The below email was sent from SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow on November 25, 2020:

Dear members of the SIPA Community,

As we approach the upcoming Thanksgiving break, I want to take a moment to wish all of you a restful period. Even in this global pandemic, I hope you are able to find ways to safely connect with family, friends, and loved ones, even if only online.

I also want to briefly update you on a few important matters related to campus safety, courses, and plans for Spring 2021.

Campus Safety and Travel 

I am grateful to our students, faculty, and staff who, under the challenging circumstances we all are experiencing as a result of the pandemic, have consistently prioritized the health and safety of the SIPA and Columbia community. We must not let our guard down. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in New York City and elsewhere, it is important that we continue to follow all University health and safety protocols and strictly adhere to the Columbia University Health Compact.

At this time, the University is strongly recommending against non-essential travel. If you must travel, Columbia’s Voluntary Testing Program has been expanded to cover travel-related testing (before you go and after you return). Please keep in mind that all travelers returning to New York are required to comply with state and local regulations, including observing State of New York quarantine requirements.

Study Spaces 

With exams quickly approaching and final papers due soon, I want to remind our students that we continue to offer enhanced study spaces in the International Affairs Building and Lehman Library. If weather conditions permit, tents will also remain available for individual studying and small group meetings (subject to the University’s updated guidance about group gatherings). We understand that the University may be installing heaters to make the tents more comfortable.

Additionally, international students may take advantage of the Columbia University Global Centers as well as Columbia-Designated WeWork sites. For more information, visit the University Initiative for International Students website.

Spring Classes 

As of this writing, while we are closely monitoring conditions in New York and on campus, we currently anticipate that SIPA will continue to offer in-person and hybrid classes after Thanksgiving break through the end of the Fall semester.

In his message last week, President Bollinger discussed the approach of the University to the coming spring semester. For our part, SIPA will continue to offer all courses online and some courses via hybrid and in-person instruction, subject, of course, to public health conditions and safety considerations.

Our Office of Academic Affairs will publish the Course Bulletin for Spring 2021 during the first week of December, which will indicate which courses will be offered via hybrid and in-person instruction.

Graduate Student Survey 

I am grateful to all students who took time to participate in the University’s recent Graduate Student Survey. The survey yielded important insights and learning from the fall semester. The majority of students who responded to the survey rated their overall experience as satisfactory or very satisfactory. Moreover, the survey also reaffirmed that while many elements of online and hybrid instruction are working well, there are also challenges and some areas need further refinement. We have taken this feedback to heart and are already integrating changes into our Spring 2021 teaching modalities and course guidance. Faculty continue to work to transform their courses for both online and in-person instruction to ensure that we will again offer a robust curriculum with excellent instruction.

Thank you, again, for all that you have done this semester to support each other and the SIPA community. My best wishes again for a restful Thanksgiving break. Please stay safe wherever you might be.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow

Dean, School of International and Public Affairs

Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs