting Professor of Conflict Resolution in Spring 2021, has been appointed the Arnold Saltzman Professor of Practice in International and Public Affairs. He previously held this position with distinction from 2010 to 2014. Professor Guehenno is a leading expert on conflict resolution, having served in key roles at the United Nations as Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, and as CEO of the International Crisis Group, among other roles. Additionally, he serves as Director of SIPA’s Kent Global Leadership Program on Conflict Resolution.  You may learn more about his appointment and background here.
  • Caroline Flammer, Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs (Fall 2021).  Professor Flammer, who serves as Associate Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, is an expert on competitive strategy and sustainable finance.  At SIPA she will be conducting research and participating in the Sustainable Development seminar.
  • Marcelo Medeiros, Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs (Full academic year). Professor Medeiros is an economic sociologist at the Brazilian Institute for Applied Economic Research and previously a Visiting Professor at Princeton.  He will be teaching a course and participating in workshops in Spring 2022, as well as pursuing research on inequality in Latin America.
  • Daniel Smith, Gerald L. Curtis Visiting Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy.  Professor Smith, who is jointly appointed at SIPA and the Department of Political Science, focuses his research and teaching on Japanese politics, comparative politics, political economy, and political behavior.  He comes to Columbia from Harvard University, where he served on the faculty in the Department of Government since 2013.  This Fall he will teach a course on Japanese politics and policy.
  • Shawna Wakefield MPA ’00 joins SIPA as an adjunct associate professor. A gender and social justice advocate, she has worked in the field of gender, economic, and racial justice for more than 20 years. She will teach the new course, Intersections of Race and Power in Development.
  • Emily Bell, who is the founding director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School and a leading thinker, commentator, and strategist on digital journalism, will co-teach a new course, Policy Solutions for Online Mis/Disinformation, with Anya Schiffrin, Director of SIPA’s Technology, Media and Communications specialization
  • Camille Francois MIA ’13 will join SIPA as a part-time lecturer, teaching a new course, Information Operations on Social Media. She is currently chief innovation officer at Graphika, where she works to detect and mitigate disinformation and media manipulation.
  • Veronica Olazabal joins SIPA as an adjunct associate professor. As a managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation, she implements strategy, measurement, and learning practices to enhance the foundation’s work. This semester she will teach the new course, Measuring and Evaluating Impact in the 21st Century.
  • Erica Borghard joins us as Adjunct Associate Professor at SIPA and Adjunct Research Scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. Having formerly served as an Assistant Professor in the Army Cyber Institute at the US Military Academy at West Point, Dr. Borghard is a Senior Fellow in Technology and International Affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Senior Director of the US Cyberspace Solarium Commission. This fall she will teach the course, Cyber Strategy and International Politics.


The following research scholars will join us this fall:

  • Harrison Fell, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy. He previously served as associate professor (with tenure) at North Carolina State University, as an assistant professor at the Colorado School of Mines, and as a fellow at the DC-based think tank Resources for the Future. At CGEP, he co-leads the Center’s Power Sector and Renewables Research Initiative.
  • Tom Moerenhout, Adjunct Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, focuses on the role of trade, investment, and subsidy policies in sustainable development; the sustainability dimension of economic globalization; and resource valuation and regulation.
  • Linda Mann, Adjunct Research Scholar, SIPA, serves as executive Director of the Civil Rights Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University’s School of Law. She will be working with Professor Elazar Barkan, Director of SIPA’s Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy concentration, on the African American Redress Network, in collaboration with Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Right Center.


Richard N. Gardner Professorship and James T. Shotwell Chair

I am excited to share that the Columbia University Board of Trustees recently approved the appointment of Professor Jan Svejnar as the inaugural holder of the Richard N. Gardner Professorship at Columbia SIPA.  Established in 2020, this chair honors the late Richard N. Gardner, a distinguished diplomat, former US ambassador, and long-time Columbia faculty member for more than 50 years.

Since 2012, Professor Svejnar has served as the James T. Shotwell Professor of Global Political Economy and Director of SIPA’s Center on Global Economic Governance (CGEG). As the Richard Gardner Professor, he will continue his leadership of CGEG and his ongoing research and teaching on the effects of foreign investment and government policies on firms, labor, and capital markets; corporate, national, and global governance and performance; as well as a broader focus on the international system and its operation.

As Professor Svejnar undertakes this new role, we also congratulate Professor Thomas Christensen, who will become the James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations.  Professor Christensen, a world-renowned expert on China, US-China relations, and international security, joined SIPA in 2018 from Princeton University. In addition to his teaching and research, he leads the Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program.

George W. Ball Visiting Professor

Looking ahead to Spring 2022, I am also pleased to share that the George W. Ball Visiting Professor will be His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.  President Santos will be teaching a course on leadership and governance in the 21stcentury in the spring.  We will be sharing a more complete and formal announcement later this year.


SIPA Administrative Appointments

Vice Dean of SIPA

Professor Wolfram Schlenker has been appointed Vice Dean of SIPA, effective July 1st. As Vice Dean, he is responsible for faculty recruitment and development and serves as a critical advisor to the Dean. Professor Schlenker is a leading scholar of environmental and natural resource economics, agricultural economics, and health economics. His research focuses on the effect of weather and climate on agricultural yields, how climate trends influence agriculture commodity prices, and how pollution impacts agricultural yields and human morbidity.  In addition to serving as Vice Dean, he continues in his role as co-director of SIPA’s Center for Environmental Economics and Policy. Please join me in congratulating him and also thanking Professor Scott Barrett for his exceptional service as Vice Dean for the past three years.

Energy and Environment Concentration

Professor Douglas Almond has assumed the role of co-director of SIPA’s Energy and Environment Concentration, along with current co-director David Sandalow, a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy.  As many of you know, Professor Almond is a leading SIPA scholar who works on health and environmental economics. He also serves as co-director of the Center for Environmental Economics and Policy along with Professor Schlenker.

Associate Dean for Student Affairs

We are excited that this summer Tsuya Yee joined us as our new Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Associate Dean Yee came to SIPA from The New School for Social Research where she served in student affairs roles for twenty years, most recently as Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. Over these many years, she directed a team of professionals responsible for all aspects of student services and academic advising in support of student life and academic success. In addition to her significant professional achievements, she is also deeply engaged in community justice initiatives, including serving as co-chair of the New York Day of Remembrance Committee, and on the leadership council of Tsuru for Solidarity. Associate Dean Yee earned her BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her MA in Political Science from The New School. 

New Courses

We will be offering nine new courses this fall on a diverse range of topics, with many more planned for Spring 2022.  A few highlights (beyond those already mentioned above) include:

  • US Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Internet and the Global Technology Industry (Gordon Goldstein and Ambassador David Gross)
  • Economic Crisis Management in Developing Countries (Professor Jose Antonio Ocampo)
  • Multilateral Negotiations: Climate Change (Kimberly Carnahan)
  • Sino-African Relations in History and Present (Yuan Wang)


Events and Discussions

The Fall 2021 semester will bring a mix of in-person and virtual events and discussions, consistent with University guidelines and procedures as well as SIPA Events Procedures.  Currently, all in-person events will be limited to students, faculty, and staff (CUID-only) unless an exception has been granted by the Office of the President and approved by the Office of the Dean.  Please visit SIPA Events for the current events calendar.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As I shared with our community this summer, we are moving forward on multiple fronts to make SIPA an even more diverse, equitable, and inclusive school through our School-wide DEI Initiative.  Building on the DEI Steering Committee’s recent findings and recommendations, as well as previous efforts, we are restructuring the SIPA Diversity Committee. We expect to announce changes to its advisory structure later this fall.  Additionally, we re-launched our adjunct diversity faculty hiring initiative and have a number of other actions under consideration.  I look forward to working with SIPA faculty, staff and students on DEI matters and providing updates in the coming months on these and other DEI-related efforts.

SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant

We will host the ninth round of the SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant Program this year, which invites students to turn their policy passions into entrepreneurial ventures by designing cutting-edge projects and prototypes that use ICT and data analytics to advance a public policy objective. This year’s challenge, which will include a total of $50,000 in prizes, will include a focus on ventures that address disruptions related to the pandemic, energy and sustainability, and projects that address policy challenges in Brazil. Initial proposals are due on September 27th.  For more information, visit the SIPA website

Once again, welcome back to SIPA!


Updated Health and Safety Guidance for Fall 2021 - Friday, August 20, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The start of the Fall 2021 semester brings with it a sense of excitement and renewal as our community prepares for a long-awaited return to in-person instruction and activities at SIPA and across Columbia University. In just a matter of weeks, students will be back on campus, faculty will be teaching from their classrooms, and the full vibrancy of SIPA’s intellectual and academic life will once again flourish inside the International Affairs Building.

Soon I will be sharing with you a preview of some of the exceptional faculty and visitors, courses, events, and other activities that will contribute to what promises to be a dynamic and engaging Fall 2021 semester.

However, as the past year reminds us, even as we prepare to return to campus, we must continue to take precautions and exercise our best judgement with respect to the pandemic, informed by Columbia University expertise and in accordance with state and local health guidance. To that end, today I am writing to share updated guidance and reminders of the policies and practices the University and SIPA are implementing to help provide a smooth and safe transition to fully in-person instruction and services for Fall semester. Please find below information about the University’s monitoring plan, policy around mask-wearing, events and visitors, testing, and other important procedures.

I am grateful to every member of our community for the extremely high rate of compliance we have seen with these existing procedures and policies as well as those newly implemented over the summer. I am confident that SIPA will continue to be an exemplar in this regard as we each do our part to keep our community safe.

