Archive for United Nations – Page 2

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.

The SIPA Advantage

When you’re looking at schools as an undergraduate, there are books websites, and guidance counselors to help you choose the right “fit” for you. Large or small, urban or rural, there are a bevy of resources to help you navigate what these features will mean in terms of your education and extracurricular activities. As a grad student, you’re left mostly on your own to discern the differences between the most competitive foreign and public policy schools, so I wanted to share five things that I feel make SIPA stand out among its competitors.


  1. Location. You already know that SIPA has a close relationship with the United Nations, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the resources available to public policy students in New York City.  Hundreds of non-profits, private companies, the New York Stock Exchange and the government of the largest city in the United States are all located here, providing limitless consulting and internship opportunities. In addition, everyone who’s anyone in global politics and commerce travels through New York City, and more likely than not they come to speak at our school.  In any given day we might have Japan’s Minister of Finance, the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, and the CEO of Bloomberg in our building. The trouble isn’t finding a lecture that you want to attend, the trouble is fitting them all in!
  2. Professors. Due to the school’s prestige and location, we have some of the best Professors in the world. From Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz to sustainable development expert Jeff Sachs to associate Professors who are leaders in the real world. Last year I look Campaign Management from Jef Pollock, American Association of Political Consultants’ Pollster of the Year and Women and Power from Ernst and Young Executive and Healthcare Business Association’s Woman of the Year, Carolyn Buck-Luce. Whatever your interest, a SIPA education practically guarantees you access to experts in your field.
  3. Columbia University. In addition to all that’s available to students at SIPA itself, a SIPA education means you are part of the Columbia University network.  This means an introduction to literally thousands of alumni all over the world. It also means the opportunity to take classes at any of Columbia’s distinguished graduate schools for credit toward your degree. This year I am taking a class on Elections with Political Science PhD students, a class on Election Law at the prestigious Columbia Law School and a class at Columbia School of Journalism with Washington Post reporter Thomas Edsall. My area of public policy is pretty clear but whether you are passionate about education, defense strategy, health care or development opportunities await you all across our university.
  4. Size. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about finding my place at one of the biggest public policy schools in the world, but it turned out to be one of the things I like best about SIPA.  I get to study alongside and learn from over 1000 professionals from 52 countries. When a practical or policy question arises and I need an answer; I am almost guaranteed to find an expert among my classmates. When a candidate I was working for had an event with Bill Clinton,  I was able to reach out to one of his interns at the Clinton Global Initiative to find an address to send a thank you note. When my blog went viral in the campaign world, my more technologically inclined classmates helped teach me best practices for social media. SIPA’s size allows us to offer the most classes, clubs, and extracurricular opportunities of any of the top public or foreign policy schools as well as the wealth of information that is the SIPA community itself.
  5. Flexibility. Compared to other public policy programs, SIPA’s MPA curriculum is extremely flexible. SIPA students graduate with a solid foundation in economics, statistics, and management practice, but are free to choose the subjects that most interest them within these fields, as well as from one of the country’s largest selections of electives. For students like me who enter SIPA with a very specific interest, for me it was election systems and civic engagement, this means we are always able to take classes in our field. For students who enter with a broader interest, this means they are free to explore no matter where their interests take them.


This post was contributed by Nancy Leeds.  Nancy is a Democratic Campaign Operative and blogger pursuing her MPA in Social Policy and Management at SIPA. 

Kofi Annan Graduation Speech

Earlier in the week I posted a few photos I took of the SIPA graduation ceremony with my phone.  This is the follow up post I promised now that our media team has had some time to publish information for distribution.  The entire ceremony was captured and can be viewed by clicking here.

Kofi Anna was the graduation speaker and here is his address to the SIPA Class of 2011.

Here are a few more pictures to enjoy as well.  The President of the University, Lee Bollinger, and his wife shared a special moment with their daughter who graduated from the MIA program.

What kinds of friendships can you expect to develop as a SIPA student?  The kind where someone helps you to graduate, even when you cannot make it to the ceremony.  This graduate is holding a gown draped on a hanger with a photo of the missing graduate.

Mr. Annan likely had a sore hand and tired feet at the end of the day – he shook the hand of every graduate and hung out at the reception (with his lovely wife).

A SIPA graduate . . . with a possible future SIPA student.



Graduation 2011

I really enjoyed the 2011 edition of the SIPA graduation ceremony.  After being held inside for several years the ceremony this year was held outside.  Everyone was nervous all week because the weather forecast was foreboding, however the rain held off and and no one had to get wet.

Tents were set up so we were not worried too much about the ceremony itself, but the reception area was not entirely covered.  As it turns out, we had nothing to worry about.  When I took this picture I was standing on the steps of . . .

. . . Low Library . . .

. . . which is where the graduates assembled prior to the ceremony.

Kofi Annan addressed the graduates and we are working on getting his speech on line.  When it is ready it will appear on this blog.

SIPA graduates will return to the main quad for the University Commencement on Wednesday.  Congratulations to the class of 2011!


Academic Calendar

Some recently admitted applicants have been asking questions about the academic calendar.  If you want to see what the next two years are going to look like for the most part all you have to do is click here.  You can view both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 calendars.

Do note that not every single event will be listed.  For example the calendar lists the University graduation ceremonies, but not the SIPA graduation ceremonies.  This year for example SIPA will have its graduation ceremony on May 14th (Kofi Annan will be speaking) and then the main ceremony for all graduates takes place on May 18th.

Some specific events and occasions will be added as time progresses but the calendar as it stands now will give you a firm idea of holidays, breaks, and class start and end dates.  This will allow you to book tickets far, far in advance if you need to for travel and you can let family members and friends know of important dates.

Newly admitted students . . . you will turn your tassel from right to left at the main graduation ceremony on May 22, 2013!  The specific date of the SIPA graduation ceremony will not be released until sometime next year.

"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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