A lot happened at SIPA this year that our incoming Fall 2017 Seeples may need to know about prior to joining the program in September. We welcomed some amazing new faculty and community leaders to campus, created capstone projects with institutions in more than 38 countries, celebrated our 70th anniversary, and added to our summer reading lists with new books by SIPA authors, among other activities.

As told by Dean Merit Janow, here’s a look at what happened with our Seeples during the 2016-17 academic year.

New and Visiting Faculty

We were delighted to welcome some truly exceptional faculty to SIPA this past academic year. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew joined us as a Visiting Professor starting in February 2017.  This spring he taught a very popular short course on leadership and international economic policy and will teach an expanded version in the fall.

Visiting faculty included Israeli historian Shlomo Ben Ami, who served as the McGovern Professor in the Fall of 2016, and delivered the McGovern lecture on the subject of The Politics of Conflict – the Mideast and Beyond; and Ronaldo Lemos, co-founder and Director of the Institute for Technology & Society of Rio de Janeiro, taught a new course, “Tech Policy and Culture in the Developing World: Living on the Edge.”

Among our new full-time faculty members, Rodrigo Soares, a Brazilian economist, joined us as the inaugural Lemann Professor of Brazilian Public Policy; and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a specialist in U.S. political economy and the politics of organized interests, joined us as assistant professor of international and public affairs.

Capstones and Courses

SIPA’s capstone program is the largest and most diverse of any public policy school. This year SIPA students participated in 63 capstone and 18 EPD workshops, working with institutions in the public, private and non-profit sectors in more than 38 countries.  The projects ranged from cybersecurity and ICT for development to sustainable finance and refugee workforce integration. (You may view a full list here.)

I invite you to watch two brief videos about capstone projects this year that addressed issues of social conflict and the mining industry in Peru, and a new digital medical “library” in the Dominican Republic. (They can be found here.)

The SIPA curriculum also covers a wide range of critical public policy issues as well as many other important fields. In 2016-17, we added 45 courses in areas such as environmental finance, the Panama papers, gender armed conflict, forced migration, macro-prudential policy, China and India, and tech, policy and culture in the developing world. A full list with descriptions is available on the SIPA website.

Student Teaching Award

Each year our students and faculty receive numerous awards for their achievements. One University award that bears mention is the one given to PhD student Jason Chun Yu Wong who was a recipient of the 2017 Presidential Award for Graduate Students. This is a highly selective award given to only three graduate students each year from across the University who demonstrate a commitment to excellent and innovative teaching, as recognized by the Columbia community.  Please join me in congratulating him.

A Convening Hub for Leaders

As is the case every year at SIPA, we welcomed literally hundreds of high-profile speakers and leaders to campus to share their views and interact with students and faculty. This year featured a particularly diverse and accomplished roster. A few highlights by month:

  • On September 21st SIPA hosted the first-ever “Transatlantic Citizens Dialogue” featuring Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, speaking about Tax Avoidance and Privacy in the Digital Age.  A live audience in Milan, Italy was connected to SIPA via a video link.
  • On October 26th, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon delivered the Gabriel Silver Memorial Lecture on “Turmoil, Transition, and Opportunity: The United Nations in a Changing World.”
  • On November 15th, George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer for the United Kingdom, spoke on “Brexit, the U.S. Elections, and the Global Economy.”
  • On December 5th, Emmanuel Macron, the recently elected President of France, shared his thoughts on “Re-forging Transatlantic Bonds.”
  • Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia, delivered a keynote address and participated in a panel discussion on March 2nd with SIPA and Columbia faculty on the subject, “Russia and Cyber – The Way Forward.”
  • On April 17th, Stanley Fischer, Federal Reserve Vice Chair, delivered the inaugural lecture on central banking, and on April 24th Urjit Patel, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, delivered the 3rd Kotak Family Lecture on India’s economy.
  • On May 5th Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet, Inc. headlined the 2017 Global Digital Futures Forum, an annual conference with more than 25 expert speakers organized by SIPA’s Tech and Policy Initiative, with a focus this year on digital technology, fragmentation of the internet, and globalization.

SIPA Center Activities

Our SIPA Centers continued to undertake cutting edge research and host major events in areas such as global energy policy, global economic governance, economic development, war and peace studies, and the Indian economy.

Some noteworthy activities include the Center on Global Energy Policy’s annual Columbia Global Energy Summit, which took place on April 13th, and the Center for Development Economics and Policy’s Clyde Wu Visiting Fellows Program. On October 13th the Saltzman Institute convened the National Security Scholars Conference featuring Deborah Lee James, U.S. Secretary of the Air Force and SIPA alumna (MIA ’81).  The Center on Global Economic Governance hosted major conferences in Brazil and China as part of its “Strategies for Growth: The Changing Role of the State” initiative.  And the Deepak and Neera Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies sponsored a one-day conference on Trade Issues Today on October 3rd, 2016.

Explore the Center websites for even more programming as the new academic year begins.

SIPA’s 70th Anniversary

Many of you participated in our 70th anniversary events and activities throughout the year. It ended with a 70th Celebration Weekend from March 30th to April 2nd, during which we had the largest gathering of SIPA alumni in the School’s history, a terrific all-day SIPA Forum on substantive policy issues, and the Global Leadership Awards Gala – attended by more than 700 guests.

Below are a few links to the weekend’s activities:

The 70th anniversary fundraising efforts helped us achieve an important outcome by generating $1.2 million in new student financial aid and creating 80 new student fellowships.

New Books by SIPA Authors – Great Summer Reading!

Lastly, SIPA faculty published a number of new books this year. These include Guillermo Calvo’s Macroeconomics in Times of Liquidity Crises (2016, MIT Press); Daniel Corstange’s The Price of a Vote in the Middle East (2016, Cambridge University Press); Robert Jervis’ How Statesmen Think: The Psychology of International Politics (2017, Princeton University Press); and Sara Tjossem’s Fostering Internationalism through Marine Science (2017, Springer).