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Columbia University unveils new campus sustainability plan

Just in time for Earth Day last week, Columbia University pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent in the next three years through a mix of energy conservation and efficiency measures under its first campus sustainability plan.

The three-year plan, released a day before Earth Day, represents a practical fulfillment of the sustainability principles that university President Lee C. Bollinger announced at the beginning of the academic year. It sets clear targets for shrinking Columbia’s carbon footprint and reducing waste by improving efficiencies in campus operations, boosting composting, recycling and public transit-use, and investing in energy-saving technology.

“At Columbia, we have long understood the profound threat climate change poses to the future of our planet and the role our community should play in confronting it,” Bollinger said. “Through our actions, policies, and behavior, we provide a model for the kind of global response we seek. Most significant in this effort is the basic research conducted by Columbia’s faculty and actively engaged student body working in schools and departments across the University.”

More than a year in the making, the plan was produced with extensive input from students, administrators and faculty scientists—many of them world leaders in the sustainability field. The plan’s overarching goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by zeroing in on energy use and conservation, transportation and waste management.

“Columbia has led pioneering research on the environment, and how our actions will affect future generations,” said Executive Vice President for University Facilities and Operations David Greenberg. “With this plan, Columbia is taking concrete steps to limit our own contribution to climate change. Setting measurable goals and actionable strategies will allow us to track our progress.”

Read more about Columbia’s sustainability goals and stakeholder involvement here.

Speak up for what’s right, says Congressman John Lewis

Civil rights icon keynotes 20th annual Dinkins Forum

SIPA’s 70th Anniversary festivities kicked off on March 30 as a selection of boldface names from New York City’s political world joined students, faculty, and alumni at Miller Theatre for this year’s David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum. Headlining the event was keynote speaker John Lewis, the civil rights icon and U.S. congressman whose home district is centered on Atlanta, Georgia.

The annual forum, which marked its 20th year, is named for the SIPA professor who served as New York City’s first African-American mayor. The event continues to provide a platform for analysis and dialogue that addresses many of the challenging issues facing urban policies, programs, and initiatives.

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger opened the evening, saluting Lewis’s experiences in the civil rights movement and his lifelong support for equal rights. Without such a “lived sense of where we have been,” Bollinger said, “we cannot really understand where we are and where we must go.”

Dean Merit E. Janow of SIPA introduced the forum’s namesake, David Dinkins, who spoke briefly about the history of the forum and past speakers such as Charles Rangel, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton.

In welcoming Lewis, Dinkins noted that he had “stood on [Lewis’s] broad, strong shoulders for the last 50 years, along with Americans of all races, ages, and creeds.

“And so have you,” he added, addressing the gathered audience.

Relating some of the congressman’s life experience, Dinkins described how Lewis—a son of Alabama sharecroppers—was active in protesting for freedom, as he participated in sit-ins, bus rides, and marches. Most significant was the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery known as Bloody Sunday, in which Lewis suffered a fractured skull at the hands of police troopers. Lewis would go on to be arrested 40 times between then and today.

Taking the stage, Lewis spoke about how he was told as a child that segregation of the time was just “the way it is” and not to get in the way. However, with encouragement from a schoolteacher, Lewis read everything he could, he said—about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., and others.

He was inspired, he said, to “find a way to get in the way, to get in good trouble, necessary trouble. And I’ve been getting in trouble ever since.”

Using the cadences of a preacher and alternating between quiet and booming tones, Lewis said his philosophy is that “when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation—a mission and a mandate—to speak up, to speak out, and get in the way.”

Lewis recounted his memory of the march in Selma, where he thought he was going to die. But he was taken in, he said, by sisters at a nearby Catholic hospital, who took care of him. Recently, he reconnected with three of those sisters, who recognized him, and they hugged.

“We must never, ever forget the bridges that brought us across,” he said.

“Sometimes you’re called to turn things upside down, to set it right side up,” Lewis said as he concluded his remarks. “Teach the students, teach the young, because the young will teach us. And they will lead us to a better place [where] no one is left out or left behind.”

The forum also featured a panel discussion on “Reframing Economic and Political Citizenship,” moderated by Ester Fuchs, director of SIPA’s concentration in Urban and Social Policy. Participants included faculty member Michael A. Nutter and guests David Goodman, Verna Eggleston, and Michael Waldman. The panelists discussed at length the transformations U.S. citizens are experiencing to their civil, economic, and political identities under the Trump administration, and what we need to be doing to preserve the hard-fought victories of the past and expand our vision of rights for the future.

— Matt Terry MIA ’17

Watch complete event

 

SIPA celebrates 70th anniversary with forum, gala, more

Hundreds of alumni and students, faculty and friends gather for historic series of festivities

 SIPA marked its 70th anniversary with a historic celebration that drew guests from around the world to Morningside Heights. Hundreds of alumni and friends joined faculty, staff, and students for a long weekend filled with exciting programming. Among the many highlights were the SIPA Forum, the Global Leadership Awards Gala, and the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, as well as alumni-centered activities including receptions, presentations, cultural tours, and more.

The weekend began on March 30 with the 20th annual Dinkins Forum, keynoted by Congressman John Lewis, the civil-rights icon who has represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years. Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow, and Professor David N. Dinkins, the former mayor, delivered welcoming remarks at the Forum. Following Representative Lewis’s keynote speech, a panel discussion featuring faculty and guests examined questions of economic and political citizenship.

The festivities continued the next day as SIPA’s Program in Economic Policy Management marked its 25th anniversary. The program included a series of panels featuring alumni, faculty, and leading experts in economic policy management; Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld of the International Monetary Fund spoke at lunch. A networking reception for PEPM alums preceded a welcoming reception at Low Library for alumni of all programs.

On Saturday, attendees gathered for the SIPA Forum, an all-day event that brought together expert scholars and global policymakers for robust discussions about today’s pressing challenges. Janow moderated a keynote panel on global challenges of the 21st century. Taking part were Anthony Blinken, the former deputy secretary of state and national security adviser; Arvind Panagariya, vice chairman of the Indian planning agency NITI Aayog; Mari Pangestu, former trade minister of Indonesia; and Ambassador Zhang Qiyue, China’s consul general in New York.

Lunchtime sessions provided the chance for alumni to network or listen to presentations by current students on a variety of subjects, including student-led cyber initiatives, the experience of students of color at SIPA, and the evolution of the school’s capstone workshops. Graduates of the International Fellows Program also gathered for a special “SIPA Connections” lunch featuring guest speaker David Ottaway IF ’63, a renowned journalist, foreign correspondent, and Wilson Center Fellow.

On Saturday afternoon, distinguished experts and alumni took part in six different panel discussions—on climate change, economic development, foreign policy, social transformation, migration and refugees, and global economic stagnation.

[Photo by Kaitlyn Wells]

 

The day culminated in the Global Leadership Awards Gala at Morningside Heights’ own Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Almost 700 guests were on hand as SIPA honored Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Brazil’s Fundacao Lemann (Lemann Foundation) for their extraordinary contributions to the global public good. Brzezinski served as national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and was the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at SIPA from 1960 to 1989. Fundacao Lemann is a Brazilian non-profit organization that focuses on improving education through innovation, management, and policy. As always, proceeds from the gala are used to fund student fellowships.

The Celebration Weekend concluded on April 2 with a choice of guided tours for alumni. Some opted for a walking tour of Historic Harlem while others visited the first Whitney Biennial since the Whitney Museum of American Art moved downtown. A whirlwind of activity spanning 70 hours had finally drawn to a close.

— Serina Bellamy MIA ’17 and Matt Terry MIA 17

Twitter Executive Speaks About Public Policy Work in Tech Sector

Maryam Mujica, who leads Twitter’s public policy efforts in New York, visited SIPA on February 7 for a discussion with students about the online network’s role in the current geopolitical climate.

The event was hosted by SIPA’s student-run Digital and Cyber Group.

In her remarks Mujica addressed a variety of issues, including the role of NGO and nonprofit messaging in the Trump era and the role of public policy at Twitter. She also discussed the network’s potential for social impact and its role as a social forum for people to rally and as a tool for governments to communicate with their citizens.

Highlighting the role of her public policy team’s in such initiatives, Mujica said that—while the team is mostly advisory—it plays hugely important roles in working with the government and in advancing Twitter’s efforts toward global transparency.

The company is also working to support digital diplomacy: Over 90 percent of world leaders, she said, use the service. Twitter has proven to be an important tool during emergencies and disaster relief, enabling leaders to communicate instantly with their people and disseminate critical information during an emergency situation.

Twitter is working actively, Mujica said, to counter violent extremism on the platform.

Asked about the fine line between ensuring safety and freedom of expression, Mujica said that the service’s rules strictly prohibit hateful conduct. As a matter of fact, she added, Twitter had just earlier that day rolled out many new safety features to help customers feel safe and to see only the content they wish.

Participating MPA and MIA students enjoyed the insider’s account of what public policy work in the technology industry really entails.

Mujica also offered career advice for students who aspire to join the field, suggesting that successful candidates will be able to demonstrate to the hiring manager their passion and enthusiasm for a company and its products.

— Daniel Boccio MIA ’18

It’s a SIPA Snow Day

Today we’re expecting a decent amount of snowfall — early estimates at 6 to 12 inches — and to keep everyone safe from potentially dangerous travel conditions, SIPA is closing its doors for the day. We will reopen during normal business hours on Friday, Feb. 10 at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Please stay safe, exercise caution and allow extra travel time wherever you venture out on this snowy Thursday.

"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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