Archive for concentration – Page 2

The International Security Policy Concentration at SIPA: An Overview

Despite popular belief, the International Security Policy (ISP) concentration is not only for veterans and war hawks. Rather, it is a multidimensional concentration designed for students interested in topics as diverse as political violence, conflict management, defense policy, military strategy, terrorism and unconventional warfare, arms control, intelligence, peacekeeping, coercion, negotiation, and alternatives to the use of force as an instrument of policy.

Not only do students cover a wide breadth of topics in the concentration, the students themselves represent a number of different backgrounds and come from various experiences. Enrolled in ISP are diplomats, former soldiers, recovering private sector analysts, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers. And then there are those that are still finding their way.

SIPA’s diversity is constantly benefiting students, but perhaps no more so for those studying in the ISP concentration. More than 50 percent of the student body comes from outside the United States, which allows for classes to integrate different points of view on the same conflict. When studying conflict, the students’ unique perspectives plays an outsized role. There is nothing quite like analyzing the phenomenon of transnational crime from a Mexican or French perspective, or looking at terrorism through the lens of Israeli and Palestinian students.

The professors in the ISP concentration are phenomenal; most have field experience and many are adjuncts who come to teach after spending the day at the NYPD, DoD, Capitol Hill, among other security institutions. They are always willing to meet with students and impart their professional advice.

Though SIPA’s curriculum is often characterized as being broad and flexible, one will be able to niche themselves in the ISP concentration.

Think EPD is your thing?

What does it actually mean to do development at SIPA?

Would you like to work in developing countries? Are you interested in improving people’s quality of life and access to resources?

If you think this is your “thing” then Economic and Political Development (EPD) is your concentration. This is one of the six policy concentrations offered at SIPA and the largest one with almost 250 students. Through this program, students are prepared for careers in international development through classes and projects that provide them with an understanding of the processes of economic, political, and social change in the developing world.

Having said that, we know development is a broad concept and it might entail completely different tasks, especially in the work field. You could be doing anything from consulting on a microfinance project in Uganda to working in a gender equality campaign with the UN Women in Peru. Taking into account the number of options and different realities in the developing world, how does SIPA focus its EPD program and who are the so-called “EPDers” (students who pursue this concentration)?

One of the unique aspects of the program is that, along with the economic and political requirements, it allows you to choose one of the four professional tracks: economic development, political development, social development or sustainable development. The goal of these tracks is to help you navigate and narrow your interests in the world of development so you have a better idea of the type of work you would like to do afterwards. In terms of classes, they are focused on technical skills, like design and implementation of projects, and in analysis of the political, social and economic realities of developing countries. Another key part of the program is the Capstone Project (final graduation project), which allows you to work with an actual client anywhere in the world, develop and execute a development project and yes, travel to the field to see it.

We, the EPDers, are as heterogeneous and diverse as it gets; with students from all countries and backgrounds. You could be coming from the developing field, or trying to enter it, there is a place for everybody. Our faculty is comprised by top leaders in the field, one example being the Director of the Program Jose Antonio Ocampo. Additionally, we have access to resources focused on development issues like  The Center on Economic Governance, the student led Columbia Partnership for International Development and the Microfinance Working Group.

Urban And Social Policy At SIPA: What You Need To Know

In the 21st century, it is absolutely pivotal for policymakers to understand the phenomenon of urbanization. Today, half of the world’s people reside in cities, and experts agree that this trend shows no sign of abating. According to Urban Habitat, by 2050 six billion inhabitants will call cities home.

Because of this dramatic population explosion experienced by cities around the globe, there must be urban experts that can assess issues pertaining to growth. How will children in these areas be educated? Is there access to quality healthcare? What about transportation options, and national security issues, and housing policies, and crumbling infrastructure? This is where SIPA’s urban and social policy (USP) concentration comes in.

