Written by guest blogger Carlos Baeta
For the 9th summer in a row, the IPED commons had witnessed a cacophony of activity that directly corresponded with the arrival of 22 African students to our picturesque Rose Hill campus. The students above, have been selected to attend IPED’s flagship advanced certificate in Emerging Markets and Country Risk Analysis program. This year’s cohort consisted of twenty South African students that included eight top-performing economics students from the University of Pretoria as well as twelve middle management employees from the National Treasury, The South African Reserve Bank, Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), amongst others. What separates this years program, however, is that it has been extended to include two students who are Economics and Finance lecturers at the Catholic University of Ghana in West Africa.
Throughout their six weeks in New York, the 22 students took two rigorous courses in Strategic Financial Management and Political Risk Analysis. These courses were completed alongside local IPED and Economics graduate students and taught by Professor Rengifo and Entelis respectively. Beyond interacting with Fordham faculty members, the students had the opportunity to engage and network with real business leaders and policymakers through several organized site visits in New York and Washington D.C respectively. These included meetings with large international institutions at the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations and at multinational corporations such as IBM, Bank of America, Merill Lynch and Credit Suisse.
After returning to South Africa, the students will by joined by Fordham IPED and Economics graduate students at the beginning of August to complete the third and final Emerging Markets course at the University of Pretoria in South Africa’s capital city.
2018 represents the 9th year in which students from South Africa participated in this dynamic academic and cultural exchange program. The impact of the program is seen from the successes of its alumni. Many have gone on to represent leadership positions in both the public and private sector across Africa and the world soon after receiving their qualification from IPED. They continue to reference their experience in New York as an important experience in their career development and education.
Carlos Baeta was among the participants of the Emerging Markets South African Exchange Program in 2015. He later returned to Fordham to complete the MA IPED (2017) and MA Economics (2018) programs.
Mahlatse Ramoroka (IPED 2019) recently participated in the annual International Journal of Arts and Sciences (IJAS) conference at Harvard University’s Medical. Held last May 21-25, the conference is an interdiscplinary academic conference which aims to provide opportunities for academics from a range of disciplines and countries to share their research and develop networks.
Mahlatse presented a research paper she authored under the supervision of Professor Idalia Bastiaens of Fordham’s Political Science Department, titled “The Rise of Kleptocracy in Democracies: A Case Study of South Africa”. In this research paper, she explores the possibilities of kleptocracy as a commonly authoritarian phenomenon, finding its way into democracies. The argument presented contends that kleptocracy in a democratic context, articulates the practices of a leadership era and not the identity of the political regime. The case study evidence provided, indicates that South Africa as a unit of analysis, defies the characterization of kleptocracy – which is anchored on the unquestioning obedience of authority and a heavy absence of accountability. Therefore, classifying it as such, has proven to be too great a stretch. The study concludes in the hope that further research within the same area of study will be initiated with Brazil, Thailand and Malaysia as case studies.
Beyond the academic itinerary, the conference included educational tours to Maine which showed spectacular old seafarers’ houses. Overall, Mahlatse considers the experience to have afforded her a great opportunity to learn from other scholars, while also getting feedback on her own work. For the future, she hopes to take on more research projects which seek to impact and shape political discourse.
By: Carlos Baeta ’18
During the Spring 2018 semester, I interned at the United Nation’s Department of Social Affairs within the E-Government division. During my internship, I was under the supervision of IPED alumnus and former Matteo Ricci scholar Deniz Susar ’08.
As an intern, my tasks included data analysis, research and report writing relating to some key deliverables within the office. The most salient project I worked on was the 2018 E-government survey, which will be published later this year. The E-government survey is important insofar as it highlights the importance of a government’s ability to leverage existing technologies to provide key services to their constituencies. Put differently, it analyzes how governments in the UN’s 193 member states use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) to ensure sustainable development.
To this extent, it would be remiss of me not to mention how important IPED was in ensuring that I was able to maximize my experience at the United Nations. Firstly, the research methodology and analysis that I conducted on the E-government survey was similar to Dr. Schwalbenberg’s Foreign Aid and Development class. Given this, my experience working on the Fordham Francis Index (FFI) allowed me to understand the E-Government Development Index and its component parts from day one. Secondly, the Applied Econometrics class and my background in management consulting assisted in analyzing and presenting the data in creative ways. Finally, I believe that the extensive writing courses that we took as well as the robust feedback that we get from the professors improved my research and writing ability respectively.
In conclusion, I would recommend current and future IPED students to leverage Fordham’s proximity to the UN as a means of getting international experience that complements the coursework. Furthermore, I believe it prudent to use the IPED directory and alumni networks during the application process. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that IPED provides all of its students with the tools necessary for becoming economic researchers or public servants after graduation. The UNDESA is an opportunity that I would highly recommend to compliment your academic experience.
Gurpreet Singh ’19 currently works at Chhaya CDC in Queens NY. Chhaya CDC is a local non-profit organization that advocates for the housing and economic development needs of New York City’s South Asian community. It’s mission is to work with New Yorkers of South Asian origin to advocate for and build economically stable, sustainable, and thriving communities. Gurpreet works alongside IPED alumnus William Spisak ’13.
Gurpreet leads Chhaya’s Asset Building program to target South Asian immigrants and other marginalized communities in New York City to promote economic independence and financial stability, as well as contribute to the organization’s programmatic vision, and growth for the community. Gurpreet runs the organization’s Peer Lending Circle, a microfinance program that helps new immigrants establish credit and savings in the United States. In addition to the lending circle, Gurpreet coordinates Chhaya’s English classes and assists in its emerging small business initiative, where the goal is to preserve small businesses in New York City.
Gurpreet is a lifelong resident of New York City and is excited to continue his education at Fordham. He is Matteo Ricci fellow and is expected to graduate in the summer of 2019.