Archive for Spring2016 – Page 2

Supreme Court Justice visits SIPA to reflect on ‘The Court and The World’

“The best way to protect our American values is to know what’s going on beyond our shores,” said Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court, summarizing the thesis of his new book The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities.

Breyer visited Columbia’s Italian Academy on April 14 to deliver SIPA’s annual Gabriel Silver Memorial Lecture. Introducing the jurist, SIPA Dean Merit Janow and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger reflected upon the importance of the book topic in today’s rapidly globalizing and urbanizing world.

Breyer’s book is “an important look at a challenging and crucial set of questions: how the court in so many areas of law has come to consider and interact with the laws of the rest of the world,” said Janow.

“As there were more and more global issues, and there was a global communications technology, the Internet, that made global communications possible really instantaneously for the first time in human history, there was now a need to think of free speech and free press on some kind of global scale,” Bollinger added. “Would there be international norms that we could evolve over time, and how should we interpret the First Amendment and the Constitution in light of this?”

In a conversation with Janow and Bollinger, Breyer suggested that the societal changes he identifies in his book have “nothing to do with the philosophy of judges,” but rather “changes in the nature of the world.” He said that while he does not have an answer to what words like globalization or interdependence mean, he does have the ability to reflect on how such concepts interact with the cases on the Supreme Court’s docket.

An example of this is how the role of the Court in checking executive power on matters of national security has shifted over time. He brought up the example of Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court decision that allowed the U.S. government to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II. While we might consider the decision objectionable in hindsight, he said, at the time the Court essentially argued that it didn’t have the context or the authority to undermine the president during wartime.

Breyer then cited a 2004 decision by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that countered the logic behind Korematsu by noting that the Constitution does not provide a blank check to the President, even in wartime. Breyer said that many people were upset about the idea of the Court overruling the executive branch on a national security matter, but it has become important to balance national security “without destroying civil liberties.” With this in mind, it becomes even more important to turn to other countries to understand how they strike this balance, he said.

Another example is in the realm of commerce, where comity with the laws of other countries becomes even more essential. Breyer mentioned the 2013 decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a case about copyright law that would affect $2.3 trillion worth of global commerce.

“I have to know about what’s going on in other parts of the world,” Breyer said of the Kirsaeng scenario, which dealt with the right to import to the United States copyrighted works that had been lawfully printed overseas. “That’s part of my job.”

It would be impossible to make such decisions without considering the opinions of other nations as expressed in Supreme Court briefs, he added.

In this respect, the legal concept of comity—the respect of courts in different jurisdictions, states, or countries for each other’s laws—has evolved over time.

“It’s not simply ‘you stay out of it, it’s theirs,’” Breyer said. “It’s how do you interpret an American statute given what other people are doing, so you can harmonize and further the similar advance of similar areas of law in many different countries.”

In order to accomplish this, he said, it’s important for law schools like Columbia to train young lawyers to look to global case law, and not just American case law, for legal precedent.

“You can’t teach the law of the world. Nobody knows the law of the world,” Breyer said. “But you could sometimes in a contract case, bring in something by way of comparison, so that the law of the world doesn’t just end up in a course called comparative law or international law.”

He said “bits or pieces” of non-U.S. law could appropriately be taught in more general law classes. Over time, he said, it would help judges improve on their own work, Breyer said, thus further enriching our legal discourse.

Students launch social enterprise accelerator

Although the concept of social enterprise—harnessing the power of market forces to solve social problems—is not new, the ecosystem to support such ventures in New York City is not very robust. Recognizing this gap, four SIPA MPA-DP students are running a five-day social enterprise accelerator this May. In partnership with the Unreasonable Institute (which co-founder Nicolas Toro MPA-DP ‘17 called “the gold standard” of accelerators), the students have launched Unreasonable Lab NYC to help budding social enterprises get ready to pursue venture capital.

“This is for people with social enterprise ideas that have gone from pilot to concept, and now they want to take that concept to scale, and they’re looking for the appropriate funding,” said co-founder Joe Heritage MPA-DP ’17.

“One of the biggest problems that social enterprises face is that they feel like they’re ready to receive investment, but they don’t know how to do it,” added Veni Jayanti MPA-DP ’17, another co-founder.

The program’s fourth founder is Josh Jacobson MPA-DP ’17.

The five-day accelerator, which will take place at SIPA May 19 to 22, will feature the Unreasonable Institute’s investment preparedness curriculum, Unreasonable’s network of social enterprise mentors, and expertise from Columbia’s Start-Up Lab, the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, SIPA faculty, and the four co-facilitators themselves.

“One of the best things about the lab,” said Toro, is “there’s a lot of exposure to other entrepreneurs that have gone through the process, that know how to deal with issues like how to create a funding plan, how to pitch, what type of investment you need.”

