Author Archive for Emily Tao

The First Day of School

Tuesday was the first day of classes here, and you can feel the energy of students, faculty, and the community on campus. Here’s a little of what’s going on at Columbia, and what you can expect.

The blog is taking listener requests

Remember to search through our archives, and if you can’t find the topic you want to know about, submit an idea here. I’m excited to introduce you to our new batch of program assistants, who will share their application experiences over the next few months. We’ve published a few posts based on your feedback:

What’s new at SIPA

Welcome to the newest members of the SIPA community, the Class of 2021. More than 450 students have joined us from 61 countries for our MIA/MPA/MPA-DP programs, and the incoming class is 60 percent international, with an average of 3.5 years of work experience.

Along with several visiting professors, adjunct faculty, and senior research scholars, SIPA also welcomes two new tenured faculty members:

  • Sandra Black, an influential and accomplished labor economist, has joined us as Professor of International and Public Affairs, jointly appointed with the Department of Economics. She comes to Columbia from the University of Texas. Her research focuses on the role of early life experiences on the long-run outcomes of children, as well as issues of gender and discrimination. She has previously worked as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and as a member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, among other positions.
  • Keren Yarhi-Milo, a leading scholar of decision-making in foreign policy, joins us as Professor of International and Public Affairs, jointly appointed in the Department of Political Science. She comes to SIPA from Princeton University. She has written two exceptional books – “Who Fights for Reputation?” and “Knowing the Adversary” – both of which explore the topic of elite decision-making in foreign policy.

“No, I won’t start spying on my foreign-born students”

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger wrote this op-ed in The Washington Post, which addresses the university’s stance on students as they return to campus.

The mission of a university is to foster an open atmosphere conducive to speculation, experimentation and creation. American higher education is the envy of the world not in spite of, but because of, its unrivaled commitment to openness and diversity. Attracting — and welcoming — the brightest minds in the world, regardless of nationality or country of origin, is what we’re all about.

Where we’ve been, and where we’ll be

The SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN) hosted a mixer in Lagos last week, and I thought it’d be a good time to update y’all on where SIPA will be the next few weeks. Thanks to Theotis Sharpe MPA-DP ’20 for his work in putting this together – you may remember him from the SIPA Story Slam event he co-organized

As a reminder, the SIPA application will go live this month. While we’ll be providing tips on this blog throughout the process, I encourage you to search through our archives for useful information from people who have gone through this process (or are on the other side of this process!).

There will be a Columbia SIPA Networking Mixer in Accra on August 10, where prospective students, current students, and alumni will connect and discuss what life at the world’s most global policy school is like. RSVP here.

SIPA will be at the upcoming APSIA graduate fairs. These events are an excellent way to meet not just SIPA, but to explore what other international affair and policy schools can offer. In any case, we look forward to meeting you and giving you information on the programs, curriculum, and admissions process.

APSIA Graduate Fair: Atlanta, GA
September 12, 2019, from 6 – 8pm
Register here.

APSIA Graduate Fair: Toronto
September 17, 2019 from 6 – 8pm
Register here.

APSIA Graduate Fair: New York City
September 18, 2019 from 5:15 – 9pm
Register here.

APSIA Graduate Fair: Washington, D.C.
September 19, 2019, from 6 – 8pm
Register here.

We’ll continue updating our recruiting calendar throughout the next few weeks. If you’re in the New York area, I highly encourage you to attend an Information Sessions. Preparation will be helpful as you start your graduate school journey!

Celebrating the 5-year anniversary of Columbia Startup Lab

If you are interested in social entrepreneurship, you will find plenty of resources to research in this post.

Last month the SIPA community helped celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Columbia Startup Lab. A co-working space located in New York’s Soho neighborhood, the Lab has more than 40 startups from all over Columbia campus and is the result of a partnership between multiple Columbia schools — including SIPA.

To celebrate this space that provides Columbia alumni entrepreneurs to work full-time on their ventures, SIPA Dean Merit Janow, Professor Sarah Holloway, and several SIPA alum were in attendance.

Pictured above is Professor Sarah Holloway, who teaches Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Financial Management at SIPA and runs the Management Specialization – a set of courses and activities that support knowledge and skill building in non-profit, for-profit and social enterprise management. (She also holds an MPA from SIPA!)

