newsId: 6CE48B11-5056-AF26-BEDDCAB48DDDA09B
Title: Program Builds Bridges with Language
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU’s Language Exchange Program fosters cross-cultural understanding, friendship.
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 03/27/2015
Content:

Zitian Sun awaited word of who his Japanese language partner would be. When the name Yuki finally arrived, he was surprised—he knew that name well.

“We got the email at the same time, essentially,” Sun, who is from China, recalled with a laugh. He reached out to his friend Yuki Kubota. “I know no one else named Yuki.”

The two had been randomly matched through the university Language Exchange Program to practice their respective native tongues: Chinese Mandarin and Japanese. While already friends, the pair would soon find a stronger relationship ahead, due in large part to the program.

Advisor for immigrant services and compliance Dong Jun Choi facilitates LEP through AU’s International Student & Scholar Services department. The program aims at increasing students’ foreign language abilities, while also giving them experience as teachers and providing cross-cultural exchange opportunities.

When they first opened the brand new program to applicants in the fall, Choi and other ISSS staffers expected fewer than 100, perhaps 50, applications.

They received almost 600.

“We realized a lot of students really want to know other cultures and practice other languages,” he said.

The majority of the participants come from AU’s School of International Service, and for Choi, that’s no surprise. “With SIS students, if they want to communicate better with different cultures and countries, they need to know how to communicate effectively and efficiently,” he said.

Though American, English-speaking students seeking foreign languages skills make up most of the participants, AU’s vibrant international student population from more than 140 countries also take part in the program to learn from one another.

“American University is a pretty international environment,” said Kubota, a visiting sophomore from Waseda University in Japan. “The university has people from around the world. To be in a language exchange program is a great way to expand one’s perspective on the world. I’m taking advantage of that.”

With both Sun and Kubota interested in East Asian studies and relations between their two countries, their conversations have moved from communication toward understanding. “We talk not only about our language and culture, but we also discuss sensitive issues in our region, such as war memory,” Kubota said. “Those conversations actually deepen our relationship.”

Still, AU’s international focus extends far beyond SIS and issues of international relations; participants also number largely from the College of Arts & Sciences and the Kogod School of Business.

To Choi, the program’s linguistic benefits are obvious, bringing students a fuller understanding of their choice language—something that’s particularly useful if they plan on studying abroad.

“We learn the formal way of speaking in the classroom, but this program allows students to learn the informal way outside of the classroom, like slang or cultural idioms and terms,” Choi said.

More than that, Sun recognizes LEP as a tool for easing international students through the culture shock of arriving on campus. He should know—he was first a high school exchange student in Massachusetts, a far cry from his home in China.

“Especially for the people who stay here for a semester or a year, it’s hard. No matter how good your English skill is, this transition can be very difficult,” he said. “By partnering up with someone from this country and meeting them every week, they can go through the culture shock pretty easily.”

With all that in mind, Choi gives preference to visiting scholars, J-1 visa students—international students who will be at AU for a short period of time—and students who will be studying abroad.

For those going abroad, the program not only works as language practice but also as a way to approach practical questions of traveling to the country of study. Their language partner can help them with questions such as how to secure a cellphone and what public transit is like. They can even provide advance introductions to friends back home to meet.

Now, as Sun and Kubota’s friendship has become closer than ever, Kubota will soon return to his home university in Japan, but Sun won’t be far behind. He plans on spending a year at Waseda University with his good friend, furthering the connection that they can thank LEP for cementing.

“You establish this relationship that’s not just simply learning the language and saying goodbye,” he said. “The language is a bridge of communication between two cultures.”

Tags: Campus Life,Campus News,Office of Campus Life,International Studies,International Scholar and Student Services,International Students,International Relations,International Politics & Foreign Policy,China,Japan,School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 6CFDEAC3-5056-AF26-BE030FD4713202A4
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: D0FAF284-5056-AF26-BEBF10CE6A2A3C01
Title: New Book Examines U.S. Foreign Policy Militarization
Author: J. Paul Johnson
Subtitle:
Abstract: American University experts co-edit Mission Creep: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy?
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/23/2015
Content:

More money is needed to effectively carry out the U.S. diplomatic mission overseas, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. He testified, in late February, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying that a mere one percent of the total U.S. budget supports everything the Department of State does abroad and it's not enough. According to Kerry, it begs the question: Why don't the Department of State and other civilian authorities like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have the budget necessary to carry out their missions? 

American University School of International Service professors Gordon Adams and Shoon Murray, co-editors of Mission Creep: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy? (Georgetown University Press, 2015), and the experts they assembled G. William Anderson, Brian E. Carlson, Charles B. Cushman, Jr., James F. Dobbins, Jennifer Kibbe, Edward Marks, Anthony Quainton, Derek S. Reveron, Nina M. Serafino, Connie Veillette, and Sharon Weiner say as the title of the book states a preference for the Pentagon to take on the roles once reserved for civilian authorities. The contributors trace the various factors leading to the militarization of U.S. foreign policy over the last 70 years. 

The authors examine the post-World War II trend in three parts: the institutional and political context, observing the militarization trend (in the areas of development, security assistance, public diplomacy, traditional diplomacy, intelligence, and policy advice), and the implications of militarization. Throughout recommendations are made on how to stem mission creep and potentially reverse it.

The Birth of a Trend

Adams and Murray identify the Cold War as the start of the shift when the National Security Act of 1947, Truman Doctrine, and the establishment of NATO all began to shift the leadership of American foreign policy from State to Defense. As the DoD budget and capabilities grew, the trend accelerated. "The 9/11 terrorist attacks were a real game changer because the White House and Congress became consumed with counter-terrorism efforts that led to the twin wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," says Shoon Murray.  

Conventional warfare gave way to insurgency after 2001. U.S. intervention in the Balkans that had distributed responsibility between the State Department for reconstruction and governance and DoD to carry out military operations was abandoned as James F. Dobbins points out given the new insurgency paradigm. "The button downed U.S. diplomat has given way to a U.S. military uniform in the eyes of the international community," says Adams. 

2005 A Defining Year

In 2005, DoD began to incorporate nation building into its mission. Adams, Murray, and several of the contributors point to the 2005 DoD Directive 3000.05 that included stability operations as a core U.S. military mission. "It is a remarkable development that the Pentagon would give marching orders for the services and commands to consider noncombat tasks on par with war fighting," write Adams and Murray. 

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing back in 2008, where Adams testified, he pointed out that the Pentagon's share of funding for overseas security assistance –traditionally a State Department responsibility budget just for U.S. development assistance-- increased from 5.6 percent to 21.7 percent or $5.5 billion from 2002 to 2005.  

Is It A Mission the Military Wants? Maybe

Several of the chapter contributors question whether the military actually wants the additional portfolios added to its core mission. What stands out is the reluctance of U.S. military leaders to remain responsible for development and humanitarian missions better suited to civilian agencies. For example, in 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, "America's civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for too long—relative to what we traditionally spend on the military." The concern was echoed by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he said the political leadership views the military as more capable, assigning it more noncombat missions, and further weakening civilian agencies. He wanted "to break this cycle".  

However, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) seems to relish the expanded role. SOCOM's responsibility to lead and synchronize the global war on terror has sometimes conflicted with U.S. civilian authorities abroad. School of International Service diplomat in residence Anthony Quainton and Murray in one of the chapters spoke to two dozen retired U.S. ambassadors in the course of their research about whether in their postings they experienced any conflicts with DoD operations. The answer was largely no with one exception. "Many of the ambassadors we spoke with," write Murray and Quainton, "were suspicious of SOCOM, perceiving SOF (Special Operations Forces) as more free-wheeling and less deferential to ambassadorial authority." One former ambassador quoted in the book said SOCOM was secretive making it tricky for U.S. ambassadors to represent U.S. interests when secret missions even to the ambassador were being carried out.

Mission Creep by the Numbers

Adams, who served as the associate director for national security and international affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration, runs through several figures demonstrating the militarization of foreign policy. For example, the Pentagon budget is more than 10 times as large as the nation's international affairs spending, and there are 215 uniformed military personnel for every Foreign Service officer.

Adams is concerned that the asymmetry could lead to "blowback". "On the one hand it's funny that there are more musicians in DoD bands than in the entire foreign service, but on the other hand the militarization has consequences," says Adams, "For decades the United States has advised well-endowed and powerful militaries in less developed countries to remove themselves from politics, social work, and the local economy, but today the expansion of the U.S. military into noncore missions sends a conflicting message to these militaries. If the U.S. military can be an investor, government adviser, developer, why not them?"

Many of the contributors concede that projects once squarely in the domain of civilian authorities like the State Department and USAID will continue to be executed by the U.S. military. But should the nation's military, the point of the spear, be digging wells, constructing schools and providing medical assistance or advising national and local governments on governance and the rule of law? The majority of authors seem to agree it's better suited for USAID and the State Department to do the humanitarian and state building work on the ground even if it means some soiled hands.

Tags: Media Relations,School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name: J. Paul Johnson
Contact Phone: 202-885-5943
Contact Email: jjohnson@american.edu
News Photos: D3C06546-5056-AF26-BE58A060DD76DFE7
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: F56E6930-5056-AF26-BEFBD51EE243C82A
Title: Professor Presents Findings from “Journey into Europe” Project
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at SIS, recently reported on findings from his fieldwork in Europe over the past two years and gave a preview of his upcoming book and documentary.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/19/2015
Content:

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at SIS, recently reported on findings from his fieldwork in Europe over the past two years and gave a preview of his upcoming book and documentary.

Journey Into Europe is Ahmed’s fourth project in a series of award-winning books published with The Brookings Press. The series explores relations between the West and the Islamic world after 9/11. Ahmed is one of the world’s leading authorities on contemporary Islam.

The first book, Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization, examined what Muslims thought of the United States and the West through fieldwork across the Muslim world. The second book, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, showed how Americans perceived Islam and Muslims. The third book, The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam, explored the tribal societies on the periphery of nations.

The next volume, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire, will examine the historical relationship between Europe and the Muslim world, the contemporary challenges posed by increased immigration from the Muslim world, and the new pressures of security, globalization, and multiculturalism.

Dean James Goldgeier moderated a panel on February 11 that included Associate Professor Randolph Persaud, director of the Comparative and Regional Studies program, Distinguished Historian in Residence Michael Brenner, director of the Center for Israel Studies at AU, and Professor Tamara Sonn, the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in the History of Islam at Georgetown University.

Journey Into Europe explores the intersecting issues of the increased immigration of Muslims to Europe and the growing number of right-wing parties in Europe. The study also clarifies common misperceptions about European Muslims, for instance, the idea that they subscribe to one cultural community.

Ahmed described an “ominous, threatening landscape in Europe.” His perception of Europe’s role as the “mother continent,” its large Muslim population, and continued tensions between Islam and the West make this project timely and important in contributing to “healing a fractured world,” he explained. As an anthropologist, he noted that his project is both practically-grounded and academically-minded.

Ahmed noted that the Muslim community in Europe is not united. “It is divided along ethnic, sectarian, political, and national lines,” he said. “The monolith of ‘Muslim communities’ does not exist as such as there is far too much diversity.” He noted that there are indigenous Muslims who are native to Europe and non-indigenous Muslims, including immigrants in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Persaud noted that European Muslims are increasingly living in a “third space” that neither fits the traditional notion of the Middle Eastern Muslim or the notion of “Orientalism” seen in colonial times. Thus, many Muslim immigrants find themselves in a state of limbo, said Ahmed, even those who have lived in Europe for a long time, such as the Pakistanis in the United Kingdom.

The project's scope and engagement with a wide spectrum of Muslim experiences in Europe make it a very timely and cogent endeavor.

Learn more about Ambassador Ahmed’s research here: http://www.journeyintoeurope.com/

Read more about the lecture here: http://journeyintoeurope.com/2015/02/18/ambassador-ahmed-presents-islam-in-europe-fieldwork-at-american-university/

 

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: F5F44A47-5056-AF26-BE8D5F8C1F2A881E
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 862A262B-5056-AF26-BE551015167222E7
Title: Online Education, With Investment, Can Provide Opportunities for Students and Faculty
Author: James Goldgeier and David Bosco
Subtitle:
Abstract: Online Education, With Investment, Can Provide Opportunities for Students and Faculty
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/12/2015
Content:

This article first appeared in the Huffington Post.

In recent months, news has emerged from universities around the country indicating that a significant level of skepticism remains about online education. Some university faculty doubt that online education offers meaningful student-teacher interaction, and argue that online courses are inferior to face-to-face learning. Still others broadly oppose collaborations with for-profit external providers.

When we first examined the possibility of working with an external provider to deliver graduate education three years ago at the School of International Service at American University, we shared the same instincts, alongside many of our faculty colleagues. After all, how could online education be as beneficial to students as being in the same room and on the same campus with one another and with their professors?

Remarkably, we have found that it can be as beneficial, and that it has certain unique advantages. But this level of success requires a tremendous investment of resources, creativity and ambition to ensure that we meet our commitment as faculty and administrators to those students whose professional or family responsibilities or location do not allow them to enroll on campus.

In May 2013, the School of International Service launched an online master's degree in International Relations (MAIR), among the first of its kind in the United States. A year and a half later, more than 100 students have participated in live, online class sessions from 13 countries, 26 states, and across 14 time zones. Approximately one-third of these students are active duty or retired U.S. military. The School is responsible for admissions decisions, provides the course content and curriculum, and, working with the university, determines all policies related to the online degree. Faculty members spend 7 to 9 months preparing an online course -- including building the material that students will watch on their own time, such as lectures, presentations, videos, and simulations.

The School partnered with 2U, Inc., which has provided an online platform that enables faculty to deliver both pre-prepared and live coursework. 2U has invested financial and human resources in marketing the online degree that we would never have been able to devote on our own. For our course on international organizations, for example, 2U provided resources that allowed for high-quality, filmed interviews of half a dozen policymakers and experts at United Nations headquarters in New York. Students in the course viewed those interviews as they prepared for the relevant week's course meetings.

