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.
While students won’t complete their MIA/MPA Capstone Workshop until their final semester at SIPA, there are ways to preview what the assignments are like. Here are two Capstone Workshops highlighting some of the compelling work that our Seeples do.
Preventing Social Conflict in the Peruvian Mining Industry
Capstone Client #1: Government of Peru, President of the Council of Minister’s Office
Faculty Advisor: Jenik Radon
Team: Ayaka Ishida Amano, Lidia Cano, Filippo Ghersini, Ana Gabriela Gonzalez, Marisol Grau, Jordan Grimshaw, Vidyu Kishor, Emmanuel Laboy, Alessandra Mistura, Joshua Trinidad, Clara Young Thiemann
Mining is one of Peru’s most important industries, responsible for a considerable portion of the country’s economic growth since the 1990s. However, this growth has come at a financial, environmental and human cost. Work stoppages and deaths have resulted from social conflicts that arise when members of the communities impacted by mining projects are excluded from the approval processes and the economic benefits. Government regulations aimed at preventing and mitigating the causes of these social conflicts have been largely ineffective. With renewed government focus on this issue in 2017, the team’s report harnessed the current political momentum and provided a guide for the new administration through the process of filling legal gaps, mapping administrative processes, improving state engagement with communities, and ensuring implementation and compliance with robust social license policies.
Assessing Offline Internet Technology as a Development Tool to Connect the Unconnected
Capstone Client #2: Wikimedia Foundation, Mount Sinai—Wikipedia Project for Offline Education in Medicine (POEM) in the Dominican Republic
Faculty Advisor: Anne Nelson
Team: Lucia Haro, Maria Gonzalez Millan, Katie Nelson, Jorge Salem Suito
Offline internet technology is an emerging ICT4D tool to expand access to information to the 60% of the world’s population who lack internet connectivity. Wikipedia is interested in expanding the use of their open source encyclopedia content around the globe, and assessing its usefulness in low-resource settings. The Dominican Republic, a country with an under-resourced health system and limited internet connectivity, is an ideal laboratory to test offline internet as a tool for development. The team interviewed healthcare providers in the Dominican Republic to learn what kinds of information they require, and to assess the usefulness of the ‘internet-in-a-box’ as a low-cost offline internet-enabled data storage device that allows users to wirelessly access open-source content. The project’s findings are that offline internet has considerable potential to bridge information gaps, especially in rural, low-resource settings. The team’s recommendations are being incorporated into a pilot project to field-test the device during summer 2017.