All posts by Isaac Olson

Tosca Bruno Gives Advice on Working in International Relief & Development

Suhyeon Lee (MAIR candidate) interviewed Director of the Transnational NGO Initiative in the Moynihan Institute, Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken. Tosca continually  brings a wealth of international resources to the PAIA Department and has assisted  innumerable students.

Nice to meet you, Ms. Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken. Could you introduce yourself?

I am the director of the Transnational NGO (TNGO) Initiative. I engage both in academic work and do a lot of works with NGO practitioners. I have worked on international development and civil society issues for over 25 years. Some people call people like me a ‘pracademic’ and I call myself sometimes jokingly an ‘accidental pracademic’, which means a practitioner who accidently ended up in academia. I didn’t plan to end up in academia, but it happened by chance, and I started enjoying playing a bridge building role between the theory and research around transnational NGOs and the practice of the NGO practitioners who lead and manage these organizations.

Could you explain what you teach at Maxwell School?

I teach Global Governance and Civil Society and in addition to that, I advise a couple of MPA Workshop projects each year. Sometimes, I am an advisor for independent study projects. We also offer opportunities for students to volunteer in our research and practitioner work through the TNGO Initiative.

Can you tell me more about the Global Governance and Civil Society course?

Global Governance and Civil Society is a survey course on the role of civil society in how the world is governed.  It is neither a theoretical course nor a management course; it is somewhere in between. We focus on what civil society organizations do and what civil society as a concept stands for. And then we unpack a couple of different sectors: human rights, environment, and conflict resolution, and look at the functions NGOs play. We also look at a number of challenges facing organizations (governance, effectiveness, leadership, coordination, accountability, evaluation and assessment, capacity building issues, etc.).

How did you start your career?

These things, as I sometimes say to students here, are often a mixture of planning, pure coincidence, luck, and unplanned events. I started out working for a year in a small management consulting company in the Netherlands. It was internationally-oriented and focused on small business promotion in developing countries.  I was not happy with it, so I moved to a think-tank called the European Center for Development Policies Management (ECDPM). I worked there for four years as a program officer. We focused on governance issues in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. And then I wanted to get more field experience which is typically what most young international development practitioners need. I found an opportunity as a UN Volunteer for the UN peacekeeping operations under United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC).  I was in charge of the preparation for and holding of free and fair elections in one remote district. I also worked for the headquarters of the World Bank for two and a half years, and for four years I was at the World Bank in Hanoi, Vietnam. Those were my sixteen years of international development experience.

As you said, field experience is what most international development young practitioners really need. I also want to have field experience before graduating from Maxwell. Did you have memorable experiences while working in the field in Cambodia?

I think the most memorable experience was that during the year of preparing for the elections, both the Khmer Rouge and bandits engaged in attacks on some foreigners who were in Cambodia as part of the peace keeping operation. Within our large contingent of district electoral supervisors, one person was murdered and four were kidnapped in the last couple of months before elections when political tensions were high.  A significant number of Cambodians also died during this tense period. During the elections, when I changed my role from preparation for elections in my district to independent monitoring of polling stations, I found myself for the first time needing a bodyguard because of these political tensions and violence. This was a very new experience for me and it will stay with me since I came from a country (The Netherlands) where governance is not a matter of the power of the gun.

Tosca Bruno & Cambodian Translator

Tosca and former translator in Cambodia, Sokhany Prak, whom she worked with from 1992-1993. In 2014, Prak was able to attend the TNGO Leadership Institute. “Quite a wonderful and miraculous reunion.” according to Tosca.

What is the role of NGOs in the development sector in the 21st century?

There will likely always remain a role for TNGOs in humanitarian relief, although government, the private sector and national NGOs are stepping up their roles. And there will continue to be a contingent of small TNGOs that have a classical charity model. Generally speaking, most mid to large size TNGOs still play some roles in direct delivery of services, though this is generally declining, and nowadays often complemented by advocacy and capacity building. Some are evolving their role to that of being a broker and convener between government, the private sector and national NGOs; sometimes, their role evolves to that of knowledge provider. Western TNGOs increasingly work on strengthening their domestic legitimacy as well as playing a stronger role in domestic policy advocacy as well as service delivery work in the countries where they were founded. Because many NGOs by now have been set up by citizens in the countries where formerly primarily western NGOs used to work, these NGOs in the ‘Global South are now able to play the roles that Western or ‘Northern NGOs’ used to, with considerably lower cost models. There is thus more and more pressure on the northern NGOs to get out of the business of delivering services except for humanitarian relief which as I said will always be needed. Therefore, most analysts are foreseeing a big role change in the 21st century.