For these weekly "live sessions," students and the professor all appear on screen in a virtual classroom. This "Brady Bunch"-style format can produce a level of interaction that matches or even exceeds on-campus class sessions. The professor can easily assess and encourage student engagement, and participation has been as robust as in a traditional classroom. A variety of online tools -- including instant polls, an ongoing chat function, and online "breakout rooms" -- enhance that face-to-face contact. Moreover, the diversity of student locations, something only an online experience can provide, can be a powerful additive to classroom chemistry. In a recent online class, students included an officer deployed in Afghanistan, a student in the midst of a professional trip to Dubai, and another working with an international organization in Europe. They brought to the classroom their immediate experiences and perspectives and made our discussion of international organizations extraordinarily rich.

Our students and our faculty report high levels of satisfaction -- with 94 percent of students in our most recent survey reporting that they would strongly recommend the online master's program to a friend. We invited our online students to campus for a four-day immersion program in early September -- an experience not unlike a family reunion. Students who had come to know each other well through their online courses met for the first time in person. Moreover, our students met with their professors and attended individual academic and career advising sessions, participated in a skills workshop on multinational negotiation scenarios, and visited the U.S. Agency for International Development for a School of International Service alumni panel that offered them advice on careers in development. Alongside our partner 2U, we have been able to provide our online students the same benefits they would receive in our on-campus graduate degree programs, creating as equitable an experience as possible for all of our students.

To be sure, the process of designing and delivering an online master's degree has presented challenges. For all its capabilities, the technological platform cannot completely replicate spontaneous on-campus interactions. Faculty understandably are concerned about the use of their intellectual property, and sometimes their vision of a course's educational materials do not align with the optimal uses of the online platform. Fortunately, our staff and faculty and 2U's leadership team and staff meet regularly to resolve issues as they arise. Despite the university's status as a non-profit and 2U's for-profit status, we share the same overriding goal for all of our students, regardless of the mode of delivery: to train future leaders in international affairs who will leave the program and embark on successful careers in government, international organizations, non-profits, and business, to address the great challenges of our time.

David Bosco is an assistant professor at the School of International Service. You can follow him on Twitter @Multilateralist.

James Goldgeier is dean of the School of International Service. You can follow him on Twitter @JimGoldgeier.

The original version of this article appeared in the Huffington Post on December 9, 2014: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-james-goldgeier/online-education-with-gre_b_6288764.html

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 6184927C-95F9-C2AD-0092D2336F7D7C24,78212624-B101-DABD-E4FA91EF168A208C,D1531B08-C769-D64D-ADAEE55C49E4B8C9
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 92F22569-5056-AF26-BEF3139FF2BB8167
Title: The Coastie Vet: Truly the Silent Service
Author: Christopher Evanson
Subtitle:
Abstract: Christopher Evanson, SIS/BA '15, reflects on his experiences as a Coast Guard veteran and SIS undergraduate student.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/12/2015
Content:

This article, by SIS undergraduate student Christopher Evanson, first appeared in Foreign Policy.

I remember attending transfer orientation at American University in the fall of 2012. Grinning from ear to ear, I was overflowing with excitement just thinking about the prospect of graduating from college. As it was in my household growing up, the opportunity of higher education was but a faint possibility. Actually, it was never even discussed. College had eluded everyone in my immediate family, including my father, who never completed his sophomore year of high school. My pathway to the college quad required a detour through the U.S. Coast Guard, an institution in which I served ten years as an enlisted member.

The first person I encountered at transfer orientation was another recently separated military veteran. At first glance, he was the poster child of the American warrior ethos. He was handsome, fit, extremely intelligent, and a highly decorated Force Reconnaissance Marine. He too had enlisted. Over the next five semesters, I would meet many more like him. Soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, all of them enlisted, and all embodied the very best America has to offer. There were a handful of Special Forces operators, infantry, and medical corpsman. There was even a trombone player from the U.S Army band. Yet, I never encountered another coast guardsman. For lack of a better pun, I was a fish out of water.

It seemed wherever I ventured, whatever class I attended, I was the anomaly; I was the token “Coastie.” There were times when I struggled to participate in war stories with fellow veterans, because I had never participated in a security checkpoint in Kabul, or sustained enemy fire in Mosul. In fact, I had not carried or fired a weapon outside of a domestic gun range. My job was to tell the Coast Guard story, as a public affairs specialist, one of the Coast Guard’s enlisted external communicators. For a service that remains to this day smaller than the New York City Police and Fire Departments, the ability to build bridges with the media and surrounding communities was vital for the Coast Guard’s mission execution. In retrospect, my chosen profession seemed fitting for the task of educating my newfound peers.

I remember a story that a commanding officer once shared about the time he visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston. As the story goes, a janitor greeted him upon his arrival and emphatically declared, “I put men on the moon.” It was a bold statement, but it reflects in my opinion the nature of enlisted service. The story always reminded me that the various roles we fill, regardless of scope and fanfare, contribute mightily to the defense of this nation. It helped reinforce for me that it was okay if a fellow veteran or the uninitiated responded with a blank stare when I introduced myself as a coast guardsman. I view all interactions as an opportunity to educate and tell the story of my fellow shipmates. Those stories included that of Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, a damage controlman killed in action alongside two Navy sailors while conducting maritime intercept operations in the North Arabian Gulf. Or signalman first class Douglas Munro, who died heroically on Guadalcanal on Sept. 27, 1942, after he volunteered to evacuate a detachment of Marines who were facing annihilation. (He remains the Coast Guard’s sole Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.) Despite my initial skepticism, I have been welcomed among my peers with open arms. Such is the nature of service.

I am proud to be among the long line of enlisted Coast Guardsmen who have served this nation, and I consider it an honor to have the privilege of being a student-veteran. If the prior-enlisted men and women that I encounter every day on campus are a reflection of this country’s future, then the future is very, very bright.

Christopher P. Evanson served ten years in the Coast Guard as a public affairs specialist, leaving as a petty officer first class in 2012. He deployed to China, Guyana, and Haiti. He is now pursuing his bachelors at American University’s School of International Service, specializing in U.S. foreign policy with a minor in international business. He will graduate in the Spring of 2015. He holds the Coast Guard chair on Best Defense’s Council of Former Enlisted.

The original version of this article appeared in Foreign Policy, on March 5, 2015: https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/05/the-coastie-vet-truly-the-silent-service/

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 932B6BD7-5056-AF26-BEAA35D47F02CF27
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 59FEE2D7-5056-AF26-BE91D66BE500CAF4
Title: SIS Participates in International Studies Convention
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: SIS faculty members and graduate students recently returned from the 56th annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), the premier organization for connecting scholars around the world in the fields of international studies.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/11/2015
Content:

SIS faculty members and graduate students recently returned from the 56th annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), the premier organization for connecting scholars around the world in the fields of international studies.

The 2015 convention, titled “Global IR and Regional Worlds: A New Agenda for International Studies,” took place February 18-21 in New Orleans, Louisiana and featured multiple panel presentations by many SIS scholars and students. The full program is available here: http://www.isanet.org/Conferences/New-Orleans-2015/Program.

Professor Amitav Acharya, the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance, concluded his successful year as president of ISA. Acharya’s ascendance to the presidency of ISA marked a watershed moment for the organization. As the first president from the Global South, his presidential address last year served to set the tone throughout the year that scholars of international relations would be well served to study theories presented by non-Western scholars.

