Archive for student group

Life Beyond the Classroom: Spectrum

SIPA has so much to offer beyond the classroom, and we’re excited to hear from Spectrum during this Pride Month! Read on to learn more about what they do and stand for here at SIPA.

Spectrum is a student organization at SIPA that uses advocacy and information to advance local, national and international transformations, in favor of LGBTQIA rights. We bring together the talent of SIPA students who wish to make a difference in favor of equality and non-discrimination, particularly with regards to sexual orientation, gender expression or identity.

One of the most important goals of Spectrum is to maintain a friendly community where everyone feels welcomed. Spectrum is committed to supporting our members in their well-being. We’re committed to providing safe spaces for all students and take anonymity seriously.

What do we do? Along with panels and working lunches on topics related to LGBTQIA rights in the U.S. and the rest of the world, we throw the best happy hours to unite our community over a drink or two in informal settings!

  • Spectrum panelistsThis spring semester, we held a panel on Sexual Violence and Mental Health. Our guest speaker Jessica Stern, president of OutRight Action International, spoke on the importance of creating new and adjusting old policies that would address sexual violence in the United States. Monica Pombo, representative of the Sexual Violence Response unit at Columbia University, talked about counseling and medical services available for students on campus. Dr. Cindy Veldhuis, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University’s School of Nursing, talked about the phenomena of sexual violence and how to address it.
  • We invited former and current SIPA students who successfully landed a job to share their experience in finding that job. Guest speakers included Jason Fauss (BlackRock), Nick Donias (KPMG), and Daniel Peciña-Lopez (European-American Chamber of Commerce in New York).
  • Spectrum also unites queers across the entire Columbia University. This past April we recently had a joint happy hour with LGBTQ communities from Columbia’s Law School, Business School, School of Science and Engineering, School of Social Work and School of General Studies.

Spectrum is an inclusive community — everyone who cares about LGBTQIA is welcome to become a member. Join us through OrgSync and our Facebook group to stay up-to-date with current events.

Eat like Seeple by joining SIPA Eats

On our blog, we often talk about repetitive, but necessary topics, like the admissions process and the curriculum. But there’s so much more SIPA has to offer outside of the classroom. Thus, I’m sharing a post by Program Assistant Katherine McGehee, MIA ’15, regarding one of SIPA’s newest student groups, SIPA Eats. SIPA has 46 active student organizations, and SIPA Eats has become one of the graduate school’s most talked about groups.

Read More →

Student Group Spotlight: UN Studies Working Group

Life at SIPA is more than just a rigorous and exciting curriculum. The SIPA community is greatly enriched by the numerous student organizations on campus. We thought it would be useful to spotlight some of these organizations to give you a more holistic view of the SIPA experience.

The UN Studies Program Working Group (UNSWG) is a student organization that works in close relation with the UN Studies Program at SIPA. It aims to connect students and the entire SIPA community to the United Nations, to its issues and agenda, and to the UN System as a whole. UNSWG members are dedicated to the UN’s main goals, including principles of worldwide cooperation for peace and prosperity.

◦The UNSWG serves as a platform for delivery and exchange of knowledge, ideas, thoughts and reflection, debates and discussion on issues related to the United Nations and the UN system.

◦The UNSWG works to foster a close relation between SIPA and the UN: to prepare conferences, seminars, discussion panels and groups; invite speakers and prepare presentations; organize student debates around relevant and current issues related to the UN.

◦The UNSWG aims to maximize opportunities for SIPA students to be involved with the UN and the greater UN family through meetings with officials; visits to the UN Secretariat and UN agency headquarters; inviting speakers to SIPA; organizing internships, career panels, and support for individual initiatives related to the UN.

Within the first month of the semester, the UNSWG has coordinated the following events:

  • “How to get a job at the UN” panel with a representative from the UN’s Human Resources department
  • UN Studies Retreat, “70 Years Later: The United Nations at a Crossroad in a Changing World”, which featured speakers from the UN Secretary-General, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Peace Institute, the UN Secretary-General in Africa, and the United Nations Foundation
  • Participation in an upcoming talk given by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on challenges for the UN in the 21st Century

Check out the UNSWG’s blog for a list of past events and its general page for more information.

New Media Task Force Student Group

There are lots of ways for SIPA students to keep busy and pursue their interests.  One way is through student groups.  Currently there are 37 student groups at SIPA and one of the newest groups is the New Media Task Force.   The following post was submitted by Sawako Sonoyama.


I would like to introduce a new student group at SIPA, the New Media Task Force. We are thrilled that our student group exists at SIPA. The time is right—there has been a tremendous need for this community at SIPA: a student group that focuses on information and communication technology for development, crisis mapping, and mobile for health.

