Archive for activities

Seven things you should do before moving to NYC

If you are preparing to embark on the SIPA adventure this fall to spend the next two years of your life in New York City, here is some advice on what you should definitely try and do before boarding that plane.

Pack Light

I know, you are permanently moving to New York for at least the next two years, and might feel tempted to bring along those pants that you may someday want to wear, or that old lamp you love. But New York is crowded, and space is not precisely a surplus commodity. Whether you live in Columbia housing or on your own, most likely you will have a small room, and an even smaller closet.

Read a novel

For those of you who like reading novels; this will probably be one of the first pleasures cruelly swiped away from your life by grad school. There is so much to read for every class, that reading a novel simply becomes a luxury that a SIPA student cannot afford. So use this summer to indulge in those fictitious adventures, as they will be deeply missed.


New York is an amazing city, but it can also be amazingly expensive. If you want to have an occasional dinner at a nice restaurant, go to a concert, or take a taxi to avoid a 2-hour ride back from Brooklyn on a Saturday night, you should try and save some money to help you enjoy the city more.

Go see nature

You’ve heard the song. New York is indeed a unique concrete jungle where dreams are made of. But as fascinating as skyscrapers can be, they can also be overwhelming.  So make sure you get a good dose of wild mountains and blue oceans before you head this way.

Get some rest

SIPA will be lots of fun, but also lots of work. You will have endless nights in our basement library, for which you will need plenty of energy to help you cope. So get some serious sleep and rest before going back to school.

Let go of your prejudices

If you are coming to SIPA, you are probably already on track, but it doesn’t hurt to think about this once in a while. New York is a truly diverse place, and that is a central part of its magic. So open your mind and be ready to learn from other worldviews, cultures, careers and human beings. The more prepared you are to learning new things, the better your experience will be.

Be ready to be merry

Grad school, for most of us, happens once. Chances are this will be the last time in your life to be a student at a formal academic institution. Be consciously grateful for the endless opportunities, experiences and freedom the next two years will give you.



Journal of International Affairs

The following entry was contributed by Homa Hassan.  Homa is a first-year student at SIPA and you can read her biography here.  There are plenty of extracurricular opportunities for SIPA students to get involved in and one such opportunity is with the Journal of International Affairs.  Homa elaborates on her experience as both an Editorial and Digital Assistant.


SIPA students are always looking for ways to get involved on campus.  There is a mix of activities to take part in – there are the organizations that have to do with your particular studies, the ones that deal with your personal interests, the ones with tradition and prestige, and the ones that introduce you to new fields and new friends.

One of the projects that links new students to old and all students to alumni and global leaders is Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs.  Two volumes are produced each year comprised of essays, interviews, and book reviews written by prominent scholars of foreign policy and international affairs.  The Andrew Wellington Cordier Essay contest also gives students the opportunity to have their original works published.  The theme of each volume is decided on by SIPA students on the JIA Board.  Our latest theme was on Innovating Development, with essays ranging from nuclear power and sustainable development to climate change technology and gender revolutions.

There are a number of different ways to get involved with the Journal as a first year student, including serving as an Editorial Assistant, Production Assistant, and/or a Digital Assistant.  No experience is necessary and training is provided for each of the positions at the beginning of the semester.  I served as both an Editorial Assistant and a Digital Assistant.  Editorial Assistants have a demanding job.  We don’t just copy edit, which of course is important, but the bigger task is to fact-check.  Editorial Assistants are the first defense on the line protecting the publication’s reputation.

To begin with, each of us was given a brief summary of all of the articles and asked to rank them in the order of our interest.  A few days later, we were assigned 2-3 pages in one of the essays and paired with a Lead Editor who oversaw our work.  For our assigned pages, every line had to be checked and re-checked and verified by two or more sources (online or in print) to ensure the information is accurate and well-supported by substantial evidence.  Any links in the article were tracked and also verified.  The work is intense, but one of the most important processes of publishing the Journal.

The Production Assistants work with the layout of the publication, placing the content onto the pages, formatting and designing them to be aesthetically appealing, and finalizing the essays before they are sent out for production.  When the publication is finally out, the Board hosts something akin to a release party.  This year, it was a nice break from studying for final exams to listen to the speakers’ panel and join the celebrations at the subsequent reception with food, drinks, and live jazz music.  The JIA Board also hosted an end-of-semester happy hour to thank all of the SIPA students who helped out.