The Global South Caucus Distinguished Scholar Award was presented to University Professor James Mittelman at the caucus’s annual luncheon at ISA. According to the caucus, the award is “in recognition of the recipient’s exceptional and sustained contribution to global south international studies ... as reflected both in published works as well as policy contributions.”

Among many highlights, Dean James Goldgeier was a featured speaker in the ISA Sapphire Series roundtable on Breaking Current Events. Dean Goldgeier discussed the current crisis in Ukraine.

SIS also hosted a reception at the convention that included several alumni, including some who are now faculty elsewhere, as well as a number of prospective students.

Among the guests at the SIS reception was a student from the online MA in International Relations program. The student and his wife were glad to have an opportunity to interact with some of his professors in person and they invited several faculty members to their home for dinner.

The next ISA annual convention will take place in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16-19, 2016.

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 5AADD98C-5056-AF26-BE3504706B38AE9C
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 26F3D435-5056-AF26-BE6F8F3FF79E2C2C
Title: Professor’s Book Examines Non-State Actors in Diplomacy
Author: Anne Deekens
Subtitle:
Abstract: Assistant Professor Robert Kelley’s new book, Agency Change: Diplomatic Action Beyond the State, examines the rise and power of non-state actors in diplomacy.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/10/2015
Content:

Assistant Professor Robert Kelley’s new book, Agency Change: Diplomatic Action Beyond the State, examines the rise and power of non-state actors in diplomacy.

Kelley, a former State Department official who is an expert on public diplomacy, argues that the “agency”or impetus for modern diplomacy is shifting from traditional institutions like the U.S. State Department to a new range of non-state diplomatic actors (NDAs). NDAs, which include humanitarian organizations, former heads of state, celebrities, religious leaders, and public intellectuals, can often mobilize more quickly than their State Department counterparts, thanks to advanced information and communications technologies, idea entrepreneurship, resourcefulness, and public influence.

“NDAs have developed particular capabilities that elude large, slow bureaucracies like the State Department, including shaping agendas, building action networks and transnational constituencies around issues of shared concern, and solving problems that lie beyond the reach of any single state. As with any process of innovation, NDAs are finding creative ways to compensate for government inadequacy and inaction in all those areas,” Kelley explains.

As an example, Kelley cites the handling of the Ebola crisis. While various bureaucracies including the World Health Organization debated over which agencies would respond where and when, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, worked to bring the situation under control.

Although MSF is a humanitarian-aid organization, other NDAs self-identify as diplomatic players. For example, Carne Ross, an ex-British diplomat who heads the private firm Independent Diplomat, consults with under-represented states like Kosovo on diplomatic strategies and techniques. NDAs can also include sub-state actors such as the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement working to end Moroccan presence in the Western Sahara.

These developments indicate that diplomacy is de-centering, according to Kelley. In response, Kelley asserts that state officials and NDAs can -- and should -- collaborate on diplomatic affairs.

“I find there can be synergies between official diplomats and NDAs. For all their innovation and problem-solving, NDAs cannot match their state counterparts in the areas of accountability and responsibility. What this suggests is that neither competition nor compensation, but collaboration will sustain diplomacy as a pillar of world politics,” Kelley says.

In order for state and non-state actors to coexist, Kelley concludes that governments must innovate their diplomatic efforts while still maintaining accountability, legitimizing the use of state strength, and leveraging permanent presence in diplomatic relationships. His study shows how states can embrace change by first recognizing the sources of power in today’s diplomatic affairs, and the book presents a case for what states can do now to respond to a world in which diplomacy has gone public.

“NDAs can command a degree of credibility eluding most governments. More than any other time, today’s diplomacy requires gaining public support in order to be effective. Thus, one could surmise that there is no longer a ‘public diplomacy’ but in fact most diplomacy presumes public engagement,” Kelley says.

Follow Robert Kelley on Twitter at @agencychange.

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 277CBF0F-5056-AF26-BEFC3E37876B4659
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 604C60C0-5056-AF26-BE5647776B49B097
Title: SIS Honors Retiring Senior Faculty Members
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Several senior School of international Service faculty members have elected to retire this year. Below are notes that were sent to the SIS community from Dean Jim Goldgeier about these professors’ remarkable accomplishments and contributions.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/06/2015
Content:

Several senior School of international Service faculty members have elected to retire this year. Below are notes that were sent to the SIS community from Dean Jim Goldgeier about these professors’ remarkable accomplishments and contributions.




Professor Gordon Adams
Professor Ronald Fisher
Professor Clarence Lusane
University Professor James Mittelman
Professor and Mohammed Said Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace Abdul Aziz Said



Gordon Adams

I write to share the news that Professor Gordon Adams will be stepping down from the full-time faculty at the end of this academic year to take up permanent residence in Maine. Fortunately for us, Gordon will maintain an affiliation with SIS for both research and teaching purposes.

Gordon and I worked together many years ago at George Washington University, so I was thrilled to be able to work with him again when I arrived at AU in 2011. He has been an amazing practitioner-teacher-scholar, and I look forward to celebrating his many accomplishments later this spring.

Since joining the SIS faculty in 2007, Gordon has taught graduate students foreign policy and national security institutions, processes, and resource planning. His national security resources class has been innovative in covering both defense and foreign policy budgeting. He has also taught undergraduates the history and practices of U.S. foreign policy and an innovative Honors Colloquium on the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. While at SIS, he has served on admissions committees and the AU Faculty Senate Budget and Benefits Committee.

He has been a research-active term faculty member as well, publishing two books during his time at AU, one a unique textbook on national security and foreign policy resource planning, and the other an edited volume (with SIS Professor Shoon Murray) on the militarization of foreign policy. He has also produced two published monographs, covering national security budgeting (MIT Press) and U.S. security assistance policy (Stimson Center), two book chapters, covering U.S. reconstruction operations and the budgetary role of the Office of Management and Budget, as well as a number of articles and columns in the public media.

Gordon has also been extremely active in the public arena. Since 2012, he has written a regular column on defense and foreign policy issues for Foreign Policy online. He has been a Distinguished Fellow with the Stimson Center since 2008. In 2008-09, he was a member of the incoming Obama administration’s transition team at the Office of Management and Budget. He has been a frequent commentator for print, online, video, and audio media on defense and foreign policy issues, for outlets ranging from the Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Defense News and appears regularly on such media programs as the PBS NewsHour, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Al Jazeera, BBC, and many other outlets.

He has also provided more than twenty briefings and talks a year on defense and foreign policy planning and budgetary issues for audiences including at the Foreign Service Institute, the National Defense University, the Eisenhower School, the Army War College, the Peace and Security Funders Group, the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellows, Politico’s media panels, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and elsewhere.

Gordon had a distinguished career before he came to the SIS. From 2006-07, he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. From 1999-2006, he was a Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and Director of the Security Policy Studies Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs. From 1998-99 he was Deputy Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, where he participated in management and planning, developed the IISS corporate membership program, and wrote and spoke widely on U.S. and European defense resource and planning issues.

As Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, between February 1993 and December 1997, Gordon was the senior White House official for national security and foreign policy budgets. He supervised a staff of sixty responsible for reviewing the budget plans of the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Agency for International Development, the United States Information Agency, the Treasury Department (international programs), the intelligence community, and a number of smaller agencies.

