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Launch of the Center on Global Economic Governance

On Thursday, April 26, 2012, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs launched its new Center on Global Economic Governance (CGEG). The event featured a keynote address by Alan Krueger, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, followed by a panel discussion on the European crisis. 

Columbia University Provost John H. Coatsworth opened the launch of CGEG, an idea which was born under his tenure as Dean of SIPA in 2008. 

"The global economic crisis made us all painfully aware of the need to understand global economic policy," he said. 

 The Director of the new center, SIPA Professor Jan Svejnar explained CGEG’s mission:

"We envision CGEG producing a new wave of policy recommendations on global economic issues, stressing excellence and impact," he said.

Svejnar then introduced his former student, Alan Krueger, and his keynote address, “Reversing the Middle-Class Jobs Deficit.” Krueger outlined President’s Obama’s plans and economic policies to revive the middle class.

"The middle class jobs deficit is both cyclical and structural," he said. "Reversing the middle class jobs deficit requires playing both good defense and good offense. Both are necessary.

Defense means that we as a nation want to hold on to and promote as many good jobs as possible. Offense means we want to provide opportunity for new companies and training for workers to meet the demands of the modern workforce.”

Watch Krueger’s full address above, or read more about the speech on:

After Krueger’s remarks, SIPA Interim Dean Robert Lieberman introduced the panel, "Will Europe Derail the World Economy?" as the first of many such global economic policy conservations stemming out of CGEG.

"This is the kind of discussion which we think can only happen at a place like Columbia and SIPA," Lieberman said.

"There’s no such thing as national or local public policy anymore. The challenges that the United States faces are deeply interconnected with things that happen elsewhere in the world. It’s to that new kind of challenge to which SIPA and our new Center for Global Economic Governance are devoted."

Watch the panel discussion above, moderated by Kathleen Hays of Bloomberg Radio and featuring SIPA Professors Guillermo Calvo, Merit E. Janow, Sharyn O’Halloran, Jeffrey Sachs and Svejanar

This event was also live-tweeted. For highlights and notable quotes from both Krueger’s speech and the panel, click here:

- Michelle Chahine

In a best possible scenario, in an ideal world, we would have science to help inform global policy questions - instead of just throwing darts on the board.

Geoffrey Johnston, PhD candidate in SIPA’s Sustainable Development program.

Geoffrey Johnston’s research focus is malaria, especially malaria drug resistance.

"There is only one drug now, and people are worried the parasite will become resistant," explained Johnston.

The World Bank and the Global Fund give subsidies to provide drugs at a low cost. But that creates a dilemma, which lies at the heart of Johnston’s research.

"If you provide drugs for cheap, resistance will spread. If you don’t, people can’t afford it, and people will die," he said.

"Public policy issues are the balance: how much should the subsidies be? What is the right level?"

To help answer these questions, Johnston is trying to understand the biology of the parasite and its transmission, working closely with lab biologist David Fidock from Columbia’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology and epidemiologist David Smith from Johns Hopkins University. He has published a paper with each scientist:

"There is a push right now for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work," he noted. "What’s common is that, in a team, you’ll have people with different skills to bring to the table."

Professors Scott Barrett and Jeffrey Sachs sit on Johnston’s thesis committee, so he receives regular feedback based on their on-the-ground experience.

Johnston hopes his research, along with that of his peers in the PhD program, will make a difference and inform policy makers.

When it comes to policy surrounding malaria, he elaborates on a decision by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that eradication of malaria is the goal of its global health program:

"If we eradicate malaria, it will be like landing on the moon.

We’ve only eradicated polio, and we had a very efficacious vaccine then. We don’t have a vaccine for malaria. We have one drug - and a spray and bed nets.

People are asking us, with those tools, how far can we go?

It becomes a question of how much you want to spend. Are we diverting too much to just one of the maladies in the developing world? Are malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS taking up too much of the pie in international aid funding…? Should we fund capacity building instead?”

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before the right policies are created, according to Johnston. That’s where he hopes the science behind global development issues will come in to play.

That’s essentially what the program tries to do: take an analytical approach to policy issues and get the best scientific background and research on the topic, bringing a scientific skill set to a problem of global import.”

Instead of just throwing darts on the board.

- Michelle Chahine

SIPA Alumna Leads New Columbia Global Center in Turkey

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and SIPA Dean John H. Coatsworth visited Istanbul, Turkey in November to launch the sixth Columbia Global Center there. SIPA alumna Ipek Cem Taha (MIA ’93), a Turkish journalist and businesswoman, was appointed interim director.