The USP concentration at SIPA is purposely flexible; one chooses to specialize in either urban policy or social policy, and is required to take one of the offered core courses (I took Critical Issues In Urban Public Policy with former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and highly recommend it). After meeting those guidelines, students are free to explore the wide range of USP offerings, and the breadth of classes is really fantastic.

The obvious observation on USP at SIPA is that there is no better place to study urban issues than in the heart of New York City. The school is able to draw on its strategic location and use the Big Apple as a supplement to the coursework. Why read about issues in transportation when you can speak to officials at the MTA and observe commuter patterns on the subway? Why sit through a powerpoint lecture on green spaces and urban renewal when you can go visit the High Line or the revamped Hudson River Park? Coupled with SIPA’s ability to attract professors with extensive experience in city government (USP Program Director Ester Fuchs is a prime example) and the ability to intern in a field that matches your interests, I would be hard-pressed to come up with a better scenario for those interested in urban studies.

Moreover, our dual-degree program is perfectly aligned for students who want to get an education in public administration or international affairs and also delve deeper into another area of expertise. Aspiring city planners and architects should look into our program with GSAAP, future social workers should look into our partnership with Columbia’s School of Social Work, and budding teachers should look into taking classes with Teacher’s College. It is so easy for students to develop a curriculum that addresses urban issues and meets their career goals.

Through my coursework in USP, I have had the privilege of taking classes on modern urban terrorism, sustainability in cities, and land use issues. I also am looking forward to my capstone workshop next semester, when I will be able to apply the skills I have honed in the classroom and apply them to a real-world scenario.

If you are interested in reshaping our cities and in turn, reshaping society, I urge you to take a closer look at SIPA’s USP program.

Why Study Energy at SIPA?

If you ever wonder when renewables will play a larger role in America’s energy mix? How does fracking impact our social ecological and financial systems? Will the U.S. export Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or curtail its oil consumption in the coming years? If you are interested in answering these questions and pursuing a career in the energy industry, then SIPA is the right place for you.

SIPA’s Energy and Environment concentration is shaping up to be one of the most comprehensive energy programs in the country. The concentration is designed to give students a nuanced understanding of global and domestic energy policies and provides a rigorous training on energy fundamentals and global energy markets. Students admitted into the program are required to take a combination of policy and finance classes that provide the necessary training to solve complex energy issues. From professor Travis Bradford’s Energy System Fundamentals course, to Jonathan Chanis’ Geopolitics of Oil and Natural Gas, energy classes at SIPA prepare students for real world challenges. In these classes you learn about the important role finance and economics play in shaping our energy landscape and how policy influences our decision making as consumers. The program’s leadership clearly understands that students need to walk away with a tangible skill set and require that energy concentrators take other classes such as Corporate Finance, The Economics of Energy, Energy Modeling, U.S. Energy Policy, all of which are classes that build on the foundational principles of the energy sector.

As a complement to classroom learning, SIPA recently launched the Center on Global Energy Policy. This center serves a platform for students to exchange ideas with some of the industry’s leading experts. Jason Bordoff, the center’s current director and former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, has managed to bring high caliber speakers such as Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of Energy; Ryan Lance, CEO of Conoco Phillips; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among others. Other prominent speakers such as Carlos Pascual, Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, U.S. State Department and Irik Wærness, Chief Economist, Statoil are slated to address SIPA’s student body in the coming months.

But the effort to create the nation’s top energy program is not just being led by the SIPA administration. Students also play a critical role in enriching the Energy and Environment program. The student run organization, SEA does an outstanding job at organizing weekly roundtable discussions with industry experts. The hour-long interactions offer students the opportunity to directly engage and network with energy practitioners and better understand how classroom concepts apply to the real world, which adds tremendous value to the student experience.

