Archive for Gender Policy

Interview with SIPA MIA candidate, Ashley Robinson

Ashley copyName: Ashley Robinson
Degree: MIA
Concentration: Human Rights & Humanitarian Policy
Specializations: I figured out how to complete 3 specializations during my time at SIPA: International Conflict Resolution, Gender Policy and International Organizations.

A brief background:  Contributing to a world better than the one with which I have been partially entrusted, is always my focus. My professional path has been neither liner, nor narrow. I tend to pursue what is most interesting and challenging to me at the time. It usually involves at least three simultaneous projects. I have primarily worked in research in litigation, behavioral economics, social science and clinical drug trials.  I have served on boards and volunteered with organizations focused on microfinance (Grameen America), end of life care (Hospice), equal rights for people with disabilities (The ARC) and many others.

What attracted you to SIPA?

Of all the International Affairs programs I researched, SIPA was always my first choice. I was most looking forward to the discourse I would have with the student body, comprised of 50% international students. I felt the instructors would provide practical wisdom and genuine insight and I have not been disappointed. The curriculum is a perfect balance of theory and practice.

What advice would you give a first-year student?

During your first year at SIPA, 35% behind on everything is the new par. Work as hard as you can, be as forgiving of yourself as possible and don’t forget to enjoy it because it goes by so quickly.

What kind of work do you hope to do when you graduate?

After graduation, I would love to work in International Conflict Resolution. After my summer research project for UNOCI and UNDP, I applied to the United Nations. While I am most interested in Africa, I will go anywhere I can be useful.

What most surprised you about SIPA after you arrived?

After I began at SIPA, I was most surprised at how quickly the time goes by. Every time I looked up, a week had passed. Graduate school is nothing like undergrad. While I don’t want to say taking 17.5-18 credits, including learning a new language and working full-time was a bad idea, it is one that should be well considered.


A new specialization to be added this fall

SIPA Admissions Blog devotees will remember that my favorite part of the SIPA experience has been my participation in the Gender Policy program.  For that reason, I am thrilled to announce that thanks to the incredibly hard work of SIPA’s Gender Policy Working Group, Gender Policy and Practice will be offered as a specialization for the first time this fall. This will mean more funding for programming, classes and faculty in the field of gender. Hooray!  I really can’t express to you how much even for those of you who do not choose this specialization will benefit from GPWG’s efforts. When you get here, make sure to hug a gender policy 2nd year! (With her permission of course.)

In light of this new and exciting development, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite classes in the Gender Policy Program. I am not sure when these will be taught next year, but if you have the opportunity to take any of these courses with any of these professors, I would highly encourage you to do so.

Women and Power in the 21st Century with Carolyn Buck-Luce– This was my first gender class I ever took at SIPA.  It is a ½ semester long course usually offered in the fall. (Pro-tip, be sure to check the short course listings every semester. They usually have very specific skills driven offerings.) Carolyn brought in phenomenal guest lecturers like Marie Wilson ( and Stewart Emery ( to talk about their paths to success and the lessons they have to share with young professionals. Our final project was a personal power plan for success and work/life balance over the next 5-years. I loved this class because it focused on concrete strategies for overcoming social and institutional barriers to achievements. From readings and from my hearing classmates’ experiences I felt like my concerns, challenges and observations from being a young professional woman were validated.

Gender Mainstreaming with Kristy Kelly- Gender mainstreaming is the practice of incorporating a gender perspective not only into new public policy (although that too) but also into the design of policy-making and administrating institutions. It is the official policy of most countries, although notably not the US.  We started off with a refresher course in some feminist theory and then moved on to practical experiences and implications for policy makers. My favorite thing about this course was how excited and passionate Kristy is about the subject material. Even though this was a course with an international development bent, I got to tailor it to apply the lessons I was learning to my career in domestic politics.We got to choose our final projects with ranged from a survey and evaluation of gender dynamics at SIPA to research papers to literature reviews. I designed and lead a gender mainstreaming workshop of campaign operatives that has led to a journal article I am still working on with Kristy.

Work-Family Policy in Advanced Industrialized Nations with Claire Ullman– This is one of the few courses in gender policy that focuses on industrialized nations (although thanks to the new specialization, hopefully that is changing!). In this course we learn about childcare, parental leave, workplace discrimination and how different policies impact fertility, women’s workforce participation and child development. We also learn about the history and political processes behind passing these types of legislation.  Claire is clearly knowledgeable and passionate about the material and she is able to make a somewhat dry subject very engaging. This course counts for a lot of graduate programs across the university so we had a fun mix of Social Work, Journalism and SIPA students in our 12 person class.