Digital Assistants continue to work throughout the year.  One of the large projects JIA has right now is uploading all previous issues of the Journal to the JIA website.  This means sorting through PDF versions of old issues and uploading the content to the website so that they are accessible to the general public.  The nice part about being a Digital Assistant was that I could go into the publication room between classes or after work and get my work done independently.  Having worked on the production and editorial side of journalism in the past, I welcomed learning new skills by working on the digital side of things.  I also now know the ins and outs of the publication online (great resource for classes!).

Working for the Journal of International Affairs has been challenging, but one of the most rewarding ways to get involved at SIPA.  Its fluid structure allows you to try new things and advance with commitment.  And years from now, your work is still an integral part of SIPA’s library.  Working on the Journal allows you to hit the ground running and seamlessly integrates you into life at SIPA.

A Day in the Shoes of a SIPA Student

What is a “typical” day like for a SIPA student?  Carrie Dorn offers her perspective . . .


When I first informed my friends about my acceptance to SIPA, they gave me a lot of unsolicited advice and some of it turned out to be very useful.  I was advised to pack in all of the rest and relaxation that I could get before the school year started by catching up with acquaintances and family members, organizing my house, reading some non-fiction, seeing the newest movies, and taking a vacation. Being the type of person who has always had a busy schedule, I didn’t imagine that the life of a student would be much different from my work life.

But, now that I am at SIPA, I pass this wisdom on to you.  Life at SIPA is busier and more exhilarating than you can anticipate.  Between classes there are lectures attend, cover letters to write, and networking to be done.  At night there are socials to go to, documentaries to watch, research to gather, and group presentations to practice.  The days of a student are long, the homework never-ending, and always learning opportunities not to be missed.

Here is a snapshot of what my day looked like on a fairly typical Tuesday in mid-November . . .

Wake up at 6 am and brew some coffee.  Feeling awake!

Read and respond to emails and proofread a paper proposal to be handed in tomorrow.  Running late!

Power walk to my 9 am class, Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming at the School of Social Work.  Today’s topic is integrating qualitative and quantitative data for comprehensive asset-needs assessments.  Meet with my group after class to discuss interviews and edits for our project, determining the strengths and needs of individuals reentering the East Harlem community after incarceration.  So much to be done!

Report to SIPA’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid for work at 11:15 am.  Talk to prospective students on the phone and in person about the impressive work that they’re doing and their future career goals.  Extraordinary applicants!

At 2 pm, meet with a fellow student and plan for our upcoming conversations with administrators about the inter-school coordination of dual degree programs.  Advocating for improved processes!

Stop by the Office of Career Services to schedule an appointment to review my resume with a counselor.  Find out the dates and times of upcoming New York City Career Panel sessions.  Filling up my planner!

Report back to the Office of Admissions for the afternoon hours to assist in filing and answering questions about the admissions process by email.

Go to the 6th floor computer lab to print out materials for tomorrow’s classes and chat with friends.

At 8pm go to the Brazil Trip information session to find out about SIPA’s Spring Break Trip to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.  Pizza dinner provided!

Get home around 9:30 pm, finish up homework and plan for tomorrow.  Jump into my comfy bed at midnight and fall asleep.  Dream until the alarm goes off tomorrow morning!

Events Galore

Below is some evidence of the choices that SIPA students must sometimes make when it comes to how to spend their time.  There always seems to be something going on at SIPA or on our campus that would be interesting to attend.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Gender-Based Violence in the Congo
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Gender Policy
Panel Discussion with Dr. Les Roberts, Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; Paula Donovan, Co-Founder of AIDS-Free World; Dr. Susan Bartels, Co-Head of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; and Lisa Jackson, Writer and Director of the film “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo.”

Debate: Nuclear Energy and Climate Change
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, Room 106
Earth Institute
Debate with Robert Alvarez, Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies, former Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy; Peter Bradford, Adjunct Professor, Vermont Law School, former Commissioner, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, former Chair, New York and Maine utility regulatory commissions; Barton Cowan, Visiting Professor, West Virginia University College of Law, of counsel, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC; Susan Eisenhower, Member, Blue Ribbon Commission for America’s Nuclear Future, Chair Emeritus, Eisenhower Institute; Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Director, Columbia Center for Climate Change Law

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kazakhstan’s Refugee Crisis: Violence, Hunger and the Transformation of Broader Central Asia, 1930-1933
12:00 am – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1219
Harriman Institute
Lecture with Sarah Cameron , Post-Doctoral Fellow, Yale University