I’ve seen that you are on the board of InterAction. What is this organization?

InterAction is a membership organization of US international development and relief NGOs and thus plays the role of national platform here in the US. We, as the TNGO initiative, are an associate member, and I am on the board of InterAction as an independent ‘person of stature’.  The board position gives me a bird’s eye view of the sector, which is interesting from a research as well as a networking perspective.

What advice you want to give Maxwell students?

I think it is increasingly difficult to find a job in the international NGO sector. In terms of ‘Northern’ NGOs, it’s increasingly hard for American and other western students to find a job because there are more people with a high level of education in the international development sector than there are NGO jobs. In addition, donor levels in certain countries in the ‘North’ are decreasing while there is an increasing supply of students from ‘Global South and East’ countries who also come from good universities. To some extent it is therefore an increasingly crowded and very competitive market for finding a job. You should therefore definitely not put all your eggs in one or two baskets in terms of finding a job. Also, some students tend to come to Maxwell thinking that they want a job at the World Bank, where I used to work, or the UN, and I actually try to make them less single minded about that. Big organizations are not only extremely competitive to get into but also very bureaucratic. If you enter as a junior person, you may find the organization to be very internally oriented – a lot of navel gazing. You also may experience a lot of ‘paper pushing’.  It’s not necessarily that interesting to work in such a large, bureaucratic organization at a junior level. If you can work in a small or medium sized organization like an NGO, think rank, social enterprise or impact investor company, I would argue that this will offer you a better job experience with more hands-on work. Later on, you can then be considered for a mid-level job at one of these large organizations. Also, having field experience at the country level continues to be indispensable –without it you will not compete very well in the job market — but at the same time it is increasingly hard to come by.

Overall, something that I want to encourage you to do is to intern in development organizations or complete field work or volunteer experience. And then, do research about a sector you want to work in, look at what organizations and why you want to work for them, and then reach out to them for informational interviews. This will show that you really understand that organization well.

One more thing, keep your eyes on job opportunities in other cities other than Washington, DC and New York because the competition is harsh in these cities and not as many people would apply to jobs in other cities. Power is so distributed in the world that NYC and DC should not be the only choice.  Also, don’t just look at NGOs, government, and think tanks.  Look at social enterprises, which are corporations that are set up to make profits but invest that profit into social goods, impact investments, and digitally operating campaigns. There are various types of agencies in international development. Look at them in terms of looking for internships and looking for a job.

Tosca Bruno

Tosca listening at the June 2016 Leadership Institute.

A previous version of this article stated that Tosca was a “Professor of Practice”, which is inaccurate. This was an oversight on the part of the Editor.

Kimberly Hatcher Uses Award to Partake in DC Opportunities

Kimberly Hatcher is a graduate of the Public Diplomacy (PD) program, where students earn a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public relations from Syracuse Universities two most prestigious schools, the Newhouse School and the Maxwell School. All PD students are required to spend their final Spring Semester in Washington, DC.

My Global Programs Award funded three D.C.-centric endeavors: a research consultancy with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a fellowship in the State Department, and an unintentional internship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  At the conclusion of the Public Diplomacy degree program (M.A. International Relations, Maxwell School/M.S. Public Relations, Newhouse School of Public Communications), being able to study and work in D.C. for the final semester was not only a key factor in my SU enrollment decision, but additionally a vital maneuver in my career development.

Security clearances take (too much!) time, therefore much of my semester was spent attending South Asia events and networking with like-minded individuals at various think tanks and government institutions.  Through these interactions, I began my research consultancy with the South Asia department of CIPE, for which I am (still) slowly building an entrepreneurial ecosystem for the youth of Pakistan, currently comprising over 60% of their 200 million populace. However, as the conclusion of the semester loomed, and my internship requirement was yet to be fulfilled, I utilized the Maxwell-CSIS partnership to procure a part-time research position with the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies.