Manal Kahi MPA ’15 is pictured next to Professor Holloway. She is a Startup Lab alum with Eat Offbeat, a startup that delivers authentic ethnic meals prepared and delivered by refugees resettled in NYC. To find out more about Manal and Eat Offbeat, you can check out her interview on the Sincerely, Hueman podcast. (Incidentally, the podcast was created and is hosted by Camille Laurente MIA ’16.)

Pictured below is Shanna Crumley MIA ’18 (she’s been profiled on our blog before here), who co-founded Bitae Technologies with Gemma Torras Vives MPA ’18. They combined data protection, strategic management and refugee policy to create blockchain-based credentials for refugees and migrants.

Congratulations to Columbia Startup Labs and everyone involved! You can keep up with more news like this on SIPA’s LinkedIn. For those of you interested in social entrepreneurship, I hope this is a good starting point for you to figure out what resources are available to you and what other connections you can make through Columbia to support your venture.

Pride Month at Columbia University, at SIPA, and in NYC

Pride Month is still going strong as we head into mid-June, and New York City has a strong connection to Pride. June was chosen for LGBTQ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots in June 1969, where black, brown and trans members of the LGBTQ community protested against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn. Today, the Stonewall Inn is a National Historic Landmark; back in 1969, it was the target of an anti-gay legal system and rampant homophobia.

Being a policy and international affairs graduate school in the center of New York, LGBTQ rights in law and policy is a course that Adjunct Professor Jessica Stern teaches here. She describes the course as “life-changing,” not just for LGBTQ students, but also for straight allies.

This is something that is a beautiful part of a large school of critical thinkers (and do-ers) in the diverse and dense city of New York: you have every opportunity to learn about the intersection of LGBTQ rights, race, policy, and law – as well as the history of the LGBTQ movement.

That being said, I am writing this post from my own perspective as a straight person and generally average New Yorker.* I used to live in Hell’s Kitchen, an extremely gay-friendly neighborhood. I worked closely with many Broadway workers, and every single one had lost close friends and loved ones during the AIDS crisis. I’ve gotten out of the subway countless times at the Christopher St. stop, right in Greenwich Village where the Stonewall Inn is located. Even if you’re not in New York City, being on the internet exposes us to countless words and phrases that were invented and coined by the gay community, with users enthusiastically commenting “yas queen!” without knowing where it came from.

Being at SIPA will cause you to think about your place in the world, and what your work in policy and international affairs will mean for others. What does it mean to have inclusive policy? What work needs to be done to shift rhetoric and policies in my country? What do I need to learn to be more effective in creating sustainable change?

Pride Month is a celebration: of the LGBTQ community, of dignity and equality – and honestly, the marches and parties in NYC are really fun.

This month, I’m also thinking about what it means to be a straight ally. I was once told by a friend that he didn’t want an ally in this movement; he wanted an accomplice. He wanted someone to conspire with him, to protest with him, to actively change the status quo with him.

Professor Stern says that it’s essential to incorporate LGBTQ studies into curriculum. Perhaps this is something you’re intimately familiar with, and perhaps this is something that you’ve never thought about because of your environment and upbringing.

At Columbia SIPA, you have the opportunity to learn things, that you didn’t even know you didn’t know. Tomorrow we’ll share a post from a SIPA student about his perspective on Pride Month in New York City as a policy student. Until then, some resources:

*I ran a first draft of this blog post past a SIPA student who pointed out that I was missing the intersection of race within the LGBTQ movement. I include this as an anecdote of the SIPA community being a supportive environment in the collective quest to do better!

Join us for Summerfest 2019 in Boston, D.C. or NYC

Just as many of you are planning your next steps, we here at SIPA are making summer plans! SIPA representatives, along with other top graduate programs in public policy and international affairs, will be holding mini graduate-school fairs this summer in Boston, Washington D.C. and New York City.

If you’ve ever been curious about graduate school, this is your chance to get more information in person. Representatives from the following graduate programs will be available to discuss admissions requirements, the application process, financial aid, and more:

  • Columbia University – School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
  • Georgetown University – Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Johns Hopkins University – The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
  • Tufts University – The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Come learn from alumni and admissions staff at these free events. Click on any event below to register.

Summerfest Boston
June 19 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
160 Packard Ave.
Medford, MA 02155

Summerfest Washington, D.C. (June)
June 26 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Georgetown University Law Center
120 F Street NW
Gewirz Student Center, 12th Fl.
Washington, D.C. 20001

Summerfest New York City
July 17 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
International Affairs Building, Columbia University
420 West 118th Street, Room 1501
New York, NY 10027

Summerfest Washington, D.C. (July)
July 24 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
1740 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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