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School of International Service

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Performing exceptional interdisciplinary research

The School of International Service houses a number of research centers and initiatives that cover a broad, interdisciplinary range of research and programming activities. These efforts round out the scholarly endeavors and student experiences at SIS.

The Accountability Research Center (ARC) is an action-research incubator based in the School of International Service at American University. ARC collaborates with partners to contribute to global thinking on how to improve public accountability and build more inclusive societies. ARC’s two main goals are to help improve the organizational effectiveness of our partners and inform agenda setting within the global transparency, participation, and accountability field. By working together on the real-world challenges our partners face, ARC provides both technical and analytical support for research and learning. ARC seeks to contribute to international discussions about change strategies by disseminating our partners’ research and insights.

The founding tenant of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center Centered is that racist government policies promote racist ideas—not the other way around. Led by Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, the Center will serve as a central hub to identify inequalities, determine the discriminatory government policies behind these inequalities, and ultimately change these policies in the United States and across the world. The Center will house six teams focused on the key policy areas of justice, economy, education, environment, health, and politics, each team consisting of scholars from American University and around the world, journalists, policy experts, and advocates.

American University’s ASEAN Studies Initiative, the first of its kind to be established in the United States, was formally launched at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 14, 2009. The ASEAN Studies Initiative conducts research into various aspects of ASEAN, including economic, political, security, socio-cultural activities and cooperation, institutional development, ASEAN’s relations with the US and other major powers, and its impact on international relations of the Asia Pacific region. The Initiative works collaboratively with the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta and with US government agencies, think tanks, and research institutes in Washington, DC, as well as with Southeast Asia institutions and other ASEAN research centers in the United States and abroad.

Bridging the Gap promotes scholarly contributions to public debate and decision making on global challenges and US foreign policy. Bridging the Gap equips professors and doctoral students with the skills they need to produce influential, policy-relevant research and theoretically grounded policy work. We also spearhead cutting-edge research on problems of concrete importance to governments, think tanks, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and global firms. Within the academy, we are driving changes in university culture and processes designed to incentivize public and policy engagement.

The Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment is an initiative of the Global Environmental Politics program in the School of International Service at American University. The Forum is concerned with the social, political, and legal implications of climate engineering technologies. The Forum’s public outreach efforts are guided by the observation that, to date, the conversation about climate engineering’s development, deployment, and implications has been confined to a relatively narrow set of voices.

The Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) prepares transformative disability policy leaders. IDPP serves as a collaborative think tank on disability policy for the ASEAN region through an unparalleled network of 20 leading universities and four outreach partners, with founding and sustained support from The Nippon Foundation.

Model G20 (MG20) Initiative is an innovative academic program designed by the School of International Service to advance the understanding of the G20 and international economic cooperation by fully simulating a G20 Leaders' Summit. Recognizing the G20's global influence, MG20 seeks to prepare young leaders to successfully face current and future global challenges.

Over the course of three days, the MG20 Summit at American University offers a unique learning experience that supplements the classic Model UN circuit. Designed in concert with a former high-level G20 diplomat, this is the first US-based complete and accurate simulation of the G20. The program includes an MG20 Symposium of high-level practitioners, speakers and experts, followed by a G20 simulation that begins with the initial negotiation process and leads up to the G20 Leaders' Summit itself.

The North American Research Institute is an initiative launched by American University’s SIS and Center for Latin American and Latino Studies to promote and disseminate cutting edge social science research focused on processes of North American integration. The Institute convenes a select group of early career scholars who explore North American progress toward the ideal of integration championed by the late SIS Professor Robert A. Pastor. By supporting the production, exchange, and dissemination of innovative social science devoted to the region and its potential, the Initiative places American University’s at the forefront of a long-term research agenda that will inform future policy on North America.

Transnational Challenges and Emerging Nations Dialogue (TRANSCEND) is an initiative of the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance established at SIS in 2011. It is a worldwide network of academic research centers, policy think-tanks, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations dedicated to developing new approaches to global governance. It specifically aims to forge a shared understanding among the developed and developing countries of how to manage the current diffusion of world power in the face of growing transnational challenges. TRANSCEND creates a collaborative research, teaching, and training framework to study the nexus between transnational challenges and emerging nations and to help scholars and policymakers from the emerging nations better understand and respond to these challenges.

The US-Pakistan Women’s Council was launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2012.The Council is a public-private partnership between the US State Department and American University and is supported by the Organization for Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN). The Council works with Pakistani and US leaders in industry, academia, and civil society to increase economic opportunities for women, with a particular focus on promoting entrepreneurship, employment, and education among women in Pakistan.