Archive for Capstone Workshop

The Unexpected Product of Mentorship at SIPA: A Shout-Out on Late Night TV

My name is Katherine Kirk, and I am a second-year MIA student concentrating in International Security Policy with a specialization in Russia and the Former Soviet States. In addition to the traditional SIPA specialization, I am completing the Harriman Institute’s Certificate Program in conjunction with my SIPA degree to deepen my regional expertise. A native of the D.C. metro area, I came to SIPA directly from Yale University, where I received my BA in Global Affairs.

Last Monday, on my final day of class, I received a surprise call from my sister, who informed me that Stephen Colbert had just quoted my work on The Late Show. Needless to say, this was not what I was expecting from my last day at SIPA. To back up slightly — this spring I enrolled in Alexis Wichowski’s course, “Technology, National Security & the Citizen.” The course focused as much on developing real-world skills as it did on teaching specific course material, and so rather than more traditional academic papers, Professor Wichowski’s assignments include a briefing document and an original op-ed. It was the latter assignment, which I began in March, that brought my words to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on May 3.

While conducting research for my capstone project ­– an analysis of Russian active measures on Twitter targeting Americans with content about the Syrian conflict – our team came across a study on Russian trolls’ participation in the online vaccine debate, which I used as a foundation for Professor Wichowski’s assignment. She told us at the beginning of the semester that the op-ed assignment usually resulted in at least one student’s work being published, but at the time it seemed a hypothetical prospect. Luckily for me, Professor Wichowski had other ideas, and encouraged me to submit the piece for publication. I took her advice, and shopped the op-ed to a handful of outlets before it landed at Foreign Policy. With the help of their fantastic editing team, I refined and expanded the piece, which appeared on the Foreign Policy website at the beginning of April.

I was thrilled with the article’s initial reception and grateful that it drew much-needed attention to Russia’s less overtly political information warfare operations. Little did I know that, when The Late Show with Stephen Colbert began work on a segment about Russian trolls and the online vaccine debate, my article would be one of their primary sources, which Colbert quoted when the segment went live on May 3.

Whatever I expected from my time at SIPA, it certainly did not include a shout-out on late night television. Writing and publishing my first opinion piece was one of the most impactful experiences of my SIPA career. Mentorship from SIPA’s faculty gave me the expertise to develop thoughtful opinions, the skills to put them into writing, and the voice to promote those opinions in the wider world.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of who you are going to be.”

This post was originally going to be titled “Spring Break, Capstone Workshops, and Rangel Fellows,” but I can’t top that quote from longtime congressman Charles Rangel. Now retired, he spoke to 12 SIPA Rangel Fellowship recipients last month. The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program is a U.S. State Department initiative that encourages diversity and excellence among foreign service officers.

Our alumni network of Rangel Fellows has accomplished amazing things, and we hold them in high regard. Check out the summary of the Rangel Fellowship meeting at SIPA here. (You might recognize Kier Joy in that photo, who was featured in this video!)

If you’re wondering why SIPA didn’t have any class visits this week, it’s because it was spring recess at Columbia University. Many SIPA students are using this week has an opportunity to work on their Capstone Workshops, traveling all around the world to meet with their clients. A signature of the SIPA curriculum, the Capstone Workshop has small teams of students working on essentially live consulting projects, where they apply the theory they learn in the classroom to real-world issues. We’ve featured multiple capstone workshops on the blog and can’t wait to see what our current students have worked on so extensively this week.

Wishing everyone a happy spring!

What will your Capstone Workshop look like?

Here at the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, we’ve kept busy by preparing for a new admissions cycle. Now that it’s August, the SIPA application will be opening soon. Make sure you’re signed up on our mailing list so you can get notified when the application goes live.

As usual, we’ll be posting application tips and advice to the blog throughout the admissions process. One piece of advice we can give for any program is to be specific in your personal statement, and about why you want to not just attend graduate school, but this particular program. For some, this means researching each program’s curricula.

A signature of the SIPA curriculum is the Capstone Workshop. Small teams of students work on these consulting projects, where they apply the theory they learn in the classroom to real-world issues. What can your Capstone look like? You can check out the full list here, and below, Julia Tumasz (MPA-DP ’19) and John Rouse (MPA-DP ’18) went on New York’s MetroFocus to talk about their Private Rainforest Reserves capstone case study film.

Check out the full interview here.

We covered this capstone about clean cooking in Uganda in this post. Here’s the Spring 2018 team that worked on it, along with a (beautiful) writeup on their project.

