Archive for development – Page 2

Alternative Spring Break – Building Bottle Schools

SIPA students are an adventurous bunch.  As proof of this, some decided to spend their spring break to assist with a community development project in Guatemala.  Mynor Godoy was one of the students and he put together a great summary of their time.

To whet your appetite, here is the introduction:

Eight hours north of Guatemala’s capital city, we finally reached a plateau in Cuchumatan.  We were hit with a barren landscape; It was a far cry from the lush, green tropical scenes  promoted in the Guatemalan ecotourism pamphlet. We began the descent into the clouds in our van. The bumpy dirt road made us bounce around inside as our van hugged the turns on the winding cliff road. Finally, we came to a stop in a valley nestled by towering mountains. We had arrived in Todos Santos.

For the full write up on the trip, with many great pictures, click here.

EPD Workshop

The following post was submitted by Brittney Bailey.  Brittney is working in our office this year and she, along with several other students, are contributing posts throughout the year.


As a second-year EPD student, November is arguably the most important month of the year (outside of May for obvious reasons 🙂  Why November? Because it is when we receive our Workshop assignments, one of the most distinctive features of the economic and political development concentration.

The EPD Workshop, otherwise known as the workshop in Development Practice, is a practical culmination to all of the coursework you take as a SIPA student, outside of your summer internship.  Usually in the spring of your second-year, you get to engage in a workshop or capstone project in addition to your normal course work.  Like the capstone projects, which are usually open to those in other concentrations, the workshop requires that you work directly for a client in your field of interest, along with a SIPA team and faculty advisor; however, the workshop in Development Practice is a requirement for EPD students and generally allows us to gain fieldwork experience.  The EPD workshop is quite popular and has expanded rapidly over the years.  It is now open to a limited number of Human Rights concentrators and some students specializing in International Media, Advocacy and Communications.

The EPD workshop was one of the biggest reasons why I chose SIPA over other graduate institutions.  I kept thinking, “Hold on, this isn’t an internship exactly? I’m guaranteed relevant experience in international development?  I get to work as a consultant for a client and with a team of impressive students from diverse backgrounds… all while in school?!” It’s cheesy, but its true…I was eagerly awaiting the day when I’d be assigned more work at SIPA.

Yet, now that day has arrived and honestly, my excitement has not yet subsided. I’ll be working for UNFPA for the next six months, conducting an impact evaluation and cost benefit analysis of the organization’s distribution of “dignity kits” for girls in humanitarian settings across four countries: Indonesia, Haiti, Georgia, and Mozambique.  I could not be more thrilled to be working on a project that I am committed to and that would in theory, help me learn how to become a better development practitioner.

It’s likely that my enthusiasm for the workshop experience will decrease in the coming months, after a series of sleepless nights and caffeine-induced group freak outs.   Conflict is pretty much inevitable and who knows how things will actually play out on the ground.  Whether or not you receive your top choice project or have a phenomenal team, the reality still remains that the Workshop is one of the most unique and practical features of the SIPA experience.  It speaks directly to the fact that SIPA is a professional school, built to really enhance a student’s practical- not just academic- knowledge.

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 7

This is the seventh entry in our recap of summer internships completed by SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  This time we hear from Lacey Ramirez, a second-year MIA student pursuing a concentration in Economic and Political Development with a specialization in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis.


lacey_rI am very grateful that there is an internship requirement in the SIPA curriculum.  It forced me to take the time to seek out a professional experience in my field, whereas I otherwise would have taken a lovely summer vacation somewhere.  In the end this will make me a stronger professional candidate when it comes time to apply for a job after I complete my Master’s program.

When I was narrowing down the type of summer internship I wanted, I decided that I wanted to do international development consulting at a private firm.  This was an area of the development world that I had no prior exposure to, and I was very curious to encounter what it was like. In securing this position, I learned the essential value of networking.  It was by networking that I was able to make a contact at the private firm called Chemonics and have my résumé considered.

Chemonics is an international development consulting firm.  They mainly contract with USAID, and they are implementing and managing projects in all the major sectors in every major region of the world.  It was a very exciting opportunity, as it was a paid internship and would also give me the consulting/program management opportunity that I eagerly sought.

My internship was based in D.C. (sadly I didn’t get to go overseas), and my assignments were to work on three project teams.  One of the projects was working on public-private partnerships in the Philippines to increase the access to and sustainability reproductive health and family planning care.  Another project was a value-chain linkages project in Bangladesh, and the last project was a financial sector information sharing project.  I was not intimately involved in the creation or technical management of the projects, but I did learn a lot about program management and the many administrative/client relation tasks that go into project it.

I had many tasks and duties that required a high level of effort and multi-tasking, and most of my tasks were administrative in nature.  Some of my daily tasks included: budgeting, auditing, client/consultant relations, editing project deliverables, and grant program development.

Chemonics also provided several training courses to orient employees to the firm and the different work being done in the field.  I also had great relationships with my directors who have been practitioners in the field for many years, and they took the time to talk with me about how I might meet my career aspirations and goals.

Over all I had a great internship experience.  It definitely helped me to further articulate where I want to work in the field of development, and what knowledge and skills I would need to get there.  It also gave me a greater perspective of the type of job opportunities in my field.

