The International Security Policy Concentration (ISP) offers outstanding opportunities for students interested in topics such as political violence and conflict management, defense policy, military strategy, terrorism and unconventional warfare, arms control, intelligence, peacekeeping, coercion, negotiation, conflict resolution and alternatives to the use of force as an instrument of policy. The relative flexibility of the ISP Concentration allows students to tailor their specific course of study to fit their intellectual and career interests, and they will find that Columbia offers a wider variety of courses in security studies than all but a handful of other universities in the world. ISP students go on to work in government, consulting firms, non-profit research institutes, public interest and policy advocacy organizations, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, journalism, and other areas.
Many ISP courses are taught by members of the Columbia Political Science Department, one of few in the world with more than one faculty member in security studies. In addition to Political Science faculty, the Concentration draws on courses taught by full-time Columbia faculty from SIPA, the Law School, and Barnard College. ISP also features courses taught by outstanding practitioners and other adjuncts who combine academic backgrounds and publications in public policy with experience in government, the military, and policy analysis institutes. For example, Peter Clement, a senior official in the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, will join SIPA as a Scholar in Residence and adjunct faculty member in September 2013.
Like many SIPA faculty, the ISP concentration director, Prof. Richard Betts, has experience in both the academic and policy worlds. Betts is director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia, and has taught previously at Harvard and SAIS. He has worked at the Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, on staffs of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the National Security Council, and served on the National Security Advisory Panel of the Director of Central Intelligence and the National Commission on Terrorism.
Students who are interested in conflict resolution may take classes within the International Conflict Resolution Specialization as ISP electives. The specialization is directed by Prof. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping.
Outside the classroom, ISP offers many exciting activities including field trips, political-military crisis and arms control simulations, guest speakers, specialized symposia, films, and social activities. The ISP Concentration benefits greatly from the programming of its institutional affiliate, the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies, which hosts a number of high profile speakers each year. In addition, students in the ISP concentration run the Defense and Security Student Organization, which hosts events such career panels and debates.
At the beginning of each fall semester, ISP hosts a weekend retreat for ISP concentrators at a campground a few hours north of New York City. Field trips in November alternate each year between a combination of U.S. military installations, in one year, and government offices in Washington, D.C. the next. This year’s trip will be to Washington. Previous Washington trips have included meetings at the level of Under and Assistant Secretary at the Pentagon, State Department, National Security Council, Office of Management and Budget, Congress, and other parts of government. Examples of military facilities visited in past field trips include Fort Bragg (Army Airborne and Special Forces headquarters), Pope Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune (Marine Corps), Atlantic Fleet headquarters and various ships in Norfolk, Langley Air Force Base, and NATO headquarters (Brussels).
The crisis simulation in the spring semester is entirely organized and conducted by the students. Simulations in recent years have included crises in Kashmir, the Taiwan Straits, Central Asia, and Indonesia; negotiations on the North Korean nuclear program; escalation of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan; and the NPT Review Conference.