Learning public policy from the stars

For those of you who are planning a visit to SIPA in the coming weeks (hint, hint, Admitted Students’ Day), don’t be surprised if you see a dignitary, Nobel-Prize winner or president’s daughter walking the same path as you. In fact, don’t be surprised if they strike up a conversation with you! These well-known Seeple (and Seeple friends) have a lot of knowledge to share and they aren’t afraid to impart that knowledge on you during an elevator ride, brown-bag lunch or keynote address. One of our students, Affan Javed, MPA ’16, recently had a run-in with former NYC Mayor David N. Dinkins. Since then, he can’t seem to stop daydreaming about whom he may see next.

Affan Javed takes a SIPA selfie with former NYC Mayor David N. Dinkins. He served as the 106th Mayor of New York City, from 1990 to 1993.
[Photo courtesy of Affan Javed] Affan Javed takes a SIPA selfie with former NYC Mayor David N. Dinkins. He served as the 106th Mayor of New York City, from 1990 to 1993.

By Affan Javed, MPA ’16, Urban Social Policy:

One thing I genuinely like about SIPA is that it is full of political celebrities of our times. There are moments when you find yourself discussing your midterm with a person who could one day be the next President of Chile. At other times, you’re reimagining New York through the eyes of an ex-Mayor, or you’re learning about climate-change negotiations from the very people who are at the forefront of global-policy discussions on it. And then there are the rumors. Rumors that you like to cherish because you never know when SIPA may make them a reality. My personal favorites: will Ahmadinejad teach Politics of Policymaking at SIPA one day, or will SIPA be able to convince President Barack Obama to be a Professor of Policymaking? Or will Amal Clooney‘s course be cross-listed with SIPA? It’s wishful thinking for now, but perhaps one day it’ll be a reality! 

Yes, as a student, I am guilty of being star struck. But I assure you I value this not only because of the celebrity factor, but because of the learning experience this kind of exposure helps you get. The amalgamation of theoretical and experiential knowledge is helping me build a skillset that will prepare me for the world I live in. At least that’s what I think, and that’s my story.

Now imagine yourself being here? With your potential and promise, I can only wonder what your story will be…

Affan’s right: as a member of the SIPA community, you’ll have several opportunities to write your own stories and enjoy conversations with some pretty interesting people. And these stories you’ll share—featuring notable guest lecturers, professional practitioners and visiting professors—will challenge your intellectual growth over the next two years, eventually making you a well-equipped policy maker in the future.

In fact, SIPA and Columbia University routinely roll out the red carpet for some pretty notable people. Here are a few upcoming speakers and guests:

As you can tell, SIPA provides you with plenty of opportunities throughout the year to be “star struck,” as Affan put it. We’re more than just a series of lectures in the classroom. We’re an experience.

Now is the time to say “yes” to the SIPA experience. So act today and accept your admission offer to SIPA by May 1, 2015 (unless otherwise noted in your admission-offer letter).