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Elham Seyedsayamdost


PhD

Columbia University

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Elham Seyedsayamdost


PhD

Columbia University

I am a visiting scholar at the Center for Governance and Sustainability in UMass Boston, where I study the impact of international development goals on national government policy. Previously, I was a Cordier Fellow at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) where I taught Conceptual Foundations of International Politics to incoming Master’s degree students. My PhD dissertation, “A World Without Poverty: Negotiating the Global Development Agenda,” examines the political processes, interests, and preferences of international actors in creating the Millennium Development Goals. My academic research draws on my international development experience working for UNDP and the World Bank in New York, Washington DC, Nepal, MENA and Southeast Asia. My areas of interest include international relations, political economy of development and multilateral diplomacy with a focus on international organizations, development theory and policy, and human rights.


Academic Focus

Power is central to multilateral negotiations, in which states and international organizations engage in order to define, measure, implement and evaluate development goals. In my dissertation, "A World Without Poverty: Negotiating the Global Development Agenda," I examine the interaction between actors, interests and institutions in order to understand the emergence of poverty reduction as the ultimate objective of development. Building on that project, my current research focuses on the implementation of internationally agreed goals, such as the MDGs and SDGs.

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Policy Work


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Policy Work


Prior to my doctoral studies, I spent several years working with the United Nations and the World Bank while traveling extensively in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. At UNDP, I worked on poverty reduction policies, mainly focusing on the Millennium Development Goals and their implementation at the local level. At the World Bank, I worked in the Office of the Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) investigating issues pertaining to gender and economic policy. At the UN, I was a policy advisor to Assistant Secretary General/UN Coordinator on avian and pandemic influenza and frequently traveled and offered training to UN country offices in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. I have also worked at UNDP in Kathmandu, Banque Internationale Arabe du Tunisie in Tunis, Amnesty International in Cape Town, and Human Rights Watch in New York.

Learn more about my policy work


I have an MA in International Affairs from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a BA in International and Comparative Politics from the American University of Paris. 

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Teaching


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Teaching


I have taught graduate and undergraduate students in international relations and comparative politics. Most recently, I served as a Cordier Fellow and an instructor for the core Master of International Affairs (MIA) course, Conceptual Foundations of International Politics that all incoming MIA students are required to take when they embark on their graduate studies at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). As a SIPA alum, it was a privilege to impart some of my experiences with students and learn from theirs, as we collectively worked through IR theories to explain international affairs. Students' positive responses to my pedagogical approach led to my being awarded Columbia's 2015 Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Learn more about my teaching experience