Archive for APSIA

Opinion: 4 ways to bring human rights into development work (via APSIA)

We’re resharing this post by the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), originally posted here.

APSIA brings leading graduate schools around the world which specialize in international affairs – including SIPA! We’ll be at the APSIA graduate fairs in Madrid, Paris and London this week. If you’re in the area, come meet SIPA admissions and find out more about an advanced career in public policy and international affairs.

4 ways to bring human rights into development work

Seventy years ago, the world laid out a common standard of fundamental rights for all people, which they said should be universally defended.

Now, the global environment is shifting. Nations that once led the way in promoting cross-border protections are retrenching. Scandals undercut major international development agencies when they fail to uphold these sentiments. Meanwhile, corporations — once vilified for their behavior — are building human rights into their work.

“Human rights touches every aspect of a company’s operations,” Margaret Jungk, managing director for human rights at Business for Social Responsibility, said in 2016. Today, corporations such as Facebook see “the responsibility [they] have to respect the individual and human rights of the … global community” — and hire accordingly, as stated in a recent job vacancy at the social media network.

Incorporating human rights into development work may require you to consider national politics, social media, sexual discrimination, and everything in between. To successfully navigate a new public, private, and nonprofit development landscape, four traits will be critical.

1. Context is key

Just as in broader questions of global development, human rights considerations are rarely clear-cut. Context matters. Are you trained to understand the economic, political, social, cultural, and historical factors at play? Can you identify the forces influencing a situation? Are you qualified to perform proper due diligence?

“Human rights work has to be focused within the contexts where development is playing out,” said Francisco Bencosme, Asia-Pacific advocacy manager at Amnesty International.

“In Myanmar, an entrenched system of apartheid can change the analysis of a seemingly positive housing project. [For example, under] the guise of development for Rakhine State, we have in the past seen new homes constructed for ethnic minorities on top old homes that used to belong to the Rohingya. It is these kind of development practices that need to take human rights contexts into account,” Bencosme said.

Seek out educational and professional opportunities that develop a flexible framework for evaluating decisions. One size will not fit all.

Mark Maloney, vice dean at the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs, explained: “Adaptability is a key skill … [one] even more important in humanitarian work because the stakes can be considerably higher when things go wrong.”

“For that reason, understanding the context, including relationships within and between parties, is a fundamental skill we try to develop through our Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action” he added. “This skill also maximizes the likelihood that our graduates will make the ‘right decision at the right moment’ when undertaking action on the ground.”

2. Be ‘client-ready’

Development professionals must tailor their work to many constituencies.

Have you practiced framing a discussion to make sense to diverse groups? Have you learned to persuade people while recognizing their different needs? Do you have the credentials to make people listen to what you have to say?

Learn to write and present arguments in clear, concise, and compelling ways. Work to improve your cross-cultural competencies. Expand proficiency in different languages. Look for opportunities to get close to the communities you want to serve, as well as to the funders, governments, and companies working on the ground.

“The human rights framework brings a human-centered analysis to the work of development professionals,” said Barbara Frey, director of the human rights program at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“This analysis starts with the question: Who is the rights bearer and who is the duty bearer in a situation? [It] tests how the consequences of actions can help or harm the clients [you] seek to serve.”

3. Develop connections

Access to individuals and information is critical to getting the job done.

With whom have you cultivated connections? From whom can you get critical information? Have you developed academic and professional networks to open doors?

Maintain relationships throughout your career via social media and in-person ties. Seek the counsel of former classmates, professors, or colleagues. Look for undergraduate or graduate schools with close ties to the field.

For example, students at the International Human Rights Center at Korea University’s Graduate School of International Studies incorporate concern for human rights into a wide range of activities. They build networks, workshops, and symposia in partnership with Human Asia, a human rights NGO in South Korea. According to the school, these opportunities prepare students to “serve as productive members of their organizations and to play leadership roles in the international community.”

4. Character is destiny

Easy answers do not always present themselves.

Are you bold enough to choose the difficult route? Can you withstand criticism from naysayers who cannot or will not envision anything beyond the status quo? Do you know how to rejuvenate your spirit when things look bleak?

“Forces larger than yourself will make you face some tough moral choices,” said Reuben Brigety, dean of George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. From his time at Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department, he has counseled young professionals to realize that “your character is your destiny. Have courage!”

To succeed at the intersection of human rights and development, you must ask good questions. Tailor your approach; build diverse networks; and, cultivate an internal moral compass to navigate the changing human rights and global development landscape.

Come meet our Admissions staff to get your application questions answered

Where will the Columbia admissions team be in the next few weeks? We’ll be traveling to you, available on campus, and connecting with you online.

