Columbia faculty and affiliates teach across the University. Among our key programs are numerous challenges, such as the Dean’s Challenge Grant, EdTech Challenge, and Capstone program, which allow students to employ the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to solving real-life problems. Listed below are Entrepreneurship & Policy related courses and workshops offered at SIPA.


Programming for Entrepreneurs 

In this course, you will learn the fundamentals of programming so you can start writing web applications that can potentially be used in non-profit or public sectors. The course will be very hands-on and you are expected to code during the class. The topics will include–fundamentals of computer science, programming basics, data structures, client-server architecture, javascript, application programming interface, LAMP stack and web frameworks, design tools, scalability issues and infrastructure for application deployment. We will discuss some of these topics in the context of agile development methodology for startups. If you are interested in building a startup as a social entrepreneur, the tools and methods you learn in this course should help you in coding the first prototype of your application. As part of the final project, you are expected to build a fully functional web application. No programming background is required. Students are expected to complete all the reading assignments before the first day of class.

Strategic, Organizational & Entrepreneurial Management 

This course will provide the analytical ability and practical skills to build the right strategy, organization and entrepreneurial culture for both for-profit and non-profit organizations. The methodology of this class is to learn from case studies, leading management texts and insights from practitioners. Students will learn to recognize and develop entrepreneurial skills by examining and analyzing the strategies employed by practicing entrepreneurs in building new ventures. Particular attention is given to the criteria used in analyzing the strategies of international and non-profit new venture ideas. Further focus on negotiations, managing people and organizational culture will be emphasized. Each student is required to develop an entrepreneurial venture focused on a social/non-profit, emerging market or private sector opportunity.

Creating a Social Enterprise

The course will focus primarily on the knowledge and skills required to launch a social enterprise.  The class will include an overview of Social Enterprises around the globe and will look at various enterprise models (for profit, non-profit) and their role in the broader market economy.  Class time will focus on the analysis of Case Studies and the vetting of real social enterprise business plans.  The course will center on a Group Project where teams of three (3) will work together to build a plan for launching their own, new Social Enterprise. In the process, students will learn how to define, design, market, sustain and scale their concept.  At the end of the course, students will submit a formal business plan and budget and will present their plan to a panel of experts in the field.

Project Management

While it is generally thought of to be related to construction, the truth is that Project Management can be applied to any field. It is defined as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of the particular project. A project is an endeavor undertaken to achieve a particular aim. Project management knowledge and practices are best described in terms of their component processes. These processes are: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. Knowledge Areas include Scope Management, Time Management, Cost Management, Quality Management, Risk Management, and Change Management. We will discuss all of these elements in the course.

Micro & Small Enterprise Development

The objective of this course is to understand the role of micro and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing economies and to identify and assess a range of policies and programs to promote their development. By tracing the evolution of development thinking in finance and SME development, students will be exposed to the intellectual underpinnings of–and practical tools used in–a wide variety of approaches to SME development. Students will also become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the most common private sector development approaches currently being used by donor organizations and committed private sector actors.

Capstone Workshops 

Spring 2019

AfricInvest Exploring New Transaction Infrastructure in Africa Powered by Blockchain Technologies
Business Development Bank of Canada Serving the Public Good: Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sector
Government of Aruba – Chief Innovation Officer Developing an E-Governance Knowledge-Platform for the Government of Aruba
Government of Estonia Estonia, The Skype Nation – How a Small Nation Can Be and Remain a Global Leader: What Does It Take?
Institute of International Finance Value Chain Disruption and the Future of Finance: AI, Quantum Computing, and Distributed Crypto Applications
International Peace Institute (IPI) New Technologies to Support Protection of Civilians, Humanitarian Aid and Accountability
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Sustainable City Mobility Innovations
United Nations Capital Development Fund Uganda Solar Enterprise Portfolio Business Planning
United States Department of Defense, MD5 – The National Security Technology Accelerator How to Develop a Military Technology Ecosystem?
United States Mission to the United Nations Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – Implications for International Peace and Security
World Bank Group, Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation Disruptive Technologies to Improve Lending for Agriculture in East Africa


Spring 2018

Institute for International Finance Counting on the Cloud: Implications of Third-Party Vendor Risk on Financial Stability in the Cyber Age
Inter-American Development Bank E-Commerce Last Mile Logistics
Smallholder Farmers Alliance Scaling a Successful Social Enterprise Model in Haiti
TechPar Group Applications for the Emerging Blockchain Ecosystem
UN Women Innovation in Women Programming — Understand the Potential of Using Twitter Data Combined with Traditional Survey Data to Measure Societal Dynamics Related to Violence Against Women (VAW) in Brazil
United Nations Capital Development Fund Uganda Clean Cooking Energy Enterprise Inventory
United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN) Innovation and Technology in UN Peace Operations