- Ipek Cem Taha with President Lee C. Bollinger in Istanbul.

Ipek has hosted “Global Leaders,” a one-on-one interview show on Turkey’s leading television news channel, since 2005. Some of the leaders she has interviewed include Kofi Annan, Madeleine Albright, Shimon Peres, George Papandreou, Hamid Karzai, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz and Bill Ford, among others.

She is also the co-founder of two companies (Melak Investments, a firm that provides advice to funds and companies looking to invest in Turkey, and Netwise/IKC Communications, a consultancy and software company that focuses on communications and Internet services) and is a founding member of several NGOs, including KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association).

In an interview with SIPA’ s Michelle Chahine (MIA ‘12), Ipek discusses her country, her new role and her eclectic career.

What are your thoughts about Columbia’s new Global Center in Istanbul? Is this symbolic of Turkey’s rise in prominence on the regional and even international scene?

Turkey has always been a unique actor in the international scene. The Ottoman Empire, which was a multi-cultural and multi-religious entity, has impacted Europe and the Middle East for many centuries.  Modern Turkey, born in 1923, while a relatively young state, has always been a significant player in our region and internationally. 

It is true that with markets globalizing, we have had much more investment flows coming into Turkey, while at the same time we have built a strong economy and strong banking system over the years. If you look at this decade, yes, Turkey is more in the limelight because of its own success, as well as the uncertainty and hope for transformation in some Middle Eastern countries.  

Also with relation to Europe, Turkey as you know, was declared a candidate for full E.U.  accession in 1999, but the process is stalled due to the unwillingness to accept us politically, culturally and economically. At the same time, we are also part of that culture. 

In the meantime, Europe, as an economic and political power, has been crumbling.  So we are in an era where labels are losing their significance.  We are in an era of ‘rethinking labels’. Similarly, the fact that Turkey refuses to be ‘categorized’ as ‘East’ or ‘West’, but is rather a combination of traditions, values and modern realities, makes us an interesting place to be and watch. 

What is your role with the Center? What are your upcoming plans for the work that will stem from it?

My role is to generate ideas, and strategically develop the programs, which would strengthen Columbia University’s presence in Turkey.  We work alongside the University to make sure that our students and professors have a role to play and are in a position to learn from Turkey and its geopolitical hinterland. 

We are in the planning stages, but already interesting programs in areas of freedom of the press, trauma rehabilitation, and innovation and entrepreneurship are underway.  We plan for the Center to become an integral part of the academic and research community here, and contribute to both local and international issues which are of significance to our world.

I think it will also be important for the various Centers to learn from each other.  This will also be quite exciting for us, and it is already the case that there are multi-center programs.

How, and why, did you make the move from business to media to your work in non-profits, and now the Global Center? 

Actually, I have always been in the non-profits sector, devoting my spare time to many boards locally and internationally, such as causes related to entrepreneurship, competitiveness, women, the Mediterranean region and the environment. In addition, I have been linked to Columbia over the past four years, having participated in the Presidential International Advisory Board, and keeping in close touch with the University ever since. I look at it as a natural flow and feel that my experience in diverse fields greatly helps my work with Columbia.

I think today women and men have more diverse career paths than before.  There is no right or wrong, but a different path for everyone.

During your career, what do you feel you brought from SIPA? And what advice can you offer current students?

SIPA gave me a sense of a truly international community, from students to professors to the way we looked at many complex topics. I would say that it was the first time I understood and felt the meaning of being a part of an international community.  It’s important to understand this nowadays as we struggle to keep ahead of difficult economic and political times globally.  We are truly in one boat. The quicker we understand that, the faster we can find lasting solutions.

-Michelle Chahine

Female Immigrant Entrepreneurs: A Global Phenomenon

Entrepreneurs will always face challenges as they start and develop their own businesses. Immigrant entrepreneurs, navigating their new countries, surely face a whole new set of challenges. What about female and immigrant entrepreneurs?

This is the subject of Professor Paul Thurman's new book, Female Immigrant Entrepreneurs: The Economic and Social Impact of a Global Phenomenon, which he co-edited and co-authored with an international team of professors and scholars. 

"We wanted to look where no one else had looked, a micro piece," said Professor Thurman. "In addition, unlike general entrepreneurship literature, we wanted to look at the cause instead of the effect."

According to Professor Thurman, the idea for the book began when Daphne Halkias, a Greek businesswoman herself, started to notice certain trends in Greece. He was, at the time, collaborating with researchers there, and joined the project.

