SIPA | A View from the Class

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students.

April 2019

In this issue, we feature current SIPA student Stuart Caudill MIA '20. Stuart is a first-year Master of International Affairs (MIA) candidate concentrating in International Security Policy (ISP) with a specialization in Technology, Media, and Communications. He is also SIPA's Leiv Ericsson Fellow.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?

I graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in international relations and Arabic. While at West Point, I interned with an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. In 2012, I was selected to join the research team that examined documents captured in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and co-authored the report that accompanied the first public release of the documents.

I also wrote a senior thesis entitled “Brotherhood or False Rhetoric? Examining Cooperation between al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Shabaab,” which analyzed the groups’ public statements and other primary sources to examine their relationship in the broader context of alliance formation and cooperation. 

After graduating from West Point, I spent over five years leading intelligence operations for the U.S. Army. I served as an intelligence officer for a Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan, led intelligence soldiers providing direct support to the initial operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and coordinated offensive cyber operations in support of U.S. Cyber Command.

Why did you choose SIPA?

First, I was drawn to the interdisciplinary and flexible MIA curriculum, especially the ISP concentration that benefits from the significant number of political science faculty focused on security issues. Second, I was particularly attracted to SIPA’s increasing focus on the intersection of technology and policy, with its Tech & Policy @ SIPA  initiative and other efforts. Third, I wanted to have access to the resources of a large, top-tier university. The opportunity to take courses across almost all of the schools and departments at Columbia is an incredible benefit for SIPA students. Lastly, I received a scholarship from SIPA that has significantly reduced the financial burden of graduate school.

Is there a particular SIPA experience that stands out?

In the fall, I competed in the NYC Cyber 9/12 Competition, a policy and strategy competition in which students from across the country competed to develop policy recommendations tackling a fictional cyber catastrophe. My team placed third. The program also included speakers and demonstrations by a wide variety of people working in the cybersecurity industry and in government. The competition was a great experience, and it significantly increased my knowledge of cyber policy while also providing an opportunity to practice public speaking and presentation skills.

What are your plans after SIPA?

I hope to accelerate progress in countering malicious actors leveraging cyberspace to spread disinformation or threaten our infrastructure. I initially plan to pursue cyber related roles in the private sector. I think it is essential that I understand the perspective of the private sector on cybersecurity issues. I hope to later take this perspective and return to government in a policy role.

A View from the Class is brought to you by the SIPA Office of Alumni and Development.

View all interviews in this series