Student Spotlight: Shashank Sreedharan ’17 MPA


Vadodara, India

Why did you pick the MPA program at Brown?

When I decided I wanted to come to the US for my master's, I applied mostly to Economics programs until I stumbled across Brown’s MPA program, truly one of a 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?

Ever since undergrad, I’ve been 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, I am in Professor Susan Moffit’s Management & Implementation class where I am writing a policy brief on India's black economy problem. In one of our classes in the summer, I worked on the energy policy dynamic between India & Nigeria from a policy perspective, a continuation of a research project I engaged with during my undergrad. 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 looking at why this is happening which is what I was into in the past, I now get to look at how to solve it as a policymaker.

What have you enjoyed about the MPA program?

One thing I have also really enjoyed about Brown is that even though I have my own personal areas of interest, I have been exposed to many other policy spaces - education policy or health policy for instance - which I never envisioned myself being interested in but actually am. 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). I am an MPA student coordinator and am also currently in correspondence with two HI2 International Fellows on how I can assist them in their research. We are also hosting a Humanitarian Intervention Simulation on November 19th. The student team comprises of myself, another of my colleagues from the MPA program, a student from the School of Public health, and another from Alpert Medical School. We are under the guidance of Dr. Adam Levine, a professor at the Alpert School with immense experience in humanitarian intervention work. The Initiative really recognizes that the humanitarian space is not just focused on the International Relations aspect. So much of it is the intersection of health, quick response, and a constant evaluation of what’s being done. With that in mind, we are unifying these three schools that all work in the policy space, but academically are not always well integrated.