Before joining OMB, Gordon was founder and Director of the Defense Budget Project, a nonpartisan research center in Washington D.C. which was one of Washington’s leading analytical institutions working on the defense budget, defense economics, and defense policy issues. The Project became today’s Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Gordon received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University with a specialization in Western Europe. He was a Fulbright Fellow studying European integration at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium 1963-64, and graduated magna cum laude in Political Science and Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University. He has been an International Affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, senior staff at the Council on Economic Priorities in New York, has taught at Columbia University and Rutgers University, and was a staff associate for European Programs at the Social Science Research Council.

His publications include Mission Creep: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy? (Georgetown University Press, 2014), Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home (Routledge 2010), Transforming European Militaries Coalition Operations and the Technology Gap (Routledge 2006), and The Iron Triangle: The Politics of Defense Contracting (Transaction Press 1980).

Gordon is a member of the Advisory Board for Business Executives for National Security and of the Board of Advisers of the Naval Postgraduate School/Naval War College. He received the Defense Department’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1997, was a member of the Defense Policy Board of the Department of Defense (1998-2001), and has been a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies since 1998 and of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1990.

In addition to his professional work in public policy, Gordon is also an accomplished stage actor. He studied at the Studio Theater Conservatory, and has appeared in more than ten stage productions in the Washington, DC area, including the Shakespeare Theater Company, Silver Spring Stage, Montgomery Players, Doorway Arts Ensemble, Rockville Little Theater, and the Capitol Fringe Festival. His roles have included Polonius in Hamlet, the Inspector in The Inspector Calls, and Hamm in Endgame.

Gordon is currently using his acting and teaching talents to build a course for our IR Online program. And although he is moving up to Maine, Gordon will continue to participate in research activities here at the school and plans to teach occasionally for us in the IR Online program.

Life in Maine sounds great, and I am glad Gordon will remain connected to SIS. I am also extremely grateful for all he has done for our faculty and students. He has been an extraordinary resource for all of us.

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: 65A32ACC-5056-AF26-BE9310A5CAE42B40
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: CF730F0F-5056-AF26-BEE2640DF2E77ED8
Title: Spotlight on the EPGA Program
Author: Anne Deekens
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs (EPGA) program at the School of International Service offers an ethical response to contemporary global problems.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 03/03/2015
Content:

The Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs (EPGA) program at the School of International Service offers an ethical response to contemporary global problems. Guided by the idea of “positive peace,” the master's program prepares graduate students broadly in the practical application of ethical theory and policy analysis to difficult ethical choices in global affairs, and specifically to the dynamics of war, peace, and conflict resolution.

We asked Professorial Lecturer Jeffrey Bachman, director of the EPGA program, and Lauren Reese, the EPGA program coordinator, to tell us more:

What is the mission/vision of the program?

The Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs (EPGA) program is committed to cultivating global citizens. Through the application of ethics and social justice principles, EPGA students are challenged to critically explore complex global issues and structures, including environmental security, the protection of indigenous communities, U.S. drone policy, and human trafficking. The EPGA program is particularly passionate about its active engagement with local, national, and global communities.

How is the program unique?

The EPGA program is a joint MA degree program shared by the International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) program in the School of International Service (SIS) and the Department of Philosophy and Religion in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). This partnership offers students a unique opportunity to learn how to apply ethical theory and policy analysis to pressing global issues. Students in the EPGA program study with faculty from diverse disciplines and fields of study. This allows students to tailor specific areas of study to their interests and helps them cultivate the ability to explore global issues through diverse lenses.

What are some things your program does to further your students professionally?

The EPGA program maintains a broad network of scholars, practitioners, and activists, both in Washington, DC and internationally. It also offers an annual practicum that fulfills students' capstone requirement for graduation. During the practicum, students have the opportunity to work closely with a partnering organization on a project of mutual interest. In the first two years EPGA has offered practia, partners have included Freedom House, the Office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. The program also coordinates and co-sponsors ten to fifteen events each semester that offer students direct engagement with prominent figures who are working on issues relevant to their studies and interests.

Describe the students in your program.

EPGA students are philosophers, activists, and community-builders. They are members of the military and they are faith leaders. EPGA students come from varied communities in the United States, as well as Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Our students range from first-generation college students who recently graduated from their undergraduate institution to seasoned professionals who hold other graduate degrees. EPGA students are a diverse, close-knit group who share a deep passion for transforming global society without losing sight of the human element along the way.

Learn more about the EPGA program here:
http://www.american.edu/sis/EPGA/index.cfm

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: D02107C2-5056-AF26-BE97E97B0745E14D
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
newsId: 617E44F7-5056-AF26-BED352481E8A1C02
Title: Class Explores DC Immigrant Housing
Author: Camille Bridger and Hope Johnston-Holm
Subtitle:
Abstract: An honors-level research class at SIS is collaborating with the nonprofit organization DC Doors to raise awareness about the homeless immigrant population in Washington, DC. DC Doors is led by SIS alum Janethe Peña, SIS/BA ’02.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 02/25/2015
Content:

An honors-level research class at the School of International Service is collaborating with the nonprofit organization DC Doors to raise awareness about the homeless immigrant population in Washington, DC. DC Doors is led by SIS alumna Janethe Peña, SIS/BA ’02, and the class is taught by Assistant Professor Maria De Jesus. The class is conducting community-based participatory research with families who participate in DC Doors in order to help change the dialogue on homelessness.

Undergraduate students Camille Bridger and Hope Johnston-Holm discuss their visit to DC Doors and their experiences with the collaboration:

This semester, the American University Scholars Program provided students with an opportunity to take Power, Justice, and Health: Community-Based Participatory Research Models HNRS 196-012H, an honors-level research class. At first, we didn’t know what to expect. To our surprise and excitement, our professor, Maria De Jesus, welcomed us to a class that would focus on hands-on community-based participatory research. She informed us that we would conducting collaborative research with DC Doors, a grassroots organization that helps homeless female immigrants find housing, get jobs, and gain confidence by being able to provide for themselves by the end of their time within the program.

Taking a tour of the site was a very powerful experience for our group. We saw the rooms that the women stay in and could tell that the staff members were proud of their tenants. There wasn’t just pride in their voices, but hope and passion. Janethe Peña and her staff encapsulate those traits. It’s no wonder that the women coming into DC Doors feel safe in this environment. The staff members of DC Doors are welcoming and friendly to all who enter.

After the visit, our class put our thoughts into action and created five groups for our research. We want to change the dialogue surrounding homelessness and focus on the resiliency of the families that DC Doors assists.

• We created a social media group to document our research and to spread the word about DC Doors and its amazing, unique work.
• The survey group will analyze generalized information, including the demographics of its clients and the effectiveness of the resources available to them both through DC Doors and in the larger community.
• Our literature review group will explore ideas like resiliency, causes and perceptions of homelessness, and the importance of confidence and stability to homeless families.
• Our photo-voice group will give disposable cameras to the families in DC Doors so they can document their lives in ways that highlight events and experiences most important to them. Through a collaborative process, the research team will then co-analyze the pictures and co-create brief narratives to complement the pictures as a way of highlighting their lived experiences. We hope that the cameras, as tools of research and discovery, will become sources of empowerment for the families.
• The digital stories group will conduct narrative interviews with both staff members and the women to obtain their perspectives. The research team will ask the staff members to share their thoughts on working with the women and what the organizational resources and barriers are at DC Doors. They will ask the women personalized questions about their experiences. The group will then videotape some of the stories in order to highlight the resiliency of these women, as well as the wonderful work that DC Doors has done for them.