Just prior to the conclusion of my masters course of study, my clearance was approved and I began my fellowship at the Department of State. Originally a member of the India Desk, because of staffing shortages and my years of communications experience, I was transferred to the Press Office for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.  Currently I am the point for Central Asian press guidance, in addition to contributing to the Bureau’s social media, Indo-Pak, and Indian economic directions.  I am also press lead for this year’s U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, and am very fortunate to be able to say that I am doing exactly what I had hoped for upon entering Maxwell two years ago. Without the support of Maxwell’s Global Program Award, it would have been very difficult for me to pursue my career aspirations, and I am very grateful for every afforded opportunity.

Asma Jahangir, founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and Kimberly Hatcher

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Internationally Focused Projects for MPA Students, 2016 & 2015

While we mostly cover the exploits of MAIR students on this blog, many MPA students do international projects and go on to work in the global sphere. The MPA Workshop is the culminating course for MPA candidates, where students work on a team of their classmates as consultants for real world clients.

Every year a number of international projects are offered. This year MPA project teams are currently working with the following clients on projects affecting the international community.

Client Project
U.S. Department of Justice, The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICIPTAP) Developing Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks for DOJ/ICITAP
Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) RISE Strategic Plan
Global FoodBanking Network Critical analysis of current annual data sets collected from non-US partners
AtrocityWatch Creating version 2.0 of the AtrocityWatch Digital Strategy and Planning Roadmap

Last year, students worked with a number of organizations in Latin America in particular and with other organizations focusing on a diverse set of global issues.

Client Project
Ministry of Education of Peru (Ministerio de Educación del Perú), Public-Private Partnership Unit Proposed scheme for Public Private Partnerships in schools in Peru
World Vision Comparative Analysis of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Evaluation Policies
The Anticorruption Party of Honduras (Partido Anticorrupción de Honduras) (PAC) Support of the historic Honduras – Transparency International Agreement signed Oct. 6, 2014
Sense & Sustainability (S&S): Fresh Perspectives on Sustainable Development Developing a Fund Development and Nonprofit Management Strategy
U.S. Department of Justice, The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICIPTAP) ICITAP’s Analytical Approach to Establishing the Conditions Necessary to Promote Sustainable Institutional Development
Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) Performance Monitoring of Research and Ecotourism Lodges in the Context of Conservation NGO Goals: the case of the Amazon Conservation Association
Somali Bantu Community Association of Onondaga County (Now known as Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE)) SBCA Management Project

While there is no guarantee students will be placed on the exact project team that they would like, over 85% of students received their first or second project choices in the last two years. There are always a number of projects with an international focus for MPA students who want to use their public administration skills to address issues crossing borders.

Projects in Peru make an impact

The Amazon Conservation Association’s own Valerie Peterson said, “The students were extraordinary, and their work will have lasting impacts for years to come. We would look forward to working with your students again next year.” The project team delivered a final report to ACA outlining mechanisms to measure the performance of its ecotourism lodges in Peru. The project team consisted of Elena Borzenkova, Vivian Carandang-Smith, Anna Nicol, and Emily Simonson.

Utilizing remote conferencing, now MPA alumni Maria Laura Veramendi Garcia, Gonzalo Talavera Forlin, James Jarvis, and Gustavo Zanabria collaborated with the Public‑Private Partnership Unit of Peru’s Ministry of Education to create a report concerning recommendations to reduce the infrastructure gap in primary and secondary schools throughout the country.  The final report first analyzes educational PPPs in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the UK, then makes 13 key recommendations catered specifically to the Peruvian situation. According to faculty advisor Dr. David Van Slyke, “The quality of the work is very high. The sponsor is very happy. What’s especially exciting is that Syracuse as a location is not a barrier. We were skyped in with all the ministerial officials in Lima. The capstone’s group is going to have impact. And, the sponsor got this project for free”.

Photo provided by Jenn Calder from Flickr. Creative Commons license. View the photo on Flickr.

UN Course, Seeing Much and Studying Much

Suhyeon Lee is a MAIR student who does a great deal to maintain this blog. She decided to try her hand at drafting an article about the course, UN Organizations-Managing for Change taught by Professor Catherine Bertini. This is an intensive one-week course taught in New York City with multiple visits to United Nations Headquarters.

This UN course was an opportunity for my classmates and I to obtain valuable learning by seeing much and studying much. This course was not just a normal class, but a special one in that it consisted of a variety of activities including lectures, speeches, a UN trip, and networking, all of which is not easily combined. If there is anyone who is looking for courses during the Winter Session, I would definitely recommend this one for you.