Please read on for further information.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Important New Guidance/Updated Protocols

In response to changed conditions as the pandemic has continued to evolve, the University recently issued important new guidance and updated protocols:

  • Covid-19 Monitoring Plan
    The Covid -19 Monitoring Plan is a comprehensive framework for Covid-19 risk assessment and management, with Columbia experts continuously monitoring public health conditions in New York City and standing ready to adjust the University’s policies if key metrics indicate that a change is necessary.  Currently, the risk level is Low /Yellow. I encourage you to review the Monitoring Plan to understand the four risk levels -- Lower/Green; Low/Yellow; Moderate/Orange; and Higher/Red -- and the adjustments in University policy that accompany a change in risk level. 
  • Mask-wearing to continue through at least September 30
    Mask-wearing will be required indoors for all students, faculty and staff through at least September 30. The continuation of the mask mandate is an additional precautionary measure that results from the University’s status in the Low/Yellow risk level under the Covid-19 Monitoring Plan.
  • Events and Visitors
    Earlier this week SIPA issued specific guidance on events and visitors, including conditions that attach to the current risk level denoted by the Monitoring Plan. We are currently in Low/Yellow risk level. Please refer to the SIPA events and visitor guidance here for detailed information. 
  • Voluntary Testing Program to continue through September 30
    Weekly voluntary Covid-19 testing will remain available through September 30 for asymptomatic vaccinated faculty, staff, and students not selected in the weekly random sample. The program will be evaluated by CU Health and may be extended beyond September 30 if conditions warrant.

Important Reminders

Every member of the SIPA community is required to complete the steps below before accessing campus and SIPA facilities:

  • Comply with the CU vaccine mandate
  • Sign the Columbia Community Health Compact
  • Complete the Required Covid Safety Training
  • Complete the Required Gateway Test for COVID-19
  • Download the ReopenCU App and complete the Daily Symptom Attestation

Thank you for reviewing these important updates and for your compliance with the University’s requirements for accessing campus this fall.

I look forward to seeing you in IAB in just a few weeks.


Update on SIPA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts - Monday, July 12, 2021

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

I am writing to provide an update on SIPA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative, and most importantly to share the findings and recommendations of the DEI Steering Committee. 

As many of you know, we launched this initiative a year ago to critically assess and continually improve on SIPA’s goal to be a diverse, equitable and inclusive school.

Over the past year all of us have been challenged to think about racism and injustice, including the societal and institutional structures that too often perpetuate it.  At SIPA, we have engaged in a thorough process of analysis and self-examination – to consider where we have made progress to achieve our DEI goals, identify gaps in our work and prioritize future actions, and, importantly, to hear from our community so that we better understand and address its concerns, particularly those of under-represented minorities and persons of color.

Before turning to the DEI Steering Committee’s report and recommendations, as well as immediate actions for this summer, I would like to report briefly on actions taken over the past year, which build on the multi-year effort underway. 

Actions Taken Over the Past Year

Since Summer 2020, we have advanced our DEI efforts in several meaningful ways:

  • We added five new part-time faculty teaching new courses in Spring 2021 on a range of DEI-related topics, with two more courses to be offered this coming year.
  • We created five new capstone projects focused on race and social justice, including several that partnered directly with the Harlem and broader NYC communities.
  • We welcomed Letitia James, Attorney General for New York, as our inaugural Beinecke Professor in Spring 2021.  She co-taught the course, “Rethinking Policing in the 21st Century” with Dr. Basil Smikle.
  • We undertook internal assessments of each of SIPA’s key offices and program areas to identify and examine current approaches and consider ways to strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.  As part of this effort, we convened full faculty meetings to discuss DEI and assess the SIPA curriculum, including core courses.
  • Perhaps most significantly, we established a DEI Steering Committee comprising students, faculty and staff to help guide our DEI initiative. The Committee reviewed past and ongoing efforts to promote DEI at SIPA, identify areas for improvement, and develop a set of concrete recommendations.  
  • To support its work, the Committee engaged an independent DEI consultancy – Iere Strategies – to assist with a comprehensive school-wide assessment that engaged more than 1,000 SIPA students, faculty, staff and alumni through surveys, focus groups and interviews.

I want to thank the members of our community who supported these efforts, particularly the DEI Steering Committee – with special thanks to its two faculty chairs, Senior Lecturer Eugenia McGill and Professor Suresh Naidu.

Steering Committee Findings and Recommendations

Last week, the Steering Committee provided its initial findings and recommendations to me.  I invite you to review the findings and recommendations here.

I am deeply grateful to the Committee for its focus and active engagement across such a broad segment of the SIPA community. This was truly a SIPA-wide effort and I thank those of you who took time to share your views, ideas, and concerns.

As you will see, the Committee has drawn on the consultant’s report to recommend a multi-dimensional strategy over the short and longer term to advance SIPA’s longstanding goal to be diverse, equitable and inclusive. I look forward to working with the Steering Committee and the Diversity Committee and others to develop priorities and accountability processes for the coming year and beyond.

Immediate Actions

SIPA’s DEI Initiative will necessarily proceed on multiple fronts over an extended period. However, I believe two important steps identified in the Steering Committee’s report warrant near term action and can be initiated.

First, we will refine the advisory structure for DEI work at SIPA. I look forward to working with Diversity Committee leadership and members, the DEI Steering Committee and other constituencies to further refine the Diversity Committee so that it can guide our DEI efforts and continue to serve as an effective advisor to the Dean’s office and others at SIPA.  Ideally, the restructured Committee will be in place this fall and I will work with it to develop action priorities for the coming year.

Second, we will hire a new professional to focus exclusively on diversity and community relations at SIPA. With input from SIPA stakeholders with a diversity focus (including students, faculty, staff, and alumni) we will develop the parameters of this position, and I expect to launch a search in early fall.

I look forward to providing further updates as we deeply consider all of the issues and recommendations of the DEI Steering Committee and welcome your comments and suggestions.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


MESSAGE FROM DEAN MERIT E. JANOW - Thursday, July 1, 2021

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

As President Bollinger shared earlier today, I have decided it is time for me to step down as Dean of SIPA at the end of the year. It is impossible to express how deeply rewarding my time as Dean has been these past eight years, how grateful I am to the colleagues with whom I have had the privilege of working and collaborating, and the immense pride I feel for the exceptional students who have walked the halls of this remarkable institution.  I will conclude my tenure as Dean on December 31, 2021.  After a sabbatical, I look forward to returning to teaching, research and engaging with the world as a member of the faculty, as I have done for the past 27 years.

As a graduate of Columbia Law School, a long-serving faculty member and instructor at SIPA and the Law School, a co-director of a research center at the Business School, and now as Dean of SIPA, I have been fortunate to join in all the activities that are integral to a great university – creating new ideas, teaching future leaders, adding to a great faculty, enhancing the student experience, and advancing collaboration between academia and diverse partners around the world. 

I came to SIPA in 1994 after practicing law and serving as a US trade negotiator in the Executive Office of the President.  I never imagined how profoundly wonderful that choice would prove to be. Years later, serving as Dean of SIPA has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life. To lead what I consider the most global and outstanding school of international and public affairs in the world today, at one of the world’s great research universities, has been an enormous personal privilege.

Nothing has given me greater inspiration during my time as dean than our amazing students, faculty, staff and alumni.  We have accomplished a great deal together – and I have learned so much from all of you. Columbia and SIPA’s future is vast and bright, and I believe SIPA is in its strongest position ever to continue to advance the training, scholarship and engagement that are crucial to us all and that continue to have such meaningful consequences in the world.

I thank President Bollinger for giving me the opportunity to serve as dean, and for his guidance and support. I hope to help the next dean, just as past deans have been so very helpful to me.

Looking ahead, we have what promises to be a joyous and productive Fall 2021 semester on the horizon, as we will welcome large classes of incoming and continuing students, resume important faculty searches, advance our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commitments and other School priorities, and most importantly, will be reunited in person as a vibrant intellectual community.

Until then, I wish you all a revitalizing summer. Thank you for the support you have given me. I look forward to our fall together.


Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Planning for Fall 2021 - Thursday, June 3, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I write to provide a further update on our plans for the Fall 2021 semester. Since my last communication, conditions in New York City have continued to improve and vaccinations have increased substantially. The University currently expects that all classrooms will be at full occupancy.

Accordingly, we are now planning for a full resumption of in-person instruction this fall. This means we expect students, faculty, and staff to be present on campus. The promise of returning to in-person academic life holds great excitement, and I know we all look forward to once again seeing each other around Columbia’s International Affairs Building and participating in the rich array of activities that have long contributed to SIPA’s intellectual vibrancy and uniqueness.

Our ability to achieve this goal rests upon the cooperation of our entire community, and it will be incumbent upon each of us to take some specific actions to ensure our collective safety. Crucially, the University has mandated that all students, faculty, and staff must be vaccinated:

  • On April 19th, the University announced that all students who access campus beginning in Fall 2021 must be vaccinated. All students – new and continuing – should plan to be vaccinated well before the start of Fall semester. It is everyone’s responsibility to understand the University’s health and safety policies and protocols, and you can learn more here.
  • On May 14th, the University announced that all faculty and staff must be vaccinated.  Proof of vaccination must be submitted to CU Health (via the ReOpen CU App) no later than August 2, 2021. You may find more information, including FAQs, here.  

With classes starting on Thursday, September 9, SIPA staff will be working with all students, faculty, and staff to help prepare you for our full return to campus.


