Students Win Honors at GPPN Paris Conference

Posted Feb 26 2017

The Global Public Policy Network is an alliance of seven leading public policy schools around the world—SIPA among them—that provides a platform for institutional partnership, research collaboration, and student exchange.

This year’s GPPN Conference, hosted by the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs in Paris February 17 and 18, convened 32 student teams from member schools—including six from SIPA—to present data-driven solutions to the UN’s current Sustainable Development Goals.

Watch Sciences Po’s video summary of this year’s conference

Six teams were ultimately selected to make presentations to a panel of judges comprising deans from member schools, including SIPA’s own Merit E. Janow, and other experts.

“The conference provides a forum for students working on similar public policy issues to exchange ideas with each other and with experts, build relationships, and hopefully create a culture of collaboration and problem-solving among future global policy leaders,” Janow said. “I was impressed by the breadth and quality of student projects and presentations—some of which spoke to policy innovations, and others to social or for-profit enterprises.”

Ultimately, SIPA’s Team I-care won the GPPN prize for their online platform that provides virtual training to caregivers and matches seniors with caregivers based on their preferences. Members of I-care, which is participating in this year’s SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant competition, are Xinwei Gao MPA ’17, Fang Liu MPA ’17, Kasumi Sugimoto PEPM ’17, Seungwook Kim MIA ’17, Sihan Zhang MPA ’17, and Yue Wang, an MPH ’17 student at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“I was pleased that a team from SIPA won this year’s competition,” Janow said, “and I’m eager to see how all the teams continue to build upon their diverse projects around the world.”

Participants said they appreciated the opportunity to collaborate and learn from students around the world.

“After the competition, a student from Hertie School [in Berlin] offered to connect me with a friend in the Netherlands who had a startup with a similar idea,” said Xinwei Gao. “During the happy hours, we also had a chance to chat with the dean from the University of Tokyo [Toshiaki Iizuka MIA ’96], who is a SIPA alumnus, and students from other schools.”

Members of another SIPA team, Sun Community, proposed the creation of an online market platform to improve access to solar energy for low-income households in Chile. Team members Anders Engild MIA ’18 and Gabriel Guggisberg MPA ’18 agreed that the conference presented a valuable opportunity to hear about the unique challenges facing different countries.

“Most students presented solutions to problems that were specific to their country—issues we had never experienced in our country,” wrote the team members in response to a SIPA News inquiry. “It was valuable to see how much local knowledge counts in entrepreneurship.”

The project of another GPPN participant, Lidia Cano Pecharromán MIA ’17, sought to improve the current monitoring process of the SDGs.

“It was great to get in touch with people from different backgrounds and see how students from other schools approach policy,” she said.

Good luck to all of the teams working to further develop their projects!

— Serina Bellamy MIA ’17

Pictured (from left): Kasumi Sugimoto, Fang Liu, Yue Wang, Xinwei Gao

Watch Sciences Po’s video summary of this year’s conference