Archive for Academics – Page 2

Top Five Classes At SIPA: A List From a Second Year EPD Student

Note from Admissions: Class visits are currently open! Register soon as spots fill up quickly.


So, after being at SIPA for near the marketed maximum of four semesters, I have a few thoughts about classes. This isn’t the usual, obvious offering of advise such as “don’t take an 8:30am on a Monday” because chances are, in grad school, most of us have been there and done that. No, in this essay I will outline my top five classes ( and some honorable mentions ). This is also helpful for prospective students with a keen interest in the EPD program who are on the look our for cool classes to sit in on for class visits!

** For context, my course load is, as expected, very influenced by the fact that my concentration is Economics and Political Development and my specialization was Advanced Economic and Political Analysis but became Data Analytics and Quantitative Analysis in my second year. Therefore, I can’t say much in the way of courses that interest concentrations in human rights, energy, international security policy, et cetera. So, with no further blabbing, let’s get to the meat or vegetarian alternative, here’s my top five:

  1. Global Inequality with Suresh Naidu: For those interested in economic inequality and understanding it both on the level of economic theory and on a practical level of policy levers to counteract it, this class offers not only a comprehensive history of inequality, its origins, and policy solutions for it but why we should care. It covers everything from Kuznets curves to slavery’s impact on cross-country inequality. There is also space for practical applications with problem sets that lean on skills learned in quantitative analysis courses at SIPA and response papers to the readings.  Professor Naidu’s class is very conversational with very informative power points and interesting readings. This is a great class to test your aptitude for further economics study beyond the required Micro and Macro offerings at SIPA.
  2. Impact Evaluation Methods to Health and Social Policy with Rodrigo Soares: Professor Soares is an economist and noted expert in impact evaluations, especially in health policy, crime and violence, labor economics, and more with much of his work centering around his home country of Brazil. His class, Impact Evaluation Methods to Health and Social Policy is a considered a level three quant class so prepared to use STATA intently! In this course we learn basically the same thing as many other quantitative analysis courses at this level at SIPA – the principles of regression discontinuity, IV, etc. and how and  when to use these different quasi-experimental methods with observational data – but, each is unique due to each professor’s policy focus area and interest so it doesn’t hurt to take two. This course both prepares you to understand and implement these statistical methods in an impact evaluation context. This is possible one of the least theoretical quant courses as SIPA as its assignments, particularly the final paper — a policy evaluation project — mimic the prompts, instructions, and work expected if we were working as quantitative research staff at a think tank or NGO for a randomized-control trial, for example. It will also help you distinguish a bad study or evaluation from a good one and be able to critique evidence when it is given to you — a good skill for future policy makers.
  3. The Transatlantic Economy with Seamus O’Cleireacain: Seamus is a G. A trade economist by training, he excels at explaining economic theory and quantitative concepts in a class that is truly multi-disciplinary attracting students with no economics background at all and students like me who live and breathe the stuff and still keep us both entertained. With fair exams and a pretty comprehensive final paper, Seamus’ Transatlantic Economy course covers international relations, economic growth theory, trade negotiations, and macroeconomics through the lends of comparing the EU and United States positions and attributes. Taking this course during the Brexit era was doubly intriguing as Professor O’Cleireacain started each class with an overview of the updates to the negotiations and politics that occurred the preceding week and managed to always bring it back to the class subject at hand with humor and ease. Class participation was expected and, often times, helped us to digest the material better as they pulled on all our strengths from economic research papers to international relations or political science papers. This class, however, was more on the theoretical end, but it was really engaging and definitely a good way to spend a Thursday evening.
  4.  Economic Development for International Affairs with Miguel Urquiola: This class or its counterpart Economic Development for International Affairs, is compulsory. However, that doesn’t mean it is a dreary mandatory class that everyone suffered through. I enjoyed it thoroughly as an addendum to macro, which I happened to be taking at the same time. This course is a mix of basic quantitative analysis ( which you normally take in either your first or second semester in Quant Level I), open economy macroeconomics ( especially with regards to taking a deep dive in growth theory), development economics, health and education, and poverty studies. There are quantitative and qualitative problem sets you do in groups to share the load and interesting readings which assist you in comprehending the lectures. There are a few STATA-based problem sets at the beginning, which is why taking quant to learn or refresh your coding skills is a prerequisite, but it’s not too hard once you attended the lab sessions and did the practice problems with the teaching assistant.
  5. Private Sector Development Strategies for Developing and Transition Countries with Stephan Hadley: I am only a few weeks in but I can already tell that this class will be one of the most useful non-quant courses I’ll take at SIPA. This course looks at the evolution of private sectors in developing and transitional economies and the current economic, managerial, and political issues that they pose from macroeconomics, FDI, financial sector development, conflict, corruption and more. It’s a few weeks in so I can’t say too much about examinations and workload but the readings are really interesting so far and the professor has been nothing but courteous and understanding.

