Archive for retreat

In need of a retreat?

Each year, at the beginning of the fall semester, is what we here at SIPA like to call “retreat season”. Each concentration and specialization organizes a weekend-long retreat for students throughout the month of September. The retreat is an opportunity for first and second year students to get better acquainted in a fun and engaging environment. Students are able to share experiences and knowledge, such as the “do’s and don’ts” of SIPA student and academic life. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for students to get to know faculty members and professors in a less formal way.


International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) Retreat

Over 80 IFEP students attended the annual retreat in September held at Camp Kinder Ring in Hopewell Junction, New York. After traveling for two hours by bus, students arrived and had lunch together. Shortly after, Professor Richard Goldberg led an interactive discussion about the financial crisis with students. Professor Andrea Bubula, the IFEP Executive Director, also attended the retreat and gave students an overview of the concentration and its competitive advantages in the current job market. The rest of the afternoon was spent with students playing tennis and basketball at the camp. In the evening students enjoyed dinner followed by a dance party. Despite the near freezing temperatures, students enjoyed this opportunity to get to know each other and learn more about the IFEP concentration.

Energy and Environment (EE) Retreat

On the 28th of September, the EE concentration had its yearly retreat in the wonderful Kinder Camp as well. This was a great chance to escape from the city and enjoy a nice autumn landscape, lake included, but also a fantastic opportunity to get to know the new members of our SIPA community beyond the Columbia campus. There were several fun outdoor activities including the hilarious build and the what’s your shoe size/eye color grouping game. At one point, even some brave Seeples dived into the lake! The trip couldn’t be complete without a bonfire and s’mores, which of course quickly turned into a party that many will remember for the musical variety (yes, someone played reggaeton).

International Conflict Resolution (ICR) Retreat

The International Conflict Resolution retreat brought together 25 SIPA students as well as faculty and guest speakers for a weekend of inspiration and recreation. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice and International Conflict Resolution specialization director Jean-Marie Guéhenno kicked off discussion on Syria, supported by adjunct faculty member Richard Gowan. Guest speakers David Haeri (MIA, 1997) and Sarah Cliffe (MIA, 1996), both senior United Nations officials in New York, shared insights on the field of conflict resolution and inspired students with their personal stories and experiences. The retreat closed with a conflict type exercise, where students assessed their personal approach to conflict using role play to demonstrate reactions under a variety of scenarios, both calm and stressful. In addition to some self-discovery, canoeing, and a lakeside bonfire, students left the retreat with new friendships and some intellectual stimulation to help them embark upon the new semester.

















First-Year Retreats at SIPA

The following post is credited to second-year student Sawako Sonoyama.


First-Year Retreats at SIPA

Not sure what your concentration should be? It may be confusing to know which concentration is right for you during the application stage. However, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to learn about all of the different concentrations at the beginning of your first semester before you have to decide. One perfect way to explore if a concentration is right for you is to go on a Retreat.

Every year during the first month of the Fall semester, almost all of the Concentrations, Specializations, and Specific Degree Programs will offer a Retreat for first-year students. There are so many retreats to choose from! In one weekend, a SIPA first-year must decide between the International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) retreat , the United Nations Study Program (UNSP) retreat, or the Energy and Environment Retreat. These retreats have many objectives: to convince those who are uncertain about their path, to make new friends amongst those who are interested, to introduce the faculty and advisors involved, and to create your family at SIPA.


It is true that your concentration becomes somewhat of your family during your 2-year life at SIPA and I was able to find this family through my concentration retreat.  As an Economic and Political Development (EPD) student, going to the EPD retreat last year was one of the best decisions I made. Looking back, I made the majority of my SIPA friends this weekend at the EPD retreat. We still laugh about the inside jokes and the corky activities we shared from that weekend. (Can’t tell you what we did exactly, don’t want to ruin the surprise!)

Retreat 2009

EPD Retreat 2009

Recently I had the pleasure of going on the EPD retreat again as a second year. I was chosen to help organize the retreat by creating community building activities, facilitating discussions, and answering a lot of “first-year” questions.  I was pleasantly surprised that I actually could give some advice, considering just a year ago I was lost and clueless about what courses, concentrations, etc.  It is quite incredible how much we learned in one short year and also scary that we will be graduating next spring.

Overall, it was nostalgic and wonderful to return back to where we started as EPD students just a year ago. I am happy to have made a lot of first-year friends while reconnecting with my 2nd year EPD friends. From what we could observe, the first-years seem to have had a great time and successfully created their family as well. I hope that they loved the EPD retreat as much as I did,  and encourage all future SIPA students to go on at least one retreat when they arrive to SIPA.


EPD Retreat 2010—2nd years

"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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