What does it actually mean to do development at SIPA?
Would you like to work in developing countries? Are you interested in improving people’s quality of life and access to resources?
If you think this is your “thing” then Economic and Political Development (EPD) is your concentration. This is one of the six policy concentrations offered at SIPA and the largest one with almost 250 students. Through this program, students are prepared for careers in international development through classes and projects that provide them with an understanding of the processes of economic, political, and social change in the developing world.
Having said that, we know development is a broad concept and it might entail completely different tasks, especially in the work field. You could be doing anything from consulting on a microfinance project in Uganda to working in a gender equality campaign with the UN Women in Peru. Taking into account the number of options and different realities in the developing world, how does SIPA focus its EPD program and who are the so-called “EPDers” (students who pursue this concentration)?
One of the unique aspects of the program is that, along with the economic and political requirements, it allows you to choose one of the four professional tracks: economic development, political development, social development or sustainable development. The goal of these tracks is to help you navigate and narrow your interests in the world of development so you have a better idea of the type of work you would like to do afterwards. In terms of classes, they are focused on technical skills, like design and implementation of projects, and in analysis of the political, social and economic realities of developing countries. Another key part of the program is the Capstone Project (final graduation project), which allows you to work with an actual client anywhere in the world, develop and execute a development project and yes, travel to the field to see it.
We, the EPDers, are as heterogeneous and diverse as it gets; with students from all countries and backgrounds. You could be coming from the developing field, or trying to enter it, there is a place for everybody. Our faculty is comprised by top leaders in the field, one example being the Director of the Program Jose Antonio Ocampo. Additionally, we have access to resources focused on development issues like The Center on Economic Governance, the student led Columbia Partnership for International Development and the Microfinance Working Group.