This class has now morphed into a greater social project where, as a group, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the perception of homelessness as it affects immigrant populations in Washington, DC. We hope that through our research, DC Doors will continue to benefit immigrant women and their families. Visiting the site showed us that the homeless women DC Doors is working with are real people. People have a tendency to dehumanize the homeless, but these are women who have children and husbands. These are families. DC Doors understands this and we’re excited to be working with the organization because of the real change it makes in supporting families.

DC Doors is a grassroots initiative that provides safe and affordable housing to the homeless immigrant population in Washington, DC. For more information, visit http://www.dcdoors.org/.

Tags: School of International Service
Publication:
Photos: 0
Contact Name:
Contact Phone:
Contact Email:
News Photos: C4DD4921-5056-AF26-BE88E244C20416F1,62576FD2-5056-AF26-BEB8CA35084BDF2C
Profile:
Media:
newMediaIDList:
 
newsId: C61CDCBB-5056-AF26-BE51BCB2CC7EF9F5
Title: Be Curious and Stay Connected: Lessons from Tony Silva, SIS/MA '94
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle:
Abstract: Tony Silva, SIS/MA ’94, looks back on his AU experience and his international communication master’s program.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 02/09/2015
Content: "Be curious and remain curious."

Tony Silva, SIS/MA '94, values this philosophy as one of the most important things that he learned from his master's degree in international communication at American University's School of International Service. Having graduated with a degree in journalism from New Mexico State University, Tony came to AU, and SIS specifically, with a passion to do good in the world. Throughout his career, and now as executive vice president of Social Change at Ogilvy Public Relations, he is doing just that.

Looking back on his career, Tony knows that he has always been striving to make the world better. He describes the work that he and his colleagues at Ogilvy do, saying simply, "Social change is ultimately to improve the human condition." He credits the diversity at AU for helping him realize his "interest in travel, interest in issues, and how these issues effect a global population." 

While Tony went straight to the SIS master's program after graduating from college in New Mexico, not everyone else did. He valued the diversity of his peers, both globally – "Many of my classmates were from other countries or had spent a significant amount of time abroad" – and professionally – "I got to just learn not only from the professors, but from everyone around me." 

Tony knows the value of his degree, and he says that in his experience, the Washington, D.C. community values it as well. "Many AU alumni stayed in Washington for 25 years," he says, "so AU is well respected." Tony also is a big proponent of continuing to engage with the university. What's one reason why he encourages others to be engaged with their alma mater? "I got a private tour of the new SIS building before it was opened! That's one of the nice perks of staying connected with the university." 

5 things Tony Silva says his AU experience taught him: 

  1. Be curious and remain curious.
  2. Stay engaged and interested in many things.
  3. Bring new thinking into the workforce.
  4. Allow and accept the evolution of communication.
  5. Stay connected with people. Staying connected helps operating in this world a little bit better.
Tags: Alumni,Alumni Update,International Communication,SIS Career,School of International Service
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: C644E245-5056-AF26-BEFE67FF567D8978
Media:
newsId: 65DAC901-A6A4-8974-68EDC272F0D9A737
Title: SIS Graduate Student Studies Development in Africa
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kafia Ahmed, second year SIS graduate student in IPCR interned in Kenya.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/13/2014
Content:

Kafia Ahmed, a second year SIS graduate student in IPCR, focusing on development in East Africa and prevention of gender-based violence, interned in Kenya this past summer and shared her experience with us:

SIS: Describe the organization you interned for and the type of work that you did.

KA: Adeso is a humanitarian and development organization that is changing the way people think about and deliver aid in Africa. It is an NGO in Africa working in a very different way than most. It believes that development must come from within, not outside African communities (i.e. Africans themselves must determine Africa’s future) and that while international aid has provided much-needed support, it often falls short of enabling lasting change at the grassroots level. Adeso wants to change this by creating and utilizing strong bonds with African communities. 

I worked with many of the organization’s existing projects and supported a variety of central functions during my time there. I learned a lot about the organization by doing the tasks put in front of me and spent a lot of time interacting with the other staff to plan and execute projects.

SIS: Are you still in contact with the organization? 

KA: I was mentored by the organization’s Regional Communications and Advocacy Manager who I am still in touch with and currently working with to support some of the organization’s projects while I am now back in D.C.  

SIS: Describe the value of international education in relation to your own personal experience.

KA: It's difficult to learn about the world without getting there and experiencing it for yourself. No one can teach you the same way that travel can. You have to get out there and see what kind of person you can become, by challenging yourself. 

SIS: What specifically about your program abroad did you find helpful/useful? 

KA: The fact that I was given real work to do and not busy ‘intern’ work really made it a meaningful experience for me. It showed me what I could potentially be doing if I worked there full time and taught me skills needed for future work in the field. 

SIS: How did your study abroad experience influence your career aspirations? 

KA: My internship abroad was a look inside the exact kind of work I hope to do after finishing my degree. It allowed me to experience what real life conditions are for doing important work abroad and the challenges as well as the meaningful impact that are part of it. It enabled me see another piece of the picture and how I can be a part of it one day.  

SIS: What were the most challenging or difficult aspects of your program and how did you overcome them? 

KA: My biggest challenge was not getting in my own way and allowing myself to take on tasks that scared me and rising to the challenge.

SIS: How beneficial do you think it is to have this program on your resume or international experience, in general? 

KA: I think that this experience shows that I am a good candidate for the kind of work that I want to do, it shows that I am capable and have the skills set they seek.  

SIS: What kind of professional skills did you develop during your time abroad? 

KA: Timeliness, organization, and how to ask for help when I need it.

SIS: What advice can you offer to other study abroad students? 

KA: Think about what kind of job you’d like to do when you graduate and pursue an internship with an organization that has an opportunity like that. Find the person who has that job and ask them how they got to where they are.  

SIS: How did your time abroad influence your studies at SIS or academic interests, in general? 

KA: My experience showed me that the career path I’ve chosen is the right one for me and that I can actually succeed and thrive in my chosen field. 

SIS: Would you recommend the program to your peers or if the internship site interested in receiving more AU students? 

KA: I would highly recommend this internship to anyone interested in East Africa and dignified development solutions. Others can reach out to me and the SIS International Programs Office if they are interested in interning with Adeso.  

SIS: Does your career goal relate to your international experience?

KA: Yes.

SIS: Is there anything else that you wish to say about your experience? 

KA: Feel free to read the blog entries I wrote while there: http://kafiainkenya.blogspot.com/

Tags: School of International Service
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: 68C6707B-AD74-8AAF-74D18078A27F0336
Media:
newsId: FE6E2C3F-F1AE-D067-7E6AC4FF5A43B4AD
Title: From a Semester in Norway to a Career in International Education: Caitlin Murphy, SIS/MA '14
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Profile of Caitlyn Murphy, SIS/MA '14
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/06/2014
Content:

Caitlin Murphy is a recent alumna of the SIS International Communications program who spent a semester studying abroad in Norway with one of the SIS partner institutions, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. After graduation, Caitlin accepted a position at Lebanon Valley College as the Associate Director of Global Education. She now manages all international aspects at the College from international student recruitment and advising to study abroad programs. During her time as a student in the International Communication program, Caitlin focused her studies on international education.

