Do you have the passion to make a difference in the lives of others? Consider taking the first step toward a rewarding career in public service by applying to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA). Founded in 1958, GSPIA is one of the most recognized and comprehensive schools of its type in the world. GSPIA's 8,000 globally connected alumni hold prestigious positions in government, nonprofit organizations, business, and academia worldwide. 

The 2016 GSPIA Perspectives, with cover stories on Promoting International Development, won a “Gold” MarCom Award for publications. The awards are administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. Each issue of GSPIA Perspectives focuses on a certain program area, with this edition centering around the Master of International Development (MID), one of three, two-year master degree programs at GSPIA.  

In a signing ceremony on the 40th floor of the Cathedral of Learning, GSPIA Dean John Keeler and Sarah Poole, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, UNDP, signed a memorandum of understanding between the University of Pittsburgh and the United Nations Development Programme. The agreement establishes the Gender Inequality Research Lab (GIRL) at Pitt, a new interdisciplinary research forum for scholars and practitioners to collaborate on policy-relevant research on gender inequality. 

The GEPA working group, co-led by Dr. Müge Finkel of GSPIA and Dr. Melanie Hughes of Sociology, has been a Ford Institute working group since fall 2015. The GEPA working group brings together a multidisciplinary team of students to work with the Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to gather and analyze data on women’s global representation in public administration. This past year, graduate researchers built off of the work of the 2015-2016 working group, to analyze further disaggregation among countries with gendered data. 

Dr. Müge Finkel recently participated in the Wilson Center’s 50 by 50, the 5th year anniversary event in Washington D.C. The event was hosted by the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) which was started in 2011 by former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to empower the next generation of women around the world and mobilize them on issues of critical importance in public service. 

Named in the honor of the Ford Institute’s founder, Dr. Simon Reich, the award promotes high-quality research and writing by GSPIA students in the field of human security. Students are encouraged to submit a paper, and faculty are encouraged to nominate papers for consideration.

Assistant Professor Sera Linardi is one of two inaugural recipients of a Ford Institute Faculty Research Grant, a competitive grant program designed to encourage junior faculty to engage in human security research and writing. Combining violence data from UN peace keepers’ weekly logs in  Côte d’Ivoire with daily antenna transmission data from Orange Telecom, Professor Linardi and her colleagues have shown a pattern of increased call volume, more within-network calls, and shorter calls in the days preceding violent events. This research holds great potential to breakthrough our current limited understanding of local level violence, to better address its insidious effect on inter-group relations and potential escalation into national-level problems.

GSPIA’s international development faculty have learned a lot about what students need both to get the first job and establish a career path that makes a difference, noted Associate Dean Paul Nelson. Students are encouraged to use their 16 courses at GSPIA to build a strong set of professional skills which are shaped by both the top scholarship and hands-on experiences found in and outside the classroom. 

Despite vast efforts to build the state, profound political order in rural Afghanistan is maintained by self-governing, customary organizations. Assistant Professor Jennifer Murtazashvili’s new book Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan explores the rules governing these organizations to explain why they can provide public goods. Instead of withering during decades of conflict, customary authority adapted to become more responsive and deliberative.

The Ford Institute for Human Security has awarded the Simon Reich Human Security Writing Award for the best student paper on a human security topic to Tara Devezin (MID ’16).  Devezin’s paper focused on improving women’s health in the East African countries of Malawi and Uganda. 

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