We’re coming to you!

We’ve been traveling around graduate fairs speaking to prospective students (shoutout to the person in Seattle who recognized our names from this blog!) and would love to chat with you at an upcoming event.

The full calendar of off-campus recruiting events is available here, and below are a few highlights:

  • Oct. 22 – 25: Oregon and Washington
  • Oct. 29 – Nov. 1: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana
  • November 6: APSIA Graduate School Fair – Madrid, Spain
  • November 7: APSIA Graduate School Fair – Paris, France
  • November 8: APSIA Graduate School Fair – London, UK

Virtual Info Sessions

While you may not be in an area that we are, we’d like you to know about it just in case you happen to be able to attend, or know of someone that would be interested. So for those of you who won’t be in the areas we’re traveling too, join the Executive Director of Admissions, Grace Han, and Director of Financial Aid, David Sheridan, for a Virtual Information Session focused on the 21-month full time Master of Public Administration and Master of International Affairs programs. You will have the opportunity to ask questions via online chat.

Are you coming to us in NYC?

  • Class visits are open for this semester. You can sit in on up to two classes and get a feel for the actual SIPA experience and community (and the beauty of NYC in the fall). If you’re unsure how to figure out the SIPA courses available, Julia provides a walkthrough here. You must register in advance for a class visit, so schedule it soon as spots can fill up quickly.
  • On-campus information sessions are available every month. Right now there are weekly info sessions for the MIA, MPA and MPA-DP programs. You’ll learn about Columbia University, SIPA, our curriculum and community, and get insider application tips from admissions staff. You’ll also be able to ask any questions you want about the application process. When their schedules allow, there’s also an optional tour of the International Affairs Building led by a current SIPA student, who can share their SIPA experience as well.

We’ll be in the U.S. PNW soon — and a Spring application deadline reminder

The Columbia SIPA admissions team is still traveling to attend various graduate school fairs around the world. We’ve met a lot of fantastic future candidates and are looking forward to talking to more of you!

If you’re unsure if you want to come to these (free!) grad fairs, remember that Just a few minutes of conversation could lead to an opportunity that’ll change the course of your career. Keep up with us on our Off-Campus Recruitment Events calendar.

And a reminder for you Spring applicants that the application deadline is October 15th, 11:59pm ET. If you have any final questions, you should reach out to us at the Office of Admissions on Monday. Best of luck!

Upcoming Graduate School Fairs

The Columbia SIPA admissions team will be attending several upcoming events around the U.S., and we want to talk to you. A few minutes at a graduate school event could change your life forever and lead to great advances in your career. If you’re unable to come to these, don’t worry – keep updated on where we’ll be around the world with our Off-Campus Recruitment Events calendar.

QS Grad School Event

New York City
September 15, 2018, 12:30pm – 6pm

APSIA Graduate School Fairs

Montreal
September 11, 2018, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Atlanta
September 12, 2018, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

New York City
September 13, 2018, 5:15pm – 9:00pm

Washington D.C.
September 18, 2018, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

4 ways to prepare for a graduate school fair

The travel season kicked off in September, and things have really started to pick up. If you’re planning to meet us while we’re on the road, then these tips from the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) will be useful.

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  1. Research: Before attending a Graduate School Fair, research the participating schools. Prepare a list of questions that cannot be answered by their website. APSIA.org makes researching the leading international affairs graduate schools easy. At APSIA.org, you will find lists of degree programs, fields of specialization and other details on 60+ member s and affiliate school programs. Reading profiles will help you learn specifics about each program.
  2. Prioritize: After your research, prioritize which schools you want to speak with. Create a printed or digital list to focus your time. At the same time keep an open mind. Speak with other schools you might not know about. Schools you have overlooked may specialize in your area of interest or offer better financial aid.
  3. Engage: At the fair remember these three easy tips: show direction, convey your interests and express concerns. Showing direction helps counselors recommend specific programs or tracks of study. Sharing your interests helps you determine which schools share those interests. Expressing your concerns helps you understand what schools have to offer and what their expectations are of incoming students. These three easy tips will help you conduct a positive discussion with admissions counselors. After the Fair, follow up and thank the school representative. Find out if you can visit campus to continue the conversation.
  4. Apply: After you attend a Graduate School Fair, finalize your list of schools and apply. Before applying, we always recommend listening to our webinar on “Best Practices in Applying to Grad Schools” which highlights: an application timeline, common application mistakes, frequently asked questions, funding options and much more.

Visit APSIA’s website to find upcoming fairs and presentations. To see where SIPA will be this travel season, view our Recruitment Calendar.

"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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