Archive for EPD

A Case for Urban and Social Policy

Like many prospective graduate school applicants, I had a hard time deciding exactly which school or program was right for me. It’s incredibly difficult to think about places, schools, and classes you’ve never taken in the abstract, let alone even trying to compare them. While being incredibly fortunate, my situation is also a little complicated; as a Pickering Fellow, I am required to serve in the U.S. Foreign Service for five years after graduating from SIPA. While applying, I was attempting to reconcile my interest in domestic politics and cities, with my career and general interest in international relations. I wanted a degree that would wholly prepare me for my time in the Service, while also providing me the skills and expertise to succeed if I ever decided to leave the organization.

SIPA made sense on a variety of baseline levels; it’s incredibly diverse, and very international, two things I value both personally and professionally. It is prestigious and known for producing top-end talent in almost every profession related to public service and government. When I got in, it was almost a no-brainer; I knew this is where I wanted to be.

However, I had a much harder time deciding which concentration was right for me. As someone who has worked with numerous organizations engaged in human rights and refugee-related work, Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy was appealing. Similarly, Economic and Political Development sounded like a natural fit with the work I’d be doing in the Service. Urban and Social Policy, with its focus on development and broad social issues, also piqued my interest.

As you can probably guess, I ultimately decided to concentrate in USP. Now let me tell you why.

An Excellent Urban Studies Education…in the Greatest City in the World

Ever since I moved to my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I have been in love with cities. I want to know their population density, the history behind their most famous landmarks, the backgrounds of the migrants that shaped them. I want to know what sports teams the locals support, and the rivalries that may exist between different parts of town. Understanding a city, and its working class people is something that gives me immense joy and a feeling of understanding and solidarity with others, even if I am an outsider.

It just so happens that SIPA is located in arguably the greatest, or at least the most culturally significant city in the world. USP concentrators have the unique opportunity to study their favorite policy issues with leaders in the field, who are often engaged in their work while teaching. If housing is your favorite issue, you can study with William Eimecke, the previous Secretary of Housing for New York State, and then witness every day how city and state leaders are attempting to solve the affordable housing crisis. If you’re interested in education, you can cross enroll in classes at Columbia’s prestigious Teachers College, and intern at the NY Department of Education, one of the biggest city agencies of its kind in the world. If you’re considering running for political office, you can take classes with ex-Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter, and the legendary New York City Mayor David Dinkins. In summary, SIPA and New York attract some of the best minds in urban governance, and for this reason alone, SIPA has a comparative advantage to other schools with urban studies programs.

It’s Broad but You Can Make It Your Own

If you say you study Urban and Social Policy, you inevitably have to tell someone what that actually means. That’s partly because it is so broad; almost every social issue is now inherently an urban issue and vice versa. That being said, SIPA’s requirements make it incredibly easy to find your niche within the concentration, while also providing students with a generalist background that will prepare them for any type of work in the field. I am personally passionate about anti-corruption and good governance initiatives, and have therefore taken numerous management and systems analysis oriented courses. One of my friends in the concentration has explored the growth of data and algorithms in public sector decision making, and its impact on communities of color. Another friend of mine is committed to understanding the intersection of gender and development in urban communities. As a future diplomat, I know I will be serving in some of the world’s truly global cities; therefore, my USP education will provide me with the skills and knowledge I need to understand the key challenges these cities face, while also allowing me to dive deeper into many of my domestic interests. In turn, by drawing upon the experiences and interests of your peers, and the expertise of USP’s great faculty, you too can find your own place in this passionate and driven community.

The People

USP is a relatively small concentration, compared to some of the others available at SIPA. However, I consider this one of its greatest strengths. USP attracts bright, motivated and culturally savvy people from around the world, with many hailing from the world’s fastest growing and important urban centers. On an intellectual level, this is incredibly rewarding; often, you will find yourself in the halls or off-campus at a small meet up, casually discussing an urban policy issue with people from entirely separate countries and cities, each one providing their perspectives and experiences. Socially, you are surrounded by people who also love the city, and all that it has to offer. Personally, I have felt that my education has extended well beyond the walls of SIPA, as my network of USPers continues to challenge me, and introduce me to new concepts and ideas on a daily basis.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

No matter where you are in the admissions process, I encourage all prospective or recently admitted students to think critically about what they want out of their graduate school experience and how every concentration or program may advance your personal and professional growth. Nonetheless, if you are passionate about cities and social issues, I suggest that you take a look at the concentration’s requirements and electives which are available on the SIPA website. It will give you a better idea of the type of coursework you can expect, while also hopefully inspiring some excitement at the prospect of being a USP concentrator!

