Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Shashank Sreedharan

Shashank Sreedharan ’17 presents at the Watson Institute.

"The 1-year MPA program is very hands-on, with many components that focus on providing students with invaluable work experience."

Shashank Sreedharan ’17

Shashank Sreedharan ’17: Why I Chose the Brown MPA

Shashank Sreedharan, a native of Vadodara, India, talks about his experiences specializing in comparative and global policy in the MPA program.

Why did you pick the MPA program at Brown?

When I decided I wanted to come to the U.S. for my masters, I applied mostly to economics programs until I stumbled across Brown’s MPA program, truly one of its kind. Aside from the non-conventional time commitment I was attracted to its practical nature. It’s very hands-on, with many components that focus on providing students with invaluable work experience. Coming in from a predominantly research-focused undergraduate experience, it’s been really amazing to have that emphasis on practical engagement.

What are your research interests?

I'm interested in development strategies for emerging market economies prone to conflict and state-building in post-conflict environments. The classes that I take do not really focus on any specific region and give me the freedom to explore my research interests. For example, in Susan Moffit’s Management and Implementation class, I wrote a policy brief on India's black economy problem. In another course, I worked on the energy policy dynamic between India and Nigeria from a policy perspective, a continuation of a research project I engaged with during my undergraduate studies. In class, I get to ask questions such as: If I were advising the government of India or the African Development Bank, what kind of policy recommendations would I give? Instead of focusing on why this is happening, I now get to look at how to solve it as a policymaker.

What have you enjoyed about the MPA program?

Another thing I have also really enjoyed about Brown is that though I have my own areas of interest, I have been exposed to many other policy spaces — education policy and health policy for instance — which I never envisioned myself being interested in. It’s also made me more aware of how an interdisciplinary approach to humanitarian work is necessary. In that vein, I have been working with Watson’s new Humanitarian Innovation Initiative (HI2), assisting two HI2 international fellows on their research. In November, HI2 hosted a Humanitarian Intervention Simulation. We were guided by Dr. Adam Levine, a professor at Brown's Alpert Medical School with immense experience in humanitarian intervention work. The student team for the simulation included colleagues from the MPA program, a student from Brown's School of Public Health, and a student from the Alpert Medical School. The project brought together three academic disciplines that all work in the same policy space, but are not always well integrated. HI2 recognizes that the humanitarian space is not just focused on international relations — so much of it is the intersection of health, quick response, and a constant evaluation of what’s being done.