SIS: Describe your experience abroad during your degree program at SIS

CM: I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Norway. I worked with the SIS International Programs Office and was placed in regular graduate classes at NMBU with all the other students studying there. It was a complete immersion and I not only took classes there that were different from those at SIS, but I learned so much about the country and culture of Norway. I also was able to travel around a lot on the weekends.  

SIS: Describe the value of international education in relation to your own personal experience 

CM: International education is the most inexpensive catalyst, energizer, therapy, and mirror that anyone could ask for. The experience challenges at the onset, evokes curiosity, leads to triumph and confidence, which in turn, with some reflection, is the key to all future trials and tribulations. The power to thrive somewhere else has been jumpstarted with such an experience and that is something that students can take with them for the rest of their lives.

SIS: How did your study abroad experience influence your career aspirations?

CM: Although I have studied abroad a few times before, this experience was even more transformative than I could have imagined. I met people from all around the world, I gained more spontaneity and courage, and lastly I gained genuine empathy for circumstances I had never experienced until I was five months in Norway making sense of my early 20s and my future. While I had a sense of how to navigate trains and airplanes before, I learned much more about ferries and fjords. That may seem irrelevant, but now I know that I need to be in a place that values the great outdoors, and mountains are a must.  

SIS: What advice do you offer to a study abroad student?

CM: My advice is to do everything you can. Do the things that scare you most, for the biggest risks yield the biggest rewards. Make yourself uncomfortable in times when you can make others comfortable, and you will learn to develop meaningful friendships and lasting experiences. Do not think of study abroad as a static experience. Once you have lived somewhere else, you begin to start a life with a group of people; that doesn't have to end when it's over. Reflect, communicate, and motivate yourself to stay connected elsewhere as you continue to expand your options and your world back home.  

SIS: What specifically about your program abroad did you find helpful/useful? 

CM: My program was a taste of a completely different education system. I was not accustomed to simply hearing lectures and then taking final exams that were worth large parts of my grade. While initially I was worried and annoyed about the grading process, I realized that many other students have lived this way forever and survived. I thought, why can't I? I will be better for it in the end and I will become more adaptable in my test-taking skills, and it turned out to be beneficial in the end. It has made me more flexible and a bit more stress free. 

SIS: What were the most challenging or difficult aspects of your program and how did you overcome them? 

CM: The most challenging aspect of my program was learning to balance my budget in one of the most expensive cities of the world. Some of my favorite pastimes were difficult to fulfill because such activities were extremely expensive. However, I tried new activities and did many more things with friends in our apartment complex on campus. For example, instead of eating out we cooked in -- it was during these times that we shared cultural traditions and nuances. I practiced my language skills and laughed over foreign music or entertainment. The little moments truly make the entire experience; that is the secret.  

SIS: How beneficial do you think it is to have this program on your resume or international experience, in general? 

CM: Because of my work in international education, having a network outside of the United States is always vital. Also, because I lived with international students from all around the world, I was fortunate to make lasting connections and great friendships with these people. Now I have a little network to call on for visits, favors, advice and so on as I continue in my work.  

SIS: What kind of professional skills did you develop during your time abroad? 

CM: In Norway, I was exposed to sustainability, international development, poverty, and economics through my coursework. These frameworks are vital for my future in international education and how I will conceptualize my work. While the following are not professional skills, they have served me after my time in Norway. I learned how to cook all sorts of international foods, as I was surrounded by international students. I also learned how to cross country ski, swing dance, and improved on my Italian language speaking, oddly enough. 

SIS: How did your time abroad influence your studies at SIS or academic interests, in general? 

CM: I knew going into graduate school that I wanted to study abroad so I made sure to focus on my core courses to start. This actually made me much more focused my first year and encouraged me to take additional credits, such as Skills Institute Courses. Taking on additional work to start and allowing myself more creativity towards the end of my program truly gave me a strong foundation to grow in whatever direction I wanted to at the end of my program with elective credits and thesis work abroad.  

SIS: Would you recommend the program to your peers? 

CM: I think every SIS student SHOULD study abroad. There may only be so many chances to have such an uninterrupted time period to go and explore. Even if you have done it before, every experience, new place, and new face you make can be the difference in where you end up. As SIS students, we need to practice what we preach and get out into the world MORE.  

SIS: Does your career goal relate to you international experience? CM: I hope one day to be working abroad, in some sort of educational or training capacity. Seeing Norway has opened my eyes to a desirable country, but also a great and interesting case study to an education system that is a bit unique. 

SIS: Is there anything else that you wish to say about your experience? 

CM: My experience in Norway is still so central to not only my life but my entire essence. During my experience, I faced new life obstacles, and many roads were converging at once: saying goodbye to friends, graduation, getting a job, moving, and other relationship changes. Being in Norway at the time allowed me to think objectively and with new eyes that were not exhausted by my daily routine of who I was and where I was going. This new context truly provided a new canvas and the experiences I had and the friends I made colored this for me in ways I couldn't have imagined by the time I returned home. I am still working on this "painting" in a sense, but I think, breathe, and dream about Norway and those experiences still.  

There was a story that the Norwegian Embassy did on me during my first or second week in Norway. I also made a video -- there are no words, it is just a slideshow. Enjoy!

Tags: School of International Service
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: 367B2E53-DD2B-0B04-D52AFEA376F71CAA
Media:
newsId: D865A1EC-E4CE-7F77-0DF01C5A5707D0C7
Title: From Undocumented to Unstoppable
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Daniel Alejandro Leon Davis achieved his college dreams, despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 06/13/2014
Content:

At age six, Daniel Alejandro Leon Davis, SIS/BA ’13, came to the United States from Venezuela with his mother to visit siblings in Miami. Instead of returning home, Daniel and his mother stayed in the U.S. permanently, though they were undocumented. Despite what seemed to be insurmountable odds, Daniel persevered. He received AU’s prestigious Abdul Aziz Said Phi Epsilon Pi Scholarship, graduated Magna Cum Laude, and won the Fletcher Scholar Award for exemplifying integrity and selflessness in citizenship while achieving academically.

As an AU student, Daniel was the first undocumented intern for the Clinton Global Initiative, part of President Bill Clinton's philanthropic foundation. Now, he is chief of staff to Michael Skolnik who is a civil rights activist, political director to hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons, and president of GlobalGrind.com.

“My mother lived the American dream,” Daniel says. Although his mother can’t speak English, she put on a brave face and gave her children everything she could, working as many as three jobs and eventually becoming the top interior designer for Mercedes Homes.

It is clear Daniel’s mother is his inspiration and champion. Looking back at his childhood, he recognizes the signs that she struggled because they were undocumented. He remembers nights when his mother would go without food; her constant apprehension around police officers (even mall security guards) for fear of deportation; and frequent visits to her lawyer’s office. Undocumented immigrants often live in such secrecy and fear, it is not uncommon for them to hide their status from their children, which is why Daniel did not learn he was undocumented until his senior year of high school.

