Archive for Fall2016 – Page 2

Facebook Live Friday Series

I just wanted to take a moment to remind you of a new online resource available to all prospective students and applicants. We’re trying something new this year, dubbed Facebook Live Friday, where I’LL chat with a member of the SIPA community to discuss the facets of the program, student life, and beyond.

Here’s a list of past and upcoming information sessions I’m hosting this year. Make sure you RSVP so you’ll get a reminder about the events.

To come back to the schedule, just look at the right-hand side of the admissions blog, which links you to the Recruitment Calendar, where we list all of the upcoming sessions.

MDP Professor Glenn Denning discusses gene editing, food

SIPA Professor Glenn Denning was featured on Popular Science’s website in, “GENE EDITING SHIFTS FOOD POSSIBILITIES FORWARD”. Here’s the beginning of the piece, and make sure you take a look at the rest of the article, too!

The aisles of your corner grocery may look mundane. But as you walk past the stacks of cherries and blueberries, the ears of corn and bottles of white wine, consider that you are witnessing a race against time.

Every day, our planet grows a little hotter and a little more crowded. Every day, we need to grow more food in the face of more hostile conditions. Every day, scientists are racing to develop tougher crops that can withstand growing heat, drought and ferocious storms to feed a growing population.

“Our existing varieties of crops, our existing seeds, are not necessarily well-adapted to the new environment,” said Glenn Denning, a professor of development policy at Columbia University. “We have to look elsewhere.”

The race never stops. It plays out year after year, in our laboratories, on our farms and along the aisles of our supermarkets. We have managed to stay one step ahead largely due to human ingenuity.

The quest for a more perfect crop is about to take a quantum leap. Scientists have developed a breakthrough technology that will allow us to develop new crops built for a harsher climate.

It’s called gene editing and it could prove vital to our survival in a warmer world.


SIPA Alumna pens open letter to her students

SIPA alumna Zaina Arafat, MIA ’09, shares an op-ed on, “What I Should Have Said to My Students as Their Muslim American Teacher.” Here are the first two paragraphs:

You don’t look Muslim. You hardly even look Arab. You pass for nearly everything and anything else. People ask if you’re Italian or Spanish or Greek. Israeli. Sometimes Mexican, occasionally Argentine.

For four years, you taught a class in the Midwest, in a swing state. You loved and respected your students, and they loved and respected you—they worked hard for you and for one another, they valued your feedback, they hugged you before Thanksgiving and Christmas, they came to you after breakups and family deaths and roommate quarrels. On the third to last class each semester—far enough in so they couldn’t drop, but still two classes away from course evaluations—you’d tell them that you’re Muslim. Many of them were surprised. You don’t look Muslim. What does a Muslim look like? you’d ask. They weren’t exactly sure, they’d say, but not like you. They’d admit that when they first saw your name in the course directory, they weren’t sure what to expect. They thought you’d have an indecipherable accent (they imply that they’re happy you don’t). They thought you’d be wearing a headscarf. You’d smile, you’d laugh a little. You wouldn’t mention that while you may not look like a Muslim, you are one. You carry your Qur’an from city to city, for years you fasted during Ramadan, you love your religion, you’re heartbroken over the way its been hijacked by extremists. You travel to predominately Muslim countries once or twice a year to see your family. You wouldn’t mention these things. Instead you’d ask if they had ever met another Muslim. We had one in our town, an earnest, young, male student offered.

Read the rest of Arafat’s powerful letter on

[Photo by Hernán Piñera/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

Learn more about MPA-DP on Facebook Live

Today I hosted a special Facebook Live session with MPA in Development Practice Director Glenn Denning. Professor Denning teaches the “Global Food Systems,” a required DP course, and has been with DP since its inception in 2009.

For those of you who have been following me on the blog and social media, you know this isn’t the first time the Admissions Office has used Facebook Live, but we’re still testing out the waters. Glenn was kind enough to test out the platform with me so we can give applicants like you the opportunity to connect with us on another platform.

MPA-DP has the same deadlines as the MIA and MPA programs, but it’s essay prompts and characteristics of the students are a little bit different. To learn what I mean by that make sure you watch the recording of the session below (or click here). If you have any questions about the program, feel free to email the program directly at As always, send admissions questions my way to

Oh, and if you’d like to get reminders about future sessions, check out the Recruitment Calendar. (I’ve got lots of great stuff in the pipeline!)


Student Reflection on the U.S. Elections

We have received some concerned questions from prospective students about last week’s U.S. election results and what a Trump presidency means for students applying to SIPA. As a school of public and international affairs, SIPA has always been a place where students of different backgrounds can come together to peacefully and respectfully discuss their political views and challenge each other to expand their worldviews. We want to reassure everyone that SIPA will continue to encourage students to be open with each other and to advocate for what they believe in while respecting all members of our community.

As a current student, it is clear to me that SIPA strives to be a supportive community for all of its students. In the days since the election there have been several discussions and forums set up for students to express their reactions to the election results, and a tremendous out pour of support from SIPA faculty and peers. Professors have been available to share their views and reflect on what the election means for the SIPA community, and students have gathered together to strategize for the coming years. The election results may have come as a shock to many, but that hasn’t gotten SIPA students down. This gives us the opportunity to use what we have learned here at SIPA and to unite together. I came to SIPA to advance my career in human rights advocacy, and this election cycle has only strengthened my resolve to achieve that goal.

Whether you are upset or happy with the results of the election, and in the wake of political events the world over, it is time for everyone to take a long hard look at what the political system has become and how we can make it better. SIPA is the place for you to do that. The coursework, along with the opportunities to interact with experts in their respective fields and peers from around the world, will give you the knowledge and tools to overcome the challenges our world faces today. It is our responsibility to challenge what we see as unjust and to advocate on the behalf of others that are unable to do so themselves. SIPA will be just one stepping stone towards the positive change we all want for ourselves and the world.

[Photo courtesy of Alejandra Rivera Flavia | New Yorkers posted Post-Its on subway walls to express their feelings about the election results.]

"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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