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Workshop in Development Practice

What is the Workshop in Development Practice?

The Workshop in Development Practice is one of most exciting opportunities within the EPD concentration, and is also open to a limited number of students in other concentrations in the Master of International Affairs and Master 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 engaging in cutting-edge development efforts, usually involving country fieldwork. Working in teams with a faculty supervisor, students assist a variety of clients on a wide array of assignments in international development.

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. In recent years, the workshop has had the pleasure of partnering with other concentrations and specializations at SIPA, with the Earth Institute and its Center for Sustainable Urban Development, and with the Mailman School of Public Health, the Harriman Institute, the Institute for Latin American Studies and the Middle East Institute at Columbia.

Based on their research and analysis, workshop teams produce final reports containing actionable recommendations, and they make final presentations to their clients and the SIPA community toward the end of the school year. Reflecting the utility of the workshop projects, a number of clients have posted the final reports on their websites, and several clients return each year to work with another team.

Past workshop projects have included:

  • Developing a text messaging system to improve surveillance of children's nutrition levels
  • Recommendations for microfinance institutions to expand the products and related services they offer to poor clients
  • Marketing strategies for products of local artisans and small producers
  • Toolkit for planning water and sanitation delivery in refugee camps
  • Designing a monitoring system for a grassroots organization providing paralegal services in poor rural communities
  • Mapping vocational training programs for internally displaced youth in a post-conflict area
  • Developing a food security assessment tool for a rural development NGO
  • Developing a business plan for a bamboo bike venture
  • Assessing business services needed by African immigrant women in New York 

Past clients have included:

UNDP, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, UNICEF and UN Women; USAID; the World Bank; national and local governments; NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services, FilmAid International, Instituto Palmas, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, International Institute for Rural Reconstruction, International Rescue Committee, Seva Mandir, Trickle Up, WaterAid, and Women’s Refugee Commission; development advisors such as DAI and Technoserve; and several start-up social enterprises. The precise scope of each workshop project and the expected deliverables are negotiated with each client in advance.

Additional information about the EPD Workshop:

Workshop Projects by Year            Workshop Projects By Client

2016 - 2017
2015 – 2016                                                                    Workshop projects by client
2014 – 2015
2013 – 2014
2012 – 2013
2011 – 2012
2010 – 2011
2009 – 2010
2008 – 2009
2007 – 2008
2006 – 2007
2005 – 2006
2004 – 2005