Archive for ISP – 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.

Interview with SIPA MPA candidate, Maricarmen Hinojosa

Maricarmen 2013Name: Maricarmen Hinojosa
Degree: MPA
Concentration:  International Security Policy
Specialization: International Conflict Resolution

Maricarmen is a second year MPA student from Mexico concentrating in International Security Policy and specializing in International Conflict Resolution. Prior to SIPA, she worked for three years at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC, as one of the Ambassador’s National Security Advisers. During college, she volunteered in Kenya, where she designed and developed the project “Sustainable Production of Dolls”, a program designed to empower women in the Mfangano community. She also studied abroad for one year in Seoul, South Korea, where she researched and developed the thesis, “North Korean Nuclear Strategy Against the United States: A Country Looking for its Survival,” for which she was recognized as having produced the best thesis of the year by the Universidad de Monterrey.

What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?

My best experience at SIPA has been my summer internship with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) as part of the Drivers of Conflict and Peace: Practicum, directed by The Conflict Resolution Center of Columbia University. Thanks to this program I had the opportunity to spend two months researching illegal logging and conflict resolution in Kosovo. I also had the chance to travel around the Balkans and get to know better one of the most interesting regions in the world.

Do you feel like you have gotten to know some of the faculty members?

Absolutely.  Professors at SIPA are open to talk to the students and help as much as they can in their academic and professional development.  Professor Dipali Mukhopadhyay, Paola Maria Valenti and Stuart Gottlieb, among other professors at SIPA, are always willing to listen to students’ concerns.

SIPA features lots of events for students to attend.  Is there any interesting presentation that you have attended that you could comment upon? 

During my first semester at SIPA I had the opportunity to attend a conference with Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the UN. The event was a small event at SIPA in which the students had the opportunity to ask questions and have a great conversation with Mr. Annan. It was such an honor to be there with such a great international figure.

What has been the most challenging part of your SIPA experience?

During my first semester I took a course called “Evolving Military Strategy Post-9/11” with Admiral Eric T. Olson (retired).  For the class final examination we had to analyze the National Military Strategy to the United States of America and identify three main issues that were not addressed or were weak and present our finding though a teleconference to Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.  The fact that I was directly presenting my advice to the most important figure in the US Military was by far the most challenging experience at SIPA.

Did you choose to attend SIPA to change careers, or to gain experience in a career path you already had experience in?

I joined SIPA to gain particular skills related to my training on conflict resolution and international security issues. Before SIPA I worked for three years at the Embassy of Mexico. There I learned about national security issues in a very hands-on fashion, but I still felt I lacked some of the conceptual foundations for understanding military and intelligence components of national and international security policies. I decided that the International Security Concentration at SIPA was going to help me fill the gap in my professional career.

Curious about ISP?

The International Security Policy Concentration (ISP) offers outstanding opportunities for students interested in topics such as political violence and conflict management, defense policy, military strategy, terrorism and unconventional warfare, arms control, intelligence, peacekeeping, coercion, negotiation, conflict resolution and alternatives to the use of force as an instrument of policy.  The relative flexibility of the ISP Concentration allows students to tailor their specific course of study to fit their intellectual and career interests, and they will find that Columbia offers a wider variety of courses in security studies than all but a handful of other universities in the world. ISP students go on to work in government, consulting firms, non-profit research institutes, public interest and policy advocacy organizations, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, journalism, and other areas.

Many ISP courses are taught by members of the Columbia Political Science Department, one of few in the world with more than one faculty member in security studies. In addition to Political Science faculty, the Concentration draws on courses taught by full-time Columbia faculty from SIPA, the Law School, and Barnard College.  ISP also features courses taught by outstanding practitioners and other adjuncts who combine academic backgrounds and publications in public policy with experience in government, the military, and policy analysis institutes. For example, Peter Clement, a senior official in the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence, will join SIPA as a Scholar in Residence and adjunct faculty member in September 2013.

Like many SIPA faculty, the ISP concentration director, Prof. Richard Betts, has experience in both the academic and policy worlds. Betts is director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia, and has taught previously at Harvard and SAIS.  He has worked at the Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, on staffs of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the National Security Council, and served on the National Security Advisory Panel of the Director of Central Intelligence and the National Commission on Terrorism.

Students who are interested in conflict resolution may take classes within the International Conflict Resolution Specialization as ISP electives. The specialization is directed by Prof. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping.

Outside the classroom, ISP offers many exciting activities including field trips, political-military crisis and arms control simulations, guest speakers, specialized symposia, films, and social activities.  The ISP Concentration benefits greatly from the programming of its institutional affiliate, the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies, which hosts a number of high profile speakers each year.  In addition, students in the ISP concentration run the Defense and Security Student Organization, which hosts events such career panels and debates.

At the beginning of each fall semester, ISP hosts a weekend retreat for ISP concentrators at a campground a few hours north of New York City.  Field trips in November alternate each year between a combination of U.S. military installations, in one year, and government offices in Washington, D.C. the next.  This year’s trip will be to Washington.  Previous Washington trips have included meetings at the level of Under and Assistant Secretary at the Pentagon, State Department, National Security Council, Office of Management and Budget, Congress, and other parts of government.  Examples of military facilities visited in past field trips include Fort Bragg (Army Airborne and Special Forces headquarters), Pope Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune (Marine Corps), Atlantic Fleet headquarters and various ships in Norfolk, Langley Air Force Base, and NATO headquarters (Brussels).

The crisis simulation in the spring semester is entirely organized and conducted by the students.  Simulations in recent years have included crises in Kashmir, the Taiwan Straits, Central Asia, and Indonesia; negotiations on the North Korean nuclear program; escalation of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan; and the NPT Review Conference.

 

who’s on deck?

As sad as we are to see our PA’s (program assistants) graduate and leave us, we are thrilled to have new second years join our team.  If you continue to follow the Admissions Blog, you’ll get to know them over the next few months through their posts and of course, if you contact the Admissions Office, you may also get a response from one or two of them.

We asked them to share a little something about themselves with you…

Maricarmen, MPA ISP:  From Mexico.  Worked in Washington, DC for 3 years and currently researching Illegal Logging in Kosovo. I love running and burgers! (I am obsessed.) Currently reading “The Sound of Things Falling” Juan Gabriel Vasquez (Spanish version)

Danielle, MPA USP: Really interested in political journalism, worked at the New York County District Attorney’s Office before SIPA, native New Yorker, news junkie, Japanese food connoisseur

Henry, MIA EE: From New York City and the Dominican Republic. Worked in development before joining SIPA.  Now focusing on domestic energy issues

Eder, MPA USP:  I’m in Ecuador for the summer – it’s great! I’ve worked on the undocumented student campaign aimed at immigration reform. Enjoy reading up on politics, social movements and love Korean food! Looking forward to working with you all!

Ashley, MIA HRHP:  I’ll try anything twice.

Giuliana, MPA EPD:  Just came back from Rio de Janeiro and completely loved it! I’m passionate about meeting new people and experiencing new cultures (and yes, sometimes I talk too much). I like to run, also practice yoga and I am a frustrated poet, it is one of my passions.

"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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