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UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


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Archive for the 'Master’s of Public Adminstration' Category

Why partnership and collaboration are the future of data in cities?

maria.solis.1814 June 2019

MPA candidate María Jarquín attended the City Data Conference in Birmingham to learn about innovative solutions in which collaboration between local authorities could bring new approaches to urban issues.

Data is the future. However, this future is built upon collaboration. This is the main take away of the City Data Conference organised by NESTA, in partnership with the University of Birmingham and the West Midlands Combined Authority in early June. The purpose of this event was to bring solutions to the data challenges faced by local authorities.

The Conference started with insights from the first keynote speaker, Kit Collingwood from ThoughtWorks, who discussed the growing demand of expertise in data collaboration, which translates in having career transitions and cross-functional teams where developers can work with data scientists, policy-makers and users. Two solutions (and creative outcomes) shared were the FixMyStreet project and the Dear Data experiment.


Sam Lane – April 2017: Six months in and a glass half full

ucqnafe12 April 2017

MPA student Sam Lane reflects on 6 months of his degree at UCL STEaPP.

I cannot believe that as I am writing this post, we are halfway through the MPA. It is a thought that has been actively repressed by many of the cohort for fear that eventually, the course will come to an end and we will inevitably part ways. So, this blog post serves two purposes. To recount the activities of the second term, and reflect on the first half of the MPA.

Sam at Professor Arthur Petersen’s Inaugural Lecture, March 2017.

To the regular readers of the blog, you were luckily enough to indulge in a special post on our trip to the World Government Summit in Dubai, so I will spare that highlight in deference to everything else that has gone on this term.

First of all, Trump. On a course geared towards science and engineering, he isn’t the obvious point of departure for discussion. However, he has featured heavily in our Evidence, Institutions and Power classes (taught by Professor Yacob Mulugetta and Dr Carolin Kaltofen), generating lively discussions, and maybe even a publication – watch this space, it’s going to be HUGE. This term also saw us learn how to code. We are not just trained as traditional policy analysts relying on cost benefit analysis, oh no, we are trained for the twenty-first century, and that means coding. The analytical methods class also gave an insight into spatial, network and multi-criteria analysis, and we even gazed into the future with foresight techniques. We also began our electives, and UCL offers a fantastic range of disciplines to delve into, but time away from STEaPP seemed to make us appreciate it even more. The extended client projectsare underway, with all teams making a good start to the process.

On the cohort news-desk, we found out Xi Zhu was accepted to study a PhD in Theology at Oxford University. Eliana Camargo Nino was so successful at the World Government Summit (Dubai) Sustainable Development Goal Workshops that she has been called to New York to pitch the winning idea. Patricio Barrera Valdez has brought his work to London and is organising a high-level Mexican Energy Summit at UCL. While Diego Pedraza Segura, was personally invited to several exclusive Chevening events.

However, the term moved fast. Covering all that content in that time has left our brains frazzled and bodies exhausted. At times, it was a bit of blur with January feeling a lifetime away. A change in format from the four-week courses to ten-week modules was welcomed, but that did not slow the pace down. Breakdowns came as thick and fast as the deadlines.

But we were buoyed by a relentless barrage of motivational memes on our group chat to keep us in good spirits. Without a doubt, it is the comradery of the other students which keeps us going. It is fair to say these are no longer just ‘course’ friends but friends for life instead. In six months, I have learnt so much about the others and myself which I have not experienced in the past. During the induction week, when Dr Jason Blackstock said “you’ll learn more from each other than we can possibly teach you”, he was right. And if these six months are a sign of things to come then bring it on.

Sam Lane – February 2017: World Government Summit 2017, Dubai

ucqnafe12 February 2017

MPA student Sam Lane provides perspectives on studying at UCL STEaPP.

UCL STEaPP MPA students at WGS 2017

A special blog post by Sam on the MPA student trip to Dubai to attend the World Government Summit is available on STEaPP’s news pages.

Sam Lane – January 2017: Perspectives on a busy term

ucqnafe12 January 2017

MPA student Sam Lane provides perspectives on studying at UCL STEaPP.