As we walked into the classroom on the first day, we were delighted to see that it was a big class setting where we each could work on our own personal computer. As Prof. Bertini began to go over class procedures, we were excited to learn about United Nations’ organizations in upcoming classes, which made the room filled with passion and excitement.

For five days, we learned the operations and processes for change in several United Nations’ organizations mainly focusing on the Security Council, UN Secretariat, and World Food Programme. This course began with a brief summary of each organization, including their purposes, funding systems, and governance structures, intertwined with speeches of guest speakers who have vast experience in their field. In addition, we had an opportunity to learn culture and representational issues of the United Nations organizations where efforts at future improvement must be made.

One of the great advantages of taking the UN course was listening to the speeches of guest speakers. On the second day of the UN course, my classmates and I had the honor to have the Former Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, as a speaker. She talked about leadership strategy–one important skill that MAIR students have to be equipped with–and her achievements at UNICEF. It was a thrilling and memorable moment, and we felt so blessed to learn a lot from her.

Former Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, and Prof. Bertni giving a speech in the Fisher Center in New York City. It was an overwhelming moment for all students who took the UN course.

Former Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, and Prof. Bertini giving a speech in the Fisher Center in New York City. It was an overwhelming moment for all students who took the UN course.

For the last two days, we went on a trip to the UN to get an idea of how the UN works and met prominent people who were working to make the world a better place. On the first day of the UN trip, we headed to the Public Chamber under the supervision of a security guard to learn operations and the processes of the Security Council. When we arrived at the public chamber, the representatives of Congo were on the screen and the members of the Security Council, ambassadors, and a few people were seated. The president of the Security Council was in the center, and the discussion started with his remarks. Looking at this scene made being at the UN even more real.

During the afternoon, the Director of the Secretary General visited the conference room where we stayed. We learned the operations and processes of the Security Council in more detail and representational issues of the Security Council such as the number of permanent members and non-permanent members.

The most impressive part of the second UN visit was meeting with Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson. He put emphasis on a few ideas while speaking. First, he valued human rights. He said that we should not forget human rights and that human rights violations are a sign of danger. When he said these words, we strongly agreed with his ideas, and we were pleased with the fact that the world has Jan Eliasson as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Second, he talked about diversity. He said that the world together is the most important thing. There are a lot of criticism in regards to migrants and refugees, especially now days when terrorism by ISIS threatens the world. However, we had a lesson from him that we should not forget that each country is one part of the world.

This course helped students prepare for working at international organizations by attending a lecture of operations and processes of the United Nations organization. This was a positive experience where we gained valuable information and skills. I am grateful for taking this course and all I learned from it. I will definitely be able to implement the information and skills I learned in this class in the future.

Prof. Bertini and the UN course

The UN course was taught by Prof. Catherine Bertini. She is currently a Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, and was the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program from 1992 to 2002. All courses she teaches are drawn by the vast experience she gained during a career spanning public service at international, national, state, and local levels, and private sector and foundation experience. The UN course is one of a number of courses that she teaches. This course originally was held at Syracuse University, but with the help of a few people including Prof. Bertini and Syracuse University, the location was moved from Syracuse to New York City two years ago.

Maxwell students of Syracuse University and Prof. Bertini (center, blue jacket & UN badge) in front of a wall painting in the Public Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York City. Suhyeon Lee far right.

Maxwell students of Syracuse University and Prof. Bertini (center, blue jacket & UN badge) in front of the mural in the Public Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York City. Suhyeon Lee far right.

Hyeseul Hwang Does Cross Sectoral Work at IOM

Hyeseul Hwang wrote about her summer experience in Geneva last August. She has now graduated with an MAIR degree from the Maxwell School and a wealth of professional experience.

I arrived in Geneva at the end of the May to conduct my internship in International Organization for Migration (IOM) and to participate in the Geneva Summer Practicum. Since the start of my internship at IOM on June 1st, it is hard to believe that today is my last day of the internship! Time really flies.

During this summer, I have worked in the department of International Cooperation and Partnerships in IOM for two and a half months. I worked at supporting my supervisor, a migration policy officer. I was mainly in charge of supporting and following up with an interagency research project about a crisis related migration stocktaking exercise which targets eighteen agencies over thirty‑nine countries from all over the region. Also, I conducted my own research and wrote papers about the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Global Migration Group (GMG)), and UN HABITAT III.