At first I was largely the data analyst looking on her data. As we started to do more of this, I started to look into this in the New York area… I would go to Greece and teach 2-3 times a year. I told her what’s interesting is I’m seeing some things that are in parallel and some that are not between New York and Greece. We should compare. 

The project grew from Greece and New York to a truly global network of research associates (including a few SIPA students) who conducted field surveys, gathered data and built a database. Scholars and authors from all around the world then wrote various pieces about different countries. This global research team has a new book coming out soon on father-daughter secession. In addition, the team has a third book coming out in spring 2011 about entrepreneurship, sustainability and the link between entrepreneurship and the alleviation of poverty.

Is the books’ international approach, both in their coverage and in their execution, a new trend moving forward?

"We certainly hope so," said Professor Thurman. "We’ve got almost as many universities represented in this as countries."

"A lot of research on entrepreneurship has been done on the structure of these businesses. What has been missing, we think, is that a lot of these business questions now have international answers."

-Michelle Chahine

The Rise of BRIC: Impact on Global Policymaking

SIPA’s inaugural BRICLab Conference was held on December 2 at Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library, co-sponsored by Forum das Americas and HSBC.

The co-directors of the BRICLab, Christian Deseglise and Marcos Troyjo, introduced the new initiative, which aims to focus on the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India, and China - and their impact on the global scene.

"November 30 was the 10-year anniversary of the BRIC concept,” said Deseglise. “The BRICs are very different countries. It is very difficult to compare them… The concept of BRIC is hard to define, but the intuition that they are in a league of their own and have the potential to impact the world is still there. The next 50 years will be shaped by what BRIC countries want for themselves and their elite; what BRIC countries want for and from the world.”

The first session of the conference was moderated by James Crombie, editor of Bloomberg Brief, and include the Vice President of Brazil Michel Temer.

"We need this BRICLab,” said Temer. “Are we going to head to a legal, institutional and juridical nature of BRIC like in Europe? To break customs, borders. I do believe that defining what BRIC is, is fundamental. We need to take into account these countries… I hope we can in this discussion come to a conclusion that begins to suggest the nature of BRIC.

The second panel discussion was moderated by CNN International anchor Luis Velez, and included remarks from Stefan Wagstyl, emerging markets editor at the Financial Times. During the Q-and-A, Wagstyl addressed to possibility of the BRICs working together as a unit, but said conflict is inevitable.

"China is the biggest opponent of a permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council," he said. "The BRICs couldn’t agree on a candidate for IMF director and lost an opportunity to demonstrate their influence."

The final session of the conference focused on the changing power and business dynamics brought on by the rise of the “B” in BRIC - Brazil. It featured remarks by Sergio Cabral Filho, Governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

We just elected the first woman president, and I see a brilliant future for Brazil. All regions of Brazil are undergoing development. There is not doubt that the BRICLab will have a lot to debate and study.”

SIPA Dean John Coatsworth delivered the closing remarks. In an editorial featured in a Special Edition of VOTO magazine about the BRICLab, Dean Coatsworth wrote: 

The BRICLab will promote SIPA and Columbia University as a destination for current and future BRIC leaders to discuss topics important to their nations’ development… The BRICLab will inititally offer a 14-week graduate course and guest speakers, programs through SIPA’s Picker Center for Executive Education, and an annual conference for policymakers, business and academic leaders, and students.

This event was live-tweeted @ColumbiaSIPA. For more quotes and description, click here for an archive of tweets from the event.

-Michelle Chahine

How do you become a better leader? How do you lead?

Professor Elisabeth Lindenmayer addressing the audience at the close of SIPA United Nations Studies Program’s event “Every Woman Every Child" on Tuesday, October 25th. 

It is rare that the audience of such events is put on the spot. Usually, students and professors who attend panel discussions ask speakers the tough questions. 

However, Professor Lindenmayer ended the two-hour event with this question to the audience, after five panelists representing the United Nations, the private sector, civil society and government, discussed their group’s involvment in acheiving MDGs 4 and 5 (achieving high standards of maternal and child health). As time runs out before the 2015 deadline, all panelists agreed that strong leadership is what will bring about the success of achieving these goals. 

From left to right: Robert C. Orr from the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General, Ian Pett from UNICEF, Professor Elisabeth Lindenmayer, Scott P. Ratzan from Johnson & Johnson, Janna Oberdorf from Women Deliver and Janet Z. Karim from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Malawi to the United Nations.

For more on what the panelists said and discussed, please click here. This event was live-tweeted at #UNSP

- Michelle Chahine