This week all students (domestic and international, new and continuing) will receive a mandatory questionnaire regarding plans for arrival on campus. We ask that you return it promptly — no later than June 11— so we can learn more about your plans and assist, where possible, if you are facing obstacles.

International students who are concerned about travel restrictions and visa delays must immediately consult with Columbia University’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) for assistance and options. Late arrivals may be accommodated, on a case-by-case basis, for a limited period, but our assumption remains that students will attend classes in-person.  

This week we will also publish a series of Frequently Asked Questions that provides further guidance and which will be updated regularly throughout the summer. A link to these FAQs will be provided along with the questionnaire.


All faculty are expected to teach in-person this fall and Associate Dean Hazel May will reach out to faculty shortly to communicate further about classroom instruction and contingency plans.


We will take a phased approach for the return to in-person work for SIPA staff.  The timing of your return will largely depend on your role and responsibilities, with the expectation that the majority of staff will return to campus starting in mid-to-late July to allow time to prepare for the arrival of students and faculty in the fall.  Staff will receive a separate communication with more detailed information soon.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for their patience and flexibility. As we all have learned over the past year, public health conditions can change quickly. The University and SIPA Administration are constantly assessing and evaluating our plans in light of conditions on-the-ground, as well as any requirements of New York State. Conditions may require adjustments, but as of today we are optimistic that we shall be able to resume in-person academic life and that the rigorous protocols implemented over the past year at SIPA and across Columbia University will keep us all safe.

I look forward to welcoming you back to campus in the coming months. Until then, we will continue to provide regular updates throughout the summer.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Statement on Today's Verdict - April 20, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Following President Bollinger’s statement earlier today, I write to share a few thoughts with you about the ruling in the George Floyd murder trial.

I want to begin by acknowledging the immense pain, anxiety, and outright fear that so many in our community, particularly our Black students and students of color, have experienced, especially during this period. I hope the SIPA community is a source of strength and support to you in this difficult time – and in years to come.

The murder of George Floyd was a brutal and horrific act, witnessed around the world on video. Those nine minutes will remain forever with me. As shocking as they were, they also were another – and unfortunately not even the latest – in a long history of injustice faced by people of color in America. Almost weekly we learn of another act of violence against a Black person, hate crime or hostility perpetrated against a person of color, or other violence against innocent civilians.  Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man killed outside of Minneapolis, and Adam Toledo, a 13-year old boy killed in Chicago, are just the most recent examples.

There is no question it was necessary and just to hold former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin accountable for the murder of George Floyd. But beyond that, there are deeply rooted and ongoing issues of systemic racism in law enforcement and criminal justice that cannot be addressed by a single criminal trial. I hope and trust this case will motivate further actions against structural racism and its many manifestations, particularly bias in policing and the use of force, in the U.S. and around the world.

For our part at SIPA, we will continue to take up these issues ongoingly, as will the Diversity Committee in the fall, as we plan additional forums for engagement and discussion. I know our community will continue to demonstrate its deep commitment – and creative capacity – to foster more just institutions and societies.

This is a stressful time, and I want to share resources for those who would benefit from further support.  Columbia Health and Student Health on Haven are always available to students. You may book time to speak with a counselor one-on-one, join a support group, or simply receive tips to help you stay healthy during times of stress. For spiritual support you can also always connect with a Religious Life advisor.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we each reflect upon this trial and undertake our own searching examination of its consequences, please continue to look after and support each other.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Update on SIPA Graduation and Fall 2021 Plans - April 12, 2021 

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

With the conclusion of spring semester almost upon us, I write to share a few brief updates about the remaining weeks of the academic year as well as some initial plans and guidance for Fall 2021.

Graduation and Commencement

First, we are excited to be celebrating the Class of 2021! I hope you will attend this year’s virtual graduation ceremony, which will be streamed twice to accommodate viewers in different time zones: April 28th at 7:30 p.m. ET and April 29th at 9:00 a.m. ET.  In addition to remarks from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Attorney General Eric Holder, we will have special congratulatory messages from directors of SIPA’s degree programs as well as members of the Class of 2021. You will receive a link to join the ceremony in the coming weeks.

As announced last week, we also will provide an opportunity for 2021 graduates to take photos on campus on April 29th, and in addition to our own graduation ceremony and activities, I hope you will participate in University Commencement on April 30th at 10:30 a.m.  You may learn more on the University’s commencement website.

Fall Classes for Graduates

The Class of 2021 has endured so much during this pandemic, including the disappointment of not being able to attend all classes in person. I know our SIPA faculty share in this disappointment. For this reason, I am pleased to announce that we will be allowing our newest alumni to audit courses next year at no cost to them. We are developing a list of such courses and an application process, and we will be providing our upcoming graduates additional information over the summer.

Safe Return to Campus in Fall 2021

As President Bollinger shared in his message to the community on March 17th, our goal for Fall 2021 is a return to the customary academic year and the resumption of on-campus University life, including in-person academic activities. For our part, we are preparing for in-person classes and events within the International Affairs Building, with the understanding that these activities will be shaped by public health considerations and University guidance. We are mindful that other external factors, such as international travel restrictions and visa backlogs, may affect the ability of some international students to attend classes in-person, particularly at the beginning of the semester.

Accordingly, we will be prepared to offer hybrid instruction, as needed, to accommodate those unable to attend in-person, whether due to arrival delays or ongoing physical distancing requirements that affect classroom capacity. However – and I want to stress – our goal remains as much in-person activity as possible this fall, and we will do everything we can to realize this goal. We will provide additional information in the coming weeks.

Return to In-Person Services

SIPA staff have been remarkable during this difficult year, first in transitioning the School’s operations online in March 2020 and then ensuring that our vital work has continued in the virtual and hybrid environment. All of these adjustments have required hard work and resourcefulness, well beyond normal expectations. I am grateful to all staff for their professionalism, dedication, and creativity over the past year.

We are now planning a phased return to in-person services, consistent with University guidance. Some staff are already working in-person, while others are working remotely and will continue to do so for at least the short term. We expect to announce more concrete plans for the shift to on-campus services in the coming weeks. In the meantime, supervisors will reach out to staff to share our current thinking and seek feedback.

We expect to know much more in the coming weeks and will share that with you as soon as possible. With the pace of vaccinations improving in the United States and in some parts of the world, and signs of spring all around us in New York City, this is a hopeful period.

I wish you all a safe and successful conclusion to spring semester.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Standing with Asian and Asian-American Communities - March 17, 2021

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

The shocking increase in violence and hate crimes directed against Asians and Asian-Americans in New York City and many other cities in recent months has been a cause of enormous concern to me personally and to so many in our community.

These incidents, which have ranged from verbal harassment and racial slurs to outright assault and appalling acts of physical violence – most recently in Georgia yesterday – are a source of great pain and remind us of the long history of racism against Asians and Asian-Americans in the United States. When considered within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the profound personal and professional struggles that many have endured over the past year, our sense of outrage is compounded even further.

Let us be clear: racially-motivated acts of hatred and violence have no place in our society and we must speak out against them in the strongest possible terms. Today we stand in solidarity with all Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific-Islander communities, including our SIPA students, faculty, and staff who are members.

There are many resources at Columbia University for those in need of further support or help during these challenging times. I take the liberty of sharing with you a message from the Office of University Life sent earlier today regarding the attacks in Atlanta that includes links to these and other resources. You may find the message here.

Additionally, I share a link to register for an upcoming discussion on Thursday, April 1st on “The Rise of Anti-Asian Violence: A Conversation on Identity & Progress in a COVID-19-world,” sponsored by several SIPA and Columbia organizations and institutions and featuring introductory remarks by SIPA Adjunct Faculty Member and New York State Senator John C. Liu.

For our part, let us stand together, support each other, and continue to work together as one SIPA community to build a more respectful and inclusive world, within our School and more broadly.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Update - January 27, 2021

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

With the new year and spring semester underway, I hope you have settled in and are adjusting to the many changes already taking place. This week marks the beginning of in-person instruction at SIPA, and about 30 percent of lectures and seminars are being taught in hybrid mode. More than 90 new students from 20 countries have joined us this January, the largest incoming spring class in SIPA’s history. Many of these students were admitted this past fall but delayed their start until this spring due to the pandemic. We are delighted they are with us now and we look forward to welcoming them into the global SIPA community.

As with the fall semester, we will continue to offer a combination of in-person and remote learning opportunities, and numerous virtual discussions, programs, and events. It promises to be an exciting semester rich with opportunity for growth and exploration and the development of new skills.

Engaging the New Administration:  We begin 2021 at a time of significant change in the United States and around the world. A new presidential administration has taken the reins of the US government and is already making significant policy changes that hold profound domestic and international implications, be it around the pandemic response, the global economy, climate change, immigration policy, domestic recovery and infrastructure spending, relations with US allies and partners, and many other pressing issues. We also see new leadership in Congress, including two recently-elected SIPA alums in the House of Representatives.

As many of you know, several SIPA and Columbia faculty members also have decided to join the Biden-Harris administration, including:

Many SIPA alumni also have decided to lend their expertise to the new administration. It is exciting to see these members of our community helping shape ideas and policies. We wish them all great success.

Remaining COVID Aware: As the world moves forward slowly with vaccine distribution, it is a time of renewed hope and optimism. Nevertheless, we still confront the inescapable reality of a serious global pandemic. A year has now passed since the onset of COVID-19, and it will soon be a year since SIPA first transitioned to online learning in March 2020. I continue to marvel at the immense creativity and resolve our community has displayed throughout this challenging period, whether in adjusting to new learning modalities, managing so many personal and professional challenges, or finding new ways to carry forward our mission in a dramatically changed environment. 

