June 24, 2015

Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs will host a major international conference on “Technology and Innovation in the Public Service,” uniting leading scholars and practitioners from city government in Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Mumbai, and Beijing.

Scheduled for July 13 and 14, the two-day conference is built around five new audiovisual case studies—filmed on location in the United States and at Columbia Global Centers in Brazil and India—that were researched and developed as part of a President’s Global Innovation Fund Award project. 

Visit conference website

“SIPA has long been a leader in developing classroom experiences around real-world policy cases, and we decided to build on this tradition,” explains project director William B. Eimicke, a professor of professional practice in international and public affairs who also serves as executive director of SIPA’s Picker Center for Executive Education.

“We were fortunate to receive funding to develop projects across several Global Centers, and combine a professional case research team with a PBS-quality film team,” Eimicke said. “The results are spectacular, and allow us to focus discussion in a classroom made up of people from many different countries on concrete cases and issues.”

The case studies treat issues such as India’s new “Digital India” campaign, school reform in Rio de Janeiro, and the creation of public-private partnerships for green space in New York. (Read more about the innovative audiovisual cases here.)

“While the cases cut across at several areas and several countries, all are united by two key themes at the School – the use of online tools to expand the scope of delivery of public services, and the creating new forms of public private partnerships for the delivery of these services” said Arvid Lukauskas, executive director of the Picker Center and SIPA’s Program in Economic Policy Management.

The conference will also feature opening remarks by University Provost John Coatsworth and SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow and a keynote luncheon address by Professor Saskia Sassen, director of the Columbia’s Committee on Global Thought and a leading scholar on issues surrounding global cities.

Panelists include Albert Fishlow, an emeritus professor at Columbia and former director of the University’s Institute of Latin American Studies, Ester Fuchs, director of the School’s Urban and Social Policy Program, and Eimicke’s co-principal investigators Michael Sparer, chair of health policy and management at the Mailman School of Public Health, and Brian Perkins, director of the Urban Education Leadership Program at Columbia’s Teacher’s College.

“SIPA has a special relationship with the Global Centers and a long history of interdisciplinary collaboration with schools across Columbia," Janow said. "This conference and the Picker Center case studies are strong examples of how SIPA's expertise and resources can add value to the entire University."

The conference is open to the public but space is limited. Registration information and a complete agenda of cases and speakers may be found at: www.sipagovtech.org.