Abibata Shanni Mahama, a second year student from Ghana, contributed the following post.
The SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN) is a student group at SIPA. It is geared toward the professional development of its members. It creates an informal community and provides a platform for students interested in the economic, political, and social development of Africa and its Diaspora. It represents SIPA students from a variety of interests and disciplines (economic and political development; human rights; economic policy; environmental policy; security policy; and media to name a few), as well as from a variety of ethnicities and countries from around the globe.
SPAN hosts programs aimed at improving and building the African continent throughout the academic year. Apart from these activities SPAN also holds social events such as parties outside campus twice a semester, mostly in downtown New York where students are able to partake in the nightlife of the city. Some of these parties and events occasionally involve the African Business Club (ABC) from the Columbia Business School and the African Law Students Association (ALSA) from the Columbia Law School. This demonstrates how SIPA students are able to interact with other students from different fields who may even come from the same countries. Networking is a strong element in working with these clubs. Apart from entertainment, SPAN also does the following:
– Organizes the annual flagship event the African Economic Forum held in the spring, exploring various themes in the economic, political and social development of Africa.
– Ensures and shapes the presence of African Studies at Columbia through the ‘Moving Africa Forward Initiative’, by incorporating student voices in an on-going dialogue.
– Works with the Columbia University administration to increase enrollment of students from Africa and the Diaspora at Columbia, and to improve the curriculum offerings for classes on Africa and its Diaspora.
– Sponsors social and cultural activities, diversity awareness, and empowerment efforts around issues pertaining to and in celebration of the rich historical and cultural heritage of Africa and its Diaspora.
You can find the SPAN Web site here.