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2016 Leaders in Higher Education

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Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

Educating Future Policy Leaders

A school that prepares and supports the next generation of world leaders needs not only a broad-ranging curriculum, but also a seasoned leader with broad experience. Merit E. Janow, dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), has served in a variety of roles in the private and public sectors—representing the U.S. in trade negotiations with Japan and China, working on cross-border enforcement and policy issues at the U.S. Department of Justice, and adjudicating international trade disputes as one of seven members of the World Trade Organization Appellate Body.

“I am convinced that the solutions to policy challenges today and into the future will require international and interdisciplinary perspectives, as well as collaboration between the public and private sectors,” says Janow. “We are a global policy school that attracts half of our students from outside the United States. We believe a global perspective is essential to training both U.S. and international students to be effective leaders and problem solvers.”

“I am convinced that the solutions to policy challenges today and into the future will require international and interdisciplinary perspectives, as well as collaboration between the public and private sectors.” –Merit E. Janow, Dean, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

SIPA places a strong emphasis on rigorous academic analysis and learning in combination with practical skills and applied knowledge. The curriculum culminates in required capstone workshops in which small teams of students address a wide spectrum of issues for clients that range from multilateral financial institutions to city governments and NGOs around the world.

SIPA faculty members are recognized internationally for their research on current global issues such as the impacts of climate change, cybersecurity threats, the geopolitics of energy markets, and the challenges facing the global financial system. Students benefit from the school’s unique blend of scholars and practitioners, which produces an innovative curriculum across core fields, from finance in emerging markets to conflict resolution. And Columbia SIPA’s dynamic hometown of New York City provides unparalleled access to thought leaders and to top-tier employment opportunities in the private, public, and NGO sectors.

“SIPA is the interdisciplinary hub of global-policy teaching, research, and engagement at Columbia,” says Janow. “We regularly work across disciplines and schools—including the law, business, and engineering schools—to engage an extremely vibrant community of students, scholars, and practitioners.”

One of Janow’s major initiatives as dean has been to extend the school’s focus on the ways in which technology is reshaping the political, economic, legal, social, and global public-policy landscape. In addition to launching new courses that explore these developments, SIPA has received grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to develop a multidisciplinary program of applied research on cybersecurity and Internet governance.

Other highlights in recent years include a challenge grant program that asks student teams to use Web-based tools and advanced data analytics to solve urban problems, and new or expanded programs in gender and public policy, humanitarian policy, and UN studies.

As SIPA celebrates its 70th anniversary with special events and programming through April 2017, the school’s commitment to its mission remains strong.

“We prepare students for careers of the coming century, in which they will move between countries and sectors,” says Janow.

Master’s Degrees offered: See Program Directory