I remind you again, as I have many times in recent months, to please take the necessary precautions to ensure your own safety and that of our community, including strict adherence to the Columbia Compact and all other University requirements, including the new gateway test requirement for those accessing campus. Please visit the University’s COVID-19 page for more information. In many ways, the next few weeks will be critical in determining the trajectory of this virus for the coming months.

Spring Discussions: As we look ahead into the spring semester, we already have several outstanding planned discussions. I hope you will find time to join us for some of these engaging conversations:

  • January 29, 1:00 pm – Robert Zoellick, former President of The World Bank, US Deputy Secretary of State, and US Trade Representative will discuss his new book, America and the World: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy and Diplomacy.
  • February 10, 1:00 pm - Judith Rodin, former President of the Rockefeller Foundation, will discuss her new book on impact investing, Making Money Moral.
  • February 12, 12:00 p.m. – The Arnold Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies will host its annual Kenneth N. Waltz Lecture featuring Sir Lawrence Freedman on the topic, “Nuclear Scripts: Stories of War and Deterrence.”
  • March 17, 1:00 pm - Jean-Marie Guehenno, Visiting Professor and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, will deliver the inaugural Kent Lecture on Conflict Resolution.
  • March 24, 1:00 p.m. – Ambassador Christopher Hill will deliver the 2021 George W. Ball Lecture.
  • March 29, 1:00 pm – Letitia James, Attorney General for the State of New York, will deliver the inaugural Beinecke Lecture.
  • SIPA’s Central Banking Initiative will hold its annual SIPA/Bank Policy Institute Conference on Bank Regulation Research each Friday in February from 9:00 to 11:00 am. This year’s theme is the impact of COVID-19 on bank regulatory structure and lending. You may find more information and register here.

We shall be sharing more information as well as registration links in the coming weeks.

DEI Steering Committee Update: This past fall I shared with you an update on our efforts to foster greater Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at SIPA. I am pleased to share with you that Professor Suresh Naidu has joined Professor Eugenia McGill as co-chair of the DEI Steering Committee. Professor Naidu will be taking over for Professor Hertel-Fernandez during his public service leave as he joins the Biden-Harris Administration. The Steering Committee has been advancing their work, and we shall be providing a more comprehensive update to you in the next few weeks and seeking your further involvement in this important effort. You may contact Professor Naidu or Professor McGill if you have any questions or comments about the Committee’s work.

I know this continues to be a challenging period for all of us, even with the promise of large-scale vaccinations on the horizon. I encourage you to take advantage of the many resources available through SIPA and the University – including counseling and support groups – if you are in need of help. Together we will get through this unprecedented time for our community and the world.

I again wish you all a safe and productive start to the year.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Spring Semester Message Regarding COVID-19 Public Health Requirements - January 19, 2021

Dear students, faculty and staff,

I hope you enjoyed a restful holiday break.  For returning students, welcome back to SIPA and a special warm welcome to our January entering class!

In anticipation of the start of the Spring 2021 semester, I am dedicating this community message of the new year to COVID-19 health and safety updates and reminders.  I have asked Senior Associate Dean Colleen Toomey, who is SIPA’s designated COVID-19 Safety Coordinator, to join me in this communication. 

This is a hopeful moment for all of us because we are on the cusp of vaccine distribution that can end the worldwide pandemic.  Until then, however, the situation is especially precarious. COVID-19 continues to spread within communities worldwide. We must redouble our efforts to protect one another by adhering strictly to the requirements of the Columbia Community Health Compact. 

We identify in the following paragraphs sources of information to ensure that you will be able to access campus this semester and hopefully remain in good health until the administration of vaccines: 

Access to Campus:  Mandatory Gateway Test Requirement

You have received several messages about the University’s new COVID-19 gateway testing requirement, but the requirement bears repeating, both for newly arriving students and for those who previously were tested during fall semester. To ensure access to campus facilities you must complete your gateway test by January 25; after that period, access privileges to campus facilities will be removed until the gateway test requirement is completed.  Please visit the University’s Covid-19 Testing Program Website for more information and to schedule your gateway test.  Once the gateway test requirement is satisfied, Columbia Health is encouraging graduate students, faculty and staff accessing campus facilities to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing.

Columbia Compact

We all must continue to abide by the Columbia Community Health Compact.  The health and safety of our community depends upon our adherence to its core commitments, which include mask-wearing, physical distancing, routine hand washing, completing Columbia’s ReOpen CU Covid Symptom Self-check App before coming to campus, staying home when sick or following possible exposure to COVID-19, and other measures.

NYS Quarantine Requirements

Please comply with New York State travel and quarantine regulations upon your arrival in or return to New York.  Quarantine requirements will be attested through the Reopen CU App.

Vaccine Distribution

Vaccine distribution is now under way for certain groups within the Columbia community and more broadly across the NY region and nationally.  The University's plan for vaccinating faculty, students and staff is being developed in conjunction with federal/CDC and New York state guidelines and will proceed accordingly.  The University has prepared a preliminary vaccine FAQ here.  The FAQ will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Extension of University Travel Restrictions

Columbia-sponsored travel during the spring semester, including over spring break, remains subject to the University’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions.  These restrictions include strong advisories regarding personal travel. 

Start of Spring Semester and Important Dates

As a reminder, the first two weeks of classes for the Spring semester (January 11 through January 23) will be fully online in an effort to facilitate the completion of gateway testing and quarantine requirements.  Below are a reminder of additional notable dates with respect to the Spring academic calendar: 

  • January 18, Monday – Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday observed – no classes
  • March 1, Monday-March 5, Friday – Spring Recess – no classes
  • April 15, Thursday – last day of classes
  • April 16, Friday-April 19, Monday – study days
  • April 20, Tuesday-April 26, Monday – Final Exams
  • April 28, Wednesday – SIPA Graduation
  • April 30, Friday – University Commencement

We will be sharing more information in the coming weeks about the many activities and events planned for our community during the spring semester. 

Welcome back to SIPA and best wishes for an engaging, healthy and safe semester. 

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs

Colleen B. Toomey
Senior Associate Dean

Statement regarding yesterday's events at the US Capitol - January 7, 2021

Dear members of the SIPA community,

Yesterday’s violence and vandalism at the US Capitol has left me and many in our community shocked, saddened, and angered.  What transpired before the eyes of this nation and, indeed, the world goes against everything that I personally believe the United States stands for and certainly what SIPA stands for as a global public policy school and a global community of scholars and practitioners committed to training the next generation of leaders.

While most of us viewed these shameful events from afar, two recently-elected SIPA alumnae – Representative Elissa Slotkin and Representative Sara Jacobs – were in the Capitol building.  We are grateful this morning that both are safe and back at work, along with our more than 2,600 DC-based SIPA alumni.  Importantly, despite the events of yesterday, the day ended with the peaceful certification of the next President of the United States and the selection of two new U.S. Senators in Georgia.

SIPA has sent thousands of young professionals into government service around the world and, more generally, our graduates, whether pursuing careers in government, the private sector or NGOs, do so imbued with a dedication to furthering public purpose.  As policy practitioners, educators, and aspiring leaders, let us today and in the months ahead remember our obligation to speak out against the kind of violence and lawlessness that occurred yesterday and think together about how to strengthen the institutions and norms of a just society.

This is undeniably a period for the US and indeed the world to come together to address our problems, forge a positive path forward, work to save lives and livelihoods. As the new year begins, let us be a place that is thinking deeply about those challenges and offering constructive ideas, as we have at SIPA for 74 years.

Sincerely yours, 

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs 

Fall Update and Planning for Spring 2021 - November 25, 2020

Dear members of the SIPA Community,

As we approach the upcoming Thanksgiving break, I want to take a moment to wish all of you a restful period. Even in this global pandemic, I hope you are able to find ways to safely connect with family, friends, and loved ones, even if only online. 

I also want to briefly update you on a few important matters related to campus safety, courses, and plans for Spring 2021. 

Campus Safety and Travel 

I am grateful to our students, faculty, and staff who, under the challenging circumstances we all are experiencing as a result of the pandemic, have consistently prioritized the health and safety of the SIPA and Columbia community. We must not let our guard down. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in New York City and elsewhere, it is important that we continue to follow all University health and safety protocols and strictly adhere to the Columbia University Health Compact. 

At this time, the University is strongly recommending against non-essential travel. If you must travel, Columbia’s Voluntary Testing Program has been expanded to cover travel-related testing (before you go and after you return). Please keep in mind that all travelers returning to New York are required to comply with state and local regulations, including observing State of New York quarantine requirements. 

Study Spaces 

With exams quickly approaching and final papers due soon, I want to remind our students that we continue to offer enhanced study spaces in the International Affairs Building and Lehman Library. If weather conditions permit, tents will also remain available for individual studying and small group meetings (subject to the University’s updated guidance about group gatherings). We understand that the University may be installing heaters to make the tents more comfortable. 

Additionally, international students may take advantage of the Columbia University Global Centers as well as Columbia-Designated WeWork sites. For more information, visit the University Initiative for International Students website 

Spring Classes  

As of this writing, while we are closely monitoring conditions in New York and on campus, we currently anticipate that SIPA will continue to offer in-person and hybrid classes after Thanksgiving break through the end of the Fall semester. 

In his message last week, President Bollinger discussed the approach of the University to the coming spring semester. For our part, SIPA will continue to offer all courses online and some courses via hybrid and in-person instruction, subject, of course, to public health conditions and safety considerations. 