The other interesting activities that I have done during my internship in IOM are participating in various events and sessions that are going on inside and outside of IOM. Day by day, there are many learning sessions and events within IOM regarding the current migration crisis, such as the Mediterranean and Syrian crises. Also, I have participated in many IOM intern events with professional talks from the field of emergency affairs, shelter assistance, and many other topics. In addition to that, participating in the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment was an amazing opportunity for me to actually see how many UN organizations and other humanitarian affairs agencies such as ICRC are working for humanitarian affairs in more collaborative ways.

In addition to my internship, the Geneva Summer Practicum course provided valuable opportunities for me to gain more understanding about work within other international actors in Geneva via guest speakers from UNHCR, Permanent Mission, Center for Human Dialogue and others. Dr. Werner Schleiffer’s profound knowledge about the UN system and class debates truly nurtured my knowledge and sense of working in the field of humanitarian affairs. Moreover, class field trips to Bern, Luzern, Zermatt, Basel, and Zurich gave me a greater understanding about living in Switzerland. I am very happy that I have spent my amazing summer in Geneva through my internship, course with the Dr. Schleiffer and awesome classmates.

Hyeseul Hwang in front of Lake Geneva

Hyeseul Hwang in front of Lake Geneva

Jane Chung, Working with East Asia Foreign Policy Community in Washington DC

Ms. Jane Yoona Chung is a dual MPA/MAIR student in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs. She will be completing her dual degree program in Summer 2016.

During Summer 2015, I completed my internship at the US Korean Institute (USKI) at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) as Johns Hopkins University. As a program and research intern for USKI, I was responsible for several tasks, one being attending events on behalf of the research institute. This gave me the opportunity to be exposed to and meet experts from the larger East Asia foreign policy community in Washington D.C. Examples of institutes included the The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Korea Economic Institute (KEI), Sejong Society of Washington D.C., the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Once or twice a week, I attended workshops and/or talks all over the D.C. area. One workshop that stood out to me was a simulation on post-reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Attendees were divided into groups comprised of experts, students, and visiting North Korean scholars. This workshop was an especially humbling experience as I was able to hear from the North Korean perspective on reunification first hand. Moreover, meeting the North Korean students was a fascinating encounter, one that I will never forget. Other talks and conferences I attended discussed the Russian role in East Asia, the tense relations between South Korea and Japan, and the North Korean nuclear program. Learning and hearing from experts, political officials, and academics was very rewarding as it refined and expanded my knowledge and curiosity in East Asian foreign policy.

In addition to the talks and conferences, USKI hosted its first student exchange program with Ajou University in South Korea. This exchange program brought 30 college students, from a variety of majors, to spend a month in Washington D.C. to learn about American politics, history, and culture. I was both a discussion leader that led class in the afternoon and a “guide” for afternoon site visits around Washington D.C. This gave me the opportunity to visit organizations all over the city and to attend a Washington Nationals baseball game for free!

As part of my internship, I was also responsible for conducting independent research on a current topic related to the Korean Peninsula. I presented my research to the Staff on the implications of a land bridge that would connect the Russian Far East and North Korea. With this project, I communicated with experts and had access to a plethora of resources from USKI and Johns Hopkins University (a perk of working with a university). To be able to complete this research project on top of the other responsibilities taught me how to juggle multiple responsibilities with finesse.

USKI Stock Photo

At the same time of my internship, I also took courses through the Maxwell-in-Washington program at CSIS. While it was a bit tiring to take courses in the evening right after a full day at my internship, I would still recommend taking a course. These courses are taught my experts in the field and are conducted as a seminar rather than a lecture.

Being in Washington D.C. was an eye-opening experience as it challenged me personally and professionally. During my internship and stay, I learned about the culture of think tanks, the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, and the immense beauty of the nation’s history. Although I worked full-time, Washington D.C. makes it easy to still have a social life after hours and on weekends. Friday evenings were spent enjoying a glass of sangria at Jazz at the Garden or getting a nice warm bowl of duck noodles in Chinatown. Weekends were spent traveling throughout the city on the $1 DC Circulator, free museums, free movie screenings, or hiking through Rock Creek Park. Balancing between professional and personal aspects of my experience was a challenge, but all in all, I would describe my internship experience in Washington D.C. to be humbling and rewarding.