If you’re preparing to apply to SIPA to start in Spring or Fall of 2019 and want to see certain content on this blog that hasn’t been covered, be sure to reach out and let us know! Submit An Idea by clicking the link at the top or shoot us an email.

 

Capstone Workshop: Improving STEM education in Ghana

A signature of the SIPA curriculum is the Capstone Workshop, a live consulting project on a real-world issue for an outside organization. You’ll work with small consulting teams of other SIPA students under the guidance of an expert faculty advisor.

This is just two of the Spring 2018 workshops out of the 80+ projects each year, and your project could be in the public, private, and nonprofit sector

Building a Hands-on Science Culture Among Ghanaian STEM Teachers

Client: Practical Education Network (PEN)

Based on the finding that one-off teacher trainings alone are not sufficient to enable teachers to implement hands-on science, the Capstone team developed an incentive strategy to increase teacher uptake of in-class activities. The team also made recommendations to improve PEN’s monitoring & evaluation practices, including providing guidance on data collection, analysis, and storage. The team’s final deliverables include toolkits, step-by-step implementation, and measurement guides for immediate incorporation into organization processes. Learn more here.

Clean Cooking Energy Enterprise in Uganda

Client: United Nations Capital Development Fund

In Uganda, only 2% of the population has access to clean cooking technologies while the majority of households rely on biomass to cook, thus making the expansion of the clean cooking sector a major challenge in the country. To fulfill the client’s requests of providing diagnostics to help the companies attract further technical and investment support, the Capstone team undertook background research on the sector, conducted interviews with international organizations and local associations, and took a weeklong field visit to Uganda to meet with local entrepreneurs and produced a set of deliverables, including company prescriptions, company profiles and a website with database feature, to advise them properly on the ways in which they could scale up their efforts. Learn more here.

Check out the full list of SIPA Capstone Workshops here.

A View from the Class: The 2018 Award-Winning Capstone Workshop Team

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share another installment of A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and SIPA faculty.

Here, we feature the Capstone workshop team that was awarded this year’s Dr. Susan Aurelia Gitelson Award for Human Values in International Affairs for their work with UN Women on the project “Using Twitter Data Combined with Traditional Survey Data to Measure Societal Dynamics Related to Violence Against Women in Brazil.” Awarded annually, the Gitelson award was created by SIPA alumna, Dr. Susan Gitelson to recognize outstanding work by SIPA students related to human values in international affairs.

For this project, six SIPA students were partnered with faculty advisor, David Dabscheck. UN Women was interested in the use of Big Data; specifically, to understand the potential of using Twitter data combined with traditional survey data to measure societal dynamics related to violence against women in Brazil, where the rates of homicide have continued to increase since 2007.

Alejandra Baez MIA’18: At SIPA, Alejandra concentrated in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy with specializations in Latin America and Technology, Media, and Communications. A Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, she will join the U.S. State Department in September 2018 as a Foreign Service Officer.

Wajeeha Bajwa MIA’18: Wajeeha grew up in Tokyo and Moscow and completed her undergraduate education in Germany before returning home to Pakistan to pursue a career in independent consulting. At SIPA, she specialized in Gender and Public Policy to complement her international field experience. She hopes to join an international organization working for women’s empowerment globally.

Gabriel Barrientos MPA-DP’18: At SIPA, Gabriel focused on quantitative analysis, education policies, and behavioral economics. Recently graduated, Gabriel is joining Concordia in New York City as a Partnership Development Manager, working with key partners, industry leaders, and other stakeholders to foster and strengthen public-private partnerships for social impact.

Veronique Ehamo MIA’18: At SIPA, Veronique concentrated in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy with a dual specialization in Gender and Public Policy and Regional African Studies. From the Democratic Republic of Congo, she  will begin PhD studies in the United Kingdom this fall, focusing her research on the utilization of rape as a weapon of war in the North Kivu Region of Eastern DRC.

Lilah Greenberg MPA’19: A dual degree student at SIPA and the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW), Lilah is pursuing her MPA, concentrating in Human Rights with a specialization in Gender and Public Policy. In fall 2018, she will continue her studies at CSSW, focusing on human rights and contemporary social issues in the U.S.

Marie Wavre MPA’18: An attorney and MPA graduate in Development and Gender Policy, Marie received a Master in Public International Law from Université Paris Assas and an LL.M. in International Law and Justice from Fordham University School of Law. Marie is currently legal counsel for an immigration law office representing Tibetan refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

"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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