The program will culminate with a high-level capital investment session, where participants will have a chance to practice their pitch with actual capital advisers and investors.

The four students involved in the project all have strong backgrounds in social enterprise. Before attending SIPA, Heritage spent seven years managing a social enterprise in Kenya—a farm that employed refugees and used its profits to fund education scholarships for girls to attend school. Jayanti worked at Unlimited Indonesia, a social enterprise accelerator with branches all over the world. Toro was a serial entrepreneur with a penchant for social justice, having started a cosmetics retailer in addition to serving in the Peace Corps and working in economic development issues in Colombia. Jacobson founded his own social enterprise and serves as a mentor for Startupbootcamp, another social enterprise accelerator.

“We just are all very excited about the idea of creating sustainable solutions to poverty through best practices in business,” said Heritage. “That’s why I came to SIPA, and that’s what I want to gain, so I can leave and do that more effectively.”

Toro was drawn to pursue this project in addition to taking classes at SIPA and the Columbia Business School in social enterprise because “I wanted to make something bigger. I wanted to create a pilot, an experiment to see how these social enterprises can be supported to really grow and scale up, and become the new Warby Parkers, the new Toms, and really make amazing solutions, both in New York and across the world.”

“It’s going to be a great learning experience,” Toro said. “You’re going to meet great people, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

“And a lot of dancing,” Jayanti added. “There’s going to be a lot of dancing!”

— Lindsay Fuller MPA ’16

2016 Awards honor global leadership at highest level

Annual celebration welcomes 325 guests, raises fellowship funds to benefit SIPA students

SIPA celebrated the 2016 Global Leadership Awards at a ceremony that brought 325 guests—alumni and friends, students, faculty, and staff—to New York City’s Mandarin Oriental hotel on April 8. Now in their 16th year, the annual awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made innovative or otherwise extraordinary contributions to the global public good through their work in public policy and administration.

This year’s honorees were Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations; Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; James A. Baker III, the 61st U.S. secretary of State and 67th U.S. secretary of the treasury; and Wang Boming MIA ’88, the chairman-CEO of SEEC Media Group who has been called “one of the founding fathers” of China’s capital markets.

Guests at the event, which is part of SIPA’s ongoing 70th-anniversary celebration, enjoyed a reception, dinner, and inspiring views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline at the venue high above Columbus Circle. Several current students took part as event ambassadors nominated by faculty and selected by School administrators. As always, proceeds raised from the event will provide fellowship support for SIPA students.

sipa-awards-honoreesUniversity President Lee C. Bollinger was on hand to welcome guests, who heard SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow salute the four honorees for exemplifying the qualities that SIPA seeks to instill in its students.

In accepting the award from Janow, honoree Christine Lagarde said the world needs global leadership because good and ill know no boundaries. She encouraged students to take their skills outside the United States and their home countries. “Global leadership is hard work, but we do it because it is our duty and it takes us further than those borders,” she said.

In office since 2011, Lagarde is the first woman to lead the IMF. As France’s finance minister from 2007 to 2011, she was the first female finance minister of a G-7 country.

The Admissions Office's Eloy Oliveira, Grace Han, and Adriana Popa attended the 2016 Global Leadership Awards.

The Admissions Office’s Eloy Oliveira, Grace Han, and Adriana Popa attended the 2016 Global Leadership Awards.

Another honoree, James A. Baker III, served as a cabinet secretary under U.S. presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and worked on five presidential election campaigns. He suggested that factors including redistricting practices, the media, and the internet had contributed to contemporary division and dysfunction in U.S. politics, and called for a different kind of leadership.

Ban could not attend in person but shared thanks and good wishes in a video message to the audience.“I’m afraid that far too many politicians these days feed into our fears rather than our hopes,” he said.

Since the United Nations was founded in 1945, he said, “SIPA faculty and alumni have continued to contribute to our work. I personally rely on many as my senior advisors.”

“I am especially impressed by SIPA students,” Ban continued, adding later: “I count on SIPA to continue supporting the United Nations as we rise to the challenges of our day. Thank you for your leadership and engagement.”

Advice for current students: Lagarde and Baker joined Janow for a conversation that touched on multiple issues including trade, growth, and inequality. Janow concluded the discussion by asking the honorees to share advice for today’s students, the next generation of leaders. Baker said people in a position of privilege should “give back by voting, participate in the public system, volunteer, and give to nonprofits.” Lagarde said to “Engage, embrace, enjoy… and share that joy with others.”


The final honoree, business leader Wang Boming MIA ‘88 also sent regrets after an illness prevented him from attending.

The two honorees who were present joined Janow for a conversation that touched on multiple issues including trade, growth, and inequality. Janow concluded the discussion by asking the honorees to share advice for today’s students, the next generation of leaders.