Jane Chung (far right) with colleagues at US Korean Institute

Jane Chung (far right) with colleagues at US Korean Institute

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

From Geneva to Pretoria, Kara Coughlin Builds Experience at IOM

Kara Coughlin is a joint MPA/MAIR student who interned at the IOM in Geneva, Switzerland during her summer semester and in Pretoria, South Africa during her fall semester.

This summer I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in their headquarters office in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked within the IOM Development Fund (IDF) on project development, monitoring, and evaluation. The goal of IDF is to provide “seed” money to governments in developing countries for projects that build capacity to better manage migration in the future. These projects focus on developing policy frameworks, training government officials, building infrastructure, raising awareness, and developing guidelines and manuals to better protect migrants and enhance governments’ ability to manage migration in a humane and orderly manner.

Working with the IDF team was an incredible learning experience for me. IDF projects cover a wide variety of migration thematic areas and are implemented in IOM country offices all over the world. As a result, I was able to learn about key migration issues in each region of the world and be in constant contact with IOM staff members from all different country offices. My role was to assist country offices in developing project proposals, as well as edit and review interim reports, final reports, and extension requests. Through these tasks I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how projects are monitored and evaluated, and the importance of designing projects with well thought out indicators.

In addition to reviewing reports, I conducted a review of completed IDF projects that focused on the prevention of human trafficking. The goal of this review was to evaluate methods used for project development and implementation to better inform IDF on how counter-trafficking related projects can be more sustainable. Sustainability is a key factor for IDF and refers to how well governments and relevant stakeholders maintain project outcomes once the IDF funding period is completed. To assess sustainability, I developed a survey that was sent to each country office that implemented one of the 18 counter-trafficking projects being reviewed. I analyzed the data from the surveys and wrote an in-depth report outlining the project characteristics that led to the greatest level of outcome sustainability, as well as the main challenges that these projects faced in maintaining outcomes. Through this project I was able to develop a better understanding of project evaluation and obtain valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of methods used to prevent human trafficking.

Interning at the IOM in Geneva gave me the opportunity to use the skills I learned from my courses at Maxwell and gain indispensible knowledge regarding the phases of project development. Through this experience, I was able to seek out another internship opportunity with IOM for the fall semester and am currently in Pretoria, South Africa interning at the IOM Regional Office for Southern Africa. I am very grateful for Global Programs Award for supporting me in these endeavors. These experiences have been pivotal to my educational goals and have given me the practical skills needed to be successful when entering the workforce.

Kara Coughlin stands in front of the Nelson Mandela statue in South Africa

Kara Coughlin stands in front of the Nelson Mandela statue in South Africa

Kara Coughlin above Lake Geneva

Kara Coughlin above Lake Geneva

Food Security & Policy Class in Rome

On Friday, December 11, Catherine Bertini’s class on food security wrapped up here in Syracuse. But, not before PAIA students traveled to Rome to visit key international organizations focusing on hunger, nutrition, and agriculture.  As the former director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Catherine Bertini was able to gain valuable access to the WFP, FAO, and IFAD in Rome and arrange for world renowned guest lecturers on food security such as Sir Gordon Conway.

Find two articles on the class’ activities published on the PAIA Insider blog and SU University News.

When in Rome…Learn How to Solve World Hunger!

Excerpt:

This past week Maxwell offered 24 of my classmates and me the unique opportunity to attend a class on Food Security in Rome. Our classroom was the heart of the UN operations to eradicate hunger: the World Food Program (WFP), the (FAO) and (IFAD) and leading our class was the woman that transformed humanitarian work on food security as we know it, Professor Catherine Bertini.

In what was truly a learning marathon, for three days we visited the headquarters of the WFP, arguably the most effective humanitarian organization in the UN system. We learned the ins-outs of their operations, hearing from experienced passionate practitioners that frankly conveyed the challenges and opportunities of a career in humanitarian aid and international management, intertwined with stories from their years of experience in the field in difficult places like Sudan, North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[. . .]

Read entire article>>

Maxwell Students Travel to Rome for Unique Food Security Class

Excerpt:

The course allowed students to meet and learn from experts at the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on topics ranging from the logistics of food aid distribution to the role of gender and climate change in the forming of policies. Speakers such as Stefano Porretti, director of emergency preparedness and support response for the WFP; Adolfo Brizzi, director of IFAD’s Policy and Technical Advisory Division; and Anna Lartey, director of FAO’s Nutrition Division, were just a few of the experts who shared their experiences tackling food security in an ever-changing global context.[. . .]