The New Media Task Force was initiated under the supportive umbrella of the UN Studies Program Working Group. Launching as the “UNICEF New Media Task Force”, we focused on research, internship, and networking opportunities with the UNICEF innovations department. Although the Task Force started as a small group of interested individuals, the number of people engaged in the Task Force grew every year.  In DATE Sean Blaschke ( MIA 2010) and his team received the first-place award in the ‘Development 2.0 Challenge’ of the US Agency for International Development. For this project, they worked with RapidSMS, a system leverages basic mobile phones and text messages, to collect health information and improved the speed and quality of health data collection in Malawi. This award brought a lot of media attention to SIPA and its activities in technology for development, especially in the use of mobile.

The biggest turning point for the New Media Task Force was the launch of crisis mapping at SIPA. On February 27, 2010, SIPA students were listening to Patrick Meier speak at a conference titled “Policy Making in the Digital Age,” hosted by The Morningside Post. He spoke about a process called “crisis mapping” and a new technology platform called Ushahidi that had greatly aided relief workers after the Haiti earthquake.  That same day, a tremendous earthquake of magnitude 8.8 occurred off the coast of the Maule Region of Chile. When Meier asked if anybody was interested in holding crisis mapping training sessions for the Chile earthquake, SIPA students stepped in.

From a volunteer standpoint, the earthquake could not have happened in a worse timing—during midterms. However, brutal econ tests did not phase SIPA students. Within 48 hours of the earthquake, over 60 students were trained to monitor media sources, map GPS coordinates, and report earthquake related incidents. For weeks after the earthquake, countless students stopped by the Situation Room to help out. We were so impressed with the passion and dedication that SIPA students demonstrated in assisting the people of Chile. These actions were a true testiment of the character of SIPA students.

Ushahidi-Chile brought a tremendous amount of media attention to SIPA, which included Al Jazeera filming a training session. The Ushahidi-Chile instance was a great example of how students can mobilize and make a tangible difference to those in need, continents away.  At that time, we also recognized that Chile was only one of many crises, and that there was great potential in formalizing and institutionalizing Crisis Mapping at SIPA so that students would be able to assist in future crises. Additionally, we realized that we had the opportunity to bring extremely valuable skills to SIPA students, skills that are in high demand by organizations such as OCHA, the World Bank, and other agencies. During the chaotic time of crisis mapping for the Chile earthquake, it was decided that the New Media Task Force would branch out from UNSPWG and officially become a student group.

The New Media Task Force was approved officially at the end of May 2010. We truly appreciate UNSPWG’s support, providing us with both institutional and moral guidance in launching our student group. We would also like to thank  Professor Lindenmayer for her guidance in working on the earthquake relief; her experience in Haiti gave us a deeper insight on what it means to work in a crisis situation. Thanks to their guidance and SIPA’s support, the Task Force now has the capacity to make an impact in the fields of crisis mapping  and information and communication technology for development.

The New Media Task Force’s mission is to increase student knowledge of how technology can support decision-making in international affairs and to expand opportunities for students within the information and communication technology for development space. Through projects, panels, and events, we aim to create a community around new media for development and promote practical research and internship opportunities for SIPA students. Additionally, the New Media Task Force supports SIPA curriculum development around technology for development. Our students and alumni work globally with organizations such as The Earth Institute, UNICEF, OCHA, Ushahidi, and UNDP. One of our primary activities is Crisis Mapping, an international effort to respond to disasters around the globe, and our volunteers provide essential information within the first few essential days following a disaster.

We look forward to welcoming more students who is interested in technology and development.

A Night to Remember

The following was written by Kristoffer Tangri, a second-year SIPA student from Germany pursuing a MIA degree with a concentration in International Security Policy.


It is the time of the year again where clueless first year students complain about their in boxes filling up with spam while second year students go on a ticket hunt from unsuspecting victims. Ask any recent SIPA graduate about their most cherished memory of their time at SIPA – it will be this very special night in spring – SIPA Follies. Dual degree students from around the world fly back to New York just for this event. For one night and night only, the International Affairs building will become the place where magic happens, friendships are being made and history is written.

This year the night falls on April the 24th – three months from now and yet, preparations have already begun. Fundraiser parties are being organized; exotic dancers are cast around campus and members of a highly prestigious selection committee judge ideas and proposals by sanguine students.

What makes this night so very special? Some say it is the beer that is flowing like water and others point to the fact that graduation time is near. As a Follies 2009 alumnus, however, I know that none of these points matter compared to the real reason this event has become legendary. Unfortunately, first year students have been spotted reading the admissions blog and I cannot risk unsettling the ticket market. You will need to wait until April 2011 to become part of this defining moment in a life as a SIPA student.  Song, dance, comedy, video, intrigue . . . this event has it all.


Although videos make up only a fraction of the event itself, hopefully this video provides a taste of the festivities.

Ever wandered what Year One at SIPA could look like?

"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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