The STML Certification is for CIPA Fellows who wish to dive more deeply into the systemic issues faced by policy makers, organizational leaders, activists, and social entrepreneurs. Systems Thinking is one of the most sought after skills of employers. In consultation with their CIPA Academic Advisor and CIPA’s STML Faculty Advisory Committee, STML Fellows will design an MPA Course of Studies that includes the coursework below. CIPA students pursuing the STML certification are typically working toward a concentration in the area of Public and Nonprofit Management, Human Rights, and Social Policy. 

Required Coursework: (12 credits)

  1. PADM 5449 - Systems Thinking and Modeling in Public Affairs- 3 credits. It is best if you enroll in this course Fall Semester of your first year of CIPA.
  2. PADM 5114 - Organizational Design, Change, and Leadership- 3 credits.  It is best if you enroll in this course Spring Semester of your first year of CIPA.
  3. PADM 5949 - CIPA Systems Thinking, Mapping, and Leadership (STML) Practicum – 3 credits. You will enroll in this course Spring Semester of your second year of CIPA.
  4. And a minimum of one of the following 3 credit courses from Elective coursework. Availability varies per year. Please check this list and confirm with your advisor. Substitutes will be considered on a case by case basis.

Additional Requirements: 

  1. Dinner Table Discussions: Fellows participate in a series of 12 monthly seminars in the form of dinner table discussions. These are lively debates on special topics of interest.
  2. Cohort Trip: An experiential, national or international 7-10 day trip to explore systemic policy analysis of a topic and trip chosen annually. In January 2020, the STML Cohort will be traveling to the Galapagos Archipelago to study the Galapagos as a System.
  3. Exit Project: Students must successfully complete an exit project (a capstone, thesis or professional report) on Systems Thinking, Systems Leadership, or Systems Mapping and present their report at the Cornell STML Symposium.
  4. Optional: Internships with Cabrera Research Lab. For students interested in deepening their knowledge and skills, there are limited internships available on a competitive basis.

Program Coordinator

For further information or questions about STML, please contact program coordinators, Derek (dac66) and Laura Cabrera (lac19), of the Cabrera Research Lab and Co-founders of Plectica.

Application Deadline: 

The deadline for applying for admission to the program is October 31 of your first year in CIPA.

Application Process:

Applications should include the following materials. Please send them electronically to Laura Cabrera at If selected as a finalist, you may be asked to participate in an interview process with STML program faculty and staff. We may also request your transcripts. Applicants will be notified by December 15 of the year of application. Prerequisites: (1) Satisfaction of the general requirements for admission to CIPA or another Cornell graduate degree program, as outlined on the Cornell Graduate School website. (2) You must be in good academic standing at CIPA or in another Cornell graduate program. 

  1. Your Resume/CV

  2. Your Strategic Plan: Submit an essay (<1 page) that provides us with an understanding of who you are, your passion/vision for change in the world, and why this program will help you to take the next steps  In addition, you should discuss how you plan to incorporate the STML program into your future academic and professional life.


I took the Systems Thinking course with the Cabreras during my first semester at CIPA and was deeply inspired. It merged the theory that I was familiar with from my background in cultural anthropology with the pragmatic and tactical skills I sought out at CIPA. I knew that pursuing the certificate would enhance my ability to understand and change systems which would be essential for my concentration in international development.

Jamila Daniel, MPA ‘20
Concentration: International Development