Prospects for 21st Century African Agriculture

Top flight events are a mainstay at SIPA.  For some evidence, check out what is happening this Monday.  The good news is that if you wish to participate from your computer, you can.  See the end of this entry for details on how to view the event live.

Prospects for 21st Century African Agriculture

Time: Monday, 6:30 pm

Type: Discussion


Mamadou Diouf
Professor of History, Director Institute for African Studies
Committee on Global Thought
Columbia University


Kofi Annan
Former Secretary General
United Nations

Jeffrey Sachs
Director, The Earth Institute
The Earth Institute

Program Notes:

It is widely recognized that agricultural development can play a key role in eliminating hunger, reducing poverty and food insecurity, increasing trade, and promoting wealth in Africa.  However, the full potential of African agriculture is far from being realized.  Part of the 2010-2011 World and Africa Series, this panel seeks to explore the possibilities for boosting the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of African agriculture in the 21st century.  It will consider those cutting edge programs, policies, and technologies that are paving new roads forward with regard to unleashing the full potential of the continent’s agricultural economies.

Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, serving two terms from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006 and was the first to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff. In 2001 Kofi Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace with the citation praising his leadership for “bringing new life to the organisation”. In 2009, Annan was named a Columbia Global Fellow by University President Lee Bollinger.

Jeffrey Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals.

This event is co-sponsored with The Earth Institute.

This event can also be viewed via live webcast.


Windows Media:

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 3

This is the third entry in our recap of summer internships completed by SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  Brittney Elise Bailey is a second-year SIPA student pursuing a Master of International Affairs degree with a concentration on Economic and Political Development (EPD).


From New Delhi to New York: The Perils of Internship Transitions

As of Spring 2010, I was still on a leave of absence from SIPA working in New Delhi and the idea of finding yet another internship for the summer, preferably back in the western hemisphere, was a bit daunting.  Where do I want to go? Do I want to pick up a new skill?  Where would I get the most face time and knowledge transfer from my supervisor if I end up making little-to-no salary for 3 months?

Although I planned on staying at my job at the Micro Insurance Academy – an Indian NGO that utilizes a community-based approach to risk management for low-income populations in South Asia – I wanted another opportunity to apply some of my new knowledge of livelihoods (and microfinance) to education.

lrbp4Children at youth center associated with a SEWA (community-based financial services)

After receiving a few summer internship offers  from larger micro finance institutions and relevant NGO’s, I decided to return to New York in July to work at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), an organization within the International Rescue Committee (IRC,) that provides applied research and advocacy on protection programs, specifically for refugee women and children.  I became the Displaced Youth Initiative intern with the WRC’s Protection Program.

I had four main reasons for working with the WRC as opposed to some other organizations that may have been larger or more well-known.  First, I had heard a lot of great things about the IRC and in turn the WRC, where the smaller NGO-within-an-NGO setting was rumored to provide much more substantive work prospects.  Reputation goes a long way in all career fields; however, I find that in the development sector because there are so many options to choose from-Multilateral/intergovernmental organizations, NGOs big and small, foundations, the private sector, the government, regional banks, etc.- much of what we have to go by as potential practitioners is reputation… and a few key contacts at our orgs. of interest (if we’re lucky!)   Also, former EPD students bragged about how great the Commission had been as a client for EPD workshops, where there was always a clear final project, good working relationships, and truly demand-driven and participatory results.

Second, I wanted to be aligned with an organization like the WRC that aims to serve the most vulnerable of the poor, even within refugee or internally-displaced communities, such as women, youth, persons with disabilities and children.

Third, substantive work and knowledge transfer between my supervisors and I were a vital component of my decision.  This was my first time working for free- a concept many of us in graduate school unfortunately still have to become familiar with- so I wanted to make sure that I could gain the skills and knowledge I desired.  Fortunately, my boss, an alumna of SIPA, felt the exact same way and made consistent strides to integrate me into all aspects of her work.

Lastly, my motivation to be at the WRC, in particular, had to do with the Displaced Youth Initiative(DYI) itself.

As a DYI intern, I worked between the Youth and Livelihoods programs, which among other things,  aimed to bridge education to income-generating programming for young refugees and IDPs in conflict and post-conflict settings.  Much of my work consisted of helping to produce DYI reports on education and skills-building, fine-tuning market-based assessments (for Southern Sudan and New York), M&E for WRC and IRC youth advocacy impact,  managing our Youth Advisory Board  and attending high-level meetings related to youth, education in emergencies and livelihoods.  In addition, I conducted comprehensive research-through mapping, desk research, surveys, interviews, etc.- on the most innovative non-formal education programs for youth worldwide.

In spite of my initial fears to leave India, to be further away from the field and settled into some skyscraper near Grand Central, to prioritize knowledge transfer over money and prestige this time around, I found that this type of applied research really suited me.  It was in fact what I was looking for in a summer internship.  I will most likely stay on at the WRC and IRC throughout this next year, working on education and livelihoods projects in some capacity. Between the connections made, skills built and summer reports of WRC research turned action in the field, I am positive that my internship transition was worth it.


"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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