Our Office of Academic Affairs will publish the Course Bulletin for Spring 2021 during the first week of December, which will indicate which courses will be offered via hybrid and in-person instruction. 

Graduate Student Survey  

I am grateful to all students who took time to participate in the University’s recent Graduate Student Survey. The survey yielded important insights and learning from the fall semester. The majority of students who responded to the survey rated their overall experience as satisfactory or very satisfactory. Moreover, the survey also reaffirmed that while many elements of online and hybrid instruction are working well, there are also challenges and some areas need further refinement. We have taken this feedback to heart and are already integrating changes into our Spring 2021 teaching modalities and course guidance. Faculty continue to work to transform their courses for both online and in-person instruction to ensure that we will again offer a robust curriculum with excellent instruction. 

Thank you, again, for all that you have done this semester to support each other and the SIPA community. My best wishes again for a restful Thanksgiving break. Please stay safe wherever you might be. 

Sincerely yours, 

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs 

Mayor David N. Dinkins - November 24, 2020

Dear Members of the SIPA community,

It is with great sadness that today we mourn the loss of one of the most beloved members of our faculty and the SIPA and Columbia community – Mayor David N. Dinkins.

Mayor Dinkins was a trailblazing political leader – the first and only Black Mayor of New York City who devoted his life and talents to public service and improving the lives of others. His legacy as mayor and as a public servant will long endure.

Mayor Dinkins was also a remarkable and generous educator, joining SIPA in 1994 after his time in office concluded. Over the next 25 years, he enriched our community in so many profound and lasting ways. Mayor Dinkins taught generations of SIPA students the intricacies of local and urban governance, drawing from his vast knowledge and first-hand experience. For more than 20 years, he also convened and hosted the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, a premier venue for leading figures to share their views on pressing urban and social issues with the broader Columbia community. We are proud that the Dinkins Forum continues to this day.

Mayor Dinkins’s importance to SIPA was further solidified in 2016 through the establishment of the David N. Dinkins Professor of Urban and Public Affairs, a faculty position reserved for an individual with a distinguished record of public service in urban governance who embodies Mayor Dinkins’s values and vision. We are grateful to Michael Nutter, former Mayor of Philadelphia, for serving as the inaugural holder of this professorship. As a member of the SIPA Advisory Board, Mayor Dinkins also contributed to the development and further growth of SIPA, a role for which I am personally grateful.

Above all, Mayor Dinkins was a joyous, thoughtful, and devoted husband, father, teacher, as well as a remarkable colleague to so many of us. As many in our community know, Mayor Dinkins spoke often about his beloved wife Joyce, who passed away in October, and her significance in his life and work. In the coming weeks, we will find additional ways to recognize his exceptional life and legacy.

We extend our deepest condolences to Mayor Dinkins’s family and friends.

Sincerely yours, 

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs 


Update on SIPA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts - November 17, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I am writing to update you on our efforts to foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at SIPA, building on the plans we outlined this past summer. As I shared with you at that time, creating a more meaningfully diverse and inclusive School is a core commitment of SIPA and Columbia University, and it has been a personal priority for me.

Over the past several months, working closely with Vice Dean Scott Barrett and Senior Associate Dean Colleen Toomey, we have continued to advance this important effort with students, faculty, staff, alumni, the SIPA Diversity Committee, SIPASA, and members of our broader University community. We have undertaken a series of concrete steps to advance our goals and identify additional areas that warrant our ongoing attention and action. While we still have much work ahead, I am sharing a few developments:

Faculty and Courses

We have redoubled our efforts to diversify part-time faculty and to support the creation of new courses and capstones on issues related to race, policy, inequality, and social justice. As part of a new SIPA Adjunct Faculty Diversity Initiative that Vice Dean Scott Barrett and I announced this summer, we invited all full-time faculty members to submit recommendations for the hiring of new adjunct faculty and proposals for new courses. As a result of this work, we are pleased to offer the following new courses in Spring 2021:

  • Harlem Community Engagement Practicum (Instructor: Barbara Askins)
  • Securing Full Economic and Political Citizenship for All Americans Practicum (Instructor: Verna Eggleston)
  • Movements & Public Policy in the United States (Instructor: Keesha Gaskins-Nathan)
  • Environmental Justice and Climate Resiliency (Instructor: Annel Hernandez)
  • Race, Gender, and Political Change (Instructor: Jeri Powell)

In addition, I am also excited to share with you that Letitia James, Attorney General for the State of New York, will be co-teaching a course with Dr. Basil Smikle on “Rethinking Policing in the 21st Century.” 

We very much look forward to welcoming all these adjuncts to the SIPA community.

We expect to add at least two additional courses next fall, subject to approval from the Committee on Instruction. One of these is about the intersection of race, social media, and international affairs. The other addresses race and power in development, again with an international focus.

Capstone Projects

SIPA’s capstone program is a wonderful opportunity for our students to apply their skills and knowledge to address real world problems on behalf of clients and in collaboration with a faculty advisor. In a typical year, we organize more than 80 capstone projects. This spring, we will be undertaking several new projects related to race, policy, and social justice. We are grateful to the following organizations and SIPA faculty advisors for their collaboration:

Client: Center for Popular Democracy
Topic: Healthcare Is a Human Right – Barriers to Access With a Race and Gender Lens
Instructor: Kristina Eberbach 

Client: Harlem Children's Zone
Topic: From Cradle to College – Measuring Success and Program Development 
Instructor: Sandra Black 

Client: New York Women's Foundation
Topic: Examining the Landscape of Organizations Working in Areas of Reproductive Justice, Childcare and Youth Leadership in Upstate New York and on Long Island
Instructor: Stacey Cumberbatch

Client: New York City Housing Authority
Topic: A Roadmap for Equitable Open Space Planning: The Public Impact of Public Space
Instructor: Thomas Quaranta 

Client: The Bronx Community Relief Effort
Topic: Building a Smart Cities Strategy for the Bronx
Instructor: Miverva Tantoco  

DEI Self-Assessment and Steering Committee

Over the summer, we inaugurated an institution-wide DEI self-assessment aimed at identifying what we have done and what more we might do in furtherance of these important shared values. As I wrote to the community in July, “This self-assessment process will examine academic and non-academic dimensions of SIPA; review actions previously taken, those currently underway and gaps to address; and consider steps to be taken and goals for the future.”  Since my July communication, our principal administrative and academic units have undertaken inventories of SIPA’s various DEI initiatives during the past several years and are benchmarking these initiatives against those of peer and other schools.

As a next step, I am pleased to share with you that SIPA has retained Huron Consulting Group, a leading consultancy for higher education and DEI efforts, to support this process. This effort will include the creation of a new DEI Steering Committee, public meetings and new focus groups, and other activities that will seek input from multiple stakeholders and contribute to SIPA’s first DEI report, which will be completed this academic year.

I am grateful to the following faculty members, students, and staff who have agreed to be part of our inaugural DEI Steering Committee:

  • Faculty: Co-chairs Professors Alex Hertel Fernandez and Eugenia McGill. Other faculty to include Keren Yarhi-Milo, Steven Cohen, and Michael Nutter.
  • Students: Séléna Batchily, Tenzin Thargay, Leslie Conner Warren, Jason West
  • Staff: Grace Han, Urbano Garza, Colleen Toomey, Samantha Shapses

Both Vice Dean Scott Barrett and I will be working closely with the Steering Committee, and we will consult with the SIPA Diversity Committee, other ad hoc faculty committees and student groups to ensure wide consideration of issues and approaches.

I will continue to provide regular updates as this important work continues.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs

Fall 2020 Update - October 26, 2020

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,
I write today to share a brief update since my last communication at the start of the school year. The fall has been active, with more than 1,000 students undertaking online and in-person classes with great success, dozens of engaging virtual events, and many other activities.
As the semester began, we knew it would be unique in many ways but also continue the traditional SIPA experience. Campus is certainly quieter, but as always, SIPA is a hub of great vitality, intellectual engagement, and scholarly activity. I invite you to read the brief SIPA highlights below, and also take a moment to read Interim Provost Katznelson’s recent message about the current environment at Columbia and plans for 2021.
I look forward to sending further updates later this semester. Until then, I hope you are all staying safe, and thank you for contributing to SIPA’s vibrancy and our educational mission.
Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Curriculum and Instruction

Our initial surveys indicate that about 35 percent of students are enrolled in at least one in-person class this semester, with the remainder online. Twenty-five percent of classes are being taught in Hyflex classrooms, allowing simultaneous in-person and remote participation.  Feedback thus far has been extremely positive.  In the course implementation survey at the end of the third week, roughly 75 percent of students rated their courses as “very good” or “excellent”.  This is a credit to the faculty who spent considerable time over the summer redesigning their courses for online delivery, and to our students who are engaging in their online and hybrid courses with the same enthusiasm and seriousness they normally bring to SIPA classrooms.
SIPA faculty continue to redesign courses with the expectation that spring semester will again be a combination of online and hybrid instruction.  We will be guided, of course, by public health considerations and University decisions.

Campus Safety

The latest report from the University indicates 35,075 COVID-19 tests have been conducted since June 22nd, with 24 total positive tests, for a positivity rate of .07% among students, faculty, staff, and affiliates who have been tested. We will continue to monitor these results weekly and make any necessary adjustments should the circumstances warrant. I thank those of you on campus for adhering to social distancing and other safety requirements within the International Affairs Building and across the University. All of us must do our part and uphold the Columbia Community Health Compact.