Seeple snapshot: Katherine McGehee

Katherine McGehee_SIPA photo

Katherine McGehee
Master of International Affairs
Concentration: Economic and Political Development
Specialization: Management

Katherine McGehee is a native New Yorker, Katherine attended the United Nations International School through high school, which most definitely sparked her interest in international affairs. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 with a dual degree in Foreign Affairs and French and a minor in history. During college, she studied abroad at Sciences Po Paris where she pursued courses on development in Africa. Before joining SIPA, she worked for the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs on urban-level research and at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières on advocacy work. Since studying at SIPA, she has interned for a UN-related agency, served as an editorial assistant at the school’s Journal of International Affairs, and interned in public sector consulting.

What attracted you most to SIPA?

What attracted me most to SIPA are two things: New York City and the Capstone component. SIPA is unique in the fact that it has a strong network internationally, domestically, and especially in New York. I wanted a school where I would have a strong network of alumni, professors, and contacts in New York City as my immediate career goal is to remain in New York following graduation. I do want the opportunity to have a strong resume anywhere else in the world too and SIPA carries a strong reputation globally. The Capstone is another unique element of SIPA’s curriculum as it gives SIPA students the opportunity to translate theory into practice through fieldwork experience. I am really excited about the opportunity to work as a consultant for a top organization over the course of my second year.

Have you taken classes at other Columbia Schools?

At SIPA, I am continuing to develop my interest in international affairs with a particular focus on private sector development of public services. Most notably, I am concentrating on the broad issues of food security, public health, and infrastructure. The beauty of SIPA is that it is possible to explore a range of issues in the classroom, through internships, and through consulting projects organized by the school. This is also made possible through the opportunity to take courses at other Columbia schools. Last semester, I took a class called, “International Development and the Private Sector,” which gave me a different perspective on ways to create successful development projects.

Can you comment on the quantitative rigor in the curriculum?

One of my biggest concerns coming into SIPA was the quantitative requirement in the curriculum. I had never studied economics, statistics, or financial management before and I was really anxious about stacking up next to other SIPA classmates. While SIPA’s core quantitative courses are certainly rigorous, the school ensures that its students receive the support they need to learn and succeed in these classes. Tutors, review sessions, recitations, and team activities are available to work through problem sets. Multiple course levels are available to ensure that students can choose to what extent they would like to be challenged.

What advice would you give a first-year student?

Before answering this question, I consulted with my SIPA peers (most notably Adero Miwo, MIA 2015) to get their perspectives. The dominant advice: be open, be focused, and be disciplined. SIPA can be overwhelming because of the seemingly infinite number of course options, student activities, and volunteer opportunities. By having an objective of what you want when you start at SIPA, you can get the most from the curriculum and from the school community. Remaining open to new possibilities and staying disciplined, especially when it comes to time management, can ensure that you succeed at SIPA.

 

Seeple Snapshot: Katherine McGehee

K McGehee

Katherine McGehee, MIA 2015   

Concentration: EPD   Specialization: Management    
Hometown: New York, NY          
College/ University attended: University of Virginia
Undergraduate Major: International Affairs/French       

Traveled to: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, St. Barts, Virgin Islands, Mexico, South Africa

Hobbies: The Arts (ballet, theater, museums, exhibitions, art shows), avid follower of current events, academic interest in francophone countries, travel, cooking, languages

Languages: French (fluent), English (fluent), Mandarin (basic), Italian (learning)

After SIPA, I hope to remain in New York City working for a foundation and specializing in public-private partnerships. I would also be happy working in the private sector with a focus on public sector engagement. Either way, I am very interested in public-private partnerships, particularly in regards to corporate social responsibility. Since SIPA is such a global school, I am very open to moving abroad after graduation. However, I do hope to start out a company in New York.   “Though I am American, I have always grown up in a very diverse and global environment. From age six and on, I attended the United Nations International School where I was among 17% of Americans in a 1,200 person school. SIPA’s commitment to enrolling an international student body really drew me to the school and that quality is one reason why I am so happy at SIPA. Most of my friends at SIPA are from abroad and I love hearing about their backgrounds and their goals after school. It has really given me a whole new perspective.