Now all we need is an elections specialization!




MIA & MPA Curriculum

A popular question we hear is about core courses and whether or not someone can take core courses for their concentration (not just core courses for the degree curriculum)  in the first semester.

It is definitely possible. Most people take at least CF (Conceptual Foundation)/POP (Politics of Policymaking) and Econ their first semester (although there are a smattering of students who complete these their second year).  Most people tend to spread their core courses throughout the four semesters, concentrating more in the first year.

To give you an idea, this is what Nancy’s SIPA schedule looked like; the courses that count toward the core are (*),  in parenthesis  are courses that would count toward Nancy’s specialization, concentration and co-curricular requirements.   This is a somewhat typical (except maybe the semester where most of her classes were at other CU schools) schedule. Hope this helps!


Fall 1

  • Econ 4200*
  • Quant Analysis (Stats I)*
  • POP*
  • Elections and Political Development
  • Women and Power in the 21st Century (Half Semester, Management, Gender Policy)

Spring 1

  • Econ*
  • Budgeting for Non-Profits*
  • Campaign Management (USP and Management)
  • Statistical Races and Public Policy (USP)
  • Women and Global Leadership (Half Semester, Management, Gender Policy)

Fall 2

  • Effective Management in the Public Sector* (Management- although I don’t think this counts for you guys anymore)
  • Gender Mainstreaming (Gender Policy)
  • Elections (in the Poli Sci PhD Dept, USP)
  • Election Law (at CLS, USP)
  • Money in Politics (1/2 semester at the J-school, USP)

Spring 2

  • Capstone with UN Women
  • Work/Family Policy in Industrialized Countries (USP Core Course, Gender Policy, Management)
  • Writing for Policy
  • Women’s Human Rights (Gender)


For a sample of the MIA and MPA curriculum, you may visit our website at:


A glimpse of SIPA

Now that Second Year students are in their final semester at SIPA, we asked a couple of them:  What has been your favorite experience at SIPA?

Emily Siu, Dual Degree with Social Work: Probably the North Korea trip. It was so unexpected to have this opportunity. I was surrounded by a cohort that was really interesting. I felt like I learned not only from the tour guides but also my classmates. One night we did karaoke with our host guides. The trip was the week after finals so we all really needed to relax. Professor Lindenmayer was even dancing! It was really eye opening to hear perspectives on international affairs from our guides. What we hear in the US about North Korea is very one-sided. This trip really humanized the country for me.

Nancy Leeds, Social Policy and Management: My favorite part of the SIPA experience has been participating in the Gender Policy co-curricular program. It’s great to be able to take classes and receive guidance from other women practitioners and guest lecturers who have been there and done that in almost every field of interest. I also love reading studies and learning statistics that validate and inform my own experiences as a professional woman. I would particularly recommend Women and Power with Carolyn Buck-Luce, which focuses on practical applications for women in the workforce, and Gender Mainstreaming with Kristy Kelly which teaches how to apply feminist theory and a gender perspective across almost any policy or administrative field.

Carlyn Cowen, EPD and Management: The International Conflict Resolution Practicum. It’s a combined class and summer internship experience. You take the class on international conflict resolution in the spring, and then you and a team of students get placed with a summer internship. I worked with the UN in Zambia. We designed and conducted a research study for the UN to assess how their natural resource management initiatives were affecting rural communities. In the process, we learned research design and implementation skills as well as had a chance to experience working in the UN system. I also got to sit on the edge of Victoria Falls and white water raft down the Zambezi!

Alejandra Kubitschek Bujones, EPD and Management: I went on student led and organized trips to both Japan (last year) and India, which I just returned from.  Both were amazing and definitely highlights of my SIPA experience. In India we met President Sonia Gandhi. We visited a rural village and saw development projects in person bringing electricity to rural villages using cow dow and innovative measures being developed. From there we went to Mumbai which is thriving city. India is definitely a country on the move!  Both trips were amazing because we got to learn about the political, social, economic and cultural side of these two amazing countries and they were organized through the generosity of our classmates who are well connected in these countries so it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Neha Shah, IFEP and Management : My favorite part was the interaction with the other students whether it was through classes, student groups, events, or parties. I feel like the student body has such a wide range of experiences that it was extremely beneficial and eye opening to get to know my peers.I came into sipa with little knowledge of what actually went on day to day (the work life) in a lot of organizations I thought I would be interested i.e. the UN, World Bank, Fed etc. So it was great getting to know the details of the wide array of backgrounds first hand from my peers.

"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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