As the world continues to struggle with global energy issues, many elements tied to the energy sector will remain unclear to us, from policy uncertainties, to technological advancements, to developing responsible business practices. In midst of all this ambiguity, one thing is clear to me, and that is SIPA’s commitment to training tomorrow’s energy leaders and attracting the world’s most talented minds.  The amount of resources and human energy invested in this program will make SIPA the premiere school to study energy issues in the coming years. The question the administration will have to answer, is can SIPA train enough students before major industry decisions are made in the next 10 to 15 years?

the flexibility (and foundation) of human rights and humanitarian policy

The Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy Concentration (HRHPC) provides a unique perspective into today’s moral normative framework affecting international politics and policies, to the extent that these are driven by a human rights value system.  Engaging issues of international security, development, and social justice, a rights-based perspective increasingly informs the work of international organizations and agencies, as well as politicians and policy analysts.  Thus, HRHPC focuses on conceptual, rights-based issues that shape public action.  It prepares students for careers within governments, international organizations, corporations, community organizations, as well as national and global NGOs.  The field is diverse, and this is reflected in the areas where graduates work: those specializing in human rights policy may address issues such as education, security, corporate social responsibility, economic development, and social justice; those who choose the humanitarian policy track may also find themselves engaged in advocacy, relief operations, or post-conflict recovery programs, often working in fragile states.

The concentration benefits from the proximity of some of the world’s most prominent human rights institutions, especially the United Nations (e.g., the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with its strong investigative and normative capacities, as well as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and the UN programs and agencies bringing human rights into the practice of relief and development, such as UNICEF, UNDP, and UNFPA.  Then, New York hosts several leading relief and advocacy NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch, MSF, the International Rescue Committee, Care International, AIUSA, Human Rights First, Open Society, the International Center for Transitional Justice, Witness, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). All these provide ample opportunities for research and for networking, and that, in turn, facilitates internships, junior consultancies, and ultimately job openings.  Moreover, many of the concentration’s practitioners and adjunct faculty are drawn from this pool of knowledge and experience.

The Humanitarian Policy Track is widely recognized as a leader in its field, with a focus on the policies and practices of the major humanitarian actors represented in New York. It is unique among academic humanitarian programs by emphasizing human rights as a normative framework. The current trend in the humanitarian community is moving away from a stand-alone approach (i.e. neutrality, independence, and impartiality) to a rights-based approach, linked closely to early recovery and peace-building strategies. These ties in with humanitarian action in the context of long-term recovery and restoration of rights.

The HRHP Concentration offers a rigorous program combining analytical and skills-based training, including classes on diverse topics such as International Human Rights Law; Human Rights Skills & Advocacy; Gender, Globalization and the Human Rights of Women; History & Reconciliation; Conflict Resolution; Peacekeeping/Peacemaking; Business and Human Rights; Labor Rights; Human Rights & Development; Understanding Complex Emergencies; Managing Complex Emergencies; Psycho-social Impact of Complex Emergencies; and Education in Emergencies.  There is an option to complete a dual degree program with the Mailman School of Public Health’s Forced Migration program.

The flexibility of the HRHP concentration encourages students to frame their intellectual and professional interests, delving into any number of these.  The faculty combines both scholarly and practitioner perspectives, often drawn from the ranks of the many organizations in the city.

HRHPC students also benefit from Columbia’s rich and diverse offering in human rights outside of SIPA, including among others the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR), the Law School, Mailman School of Public Health, School of Social Work, and the School of Journalism.  There are numerous events outside the classrooms, including the opportunity to meet with many global activists in intimate settings.  In addition the concentration provides opportunities for students to develop their own interests through student working groups, off-campus activities, and meetings with alumni.

Students participate in Capstones, which enable them to gain experience working in diverse projects and with diverse clients globally.  HRHPC students can also choose to take part in the EPD Workshops. Each year, a group of students is selected to participate in a humanitarian crisis simulation, conducted by the European Union’s Network on Humanitarian Action, and hosted by the University of Bochum, Germany. These exceptional opportunities provide both stimulating learning experience and often networking possibilities.  The concentration offers many other simulations and practicums, which provide additional opportunities to bridge the analytical with the experiential knowledge, which is so critical for the field and for becoming a successful practitioner.

"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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