Virtual Engagement

SIPA events are always a highlight of the semester, and we have been hosting some truly insightful and engaging discussions since the start of the year. Whether it is our weekly lecture series on policymaking in the throes of a global crisis led by Professors Jeff Sachs and Scott Barrett, or our series on how central banks are responding to the pandemic, or SIPA’s participation in ClimateWeek NYC 2020 through the Center on Global Energy Policy, we have been contributing our knowledge and expertise in important ways. You may find links to these and other events on SIPA’s YouTube Channel
We have many other events planned, including a new series around the 2020 Elections, which has already featured events on topics such as speechwriters and elections; online political advertising; race, inequality, and US elections; the election through international eyes; and will also include a few more upcoming events:

  • US Elections, Foreign Policy, and National Security (November 6th, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET)
  • Managing Presidential Transitions and Governance: Perspectives from the White House (November 9th, 1:00 - 2:15 p.m. ET)
  • US Elections and Domestic Policy (November 13th, 1:00 to 2:00 ET)

Stay tuned for more information and additional announcements in the coming weeks.

New Study Spaces, Library Hours, and More

We have made several adjustments to SIPA facilities since the start of fall semester to enhance the study environment for students and those on campus. A few examples:

  • Lehman Library has expanded its reservation periods for dedicated study space to four hours (the previous duration was two hours). Students may visit here to reserve a seat. Reservations may be made up to two weeks in advance. 
  • We are increasing the number of rooms in the International Affairs Building that are reserved for students to use as study halls, workspaces, or as places to log into online classes (with headphones). The Office of Student Affairs has created a scheduling system for each room, available here (UNI required).
  • We have restored furniture in Publique café on the 6th floor of IAB to provide more spaces where students may talk or use phones comfortably without disturbing others.
  • As we communicated earlier this semester, SIPA has reserved the Ancel Plaza tent exclusively for SIPA events and activities every Thursday from 3 - 6 p.m. through the end of November. Seating under the tent also is available for students when the tent is not otherwise being used for University events.

We hope these improvements contribute to a more comfortable and accessible environment for those of you on campus.

SIPA Magazine

Finally, I am excited to share that the new issue of SIPA Magazine, our signature publication, is being sent out this week. We hope you enjoy reading about the amazing research and activities our community has undertaken over the past year, with a particular focus on COVID-19.  If you would like to read a PDF version of the magazine, you can do so here.
Thank you and my best wishes.


Welcome back to SIPA! - September 8, 2020

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

Welcome new students, and welcome back everyone returning for the fall semester!

We have shown over the past six months that we can recreate and sustain the SIPA community online – a great thanks to all who have contributed.  And this week, while we offer our full fall curriculum online, we also will offer nearly 25 percent of these courses via HyFlex classrooms in the International Affairs Building, an important first step toward a safe return to campus. Let me extend a particularly enthusiastic welcome to new students who are joining us, both online and in-person this fall. Our entire team is here to do everything we can to support you – as well as all of our students joining us from around the world.

As we start a new academic year, I write to share a few thoughts about the upcoming semester and to give you a brief preview of some of the remarkable people, activities and events that will be part of our upcoming year.

As described by President Bollinger in his recent communication, this fall semester will be unlike any in Columbia’s or SIPA’s long history. In this time of COVID-19, all of us have had to make adjustments in response to the virus and there will continue to be uncertainty in the weeks ahead.  Please know that I am grateful to each of you for your flexibility and your commitment to SIPA and to each other as we continue academic life at SIPA.

While the pandemic has forced all of us to make many changes, I know that we still enter this academic year with excitement and hopefulness. Of course, what has not changed is our commitment to providing a world-class education for our students, a unique and deeply engaging intellectual environment, and numerous extraordinary opportunities for learning and the development of new skills and experiences.

This is a special time to be at one of the world’s leading policy schools, where members of our community are thinking about the many challenges our world faces and how to mitigate and respond to them. Our faculty are offering a variety of exciting new courses and seminars, e.g. on crisis management and global leadership, online disinformation campaigns, data analysis for policy research using R and environmental advocacy, as well as new courses and workshops focused on COVID-19. The fall will also bring a US presidential election in November and all of its ramifications.  For many reasons, we know that the 2020-21 academic year is likely to be a unique period to be at SIPA.

As always, and perhaps even more true today than in years past, SIPA faculty, program directors and staff have planned an extraordinary range of programs and activities this fall, including nearly 250 courses this semester and just as many in spring. In addition, there will be a total of nearly 100 capstone projects and other co-curricular activities this year. This summer SIPA announced a wide ranging diversity initiative, aimed at making SIPA an even more meaningfully diverse and inclusive school. As we move forward, we will seek your involvement as we hope to work closely with students, faculty, staff and alumni. 

If you have not done so, I urge you to visit the University’s COVID-19 Resource Guide  to familiarize yourself with the University’s plans for the fall semester, including requirements for those planning to return to campus.  The health and safety of our in-person community depends on working together to implement those important community norms and University requirements.  We also recently updated our Fall Q&A document, which includes a variety of SIPA-specific information for students.

I invite you to learn more about fall semester in the below preview. Whether you will join us remotely or in person, I look forward to your contributions to SIPA’s dynamism and vibrancy.

I am excited to start the semester with you!

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Fall 2020 Preview

Class of 2022

Please join me in welcoming the SIPA Class of 2022. In all, nearly 295 students have started in our two-year MIA/MPA/MPA-DP programs. They join more than 100 new students in our MPA-ESP, MPA-EPM, EMPA, and PhD programs.  Welcome to SIPA!

New Faculty, Visitors and Research Scholars

This year we welcome two new full-time faculty members as well as several visiting professors and senior research scholars:

  • Rumela Sen, Lecturer (full-time): previously a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Political Science Department, she pursues research on civil conflict, post conflict governance and state building. She will teach the core Politics of Policymaking course within SIPA’s MPA program, as well as political development for the Economic and Political Development Concentration.
  • Harold Stolper, Lecturer (full-time): he previously served as Senior Economist for Community Service Society of New York, where he analyzed the differential impact of public policy on low-income and minority groups. This semester he will teach the application of “R” to data analysis, as well as Quantitative Analysis II.
  • Sivaram Varun, Senior Research Scholar: a foremost expert on clean energy technology, he has joined SIPA’s Center on Global Energy Policy.  A physicist and bestselling author, he previously served as Chief Technology Officer of ReNew Power, India’s largest clean energy company, and prior to that, as Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations, among other positions.
  • Janee Potts, Adjunct Assistant Professor, and Natalie Vanatta, Adjunct Assistant Professor: they will co-teach the course, “Cyber Risks and Vulnerabilities.”  Both are deeply experienced cyber experts with extensive military service, including positions at the Army Cyber Institute at the U.S. Military Academy.

In addition to the above appointments, we are very pleased to welcome back to teach in the spring His Excellency Toomas Ilves,former President of Estonia; Keiko Honda, former CEO of the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency; and Nobuchika Mori, former commissioner of Japan’s Financial Services Agency.

George W. Ball Visiting Professor

I am also pleased to share that Ambassador Christopher Hill will serve as the George W. Ball Adjunct Professor at SIPA in Spring 2021.

As many of you know, Ambassador Hill was a distinguished member of the U.S. Foreign Service for 33 years, where he served at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy across multiple regions, including Asia, Europe and the Middle East. As Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, he led U.S efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which induced North Korea to catalogue its nuclear activities and freeze and disable its plutonium production in 2008-2009. 

He also was a leading negotiator who helped forge the agreement that ended the Bosnian war in 1995 and was the U.S. envoy in negotiations that ended the Kosovo war in 1999, among many other career highlights.  Ambassador Hill served for seven years (2010 to 2017) as Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Most recently he served as the University’s Head of Global Engagement and as a Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy until 2020.

As the George W. Ball Adjunct Professor, Ambassador Hill will teach a course on diplomacy and also deliver the annual George W. Ball lecture, among other activities. His extraordinary foreign policy experience will be of tremendous benefit to our students and intellectual community, and we look forward to welcoming him to SIPA this spring.

New Courses

This fall SIPA will offer 11 new courses, with more to be added in Spring 2021.  A few highlights include:

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic: Virology, Public Health, and Economics (Jeffrey Sachs/Glenn Denning)
  • Foreign Policy Crisis Decision-Making (Keren Yarhi-Milo)
  • Multilateral Support for Economic Crisis Management (José Antonio Ocampo)
  • Environmental Advocacy: From Interest to Action (Sara Tjossem)
  • Policy Solutions for Online Mis/Disinformation (Anya Schiffrin)

Upcoming Events

While there will be no in-person events in September and we will continue to monitor conditions for the remainder of the semester, we have scheduled numerous virtual conferences, workshops, and discussions on important and intriguing global issues.  Among those already planned for Fall 2020:

  • Tuesday, September 8th, 8:00 a.m. - Recent Lessons For Financial Regulation and Macroprudential Policy, hosted by SIPA’s Central Banking and Financial Policy Initiative.
  • Monday, September 21st, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.: The Challenges of Financing the Sustainable Development Goals, featuring Navid Hanif, Director of Financing for Sustainable Development, Office of UNDESA.  Comments by Professor Jose Antonio Ocampo.
  • Thursday, September 24th, 8:00 a.m. - Central Bank responses to Covid-19: Implications for Central Bank Independence, featuring Professors Patricia Mosser and Takatoshi Ito.
  • Monday, September 28th, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.: - Speechwriters on Elections, sponsored by the Technology, Media and Communications (TMaC) Specialization.  SIPA will feature additional U.S. election-related events throughout the semester, including Race, Inequality and Perspectives on US Elections on October 15th at 6:30 p.m., and The Election Through Foreign Eyes on Tuesday, October 20th at 6:00 p.m.
  • COVID-19: Policy-Making in the Throes of a Global Crisis, open webinar, hosted by Vice Dean and Professor Scott Barrett and University Professor Jeffrey Sachs, most Wednesdays 1-2pm. (Note: SIPA students may take this webinar as part of Independent Study credit.)