Honorable Mentions!

These are classes that I hear my fellow Seeples rave about but haven’t gotten the chance to sample: Race Policy & American Politics with Christina M Greer, Theory of International Political Economy with Markus Jaeger, Gender, Globalization, and Human Rights with Yasmin Ergas, and Data Science and Public Policy with Tamar Mitts ( or anything with Tamar Mitts for that matter).

So there you have it! The courses I’ve taken and loved and the ones who got away. For more courses that are non-econ and quant (can’t blame you) check out fellow PA Stuart and his over view of the ISP concentration.

You’re invited to visit a SIPA class

We welcome you to experience being a student at SIPA with a class visit. Until late April 2020, you have the opportunity to meet SIPA faculty and current students in their natural habitat – the classroom. 

If you’re in NYC or planning a visit, please register for a class at least one week before. Prospective students may attend a maximum of one class by two different professors (two classes total) so choose wisely. You can use the Course Curricula to find out more about each class and you can use the SIPA Faculty Directory to learn more about the professors. 

Here’s a list of classes I recommend but you should look through the calendar and see what interests you most.

The Core: Economics and Budgeting

If you’re interested in finding out more about the core economics curriculum or you’re a potential International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) student, Professor Andrea Bubula teaches Macroeconomic Analysis for International & Public Affairs Monday through Thursday morning. This class is one of the two macroeconomics courses that are part of SIPA’s core curriculum (this class has more calculus). Professor Bubula is an exceptional teacher and he also serves as the IFEP Concentration Executive Director.

You can join me and Professor John Liu in Budgeting and Financial Management for Government on Thursday afternoons. This is one of the options to complete the management/financial management curriculum (requirements are different for MIA and MPA candidates). Professor Liu is a New York State Senator and previously served as the Comptroller of the City of New York from 2010-2013. This is a great class to discuss the politics of government spending, and to hone your Microsoft Excel skills to analyze budgetary data.

Concentration: Urban and Social Policy (USP)

I spend my Wednesday evenings studying Urban Social Policy with Professor Yumiko Shimabukuro, who is my favorite professor at SIPA. As a student of social policy, I took her Comparative Social Welfare Policy class in my first semester and she made an indelible impression on me. In this class, we’re learning about social issues in urban settings like educational inequality, child abuse, and other obstacles to greater inclusion.

Professor Christina Greer is at SIPA on Thursdays to lead students in examining Race Policy & American Politics. This class is a highlight of my time at SIPA and helped me to better understand American history, politics, and society. Professor Greer has phenomenal political nous and I learned so much from her, particularly in our class discussions of current events.

Specialization: Technology, Media and Communications (TMaC)

On Tuesdays, you can learn the Art of Creating Social Impact Campaigns from Professor Stephen Friedman. Professor Friedman is an Emmy-award winning creator of social impact campaigns and was the President of MTV for seven years. He is incredibly generous with his time and insights, and in 2018 a student campaign on maternal mortality developed in this class was picked up by MTV.

Specialization: US Regional

The US Role In World Affairs with Professor Stephen R Sestanovich is the second installment of the International Fellows Program (IFP) curriculum. Professor Sestanovich is the IFP director and has had an impressive career, including as an ambassador-at-large. He is the George F. Kennan Senior Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy. He also teaches Contemporary Diplomacy on Thursdays.

While you’re on Columbia’s campus, you might enjoy the Guided Historic tour to learn more about the history, architecture, and sculpture of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus. There’s also a self-guided walking tour and, for those who can’t make it onto campus, there’s also the option of a virtual tour.

You are always welcome to drop by the office, Monday- Friday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM (excluding holidays) and you don’t need an appointment. We would be happy to share more information with you about SIPA and you can speak to one of the current students, like me, who are working as Program Assistants this year. Directions and travel information may be found on the SIPA page. You can always call our office or email us should you have questions before your arrival on campus.

From SIPA Student to Cyber Professional—CJ Dixon’s Cyber 9/12 Journey

In November 2019, SIPA hosted the fourth annual Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in New York City. Planned and run by SIPA’s Digital and Cyber Group, this year’s event featured 31 teams from 18 different schools including Tufts, Harvard, Georgetown, NYU, West Point, and the University of Pennsylvania. Each team was tasked with developing policy recommendations to respond to a rapidly developing cyber incident at both the local and federal level. The teams were judged by experts including former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, former Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Director of the CIA Avril Haines, and senior executives from numerous private sector entities.

