Oscar PocasangreMaster of Public Administration (MPA) Concentration: Economic and Political Development (EPD)
Specialization: Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis (APEA)
What did you do before SIPA?
Prior to SIPA, I worked for two years at the MIT Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) as a policy and training analyst in their Chile office. I focused on creating courses on randomized trials for policymakers and also worked with governments and NGOs throughout the region in promoting the use of good evidence when crafting public policies. I was also able to write up various policy publications, including a book chapter on conditional cash transfers.
What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?
There have been many highlights! Academically, I think the highlight has been taking a class with Andrés Velasco, a former finance minister of Chile and former presidential candidate during the Chilean primaries in 2013. He was very accessible as a professor and he was able to combine rigorous theories from political economy and game theory with his personal experience in politics to explore issues that policymakers face in practice. Another highlight was being able to represent SIPA at two conferences in Paris sponsored by the Center on Global Economic Governance. There were many distinguished speakers at the conferences, including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the Minister of Finance of France, representatives from the UN and the OECD, among many others. It was a great opportunity to hear what these experts think about the world’s current problems and how to solve them.
What kind of work do you hope to do when you graduate?
I want to be a university professor and do research on the political economy of development, governance, and ways of using experimental methods to answer questions of political science. So, that’s a cool way of saying that I hope to stay in school after I graduate.
Can you describe the nature of the SIPA curriculum?
The SIPA curriculum is flexible enough that you can choose to focus on the areas that interest you the most and approach these areas from both theoretical and practical perspectives. SIPA does tend to emphasize practical experience. One of the big values and strengths of the SIPA curriculum is that it requires students to take a series of economics and statistics courses, which I think, are vital for anyone involved in policymaking.
Do you feel like you have gotten to know some of the faculty members?
Yes! This has been one of the other highlights of my time at SIPA. I find that professors here are very accessible and willing to help and offer advice. Many students don’t take much advantage of the office hours of the faculty, but these are great opportunities to get to know professors. I’ve been able to work closely with one faculty member on a research project. As an aspiring academic, this has been an incredible experience and opportunity.