Among the events planned this fall by SIPA research centers:

  • The Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) will be partnering with Climate Week NYC 2020 to host a series of virtual, online events on climate change from September 21-27.  Run by The Climate Group annually in coordination with the United Nations and the City of New York, Climate Week NYC will feature hundreds of events in New York City and around the world.  CGEP will host seven virtual events that link the policies, technologies and investments needed to rebuild the global economy after COVID-19, and accelerate climate policy at the local, state, federal and international levels with a focus on U.S. leadership and policy pathways.
  • Over the fall semester, the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies will host a series of panels exploring the COVID-19 global pandemic through the lens of international security.  Each panel, featuring recognized experts in their field, will examine the impact of the virus on a key area of global peace and security, and discuss challenges and opportunities likely to exist now and into the future.  Panels will convene once a month and address topics such as COVID-19’s impact on great power relations and global institutions; what the pandemic exposed about bioweapons defense; and how and where did the pandemic hit hardest globally, and why?

Please visit the SIPA events calendar for additional events and information.

SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant

We are pleased to be undertaking the eighth round of the SIPA Dean's Public Policy Challenge Grant Program.  Initial proposals for projects are due on September 28, 2020. The program, which is part of the campus-wide Columbia Venture Competition, invites students to turn their policy passions into entrepreneurial ventures – whether for profit or not for profit – and to design cutting-edge projects or prototypes that use ICT and/or data analytics to advance a public policy objective.

This year we are inviting students to consider a venture that is aimed either at facilitating COVID recovery or focused on an area where our world has been disrupted by COVID-19 and where new ventures in support of public purpose are needed and may thrive.  As always, we encourage venture ideas in areas that combine technology and data.  Additionally, we will also offer support for projects that address a pressing policy challenge in Brazil. We thank the Lemann Foundation for this opportunity. 

A total of $25,000 in prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.  You may learn more about this year’s challenge – as well as previous rounds and projects – here.

Once again, welcome back to SIPA!


Fall 2020 Update - August 14, 2020

Dear SIPA Community, 

I write to affirm that SIPA is going ahead with its plans to offer a mix of hybrid and online courses this Fall. As announced at the beginning of the summer, all courses will be available remotely for all of our students, wherever they may be—in the U.S. or around the world. Nearly a quarter of our courses will be taught on-campus via hybrid modality—simultaneously for students attending in-person and online. We have designed our approach to instruction and SIPA life in the Fall to accommodate both modalities and to create a vibrant virtual community across our many programs, student services and co-curricular activities.  

As President Bollinger announced earlier today, the University will drastically scale back the number of undergraduates in residence on campus this Fall and will offer all undergraduate courses virtually. Important in President Bollinger’s announcement is the fact that a very large percentage of undergraduates are coming from states and countries that would require they be quarantined for 14 days in University-provided, single-person rooms. As President Bollinger put it, “while I have no doubt that we could ensure a safe quarantine period from a public health standpoint, two weeks is a long time to endure isolation, especially for students who will be leaving home for the first time.”  

Stepping back from the special challenges related to undergraduates, President Bollinger also reaffirmed that Columbia, particularly the professional schools, will continue to re-open as planned: “The careful metrics, grounded in science, that we have established to assess whether we have achieved the necessary conditions for return have been satisfied.” 

The University has developed extensive protocols to enhance health and safety on campus. Columbia University’s world-renowned public health professionals guiding this effort are actively monitoring developments in New York and on our campus. It is their judgement that current conditions permit a return to campus in the de-densified, physically distanced fashion that has been communicated previously—and for which SIPA and other schools have been preparing.  

According to our latest information, about 60% of SIPA students want to return to campus. Unlike new undergraduates, many SIPA students already live in New York City. For those who will need to quarantine, we expect they will find it less of a challenge than undergraduates.  

We have informed students of University public health and safety requirements, which include face coverings in all public spaces on campus, including classrooms. We also have provided students a list of hybrid courses to be offered on-campus, including reduced seating capacity in each classroom, due to physical distancing requirements. In addition, we have posted and continue to update an extensive Q&A about the coming year at SIPA.  

In this time of COVID-19 and the many adjustments that we have all had to make, the Fall will inescapably include many challenges. As President Bollinger stated so well: “we must assume we will be living with a significant degree of uncertainty for quite some time. That means many things. Among them, we must be prepared to shift as conditions change.” At SIPA, we are keeping this important point clearly in mind.    

It is also a historic time in the world and an extraordinary time to be at a leading school of global public policy. SIPA will offer its full curriculum of 250 classes this Fall, as well as robust co-curricular programming, student advising, career services and all the other types of activities that contribute to the intellectual life of the School. It is remarkable that since March, SIPA has undertaken more than 200 online academic webinars and co-curricular programs, including more than 100 during the summer.  

I hope that, even more than in usual times, we can work together as a community with a shared sense of mission and purpose. I know that we have an extraordinary faculty and staff that are deeply dedicated to supporting our students and delivering the best possible graduate education in global public policy. I look forward to joining you in that endeavor—both online and in-person, to the extent possible. 

Yours sincerely, 

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs 
Professor of Professional Practice in International Economic Law and International Affairs 


Emergency Aid Message to Continuing Students - August 12, 2020

Dear Continuing Students,

As the pandemic continues to disrupt so much of our world, I know that many of our students have faced heightened financial challenges, whether resulting from family hardships, diminished summer employment, currency devaluations, or depletion of other sources of support.

For this reason, SIPA will be putting more funding towards financial aid than ever before during the 2020-21 academic year, both for current and new students.   

Importantly, we have allocated an additional $300,000 to the Emergency Aid Fund, and these funds are now available to continuing students for the remainder of the summer and into the upcoming academic year.  This additional funding builds upon earlier allocations and gifts previously announced.  Specifically, you may recall from Financial Aid Director David Sheridan's message of June 15, 2020, that SIPA’s Emergency Aid Fund was extended throughout the summer months by a generous $100,000 gift, which further supplemented my original allocation of $150,000 for the last academic year.

Since April 2020, SIPA's Emergency Aid Committee has made more than 100 need-based awards. 

Continuing SIPA students are the only students eligible to apply for Emergency Aid this summer and during the beginning of Fall semester. Those who wish to apply may access the application form at

It is my sincere hope that devoting these additional funds to addressing need-based assistance for our continuing students will help you through this difficult period and facilitate your path back to your studies in the coming weeks.  

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Fostering Greater Diversity and Inclusion at SIPA - July 20, 2020

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

I am writing to update you on SIPA’s renewed efforts to foster greater diversity and inclusion within our community. Increasing diversity and inclusion are core commitments of SIPA and Columbia University that I believe make us stronger as an academic institution, more understanding and accepting of individual differences and perspectives, and more effective at identifying and, ultimately, combatting racism and discrimination in the U.S. and around the world.

As President Bollinger has stated, “Columbia University is not innocent of the structures of racism that have afflicted America. Yet we also have a history of confronting invidious discrimination and anti-Black racism. There is still much more do to.”

I agree fully with President Bollinger. Now is the time to reflect on what needs to be done to challenge the persistence of racism in the US and globally, including specific ways in which SIPA can contribute to that crucial task. As I recently wrote to a group of SIPA student leaders:  “We seek a SIPA that is more diverse in terms of its student body, its faculty, its staff and its curriculum, more intellectually attuned to race, equality, and justice, and more effective at advancing—through research and teaching—public policies that combat racism and promote justice, opportunity and dignity for all people everywhere.” Working with the Diversity Committee, as well as faculty and staff, and other interested students, we will be working on many fronts to help make SIPA an even more meaningfully diverse and inclusive School.

Our initial efforts span the breadth of the School:

  • School-wide Self-Assessment. At the urging of students, we have inaugurated a self-assessment of diversity and inclusion at SIPA. This self-assessment – which will draw on input from throughout the School, as well as outside expert third parties with expertise in DEI matters – will lay the foundation for a diversity report that will be made public before the end of the 2020-21 academic year.  This self-assessment process will examine academic and non-academic dimensions of SIPA; review actions previously taken, those currently underway and gaps to address; and consider steps to be taken and goals for the future.
  • Programming and Conversations. In consultation with the Diversity Committee, we are planning a series of conversations in the fall to consider SIPA actions and progress in key areas such as student recruitment and financial assistance, faculty recruitment priorities, curricular perspectives, anti-racism education and other areas. We expect faculty will initiate other events, based on their areas of expertise. Along with the self-assessment process, these conversations will be important steps toward increasing transparency around SIPA’s past efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, and helping develop a strategic plan and goals for the future. 
  • Courses. We are expanding our course offerings and are adding new courses on race, social justice and public policy to the SIPA curriculum.  Building on an initiative that began last June, we are working with faculty to recruit adjunct instructors from underrepresented minorities and introduce classes in spring 2021 and beyond that focus on race, social justice and public policy.
  • Capstones. We are expanding our outstanding experiential capstone program to include new projects and clients, particularly in New York City, that focus on social justice and anti-racism. SIPA undertakes a number of capstones every year that focus on a broad range of social justice issues, including inequality, poverty, migration, conflict and many other subjects. We intend to add additional capstones related to race and social justice in the coming academic year, with an eye toward projects in Harlem and New York City.
  • Faculty. We are continuing our efforts to prioritize diversity and race and public policy in our faculty hiring. While we have been on a positive trajectory over the past several years and hired remarkable scholars in many fields, our efforts must be redoubled.
  • Financial Aid. Increasing financial aid has been a top priority since I became Dean.  It has been a key element of our capital campaign, which has helped expand our financial aid budget by more than 100% since fiscal year 2014.  We have developed an approach to awarding financial aid that more fully considers financial need as a factor in making our award decisions. This year, we are putting more funding into financial aid than ever before.  Building on this work, we will launch additional fundraising initiatives in the fall, including a campaign focused on support for under-represented minority students.
  • Student Programming and Support. In recent years, our Office of Student Affairs, working closely with our students, has expanded diversity programming on behalf of SIPA students and our entire community. Going forward, SIPA is determining how best to further strengthen our administrative efforts in support of a diverse and inclusive community.  We currently are in a hiring freeze but this will not deter us from thinking further about this objective.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of our efforts, but I hope it conveys the seriousness with which we are approaching the importance of SIPA’s diversity in all dimensions of our program and activities.  I know other University-wide plans are also underway and SIPA will be a partner in those efforts.