Japan Circa 1959 – The High-Growth Economy and the Social Effects of Television
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 918
Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Brown Bag Lecture with Yoshikuni Igarashi, Associate Professor of History, Vanderbilt University

Kazakhstan’s Refugee Crisis: Violence, Hunger and the Transformation of Broader Central Asia, 1930-1933
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building
Harriman Institute
Lecture with Sarah Cameron, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Yale

DevInfo Training
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 407
New Media Task Force
Workshop with Christina J. Irene, a representative from the joint UNICEF/DevInfo programme, along with the Fall 2010 DevInfo Interns, will present an introduction to the DevInfo data management system.

Brown Bag with Amb. Paul R. Seger, Permanent Repepresentative of Switzerland to the UN
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 802
International Organization Specialization
Brown Bag Lecture with Ambassador Paul R. Seger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations

How Not to Help
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 707
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Discussion with Kate Cronin-Furman and Amanda Taub from “Wronging Rights”.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lake Baikal, Siberia: Will Industrial Development Destroy the World’s Largest, Cleanest Lake?
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1219
Harriman Institute

Czech Foreign Policy After the Fall of Communism
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1512
Harriman Institute
Lecture with Jiri Paroubek

Perspectives on Political and Economic Dynamism in Northeast Asia- Challenges of China and North Korea
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Columbia Univerity Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, Room 918
Center for Korean Research
Lecture with Ambassador Young-Mok Kim,Consul General of Republic of Korea to New York. No registration is required.

Leaders in Global Energy: Dr. Fatih Birol: Critical Factors Shaping the Future Global Energy Landscape
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
School of International and Public Affairs and Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy
Lecture with Dr. Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, International Energy Agency

Tolerance Without Liberalism: Conflict and Coexistence in Twentieth-Century Indonesia
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 801
Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion
Lecture with CDTR Visiting Fellow, Jeremy Menchik

My Perestroika
8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 417
Harriman Institute
Film Screening and Discussion with Robin Hessman. To reserve tickets in advance please follow the link: Tickets will also be available at the box office in the Lerner Hall Lobby the day of the show.

Concert Series: Italian Harpsichord Music with Andrew Appel
8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
The Italian Academy at Columbia, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue
The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University
Concert Series with harpsichordist Andrew Appel, violinist Krista Bennion Feeney, and cellist Loretta O’Sullivan, performing the music of Boccherini, Cimarosa, and Clementi

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Conversation with Adolfo Carrion, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
12:00 pm- 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Urban and Social Policy Concentration
Conversation with Adolfo Carrion, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Migrations of Jewish-Hungarian Professionals through Germany to the United States, 1919-1945
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1219
East Central European Center
Discussion with Professor Tibor Frank, Eötvös Loránd University, Columbia University, regarding the impulses influencing a uniquely gifted generation of mostly Jewish Hungarian emigrants.

Biological Measures of the Standard of Living North and South of the Border –
4:15 pm – 6:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 802
Institute of Latin American Studies
Lecture: with Prof. Richard Steckel, Distinguished University Professor of Economics, Anthropology and History at Ohio State University.

When China Met Africa and The Colony
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Studio X 180 Varick Street New York, NY 10014
Committee on Global Thought
Film screening / Discussion including two films that examine Chinese investment in Africa

Stories of Stigma, Stories of Strength: Ethnographic Oral History with Sanitation Workers in New York City
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Schermerhorn, Room 754
Oral History Master of Arts Program
Lecture with Robin Nagle. She will present her ethnographic work for her forthcoming book Picking Up.

QMSS Seminar: Sexual Networks and HIV Transmission in a High-Prevalence Setting: Evidence from a Sociocentric Study
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Hamilton Hall, Room 503
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
Seminar with Stephane Helleringer, Mailman School of Public Health

Friday, December 3, 2010

Afghanistan: Prospects for Peace
9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Kellogg Center, International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
Sixth Annual Arnold A. Saltzman Forum

From a Raindrop to a Stream Pebble to a Delta: Recent Research on Predictive Modeling
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Seeley W. Mudd Building, Room 833
Earth Institute
Lecture with Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Director of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota

Asia in Africa: New Connections in Historical Perspective
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Davis Auditorium, Schapiro Center
Committee on Global Thought
Discussion Panel with Howard French, Deborah Brautigam, Abdoulie Janneh, and Wang Hongyi

