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May 16, 2013

Mukhopadhyay, Urquiola Are Teachers of the Year

Professors Dipali Mukhopadhyay and Miguel Urquiola are the recipients of the 2013 Outstanding Teaching Awards. Honorees are chosen by a vote of SIPA students, who recognize one instructor of a large course and one instructor of a small course each year.

“Effective teaching is essential to our mission of training public-policy practitioners and leaders,” said interim dean Robert Lieberman. “We’re fortunate to have many great instructors among our SIPA faculty, and it’s a pleasure to recognize some of the very best each year.”

Miguel Urquiola, who was honored for his work in a large course, teaches multiple sections of Economic Development for International Affairs, a required course for students in the Economic and Political Development concentration. The key objective of the course, he writes, is to give students a framework to think about the processes that drive economic development and the policies that might promote it.

He is an economist by training and scholar of education policy in the developing world and especially Latin America. His studies of educational markets focus on the effects of school choice on stratification and school quality. Urquiola joined the Columbia faculty in 2003 and became an associate professor in 2009. He is currently finishing a one-year term as vice dean for academic affairs.

“Professor Urquiola was without any doubt the best teacher I've had at SIPA,” wrote Itay Gefen MIA ’14. “He is able to explain incredibly complex concepts in a very simple way,” wrote Elyse Klein, MIA ’13. [See additional comments below.]

Dipali Mukhopadyay, teacher of the year for a small course, was singled out for State Formation, Violence, and Intervention in the Modern World. This seminar in the International Security Policy concentration used a case study on Afghanistan to introduce students to several generations of literature on state formation and its relationship to violence and foreign intervention.

Mukhopadhyay, an assistant professor who studies modern state formation in conflict and post-conflict settings, is completing her first year on the SIPA faculty. She received her doctorate from Tufts University's Fletcher School in the fall of 2010 and spent 2011 as a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University.

Her research focuses on the challenges that weak political centers face as they attempt to grow their authority in the midst of formidable competitors. In spring 2013, Mukhopadhyay taught two additional ISP courses: Law and Politics of Conflict Management and Intervention and Unconventional Warriors.

Professor Mukhopadhyay “is a fantastic professor,” wrote Cathryn Weber MIA ’14. “She doesn't teach from a detached academic perspective, she engages us as though we are competent practitioners,” wrote Dana Watters MIA ’14. [See additional comments below.]

The awards have been given every year since 2003. Current faculty members who were previously honored as teachers of the year are Scott Barrett, Alan Brott, Andrea Bubula, Steven Cohen, Ester Fuchs, Emanuele Gerratana, Geoffrey Jehle, Elisabeth Lindenmayer, Jorge Mariscal, Cristian Pop-Eleches, Lucius Riccio, Francisco Rivera-Batiz, Michael Ting , Paola Valenti, Eric Verhoogen, and Bruce Wolfson.

Praise for Dipali Mukhopadhyay

Professor Mukhopadhyay's class on Politics and Law of Conflict Intervention was the best I have taken at SIPA in my first year. I really enjoyed how she motivates her students to be creative and critical, to think beyond categories and not to be afraid of mixing different disciplines. Prof. Mukhopadhyay teaches with great passion and patience, and her experience in policy making and fieldwork really enrich the classroom discussions by making many of the theoretical dilemmas much more tangible. Prof. Mukhopadhyay's attitude towards her students is sincere, and she is very accessible to any questions or concerns, whether on the week's readings or future career aspirations. On a personal level, Prof. Mukhopadhyay is an inspiration to every young woman pursuing a career in international security policy. — Miriam Bensky MIA ’14

More than any class I've had, there was a focus on practical application… She doesn't teach from a detached academic perspective, she engages us as though we are competent practitioners. — Dana Watters MIA ’14

She is a fantastic professor. Her lessons force you to see every nuance of a situation. She challenges her students, but she is also very understanding. She wants her students to succeed. I took two classes with her and I am planning on taking a third. — Cathryn Weber MIA ’14

Praise for Miguel Urquiola

Professor Urquiola was without any doubt the best teacher I've had at SIPA. He was inspiring and a real academic role model for me. The best part about his course is that it perfectly combines interesting theories with practical skills to use at any work, in the development field and beyond. He has a fascinating professional experience which he shared with us often, making us want to get to the field and conduct research on our own. — Itay Gefen MIA ’14

He is able to explain incredibly complex concepts in a very simple way. He makes you feel like anyone can master economics…. a wonderful teacher.— Elyse Klein MIA ’13

I am not sure if anything I could say would ever do justice to what a wonderful instructor Miguel is and how much he deserves this award…. [He] has the most uncanny knack for leveling the playing field and making complicated material accessible to everyone without making it boring. His passion for it is infectious. What's more, he genuinely cares about his students — he has helped me with everything from SIPA administrative issues to my job search, and has always been fully responsive and supportive. He is honestly my favorite professor I've ever had, and SIPA is lucky to have him. — Shannon Malone MIA ’13


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