I am grateful to the many students, faculty, staff and alumni who have reached out to me directly over the past several months to share your concerns, your ideas, and also your encouragement.  I believe this is a unique moment for all of us to work together to identify areas for improvement and make the changes that will benefit the School for many years to come. I thank you for your participation in this effort, and I look forward to keeping you updated on our plans and progress over the coming academic year.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs


Supporting our International Students at SIPA - July 9, 2020


Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

I write to share with you that Columbia University is filing a legal brief in support of the lawsuit initiated yesterday by Harvard and MIT against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's recent directives regarding international students and online learning.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking to deny visas to international students if the only courses they take this fall are entirely online.  Harvard, MIT, Columbia, and many other universities are now challenging these misguided directives in court. 

As indicated in the announcement below, Columbia's legal brief will focus on the enormous and incalculable contributions that our international students make to our university community.  Nowhere is this more true than at SIPA, where every year about 60 percent of our students are international.  We all benefit tremendously from our truly global community at SIPA, and speaking on behalf of the School, we unequivocally support our international students and the University's participation in this important litigation.

I circulated a message yesterday in which I shared that we are seeking guidance how best to adapt to these evolving circumstance and to provide a path forward for our international students.  More information will be shared as soon as possible so that our incoming and continuing international students have as much information as possible in order to plan for the upcoming academic year.  We appreciate your patience given this rapidly evolving situation.  In the meantime, students are encouraged to reach out to Columbia's International Students and Scholars Office with any immigration or visa-related questions they have [].

We stand with and support SIPA's international students, and look forward to welcoming you all in the Fall.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs

Columbia to Participate in Litigation Against ICE Restrictions on International Students

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Columbia, together with other leading colleges and universities, is currently at work on a friend-of-the-court brief to be filed in the legal challenge to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s newest federal rules, which pose significant limitations on international students.

As President Bollinger said in his message to the community, these regulations, which deny visas to international students whose courses are all online, are severely disruptive to the lives and well-being of our international students and damaging to our University.

Columbia’s brief will focus on the important and essential contributions that international students make to our intellectual and social life as a University community, and on the ways in which these new restrictions undermine the exchange of ideas that is the cornerstone of American higher education.

The deadline for filing the brief has not yet been set.  We will update this message when more information is available. 

President Bollinger’s message also addressed what Columbia will do now, as this litigation is ongoing:

First, as the University and each of our deans continue to make decisions about the structure of course offerings for the coming academic year, we must endeavor to configure hybrid classes providing in-person and remote learning options that alleviate the negative effect of these new regulations on Columbia students; we want our international students to be able to complete their studies here, if at all possible. Second, for the large community of international students who cannot come to Columbia because of the pandemic, we will be adapting our network of Columbia Global Centers and creating Pop-Up Global Centers in new locations to provide in-person academic and peer engagement. And, third, as I stated last week, we must continue to vigorously oppose immigration policies that damage Columbia, higher education, the national interest, and the international students, researchers, and faculty who immeasurably enrich our institution and the intellectual and personal experiences of each of us.

International students can be in touch with the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) for more information. Please also make use of the resources on University Life’s website whenever you need them, and counseling services, which continue to be available throughout the summer, on the Morningside and Medical Center campuses. 


Update on Fall Semester at SIPA - July 8, 2020


Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

In his message yesterday to the Columbia community, President Bollinger provided a significant update on the University’s plans for the resumption of on-campus activities this fall. I encourage you to review it as it speaks not only to academic life but also important features of campus life going forward. I write today to reaffirm what we have previously shared with you about our plans for the fall, which have not changed, and to further clarify SIPA’s approach to the fall.

First, while the University has given schools the option to have a three-term academic year, SIPA will offer our full curriculum in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, allowing students to complete their coursework in the usual timeframe. As previously noted, there are no changes to SIPA’s fall academic calendar, which will begin on September 8th. Spring semester, however, will start one week earlier than usual, on January 11th, and end on April 26th.  Commencement will take place that same week.  Once the University determines our designated date and time for commencement, we will share that information with you.

Second, as previously announced, all Fall 2020 courses will be offered online for the entire semester. In addition, a considerable number of these classes will be taught on campus. As I shared in my message to students on June 24th, if New York State and University public health policies allow, instructors will be able to teach from their regularly assigned SIPA classroom, and a limited number of students will be permitted to attend in person, subject to social distancing requirements. Faculty teaching in a classroom will simultaneously teach their online and on-campus students, utilizing newly installed audiovisual equipment.  University officials have informed us that in-person capacity will be 28 percent of the standard seating capacity and that work is underway to prepare classrooms to meet State and University public health guidelines.

On July 20 we will provide students via the SIPA Bulletin and Vergil a full list of Fall 2020 courses. To the extent possible by that date, we will identify which courses will be offered only online and which will be taught from a classroom (in addition to online).  If we know at that time that a course will be taught from a classroom, we will provide information about the expected in-person seating capacity. We will provide updates on July 27, August 3 and August 10 about the online/on-campus status of courses. We will provide full information no later than August 14 about which courses will be taught from a classroom and which will be online only. As stressed by President Bollinger, “every decision we make related to resuming in-person instruction and residential life will be contingent on New York State moving into Phase 4 of its reopening plan,” and any in-person instruction will depend on conditions on the ground in New York City.

Third, this week’s advance notice from the Department of Homeland Security of new regulations regarding online courses has doubtless raised many questions among SIPA’s international students.  I am in complete agreement with President Bollinger’s statement that these regulations are deeply misguided and "the destructive and indefensible purpose driving these policies" requires us to remain focused on the steps we can take to support our international students who are part of our Columbia family.  Although we are pressing for detailed guidance from University experts, it is our understanding that SIPA’s hybrid model (a mixture of online and in-person classes) will allow international students to enter the US on a student visa as long as they do not take an entirely online course load while in the US. In the meantime, students with any immigration or visa-related questions should consult the International Students and Scholars Office (here).

Fourth, we are working closely with faculty to redesign their fall courses for online instruction or a hybrid format. Among other adjustments, we are helping faculty make provisions for students who take courses from disparate time zones around the world. For example, nearly all class sessions will be recorded and made available to enrolled students via CourseWorks. SIPA-IT is also upgrading audio-visual capacity in all classrooms, in order to facilitate simultaneous teaching of online and in-person students.

Fifth, we will continue to offer the full range of student services to all SIPA students, whether in person or online. Further information about enhanced student support and services will be shared over the summer by the Office of Student Affairs, Office of Career Services, and other SIPA offices.

Sixth, from the onset of the pandemic, SIPA has taken steps to increase financial support for students. The School is providing the largest amount of financial aid in its history. In addition, we restructured our emergency fund this past spring to provide for students facing significant financial stress due to the COVID pandemic. We will continue that fund through the summer and into the fall. I also am pleased to announce that we are increasing resources available in the emergency fund for continuing students (modified guidelines and application process will be announced shortly).

Finally, President Bollinger’s message outlined the strict guidelines that will apply to all who live, work, study and teach at Columbia. Please review those carefully. As you will see, persons on campus must wear a face covering at all times, unless they are in a private room with the door closed. In addition, there are physical distancing, testing, symptom self-check, reduction in density, enhanced cleaning and other requirements.  More information about detailed public health protocols on campus can be found here.

The virus has had a profound effect on our community and the world. As we move forward, please know that we are deeply committed to supporting the needs of all of our students, faculty and staff. SIPA is the world’s most global school of international and public affairs, and we are proud of the remarkable students that join us from the United States and around the world. We are committed, as stressed by President Bollinger, in finding ways to enable the international students who are in the US to continue to complete their studies and those who are overseas to continue to engage with our faculty and students and be part of our vibrant virtual community.

We recognize many of you have more questions about the fall semester, and we will strive to answer them as soon as possible.  We are committed, no matter the uncertainty and disruption around us, to provide a safe learning environment consistent with our educational mission and to provide the rich array of intellectual experiences that are the defining features of the SIPA education.

The year ahead will be filled with complexity and interest: it will be a year that brings a US presidential election, important opportunities to consider economic, environmental, political, racial, social and other challenges facing the world and the United States. And despite the uncertainties and the precautions we all must undertake, we will have opportunities to study, teach, learn and engage with the world and each other. Our mission and our work have never been more important.

I look forward to our fall together.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs