Archive for SIPA

Decoding SIPA Courses for Prospective Students

When I was looking at graduate schools, I wanted to know what my course load would look like and what electives I would be able to take. I didn’t want to be stuck taking two years of core classes and I wanted to make sure there were elective classes that suited my interests. Here’s the guide for past-Julia on how to decipher SIPA’s courses.

All students must fulfill their “core requirement” courses which include Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Quantitative Analysis I, Financial Management, and Management. Students will also need to take a Professional Development course, internship, and complete a capstone project which usually takes place second year, last semester.

Students can take up to 18 credits per semester, though most take around 16 credits. You can view sample course schedules in each Concentration’s “Sample Path” or “Sample Program” tab (Eg: Energy and Environment’s sample path, Economic and Political Development’s sample program)

All prospective students can find SIPA’s list of courses here. You can then filter for semester as well as degree programs, concentrations, and specializations if you click “advanced search criteria”. Clicking on the blue plus button on the left of the course title, you will be able to find the course description, professor, and time/location of class.

Key notes on searching for classes:

  • Students who are in the MPA and MIA program are blocked from registering for EMPA courses (Executive MPA program)
  • There are 3 credit courses and 1.5 credit courses. 1.5 credit courses are usually half-semester courses or courses that are completed in two weekends.
  • Enrolled students will be able to find past course syllabus and evaluations.
  • Not all courses are offered every semester or every year.

As you’re completing your application for SIPA, take a look at the courses we have to offer, and if you can, sign up to sit in on one or two!

Note from Admissions: As Julia mentioned, class visits are open. You can sit in on up to two SIPA classes and get a feel for the classroom experience and community. Sign up soon as seats are first come, first serve.

Meeting Africa’s funding gap to meet the SDGs and how an MDP student is part of this ambitious objective

Africa faces an annual funding gap of $1.3 trillion if it is to meet the SDGs by 2030. MPA-DP student Ji Qi traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, as part of the program’s summer placement, to work at The Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa and look at how development banks can improve their performance against international best practices and benchmarks to contribute to the achievement of the #SDGs in the continent. In his own words “I’m really glad to be part of this ambitious continent-wide initiative which can help turn the development banks into the true driving force behind Africa’s sustainable development.”

 

Podcast Recommendations by Concentration

As a SIPA student, your time is probably preoccupied with group meetings, scheduling group meetings, studying, rescheduling that group meeting because it coincides with that other group meeting, and reading for classes. This in itself is very time consuming, but like any curious-minded individual, you still want to make room for additional learning. It is common practice for professors to discuss current events and relate it to coursework material and it’s important to stay up-to-date. 

Below is a list of podcast recommendations by concentration; feel free to share your own in the comments below.

International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP)

Recommendations: Planet Money from NPR and Bloomberg Benchmark by Bloomberg. 

Why: Planet Money does a really fantastic job of explaining current economic events in a very accessible and entertaining way. Case in point: this episode on the Argentinian debt crisis, “A Hedge Fund, A Country, And A Big Sailboat.” Definitely worth listening to, even if you have no background in finance or economics.

Urban and Social Policy (USP)

Recommendations: Justice in America”  by Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith, and “Stay Tuned with Preet”, by Preet Bharara.

Why: Admittedly, both podcasts are very U.S.-centered but given the current political climate in America, there is something noteworthy to discuss every day. Preet Bharara is the Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and was fired from his post earlier this year (that is reason enough to listen in itself). Preet uses his career and background to provide insight into events, and frankly, its hard to keep up. For example, this episode on the testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh which was recorded on Thursday, prior to Jeff Flake’s announcement on Friday that he would only support Kavanaugh’s confirmation following an FBI investigation. And for those international students who are having a hard time keeping track of all these developments — honestly, we are too.

Human Rights & Humanitarian Policy

Recommendations: Declarations: The Human Rights Podcast by Cambridge Centre of Governance and Human Rights. And “Ending Human Trafficking” by Sandra Morgan & Dave Stachowiak. 

Why: Both podcasts do a really great job of covering various human rights issues in a thought provoking way. Declarations is recorded at the Cambridge Centre of Governance and Human Rights and is equal parts academic and practical. “Ending Human Trafficking” is more narrow in it’s focus but is remarkably in depth, for example, this episode, “How to Champion Advocacy in Government”, which discusses how electing more women to government is essential for crafting policy to eliminate human trafficking.

