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Helping the Next Generation of Leaders Navigate the Complexities of Modern Politics

By Sara Yeganeh, Ph.D., Lecturer in the Political Analytics Program, School of Professional Studies

In today's rapidly evolving political landscape, the ability to rigorously analyze data has become crucial. That’s why I’m thrilled about Columbia’s M.S. in Political Analytics program, which is dedicated to elevating the methodological rigor of data analysis in politics.

This program provides a unique space for a critical aspect of political analysis that has been globally undervalued. By emphasizing the importance of building a community committed to rigorous data analysis, the master’s in Political Analytics aligns perfectly with the growing significance of data-driven decision-making in politics. Graduates will emerge equipped to make meaningful contributions to policy development, campaign strategies, and advocacy efforts. I’m excited to be part of this transformative initiative in political analytics at such an esteemed university.

In my Program Evaluation course, we are embarking on a comprehensive journey through program evaluation in the political realm. Students will delve into the critical role of program evaluation in assessing the effectiveness of various interventions and initiatives within politics, ranging from policy to advocacy group impact. Moreover, they’ll develop a keen sense of critical thinking when it comes to recommendations for planning, measurement, and analysis in political program development and evaluation.

Throughout the course, students will acquire essential skills in discerning effective programs from ineffective ones. We’ll explore methods for evaluating program designs, collecting and analyzing evidence, and interpreting findings. This course is closely aligned with our Political Analytics program’s broader goals, emphasizing the importance of data-driven decision-making. By the end of the semester, students will not only be equipped to design and develop effective political initiatives but also enhance their ability to effectively communicate actionable recommendations and intricate data analytics to a wide range of audiences.

My journey into the field of political analytics has been deeply rooted in a passion for politics and societal issues. As the daughter of an Iranian immigrant, I was instilled with concepts such as democracy and freedom of speech from a very young age. I volunteered for political campaigns as early as age eight, and continued to be involved in activism throughout my college years. However, it was during my academic journey that I realized the importance of data and evidence in driving meaningful change. This realization led me to pursue a degree in political psychology, where I discovered the power of applying data analysis to understanding human behavior in political contexts. Ultimately, my passion for understanding and influencing political dynamics guided me towards specializing in social science research to better understand citizens and consumers.

For students interested in political analytics or politics in general, my advice is to embrace curiosity and interdisciplinary learning. While my background in political science led me to where I am today, I have found immense value in exploring other fields such as psychology and data science. These diverse perspectives equipped me with the analytical skills and insights necessary to navigate complex political landscapes. Additionally, I encourage students to prioritize asking questions and seeking diverse opportunities for hands-on experience. Whether it’s through internships, research projects, or volunteering for political campaigns, practical involvement allows students to apply theoretical knowledge and gain valuable insights into real-world dynamics. Lastly, I want to emphasize the importance of fostering a supportive and collaborative work environment. In my experience, mutual respect and teamwork are essential for driving innovation and effecting meaningful change in the political sphere.

Through the intersection of rigorous data analysis and a deep understanding of political dynamics, we have the power to effect transformative change in our society. With programs like the M.S. in Political Analytics and courses focused on program evaluation, we are equipping the next generation of leaders with the tools and skills needed to navigate the complexities of modern politics and drive positive change.


About the Program Evaluation Course

This course focuses on methods for evaluating program designs, evidence collection, analysis, and interpretation, frameworks for decision-making, and reporting and communicating findings. Students will build upon the foundational knowledge that was established during the Strategic Thinking course and develop practical skills related to various types of program evaluation.

About the Political Analytics Program

The Columbia University M.S. in Political Analytics program provides students quantitative skills in an explicitly political context, facilitating crosswalk with nontechnical professionals and decision-makers—and empowers students to become decision-makers themselves. The final application deadline is June 1, 2024. The 36-point credit program is available part-time and full-time.

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