CJ Dixon (MIA ’19), a member of the winning team in 2018, returned to judge this year’s competition in his new role as a senior advisor at NYC Cyber Command. CJ took several cybersecurity courses at SIPA, competed in both the NYC and DC Cyber 9/12 competitions, and served as a Google Public Policy Fellow following graduation. CJ’s journey is a great example of how SIPA’s Tech & Policy Initiative provides students with the academic and professional preparation to pursue cybersecurity and technology policy careers.

MPA-DP Spotlight: Urban Mobility Master Class and the Summer Field Placement

The MPA in Development Practice program has some distinct educational opportunities for students. Here we highlight two of them:

1. Master Class: Urban Mobility

On Saturday November 9th, six generations of MDP students came to attend Paloma Ruiz’s, Principal Executive of Transport Infrastructure for the CAF MasterClass.

Paloma (MDP’13 alumni) focused on the importance of urban mobility development in reaching overall inclusive and sustainable development. During the master class Paloma presented real-life policy cases from Colombia, Ecuador, China, the US, and Europe for attendants’ better understanding of how well planned transport infrastructure projects can reinforce institutional capacity and general improvements to people’s quality of life.

The Urban Mobility Master Class.

2. Ryo Ogura MPA-DP ’20 and his Summer Placement experience

Ryo Ogura (MPA-DP’20) spent his summer placement at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, a newly established multilateral development bank focusing on sustainable infrastructure investment. As an intern in the Office of Treasurer, he worked on robotic process automation to improve operation efficiency, long-term cash flow forecasting model building.

Ryo Ogura MPA-DP ’20 with colleague Jonathan Poon MPA-DP ’16 at AIIB.

Learn more about the MPA-DP Program:

A week in the life of a 2nd year student

If you haven’t guessed it by now, the 2nd year student is none other than moi (aka Steven, who is writing this post). Some things to keep in mind while reading this:

  1. I’m not a morning person and like to sleep in so my days begin a little later.
  2. I’m taking 16.5 credits and working this semester so I’m doing a quite bit of running around. Talk to enough people at SIPA and you will hear some pretty hectic schedules (i.e 2 jobs, 5 classes and is in 3 groups 😯 )

Everyone at SIPA (especially 2nd years) has a “rough day”…and for me, a rough day is the day that most of your classes are on. All that intro to say that my rough day is Monday:

3 classes…..

6 hours……..

2 sips of water (if I’m lucky).

Monday:

2:10pm: I start my Mondays off with Decision Models and Management, a super interesting operations management class with a lot of excel optimization model building. This is one of my favorite classes this semester, and I’m learning a lot. The professor, Lucius Riccio, is funny and smart. Homework every week though so I spend a lot of time working on that — despite that, highly recommended class.

4:00pm: I walk about 20 steps to my next class Cyber Threat Intelligence. Another interesting class, lots of insightful reading. I find myself looking up random malware and Youtube-ing videos on how to hack and learn more about vulnerabilities or past hacking incidents. LOTS of Acronyms.

4:05pm: Stomach loudly grumbling in class.

4:10pm: Get some gummy snacks from the vending machine. (PRO TIP: Get a locker and put snacks in it or bring snacks in your bag for your rough days. #dontstarve)

6:10pm: I crawl to my last class, Community Economic Development. I learn all the things about how affordable housing is financed.

8:00pm: Fin

tired arrested development GIF

Tuesday:

A WAY LIGHTER DAY THAN MONDAY!!!! My school day doesn’t start until 6:00pm (International Trade)! I usually spend Tuesdays working on Decision Models and cleaning out my inbox (email inboxes fill fast at SIPA. There is A LOT going on). Two days into the week and I’m already fatigued.

I burn my incense and play a lot of R&B at home. After Mondays, I need a day to decompress and exfoliate.

Wednesday:

From 11am to 5pm: I am at Admissions working and writing blog posts for all you beautiful people, as I am currently doing right now as I write this.

After work @ 6:10: International Political Economy class

6:15pm: Stomach growling again.

8:00pm again:

tired arrested development GIF

Thursday:

Just working at Admissions from 11am to 5pm, writing more posts and answering all your questions on SIPA!

5:01pm:

black lives matter freedom GIF

Friday through Sunday:

A mix of more incense, more R&B, endless readings and problem sets, more sips of water, more gummy snacks and building up the will and core strength to do it all again next week.

brain studying GIF

Note from Admissions: For those applying, Steven will be online to answer your admissions and student life questions on Wednesday, December 4. Check your email to RSVP for our live Q&A.

"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

Boiler Image