Energy and Environment

Recommendations:  The Energy Transition Show by Chris Nelder and Columbia Energy Exchange by Professor Jason Bordoff

Why: The first podcast was recommended by current and former SIPA Energy and Environment concentrators. Chris Nelder discusses global challenges in energy  and depending on the episode, they are fairly easy to understand if you have no background or knowledge in Energy. The podcast conveniently ranks episodes on a “Geek rating”, with a scale of 10 being suitable to individuals with highly specialized and technical knowledge in Energy (aka EE SIPA Students). The only downfall is that the podcast isn’t free, but I’ve been told that the quality of the content is good and well worth the subscription if you can afford it, or are are willing to forego one Halal cart meal per month. The second podcast is co-hosted by Professor Jason Bordoff (also founder of the Center on Global Energy Policy).

International Security Policy (ISP)

Recommendations: War on The Rocks by Ryan Evans and Lawfare by the Lawfare Institute

Why: Both podcasts were recommended by a former ISP student, and given my very limited knowledge of the topic, I will let this direct quote – which was definitely not sent via text – speak for itself “…they have journalists and people working in the defense and intelligence communities discussing the most pressing national security issues of the day.”

Economic and Political Development (EPD)

Recommendations: Pod Save the World by Crooked Media and Global Dispatches by Mark Goldberg (editor of the UN blog UN Dispatch) 

Why: If you are an EPD concentrator and not yet listening to Pod Save the World, what are you even doing?! The co-host, Tommy Vietor, hails from the Obama Administration, where he worked for President Obama’s National Security Council. Again, somewhat U.S.-centered –I am starting to see a theme here — but it does a great job of discussing foreign policy and the impressive guest list alone is reason enough to listen. Episodes are weekly and cover anything from Syria, to the politics of the World Cup.

Notable mentions that didn’t quite fit into any category:

99% invisible: if you enjoy learning a great deal of incredibly specific information on the most esoteric topics as much as I do, then this podcast is for you! For example, did you know that nearly every statue in New York is modeled after Audrey Munson, an early 1900’s model who went on to live a very eccentric life in upstate New York? Have you ever looked at a straw and wondered about its tragic ties to contemporary capitalism? Well, if you have, you needn’t worry much longer! 99% invisible has you covered with this episode on the history of the straw. To be fair, the podcast is predominantly focused on design, architecture, and the history of things we wouldn’t ordinarily think about (hence the name 99% invisible). Either way, you’d be surprised at just how fascinating the history of the ballpoint is. Fun fact: the Bic pen accounts for the largest percentage of ballpoint pens currently on the market (this is a great conversation starter at SIPA parties, btw — you are welcome!).

Why I Chose to Apply to SIPA

Note from Admissions: The Spring application deadline is coming up, and we hope applicants feel like they’re making good progress with the admissions process. Current student Dylan Hoey has been in your position and reflects on why he applied to SIPA in the first place. 

We encourage you to reach out to us at the Admissions office if you have any questions about the application or just want to talk it over. And if you want to talk to Dylan or other SIPA students about their experience, we can make that happen.


Rodin’s “The Thinker” outside Philosophy Hall [Wikimedia Commons]

During undergrad, like most first year students, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. At first I was confident that environmental science was the right choice. Within a semester, I was disabused of that idea. After taking an amazing introduction to international relations course, I thought I had settled on international relations. When my second year started, I changed my mind once again and declared as a Government and History dual major, which finally stuck. While I had formally decided on a major, my interest in other subjects did not wane. Thanks to a great liberal arts education, I was able to dabble in almost every major subject, from religious studies to mathematics. Throughout my undergraduate career, I developed an interest in urban studies, post-colonial history and theory, continental philosophy, and film, amongst others.

In turn, when I decided to apply to graduate school, I knew I wanted to be at a place that engaged all of these interests, while also providing me with a central skill set that would allow me to be successful in any industry. I knew that my ideal school would be in a large city, with plenty of extracurricular opportunities to pursue my interest in the arts. Naturally, that narrowed my list of schools down quite considerably.

SIPA had always been on my radar just based off its name recognition, but when I researched more into its curriculum and Columbia’s own resources, I became more and more interested in applying. First of all, I appreciated that SIPA stresses both theory and ‘practical’ applications of course material. As a future U.S. diplomat, I valued SIPA’s diversity, which is unrivaled. I also liked that SIPA has a distinctly international focus, with an emphasis on urban politics and culture. When I looked through SIPA’s course offerings and faculty, I was similarly impressed by the broad array of fields and disciplines represented. I remember also coming across a couple ‘superstar’ professors, including former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. On more comprehensive faculty lists outside of SIPA, I saw that one of my favorite authors, Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, was also listed as a member of Columbia’s faculty. Another search led me to discover that leading Indian post-colonial theorist Gayatri Spivak was a resident faculty member.

When I looked at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ website, I found that the events section was full of film series that I was interested, including a few where the directors themselves were there to answer questions. At the Journalism School, I saw Jelani Cobb, one of the New Yorker’s most prolific and insightful contributors, listed as a professor. While I was certainly drawn in by SIPA’s course offerings, I really fell in love with the idea of Columbia being a place of such great academic diversity. I knew that at SIPA I would receive a world-class education in policy analysis and public management; I had no doubts about that. But I relished the idea of being on a campus where it would be easy to meet people engaged in other fields, and to pursue a truly holistic education. When it was time to finally apply, I was excited at the prospect of enrolling at SIPA, an excitement that has never left me, even as a second year student now.

Current Events Roundup, September

We are currently in week four of the Fall 2018 semester, and its already been a busy four weeks for fellow Seeple students. Between the General Assembly this week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visiting Columbia to speak with Professor Joseph Stiglitz and SIPA’s Director of the Technologies Specialization, Anya Schiffrin, and the “Rise of the Rest” – Entrepreneurship Across America event, there have been plenty of things to discuss and attend.

Below is a roundup of some notable September events:

The UN General Assembly

The UN General Assembly is certainly an eventful time in New York. Aside from the bumper to bumper traffic and multiple street closures that take over Midtown East, it is one of the few instances where there is such a high concentration of world leaders in New York City at once. This is, of course, a significant point of interest for SIPA students, who in addition to taking geographic advantage are able to participate in the many intersections of SIPA and the United Nations, including classes and events. This year, the General Assembly has been an especially notable one, much of the conversations will center around three key issues: the Rohingya crisis, Syria, and the Iran Nuclear Deal. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an implementation of the Paris climate change agreement. Coverage of the UN General Assembly has varied, but a few key moments have stood out, in particular, the President of The United States’ decision to not meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, among other things. Either way, SIPA students have been busy discussing the General Assembly and keeping a close eye as it will continue to be a key topic in classrooms through the semester.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visits Columbia University 

On June 26th, 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became a household name as a Congressional candidate who won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District and beat the incumbent Congressman, Joe Crowley. On September 24th, 2018 she joined Columbia Business School Professor and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and SIPA’s Director of the Technologies Specialization, Anya Schiffrin at the Roone Arledge Auditorium at the Riverside Church for a discussion panel. Students were able to attend and ask questions. Much of the conversation centered around grassroots efforts and Ocasio-Cortez spoke of an increasingly mobilized progressive base and encouraged students to engage in on-campus activism. She also spoke to the Democratic party’s increasing isolation of marginalized communities. She stated that it was important for Democrats to engage minority voters through a renewed commitment to their communities. SIPA students were also in attendance.

“The Rise of the Rest” – Entrepreneurship Across America 

On September 12th, 2018 Dean Merit E. Janow, Steve Case, and Secretary Jacob J. Lew sat down for a fireside-chat discussion on entrepreneurship in America. Case, Chairman, and CEO of Revolution and the Co-founder of AOL talked about his “Rise of the Rest” initiative to support entrepreneurship across America. Secretary Lew spoke of policy changes to encourage entrepreneurship, improving immigration policies, for example, can promote entrepreneurship given the high percentage of immigrant founders. They also touched on the impact of a healthy economy on the development of ideas — as long as ideas are strong and people are motivated, the health of the economy becomes less important. The fireside chat ended with a discussion on the regulation of online businesses — is it possible to apply the same levels of regulations that are applied to brick and mortar businesses?

"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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