SGPIA Celebrates Fifteen Years and Honors Founding Director Michael Cohen

A crowd of over 225 SGPIA students, alums, and faculty packed the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center last Friday night to celebrate fifteen years since the inception of the Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs (SGPIA), and to pay tribute to its founding director, Michael Cohen.

Mary Watson, Executive Dean of the Schools for Public Engagement opened the evening by highlighting Mike’s career accomplishments and the remarkable contributions he has made to The New School. Mike earned his Ph.D. in Political Economy from The University Chicago and spent many years at The World Bank where he was a major leader in forging the urban agenda in development. Most recently, he has been advising a range of agencies working on the urban agenda, such as UN Habitat and The Cities Leaders Foundation, as they prepare for the 2015/16 World Cities Report. In 2005, along with Margarita Gutman, he founded the Observatory on Latin America, a project at The New School that aims to improve academic and public understanding of Latin America.

In his remarks, SGPIA Chair Stephen Collier emphasized Mike’s unconventional approach to building an international affairs program at The New School based on interdisciplinarity, a global perspective, and forging new kinds of links between critical thinking, social research, and practice-based learning.

“This sensibility has resonated through so much of what GPIA has been over the years. It is reflected in the students who have come to the program who have been unconventional in their own way and who have come to GPIA in large part because they were seeking something different, and it has been manifested in the atmosphere of intellectual curiosity, of heterodox thinking and of vigorous debate and dispute that Mike has cultivated. More than anything else it is this collection of people and their ideals and intellectual passions and this ethos of restless curiosity and critical thinking that exemplifies Mike’s 15 years of leadership. These things are fundamental to who we are.”

The evening culminated with twenty mini talks by alumni and faculty that asked how different problems in international affairs had changed since SGPIA was founded in 2001.

A list of speakers and topics follows, and individual video clips of each talk will be forthcoming. SGPIA also encourages students, faculty and alums to share their reflections on the program via social media using the hashtag #SGPIA15.

Nina Khrushcheva, Faculty 2001-present: Russia

Margarita Gutman, Faculty 2002-present: The Urban Future

Jonathan Bach, Faculty 2002-present: Europe

Alys Wilman, Alum 2004: Violent Extremism and Gender

Leyla Sharafi, Alum 2004: Men and Boys for Gender Equality and Human Rights

Mark Johnson, Faculty 2005-present: The Private Sector and Development

Everita Silina, Faculty 2005-present: Genocide

Rachel Nadelman, Alum 2006: Environment and Development

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Faculty 2006-present: Development as an International Project

Sabrina Quaraishi, Alum 2007: Microcredit

Caroline Nichols, Alum 2008: Refugees and Humanitarian Action

Anushay Said, Alum 2008: ‘Urban’ in Development

Sean Jacobs, Faculty 2008-present: Social Media

Louise Moreira-Daniels, Alum 2009: Global Inequality

Manjari Mahajan, Faculty 2010-present: HIV/AIDS

Chris London, Faculty 2010-present: Ethical Consumerism

Mitch Cook, Alum 2010: Financing Cities

Jacquie Kataneksza, Alum 2012: Post-Colonial Development

Peter Hoffman, Faculty 2013-present: Humanitarianism

Amy Orr, Alum 2013: Impact Investing

Michael Cohen Reflects on 15 Years of SGPIA