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The International Criminal Court in Motion – An Analysis of its Seven Years of Activities and Perspectives with Dr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
International Affairs Building Room 1501
Center for International Conflict Resolution
Lecture with Dr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The talk will be followed by a discussion moderated by Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Director of the Center for International Conflict Resolution.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Toxica Simulation
9:30 am – 6:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
Simulation allowing participants to engage in a negotiation, observed by negotiation practitioners. Space is limited, RSVP required. Please email


Monday, December 6, 2010

From Three-Legged to Two-Legged Races – The Emergence of Women’s Competitive Sports in Japan (1910s-20s)
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 918
Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Brown Bag Lecture with Robin Kietlinski, Adjunct Assistant Professor of History, Baruch College; Visiting Researcher, Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

Monday, December 6 – Distinguished Lecturer Series “Southern Buddhism: Tracing Later Buddhist Art in South India”
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Knox Hall, Room 208
Southern Asian Institute
Distinguished Lecturer Series with John Guy, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Innovating for Development: A Thought Leadership Forum from the Journal of International Affairs
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1501
School of International and Public Affairs
Forum moderated by Steven Cohen, Executive Director, Earth Institute, about how innovation is driving the agenda for sustainable development, climate change, natural resource use and energy policy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

U.S. Rapprochement with Indonesia – From Problem State to Partner
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 918
Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Brown Bag Lecture with Ann Marie Murphy, Associate Professor, School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University; Adjunct Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Transforming Humiliation and Violent Conflict Workshop
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Columbia University, Teachers College Campus, 525 West 120th Street, Grace Dodge Hall, Room 179
Earth Institute

Thursday, December 9, 2010

QMSS Seminar: Political Conditions for Diffusion? Anti-Corporate Movements and the Spread of Cooperatives in America Capitalism
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Hamilton Hall, Room 503
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
Lecture with Marc Schneiberg, Queens College Department of Sociology

Monday, December 13, 2010

Post-Cancun Debriefing
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
International Affairs Building, Room 1512
The Columbia-Paris Alliance Program and the Sustainable Development Doctoral Society
Seminar on the climate change negotiations in Cancun, with Scott Barett, Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics and Laurence Tubiana, Alliance Visiting Professor at Columbia

From Wednesday, January 12, 2011 through Friday, January 14, 2011

SIPA Students Only: 35th Annual Washington, DC Career Conference
All Day Event
Washington, DC
Office of Career Services, School of International and Public Affairs
35th Annual Washington, DC Career Conference, a three-day event consisting of 20 panels, employer site visits, networking reception and a day of informational interviews. For further information regarding this event, please contact Joe Musso at

Thursday Evenings at SIPA

The following was contributed by Kristoffer Tangri, a second-year SIPA student from Germany pursuing a MIA degree with a concentration in International Security Policy.


Thursdays are popular for events and receptions at SIPA and sometimes it can be difficult to choose. Last Thursday was one of these days.  After having listened to the insights of a respectable guest speaker from the International Peace Institute in my class on “Building Peace after Conflict”, I had a remarkable choice of public events and reception to attend at SIPA. Not always an easy choice.

Downstairs on the 4th floor, the auditorium was filling with students who were interested in hearing Noam Chomsky’s opinions on “The Unipolar Moment and the Culture of Imperialism”, while in the building next door, Robert C. Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Planning and Policy Coordination in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, was speaking on “The Secretary-General’s Agenda and The Challenges He Faces.”

Meanwhile, on the 15th floor, SIPA’s Energy Association was hosting a panel to discuss “the adaptation of large-scale renewable energy under a proposed cap and trade system” and on the same floor, Columbia’s Dirk Salomons was moderating a panel discussion about the international response to the ongoing crisis of childhood malnutrition with experts from the Doctors Without Borders.

After so much academic input, one feels the need to go out and socialize with fellow students – but where?  Should I go to the UN Studies Christmas Party on the 9th floor, or drop by the Latin American Association’s reception? Maybe I go over to the B-School on Campus for a few hours of free drinks (paid for by the tuition of our wealthy Business School students). Later that evening, the Migration Working Group was having a fundraiser party down in the East Village, too.

One thing you can be sure of at SIPA. You will always have an amazing variety of public lectures and events to attend, both at SIPA and at the many departments around Columbia University and of course New York City itself, with the UN and Wall Street just around the corner. And in case you are worried about the living costs of New York, these events always come with free food and wine.

"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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