Visiting Professor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Teach 2014 PoP Course

Visiting Professor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Teach 2014 PoP Course
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will return to Columbia to teach first-year Politics of Policymaking course  By Samir Memon In a joint statement by Columbia University President Li Bollingir and SIPA Dean Meritt Ganow, SIPA will welcome former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a visiting professor for the upcoming academic year. Dean Ganow said, “We at Columbia have had the privilege of hosting numerous world leaders as visiting faculty members, but without a doubt President Ahmadinejad has a level of respect in the international community that is unparalleled.” She later explained that Mr. Ahmadinejad would teach two courses next year: Politics of Policymaking (PoP) and a new 3-credit seminar entitled, “Embracing Social Media as a Tool for Positive Change.” The initial response from students has been largely positive. Danny Castillo (MPA ’15) said, “I was pleasantly surprised when I heard (he) will be teaching PoP next year. I took the class last semester and felt that it was a pointless waste of time. I think it’s great that SIPA is bringing in someone with actual policymaking experience to teach it.” PoP has been the focal point of criticism for many MPA students. Seen as the “spiritual equivalent” of the MIA 4-credit core course, Conceptual Foundations, the PoP curriculum attempts to provide an intellectual framework to the policymaking process that will guide MPA students in their careers. Under constant scrutiny, the course has changed significantly each year and has most recently evolved into an introduction to the American policymaking process. However, since most MPA students already have relevant professional experience, many have complained that the curriculum is too “watered down” for American students and too “American-centric” for internationals, leaving students with neither a better understanding of the policy process nor memo writing skills. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s revamp of the course presents a fresh perspective that is leaving many feeling optimistic. Tiequan Zhang (MPA ’15) explained, “I’m a huge fan of President Ahmadinejad. The only thing I’m disappointed by is that SIPA waited until next year to bring him. I’m thinking about auditing it next year so I can take it again!” University President Bollingir explained that bringing in the former Iranian leader didn’t take any convincing. He said, “Mahmoud loves Columbia. When he originally spoke on campus back in 2007, he was welcomed by thousands of passionate supporters and told me that he would love to teach here after finishing his term as president.” “I’m confident he’ll bring fresh ideas and ways to implement them,” Bollingir continued. “When we spoke on the phone last week, he was already sharing new ideas on how we can make the university more energy efficient by using nuclear power.” Since finishing his final term as president in 2013, Mr. Ahmadinejad has maintained a busy schedule due to high international demand. In addition to publishing his memoirs and serving as a Senior Fellow to the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Ahmadinejad has also appeared in three Hollywood films, most recently starring alongside Ben Affleck and Scarlett Johansson in “Ark of the Covenant,” scheduled to open June 16, 2014. He is scheduled to arrive on campus August 28 th , immediately after accepting this year’s Pol Pot Award for Humanitarian Achievement in Geneva.   Samir Memon is a first-year Master of Public Administration student concentrating in International Security Policy and specializing in the Middle East. This story first ran in the print edition of The Morningside Post on May 6, 2014.

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