Read entire article>>

Catherine Bertini and Food Security and Policy class at WFP in Rome

Catherine Bertini and Food Security and Policy class at WFP in Rome

Students Work with Nepalese Communities in Earthquake Recovery

In case you missed it, Syracuse University News ran an article in early November featuring one of our PAIA students, Rachel Penner, who worked in disaster relief over the summer in Nepal. Rachel is a dual degree MAIR/Atlantis* student.

Read the original article>>

Excerpt:

Working with Aythos

Kam and Rachel Penner, a graduate student in the international relations program in the Maxwell School, both connected with the U.S.-based organization Aythos. The NGO was co-founded by Maxwell School alumnus Beau Miller G’10, who is Aythos’ president and executive director, and has worked in Nepal for six years.

Penner, who is interested in disaster response and development, was also drawn to the work Aythos was doing.

“Since Aythos was focused on development through their agricultural work before the earthquake, I knew that they would have a unique perspective on how to respond to a crisis with an eye toward long-term efforts,” Penner says.

Nepal-relief.Rachel.Penner.2final

Rachel Penner displays a water distribution tank that allowed the biosand-filtered water to be distributed to different housing clusters in a Nepalese village. Penner designed the tank to ensure the structural integrity of the main, 2,000-liter storage tank.

Nepal-relief.Rachel.Penner.final

Rachel Penner, fourth from right, stands with other volunteers near a mission transport plane.

Read the original article>>

*The Atlantis Transatlantic Degree Program allows students to study at U.S. and European institutions while earning a MAIR or MPA from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany.

Emily Fredenberg Assists UNDP with Health & Development

The following entry was drafted by Emily Fredenberg, a dual-degree MPA & MAIR student.

Emily Fredenberg – UNDP Health and Development Unit

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the United Nations Development Programme, within their Health and Development Unit in Geneva, Switzerland. As an intern, my work was divided between the unit’s focal point on non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, and the social and economic detriments of health, and a team specialist on UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Much of the work UNDP performs in-country specializes in government capacity building. At the headquarters level, the unit’s partnership team with the Global Fund serves an advisory function in that it provides technical support to UNDP country teams executing Global Fund grants. At country level, UNDP is selected as a principal grant recipient by the Global Fund in instances when a country does not have the capability to implement the grant themselves. As principal grant recipient, UNDP works simultaneously to implement a grant, as well as to build a country’s capacity to carry out Global Fund grants themselves. Currently, UNDP is principal recipient to Global Fund grants in 26 countries.

The UNDP Health and Development Unit in Geneva also specializes in non-communicable disease (NCD) policy. Much of this policy involves joint-programming initiatives with a number of other UN agencies and programmes, most prominently, the World Health Organization (WHO). UNDP and WHO are currently pursuing a joint NCD Governance Programme initiative. This programme is designed to enhance government capacity across government sectors by looking at NCDs more broadly, not only within the health sector. Such sectors include ministries of education, finance, agriculture, trade, and tourism with the ultimate goal of various ministries within a government working collaboratively to address the growing problem of NCDs. The Geneva team also works closely with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in assisting countries to successfully implement and execute the framework.

Throughout the summer, my work was quite varied within the unit. I had the opportunity to attend the World Health Assembly, as well as several other thematic units at various UN agencies pertaining to health in development. I conducted targeted research with NCDs in capital infrastructure projects, examining ways large capital projects can affect the incidence of NCDs as well as solutions to mitigating the side-effects of such projects. I played an integral role in planning a South-South Triangular seminar with the FCTC, where countries in need of technical assistance implementing the FCTC framework could receive expertise from other countries willing and able to provide such. Additionally, two evenings a week I attended a class, as part of Maxwell’s Geneva Summer Practicum. During class, we often had presentations from various guest speakers of UN agencies, government missions, as well as NGOs.

My internship with UNDP certainly allowed me to get a fuller understanding of the intricacies of the UN system, and to develop my research, writing, and strategic planning skills. All in all, I had an amazing summer with the United Nations in Geneva. Geneva truly is a great city to spend the summer in, and I’m quite grateful for the experience I was able to have there.

Emily Fredenberg (left) and fellow intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva

Emily Fredenberg (left) and fellow intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva