IPED Celebrates 25 Years of Partnership with Catholic Relief Services


International Political Economy, (IPED) a graduate program at Fordham University, is celebrating 25 years of partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).(Courtesy of Marian Hana for The Fordham Ram)

International Political Economy (IPED), a graduate program at Fordham University, is celebrating 25 years of partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). IPED is focused on international economic relations and global development, and has partnered with organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, which is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic Community in the United States.

Henry Schwalenberg is a professor in the economics department at Fordham University and is the director of the IPED graduate program. He teaches courses on foreign aid, project assessment and international economics. He said IPED is one of the smaller programs at Fordham, but it is competitive and selective. About 40% of the students in the program work in the private sector, with CRS being the second largest employer for students who graduate.

“It’s about using the tools of political and economic analysis to look at the international economy and issues of development,” said Schwalenberg. Graduate students can then use these tools to help with issues such as international poverty and food insecurity.

“25 years ago, I made a phone call to Catholic Relief Services and I said we’d like to have more practical field experience for these students so then they can then get a better start in this field,” said Schwalenberg.

He said the partnership began with two of the IPED students going to Zimbabwe for a semester. “After that, it expanded to a number of countries. Now we have sent students to 27 countries around the world,” Schwalenberg said.

Students who are a part of IPED and work for Catholic Relief Services get to work on various pressing world issues. Some work to combat food insecurity, while others work on malaria and Ebola. Over 80 students have found jobs through this partnership.

The theme of the 25 year celebration is “forming leaders for global development.” People who wish to partake in this initiative have the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most important issues, especially in countries that have limited resources. Some of the countries include Somalia, Afghanistan and Timor. The work can range from helping kids receive a better education, to ensuring communities have access to healthy food.

“A future plan for us is definitely to keep doing this, because it provides a wonderful opportunity for students who come,” said Schwalenberg. He also touched on the undergraduate CRS club, where members of the club advocate for global poverty around the company. It started a couple years ago, and Schwalenberg said he hopes it can raise awareness about international conflicts and the IPED program itself.

“CRS does a really good job at exploring faith and action,” said Alexandra Tamsi, FCRH ’24. She is a member of the club and said she sees the benefits of the IPED program, and their partnership with CRS.

“The world needs talented people, and there’s a lot of trouble in the world right now and we need to solve some of these problems,” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services. IPED aims to help CRS come in contact with these individuals.

Callahan said the partnership is natural given all the things the IPED program and CRS have in common. He said there is a shared belief in faith and the importance of being here to make a difference.

“The poor need excellence, they need the best people out there,” said Callahan. He said that the IPED program is a crucial factor in giving talented people the opportunity to help others in need.

“They’re hungry and they’re willing to learn,” said Callahan. He said it is important to be bold if you want to help people, and think beyond what you think is possible.

Matthew McGarry is a graduate of the IPED program, and is currently the Senior Director at Catholic Relief Services. He said that he had come into Fordham with a cloud of good intentions.

“While good intentions are nice, and they’re important, it’s not enough. It’s not even close to enough,” said McGarry. He stressed that being compassionate and wanting to do good work will help change the world, even if it is done “drop by drop.”