Looking back over the first term of the MPA degree, it is worth noting at this point how much I and my fellow students have achieved – the number of assessments, the volume of reading and the personal development we have all conquered.It has been a tough first term. None of us had anticipated how difficult it would be and even with the wealth of professional backgrounds I eluded to previously, none of it could have prepared us. This is what makes the course great. Rather than sit in an overcrowded lecture theatre and be talked at by a professor for hours each week, we have been challenged, daily, to think differently, to practice our skills and apply our knowledge, to debate and discuss and even teach the professors too. Of course, this intensity is frustrating sometimes and especially for those students with other work or social commitments, managing our time has been an additional challenge. But it is totally worth it.

What got us through this challenging term was each other and the faculty. The cohort have supported each other a lot. We have a Whatsapp group-chat which is mostly full of questions about the course as well as countless memes describing our approaches to the work! We even organised a festive feast and a secret Santa (thanks to Angeliki), which was much needed to get us through the final week of the term. The faculty themselves have been so supportive. I myself alone have sent numerous emails to professors checking assessments, asking for more details and discussing feedback. The entire faculty respond promptly and thoroughly in such a friendly way.

Our second of two scenario weeks saw us organised into groups with an appointed leader and a brief to provide policy recommendations to branches of the UK government. It was another rigorous week and we learnt a lot about ourselves as well as each other.

The winter break was  much needed to relax a little before writing our analytical policy papers(the major assessment for Term 1).

Looking ahead, we begin our electives soon and then we will get a chance to meet other students and delve deeper into our own interests. We have also received our travel arrangements for the World Government Summit in Dubai in February 2017 so the excitement is building and this is where the next blog will be posted from!

Yutong Li – November 2016: Jumping out of my comfort zone and experiencing diversit

ucqnafe12 November 2016

MPA student Yutong Li provides insights into studying at UCL STEaPP.

For my undergraduate degree I majored in administrative management and law. At that point, I had to make a difficult choice – continue my postgraduate studies in law at Peking University in China or pursue a different path. I was tired of purely academic and theoretical learning and I really wanted a breath of fresh air that would broaden my outlook on social sciences so that I could reposition my career in a broad field and a more international environment.

The turning point for me was when a friend told me about the Master’s of Public Administration at UCL STEaPP. I looked up the STEaPP website to find out more, and read about their research into energy, technology and climate policy on the department website. Surprised by the programme name, the innovative and unique combination of science, technology, engineering and social science attracted me to apply. An idea popped to my mind: although I only had a background in social sciences, I could gain a lot from exploring science and engineering in relation to public policy.

Even though it was in late June 2016, and pretty near application deadline, I emailed Professor Yacob Mulugetta and MPA Coordinator Joe Fitzsimmons to ask about whether it was still possible to apply. Thanks to their encouragement and quick responses, I finally got the chance to start my UCL journey. (A reminder for all potential candidates: No matter how late it is, do not hesitate to contact with team and they will reply you promptly. Otherwise, you may regret losing a valuable opportunity!)

So far, the induction week and first term have been more challenging and rewarding than I expected. The language barrier is the first thing for non-native students to overcome. The different learning approach at STEaPP has required my to adapt a little, as I wasn’t used to the full-day seminars, frequent practical tasks, endless reading lists and different types of assignments. Every time I feel lacking in confidence or want to avoid challenges I just encourage myself to remember the reasons I applied in the first place: to jump out of my comfort zone.

In return for the challenges, the reward at STEaPP is the diversity of learning and experiences. This has provided me with the chance to break previous biases and establish a new thinking system. I enjoy the freedom to select my research interests from the four specific concentrations, which are not available from other MPA programmes. Additionally, the diverse background of both MPA students and teaching staff is very inspiring. It is a serendipity that students from Indonesia, China, Japan, Mexico, UK, Colombia and Canada sit in the same classroom. Both fresh graduates and students with work experience share and exchange their own understanding about policy issues. Experiencing this diversity refreshes my academic approach, enhances my skills in practical ways, changes my perspective on the world, and sparks new anticipation for my future career.

I am still early in my journey at UCL, but am gradually jumping out of my comfort zone and experiencing diversity. Going forward, I expect to discover more potential from within myself and to be surprised by what I learn!

Read a Chinese edition of this post