Archive for Ester Fuchs

SIPA Event At A Glance: “U.S. Election 2016: What’s Next Now?”

After the election in November, SIPA began organizing various activities and events to address post-election issues and concerns. On November 29, 2016, SIPA held a high-level panel at Columbia Club in midtown, called “U.S. 2016 Election: What’s Next Now?”.

The panel was moderated by Merit E. Janow, Dean of SIPA, and featured seven panelists who are top experts in their field of studies, including economics, political science, war and peace studies, energy and environment policy, and urban planning. During the discussion, panelists shared their views on the significant domestic and international challenges that the new administration will face, from a deeply-divided nation and uncertainty around the policies to future foreign policy and international relations.

David Rothkopf, Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs, first shared his opinion about President-Elect Trump’s strategy in foreign affairs. He pointed out that Trump’s potential policy is likely to shift the United States into a unilateralism, which might jeopardize the traditional transatlantic partnership. Professor Richard K. Betts put it that President-Elect Trump’s foreign policies could be hard to predict, and he shared his opinions on the future relation between US and Russia.

When it comes to the domestic policy, University Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and former chief economist of the World Bank, briefly analyzed Trump’s tax cut and infrastructure plan. He pointed out that to stimulate the economy with massive infrastructure construction could raise the cost of capital and may cause negative effects on the economy. Professor Richard Clarida shared his views on the post-election market reactions and the potential effect of the combination of tight monetary policy and loose fiscal policy.

Professor Ester Fuchs discussed the potential policies related with women, such as affordable birth control, abortion right, children care, and paid family leave. Michael Nutter, Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs, who was also the mayor of Philadelphia, expressed concerns on how President-Elect Trump is going to develop proper urban planning policies. While Professor Steven Cohen, Executive Director of Columbia University Earth Institute, discussed the future challenges in energy and environmental policy.

Around 70 people participated in the event, including SIPA faculty members, current students, alumni, prospective students, and journalists from major media companies. After the one-hour panel discussion, panelists responded to questions from the audience, covering terrorism, enterprise zone, and incoming elections in Europe, etc. Panelists then encouraged SIPA students and alumni to actively engage in studying and shaping the future of public policy.

[Photo by Weiming Shu | Left to right: Richard Clarida, C. Lowell Harriss Professor of Economics and Professor of International and Public; Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor and Nobel Laureate; Ester Fuchs, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science; Michael Nutter, David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs; Merit E. Janow, Dean of SIPA; Steven Cohen, Executive Director, Columbia University Earth Institute and Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs; Richard K. Betts, Leo A. Shifrin Professor of War and Peace Studies and Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies; David Rothkopf, Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs]



a city of shining lights: an inside look at urban and social policy

SIPA’s location in New York City provides an ideal opportunity for students to learn about the workings of one of the most dynamic cities in the world. The Urban and Social Policy (USP) concentration attracts a very diverse group of students from the public, private and non-profit sectors who are interested in managing city governments and non-profit organizations, and designing and analyzing policies across a variety of sectors. USP students enter SIPA with backgrounds in teaching, immigration law, non-profit program evaluation, urban transportation systems, public health, and many more areas.

USP classes are taught by faculty members with extensive academic and professional experience. Mayor David Dinkins, the former mayor of New York, offers a unique perspective in the two courses he teaches to USP students every year. Professor Ester Fuchs, the Concentration Director, served as Special Advisor to the Mayor for Governance and Strategic Planning under New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2001 to 2005 in addition to her many years of teaching experience at Columbia. A number of other full-time and adjunct faculty members draw on their experience as city planners, high level officials in city government, and executive directors of non-profit organizations. They are experts in immigration, organizational management, housing policy, social movements and several other fields.

Students can choose between the Urban Policy and the Social Policy track. Both tracks equip students with strong skills in policy analysis, program management and evaluation. The Urban Policy curriculum offers focus areas in the following fields: Urban Politics and Governance; Management in Urban Public Sector or Not for Profits; Urban Social Policy; Urban Economic Development, Planning and Land Use; Sustainability and Environmental Policy; Housing Policy; Education Policy; Health Policy; Crime, Safety and Security Policy; and Employment and Labor Policy. The Social Policy track provides students with the analytical tools, management skills and knowledge needed to design, implement and evaluate the outcomes of social policies that aim to increase access to economic opportunity in marginalized populations and manage economic and social risks, such as unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, crime, recidivism, homelessness and sickness.

The concentration hosts The Global Mayor’s Forum each semester, featuring mayors from cities in the U.S. and around the globe. USP also hosts a series of roundtables, panel discussions, and brown bag events offering students the opportunity to hear from leading practitioners in the field. Additionally, USP hosts field trips for students to local museums, organizations, and historic sites.

USP graduates pursue careers in leadership levels within city, state and federal government, political campaigns, non-profits and NGOs, think tanks, philanthropic foundations, social enterprises, and academia. During their time at SIPA, many students pursue internships with the New York City government as well as with leading non-profit organizations, consulting groups, and think tanks coming up with innovative solutions to urban and social challenges. A sample of employers who hired USP graduates is available here


Election Day

Go Vote!

Columbia University and SIPA is closed on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th.  We’ll be back in the office on Wednesday so don’t despair!

In the meantime, check out this great project and related information from SIPA!, an exciting project and website to promote civic engagement and information awareness launched earlier this semester. Professor Ester Fuchs, Director of the Urban and Social Policy (USP) concentration, the USP program coordinator and SIPA Alumni, Nina Robbins (’11) and their team have developed an incredible and comprehensive website for voters in New York City.

The website also reflects any and all changes in poll sites due to Hurricane Sandy and any other changes leading up to Election Day.


[Under the direction of Columbia University Public Affairs Professor Ester Fuchs, is a non-partisan voter education website that provides New York City citizens with easy access to election information in English, Spanish and Chinese. Simply by entering their address, users receive polling place information (including a map and directions), a customized list of candidates with links to websites, and sample ballots tailored to their district that will appear on their ballot on Election Day.

 During the past 20 years, turnout in New York City mayoral elections has dropped by a staggering 40 percent.

 “Building on research showing that easily accessible election information can lead to higher voter turnout, we wanted to create an online portal that provides citizens with everything they need to know about elections in one place,” said Fuchs.

 In addition to the convenient polling place locator, citizens can also sign up for election reminders, access registration and absentee ballot applications and link to non-partisan civic resources like the Citizens Union and the Campaign Finance Board Voter Guide.

 The project was originally conceived by Columbia graduate William von Mueffling, a former student of Fuchs’ who expressed frustration after wasting several hours searching various city and state websites to locate who was on his district’s ballot and where he was supposed to vote. Mr. von Mueffling grew “tired of going to vote and only seeing candidates for the first time when they were up for election.”

 Consequently, von Mueffling issued a challenge to Fuchs last year, telling her if she was able to collect the data and develop an outreach plan, he would fund the website project.

“Now, with one key stroke, information-starved New Yorkers can learn in advance who they will be voting for as well as see links to the candidates’ web pages,” von Mueffling said. “With the website, now there is “no reason not to vote.”]  — excerpt taken from the project’s October 26 press release.


"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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