After the University of Virginia, I worked for a year at Doctors With Out Borders in New York. I was part of the advocacy department team. My responsibilities mainly involved following political contexts in regions and specific countries (Doctors Without Borders has programs in over 80 countries) for organization-wide reports on current activities, tracking US policy changes in countries of interest, monitoring broader trends on aid, food security, global healthcare, and patent laws, translating media and documents from French to English, and responding to program inquiries.

At SIPA, I am concentrating in Economic and Political Development and specializing in management. Both disciplines provide a lot of opportunity to learn more about corporate social responsibility and effective development programs, which relates to what I would like to do after finishing school. Currently, I am part of several SIPA student groups, including UNSP, the Journal of International Affairs, and the consulting club. I participated in a public policy case competition in the fall, which was a wonderful opportunity to network with leaders in consulting and to develop real-world solutions to social, political, and economic challenges. Outside of SIPA, I am serving as a youth representative to the United Nations through a small NGO called the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN).”

For me, what makes SIPA is its students. My classmates are so inspirational, have such diverse backgrounds, and a very driven and enthusiastic attitude. I have felt discouraged by setbacks, like difficulty understanding course material, not getting into a class or program, or not hearing back from an internship. My classmates at SIPA have been my greatest supporters. They have offered suggestions for internships, help in classes, and just general encouragement. Sometimes SIPA can be overwhelming because it is so rigorous academically and has so many things to be involved in. Fellow students support your interest and help keep you focused on your goals.     I chose SIPA because I wanted a place that could open doors in New York and internationally. Its name is respected on a global scale but it is still a much respected school here in the city. Since I plan to stay in New York after graduation, I wanted a place that would position me well for the short term (NYC) and long term (abroad). I also wanted a school with a practitioner focus. SIPA’s capstone component really separates it from the pack of policy schools. I am so excited to participate in a capstone project next year and gain tangible skills that are really marketable when applying to jobs.

 

be inspired by studying (practicing) economic and political development

In the Economic and Political Development (EPD) Concentration, second-year students recently returned from their January field travel for the Workshop in Development Practice.  Through the workshop – which is the capstone course for EPD students – 21 teams of students are working with a diverse range of development organizations in 17 countries.

Lamia Bazir and Aura Martinez spent two weeks in Niger with Transparency International’s national chapter.  For their project, which is supporting Transparency’s efforts to involve more women in their anti-corruption activities, they met with women leaders from politics, the judiciary and civil society, as well as engaging with women’s groups, local authorities and religious leaders in rural areas.  Other members of their team will travel in March to Zimbabwe to conduct similar fieldwork with the Transparency chapter there.

EPD 2014

Also in January, Yigit Canay, Rachana Kumar and Alissa Sevrioukova traveled  to Cambodia to work with their client, Open Development Cambodia, which is the only open data platform available in the Mekong Subregion.    To help ODC develop a “donor and development assistance” section of their website, the three students meet with the ODC team as well as donors and local NGOs.   Other members of the SIPA team will travel back to Cambodia in March to present their proposals to ODC.

EPD2 2014

Meanwhile, Mashael AlShalan, Aliya Shalabekova and Liang Zhao traveled to Kazakhstan to meet with their clients at the National Agency for Technological Development and the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning, as well as other government and private sector stakeholders.   These meetings laid the groundwork for the team’s analysis and recommendations on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Kazakhstan.

EPD3 2014

All of the EPD workshop teams will present the main results of their work during a two-day workshop at SIPA on May 1 and 2.  The schedule of presentations will be posted on SIPA’s online events calendar by early April.  The presentations will be open to the public, and prospective students are especially welcome to attend.

 

Kick Start the Semester

There is something going on all the time at SIPA, this week is no different (classes begin today).

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2014

The Sustainability Essentials Training Program (SET) Online Information Session (DETAILS)

12:30 pm to 1:15 pm Online

Sponsor: The Earth Institute

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2014

The Relationship Between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the African Union: What Went Wrong?

A panel discussion with Ambassador Charles Ntwaagae, Permanent Representative of Botswana; Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya; and Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein, former President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC.  (DETAILS)

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the International Affairs Building, Room 1501

Sponsor: UN Studies Program

 

MONDAY, JANUARY 27, 2014

Establishing Effective Labor Oversight in Honduras

Holly Hammonds, Co-Founder of GlobalWorks Foundation and Member of Honduras Labor Framework Oversight Committee, and Jeff Hermanson, Director of Global Strategies, Workers United and Member of Honduras Labor Framework Oversight Committee, will discuss their labor standards project in Honduras.  (DETAILS)

12:45 pm to 1:50 pm in the International Affairs Building, Room 802

Sponsor: Economic and Political Development Concentration

 

MONDAY, JANUARY 27, 2014

Reception for SIPA Dean Janow in London

SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow cordially invites you to a reception for SIPA alumni and other invited guests in London. Join us to welcome the new dean and hear what the future holds for SIPA.  (DETAILS)

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Waldorf Hilton, Aldwych WC2B 4DD, United Kingdom

Sponsor: Office of Alumni Affairs

 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2014

CGEG: Challenges to Democracy and Rule of Law in Central Europe – A Lecture by Gordon Bajnai, Former Prime Minister of Hungary

Lecture by Gordon Bajnai, Former Prime Minister of Hungary and Leader of Together 2014 Electoral Alliance; with Victoria de Grazia, Blinken European Institute, Columbia University; Jan Svejnar, Center on Global Economic Governance, Columbia University; and Alan H. Timberlake, East Central European Center, Columbia University. Registration required.   (DETAILS)

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm in the International Affairs Building, Room 1512

Sponsor: Center on Global Economic Governance

 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2014

Women, Soft Power, and the New Diplomacy: From the Cold War to Hillary Clinton

As political leaders increasingly rely on dialogue and normative power versus sanctions and warfare in inter-state relations, women have risen to the forefront of international affairs. A panel of diplomats, military officers, and historians will investigate the accelerating use of soft-power solutions in diplomacy and female leaders’ role in the trend.  (DETAILS)

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the International Affairs Building, Room 1501

Sponsor: European Institute

 

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2014

BP Global Energy Outlook 2035

A presentation by Mark Finley, General Manager, Global Energy Markets and U.S. Economics, BP. (DETAILS)

6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at Faculty House, 4th Floor Skyline Room

Sponsor: Center on Global Energy Policy

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2014

Nuclear Weapons Effects, Proliferation and Policy

An event with Col. Robert Spalding, United States Air Force, on the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise to include ICBMs and Bombers, as well as briefly discussing submarines.  (DETAILS)

12:15 pm to 2:00 pm in the International Affairs Building, Room 1302

Sponsor: Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2014

Turkey and the EU: The Future of a Complicated Relationship

Meltem Müftüler-Baç is Professor of International Relations and Jean Monnet chair at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey and an Affiliate Professor at the University of Stockholm from 2013 to 2016. (DETAILS)

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the International Affairs Building, Room 1512

Sponsor: European Institute

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2014

Nuclear After Fukushima: Policies, Practices, and Problems

A public lecture by Lady Barbara Judge CBE, Former Chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and currently Deputy Chairman of TEPCO’s Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee and head of its task force on nuclear safety.  (DETAILS)

5:30 pm to 6:45 pm at Faculty House, 4th Floor Skyline Room

Sponsor: Center on Global Energy Policy

 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2014

Russian Law and Judicial Reform: Think Again

Kimberly Marten will chair a panel discussion with Timothy Frye, Kathryn Hendley, William Partlett, and Maria Popova on Russian law and judicial reform.  (DETAILS)

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the International Affairs Building, Room 1501

Sponsor: Harriman Institute

 

"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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