Baker said people in a position of privilege should “give back by voting, participate in the public system, volunteer, and give to nonprofits.”

Lagarde said to “Engage, embrace, enjoy… and share that joy with others.”

— with reporting and writing by Lindsay Fuller MPA ’16 and Kristen Grennan MPA ’16

My experience as a Lemann Fellow

Besides the incredible network of SIPA Students and Alumni, being at Columbia gave me the chance to access other great exclusive groups. One of them is the network of Lemann Fellows.

The Lemann Fellowship was established by the Brazilian entrepreneur Jorge Paulo Lemann, in order to support students that are committed to the overall advancement of Brazil, through their educational and professional experience. The fellowship is is curated by the Lemann Foundation, and includes lifetime access to an incredible network of people (including Jorge Paulo Lemann himself!). If you want to become a Lemann Fellow like me, you need to write a separate essay explaining your connection with Brazil – but always check the website for more information, since the rules of application might change from year to year.

The Lemann Fund also strengthens Columbia University’s research, teaching, and discussion of Latin America. The Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) is one of the nation’s foremost centers in the field and it is the house to the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, that serves as a key focal point for students and faculty with an interest in Brazil. ILAS regularly hosts events related to Latin America (you can check out their full agenda of events here).


Here I am checking in for the event!

Here I am checking in for the event!


In order to achieve its goals, the Lemann Foundation holds regular events inside and outside Brazil. These events are a great opportunity to get Fellows together and foment discussions about Brazil’s hot topics. Every year one major University hosts one of such events, called the Lemann Dialogue. It took place in Stanford, in 2014, and it is scheduled for Harvard, in 2016. But last semester what was hosted by SIPA. The 5th Annual Leman Dialogue (Innovating in the Brazilian Public Sector) was by far one of the best events I saw at Columbia. You could see a complete myriad of Brazilian authorities in the lobby, such as   Ministers, such as Tereza Campello; former head of Brazilian Development Bank, Andre Lara Rezende; Brazilianist, Professor Albert Fishlow; Presidential candidate, Marina Silva, besides Jorge Paulo Lemann . The event’s panels discussed topics such as: | The Current Political and Economic Landscape; Policies and Social Inclusion; Reforming Representative Democracy in the XXI Century; Technology and Citizen Engagement; Urban Development and City Management; Coordinating the Flow: Addressing the Challenges of Urbanization; Innovating in Policy Making for Education (click here for a complete list of topics).

If you want to get a better view of what the event was all about, watch the following short video:

The Fifth Annual Leman Dialogue was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I hope I can make it to the sixth edition!


Panelists consider income inequality, media, and 2016 election

Joseph Stiglitz, Patricia Cohen, and Michael Massing examine how concerns about inequality gained media spotlight

“The 1 percent has been a really useful framing device,” said economics reporter Patricia Cohen of the New York Times, “but I think it’s more a question now of the 0.01 percent or 0.001 percent, in terms of that concentration of wealth.”

Cohen was speaking at a February 23 event on “Income Inequality, the Media, and the 2016 Presidential Election.” She and fellow panelists Joseph Stiglitz, the SIPA professor and Nobel Laureate, and Michael Massing, author and contributor to the New York Review of Books, discussed the role that the media has played in giving inequality its current cultural moment.

Stiglitz cited a study put out by Oxfam that he called a very “cogent image” of the economic inequality the world faces today: a bus of around 60 attendees at the Davos World Economic Forum contained as much wealth as the poorest 3 billion citizens in the world. But while the media ultimately “did play a role” in highlighting inequality, he said, “reality also played a role.”

Watch the entire program here

Stiglitz explained that median income in the United States is now lower than it was 25 years ago, and real wages are lower than they were 60 years ago. He called these “astounding numbers for a country that claims to be having economic progress.”

Event moderator Anya Schiffrin, director of the International Media, Advocacy, and Communications Specialization at SIPA, reminded the audience that while income inequality might in fact be having such a cultural moment, there is a long tradition of waxing and waning public interest in the subject across decades. She brought up the example of Huey Long and Father Coughlin, two well-known agitators against income inequality during the 1930s, as the “historic roots of what we’re seeing today.”

Panelists also connected the media and the public’s fixation on inequality with the rise of populist candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Massing said that while polls were helpful, he wanted reporters to dig deeper to provided a more nuanced understanding of why Americans support candidates such as Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. “The press, with each election,” he said, “is more and more in the dark.”

This event was hosted by SIPA’s United States regional specialization, the Urban and Social Policy concentration, and the International Media, Advocacy, and Communications Specialization.

— Lindsay Fuller MPA ’16

Pictured (from left): Anya Schiffrin, Patricia Cohen, Michael Massing, Joseph Stiglitz

"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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