Capstone Workshops Overview
The Columbia SIPA workshops apply the practical skills and analytical knowledge learned at SIPA to a real-world issue. The workshops partner a team of graduate students, led by an expert faculty advisor, with an external organization to analyze real policy issues and recommend actions for client organizations.
SIPA offers three different workshops within their Master of International Affairs (MIA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science Policy (ESP) degree programs:
- Capstone Workshop
- Workshop in Development Practice (EPD Workshop)
- Workshops in Applied Earth Systems Management and in applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis (ESP Workshop)
Please note that these workshops are core requirement for the core MIA/MPA and MPA-ESP degree programs.The students in the Program in Economic Policy Management (PEPM), the Executive Masters of Public Administration (EMPA), and the Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice (MPA-DP) degree programs are not required to take these workshops.
Serving as a culminating educational experience for the Masters of International Affairs and Masters of Public Administration degree programs, students in all of concentrations, except for the Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentration, complete a Capstone workshop in their second year. Students are organized into small consulting teams and assigned a substantive, policy-oriented project with an external client. Clients include public agencies (from the local to national level), international NGOs and multi-national organizations, and major firms in the private sector—recent examples include Booz Allen Hamilton, Broadway Housing Communities, Crédit Suisse, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Human Rights Watch, Citi, New York City Mayor’s Office, the U.S. Department of State and the World Bank. Student teams, working under the supervision of a faculty expert, answer a carefully defined problem posed by the client. Each team produces an actionable report and an oral briefing of their findings at the close of the workshop that is designed to translate into real change on the ground.
For more information about the Capstone program:
The Workshop in Development Practice is one of most exciting opportunities for students in the Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentration (and a limited number of students in other concentrations) in the Masters of International Affairs and Masters of Public Administration degree programs. Officially, it is a spring-semester course for second-year students, but workshop activities begin in the fall semester through the course on Methods for Development Practice. Through the workshop, students gain practical experience while assisting a diverse range of clients on a variety of assignments related to international development, usually involving in-country fieldwork over SIPA’s winter or spring breaks. Working in teams with a faculty supervisor, students take a multidisciplinary approach to their work and learn extensively from each other as well as from the hands-on tasks of the workshop itself. Another key strength of the workshop is that it allows students to explore the intersection of development concerns with human rights, corporate social responsibility, humanitarian affairs, conflict resolution, education, public health, gender, environmental policy, entrepreneurship and private sector development, and traditional and new media,. Recent workshop clients have included UNDP, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, UNICEF and UN Women; USAID; the World Bank; several national and local governments; development advisors such as DAI and TechnoServe; NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services, IFES, International Rescue Committee, Transparency International and WaterAid; and several start-up social enterprises. Teams produce actionable final reports and make final presentations to their clients at the end of the workshop, and several clients return each year to work with another team.
Eugenia McGill | EPD Workshop Director
Ilona Vinklerova | EPD Concentration Manager
As part of the Masters of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy, the Workshops in Applied Earth Systems Management and in applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis are a key part of the curriculum in the Environmental Science and Policy program. The purpose of the workshops is to teach students how to integrate knowledge and organize an effort to solve an environmental policy problem. Students enroll in the workshop while completing the program’s Core Curriculum, and they are expected to integrate and apply the knowledge they have acquired of natural science, social science, policy studies, and management to policy problem-solving. In all three semesters, students work in groups under the supervision of a faculty member.
Sarah Tweedie | MPA-ESP Assistant Director
SIPA's signature Capstone Workshops give students the opportunity to apply the practical skills and analytical knowledge learned at SIPA to a real-world issue for client organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Students from the Master of International Affairs and Master of Public Administration degree programs, working under the guidance of an expert faculty advisor, are organized into small consulting teams (generally about six students per team) across more than 80 projects each year.
The Capstone Workshops highlighted in these videos are just two examples of the compelling work that students do.
For more information about Capstone Workshops, please contact Suzanne Hollmann, Director of the Capstone Program, at 212-854-6279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.