Concentrations at CIPA: Science, Technology and Infrastructure Policy

Interested in what our different concentrations have to offer? In this post in our series about CIPA concentrations, we hear from Alvaro Díaz Bedregal, an international student from Peru. Alvaro is a first year CIPA fellow (2018) concentrating in Science, Technology and Infrastructure Policy. In this blog post, Alvaro explains more about his background, the coursework he has been involved with, and how his understanding of science and tech policy have been so relevant for his Public Administration degree.

My MPA concentration is Science, Technology and Infrastructure Policy. In the program, I have taken courses on microeconomics, management, market regulation, and infrastructure finance, projects and contracts; and will continue with statistics, public finance, project design, and those covering the intersection of science and policy.  

I decided on my concentration mostly because of my professional experience. For a decade, I had been an officer at the Ministry of Trade and Tourism of my country, and there I experienced the need for securing science based regulation in order not to hinder global trade and the development it brings. In this century, barriers to trade (among or within countries) will not be posed through duties, but mostly through technical and sanitary regulation. Many contemporary cultural and political trends offer fertile grounds for such practices and therefore, analysts and managers should be prepared to face this whether working in public or private organizations. Surprising as it could seem, the information era has seen people and policy makers challenge the relevance of scientific evidence and technical grounds for decision making.

One huge task that people in policy have now is becoming acquainted with the science behind innovation and new technologies. Virtually all industries and activities will soon involve the use of arising technology which will need to be understood, tested, applied and communicated to stakeholders. Being a CIPA fellow also gave me the opportunity of working in science communication at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, a state of the art high-intensity X-ray laboratory, that helps research in fields including art, chemistry, engineering applications and materials science. Working close to other field scientists and their endeavors helps you understand how broad and important this task will become soon.

I am interested in the relations among policy, social institutions, innovation and science, including the funding dynamics of the latter. Also, on the contribution that new technologies and infrastructure could make to development, and on how policy could better open paths for new technologies to allow people to progress on their own. As with straight policy analysis, I do believe that the tools acquired during the program will help me work on personal projects, and help public and private organizations better manage, communicate and foster technologies inside themselves and outwards, to tangibly improve their user and client experience.


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