Daniel dreamed of attending an Ivy League school, but the country's economic crisis derailed those plans. His mother could no longer afford the tuition, and his undocumented status disqualified him from financial aid and scholarships, so he enrolled at Seminole State College and earned his associate’s degree. Many prestigious four-year schools accepted Daniel’s transfer application but would not allow him to attend because he was undocumented.

When he called American University and revealed his status, his admissions counselor said, “Oh, you’re a dreamer! We have a way of putting you into the system,” and enrolled him despite his being undocumented. Although he again faced financial obstacles, he would not be deterred this time.

"I gave up on my dream once. I'm not giving up on my dream again. I don't care what I have to do. I'm going to American University," Daniel told himself. He called 95 scholarship organizations and asked if any of them would accept an application from an undocumented student; only three said yes: the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Coca Cola, and Phi Theta Kappa.

At his graduation ceremony, the president of Seminole State announced to Daniel, his mother, and the entire school that Daniel won all three scholarships he applied for, which totaled more than $160,000. He says, "That's the day my life changed. That's the day that everything was worth it, the day that I live for every single day."

Still, life was not easy. The scholarships did not take effect until after his first semester at AU, so Daniel couldn’t afford housing and stayed with friends instead. In October 2011, he “came out” as undocumented by wearing a sign announcing his status on LGBTQ National Coming Out Day. He told his story at an event that evening. After that, he says, “Strangers would come up to me on campus and say, ‘Hey, did you eat today? Do you want me to swipe you in to TDR?’ I felt what community truly meant at AU and that people really stand for what they believe in there.”

Unlike other students preparing for graduation, Daniel knew he wouldn’t be able to find a paying job because he was undocumented. Still, he wanted to use his personal experience and success in creating social change on a larger scale. “I introduced myself to Michael Skolnik [at an event] using the networking skills I learned in one of my classes at American,” Daniel says. Through a friend, he got a meeting with Michael and worked on some projects for him. Michael was so impressed with Daniel’s work that he immediately hired him as his chief of staff.

It was a shock. “I figured I’d be an intern,” Daniel says. Instead of interning, Daniel runs a team charged with harnessing celebrity power, especially on social media, to create social change. He has worked with Alicia Keys, P. Diddy, Common, and countless others.

Daniel also finds time to give back to the American University community as a volunteer with the Latino Alumni Alliance and as a social media ambassador. He volunteers because, “AU gave me a lot, a lot, a lot! From Dr. [Fanta] Aw making sure I had housing, to people making sure I had scholarships, professors spending so much time with me and caring for me. … My service is a way to pay back all the ways people helped me at AU. And if I can help that next undocumented student who goes to AU, or help that next Latino student, I want to do that. For me, volunteering means knowing I get to be a part of a community that lasts forever outside of campus.”

Daniel is now married and is an applicant for permanent residency in the U.S.; the Washington College of Law legal clinic is assisting him with his application process.

Daniel's AU education was possible thanks in large part to donor-funded scholarships including the Barbara Bohn Wright Memorial Scholarship, the Annette Langdon Scholar-Activist Award, and the Abdul Aziz Said Phi Epsilon Pi Scholarship. Learn more about how donations to AU make a difference in students' lives.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,School of International Service
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: D8AEE21A-F902-CF1F-89D117CFDC5CAA8C
Media:
newsId: 17586CF3-9100-C85A-DFAC23808CB4475F
Title: Julio Antonio Ubillús Ramírez, SIS/MIS '13
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: An SIS graduate student from Peru brings his skills to his country's embassy in Prague, Czech Republic.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
Content:

How has SIS made a difference in my world?

  • The MIS program is the second masters program I completed. Before the MIS, I obtained a masters degree in Diplomacy and International Affairs from the Diplomatic Academy of Peru (ADP). In general terms, my time at SIS has allowed me to increase and broaden my knowledge in many relevant academic fields that are interesting and important for my career, such as International Relations, Diplomacy and Foreign Policy making, among others. This experience has allowed me to strengthen my understanding and capacity for analysis of many different events in International Politics.

 

What was one important turning point (interaction with a faculty member, course topic, event attended, internship moment, book, etc.) during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?

  • I arrived to SIS with an already established career path, being a Foreign Service Officer in the service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru. However, I had very valuable experiences while taking classes with Ambassador Anthony Quainton (“Diplomatic Practice”), Professor Daniel Masis (”Proseminar in International Relations II”), and Professor David Mislan (“Theories of Foreign Policy Decision Making”), among others. Those were nothing but very interesting and useful academic experiences which are helping me today in different aspects of my career.

 

What has been a -- possibly unexpected-- pivotal experience or piece of knowledge that has led me to my current position?

  • One of the most interesting and valuable experiences I had while studying at AU was taking a class with Ambassador Anthony Quainton, who happened to be Ambassador of the United States to Peru during the late 1980s until the first couple of years of the 1990s. As a Peruvian diplomat, it was very interesting to learn from the experiences of a foreign diplomat such as Ambassador Quainton, especially regarding his insights about Peru´s political and diplomatic affairs during a very delicate and important period of the history of my country.

 

Why I chose SIS?

  • I arrived to the SIS as the result of an agreement signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru and American University, which allows one Peruvian diplomat to take the Master in International Service (MIS) Program every year. In exchange, the Diplomatic Academy of Peru receives two SIS masters students (one per semester) every year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru has the policy of encouraging its youngest diplomats to increase their academic education in order to be better prepared to address the challenges and duties that are inherent to our labor as Foreign Service Officers. To me, SIS represented, among the different choices to pursue higher education, one of the most attractive ones, not only because of the reputation of the university, but also because of the experience and versatility of the professors that are part of the School of International Service.

 

Fields of study?

  • I have a bachelors degree (2002-2006) and a “Licenciatura” (Professional Degree) (2007) in International Business from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru; a masters degree in Diplomacy and International Affairs (2009-2010) from the Diplomatic Academy of Peru (ADP) in Lima, Peru; and a masters degree in International Service (MIS) (2012-2013) from the School of International Service (SIS) at American University in Washington DC, United States.

 

Languages?

  • Spanish (native)
  • English (advanced)
  • Portuguese (advanced)
  • French (intermediate)
  • Czech (beginning lessons)

 

World issue of interest?

  • Integration processes in Latin America.
  • Foreign Economic Policy as a tool to promote growth with equality in developing countries.
  • The increasing political and economic influence of China in global affairs.

 

Professional role model?

  • Ambassador Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. A Peruvian Diplomat that held the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations between 1982 and 1991, leading the most important international organization during the end of the Cold War, a turning point in the history of international politics.

 

Favorite book?

  • "Ficciones" by Jorge Luis Borges.

 

Favorite movie?

  • "El secreto de sus ojos" (The secret in their eyes) by J. Campanella.

 

Current residence?

  • I am currently living in Prague, Czech Republic.

 

Tags: School of International Service
Suggested Home Page: Manage Subsite Mappings
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: 757BF841-F24E-8E1C-9F959577B1A0861C
Media:
newsId: 17586CF3-9100-C85A-DFAC23808CB4475F
Title: Ann Mangold, SIS/MIS '12
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumna’s Fellowship Allows Her to Make a Difference through Federal Service
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
Content:

Why I chose MIS:
I chose MIS because of its location in Washington, D.C. and the excellent reputation of its faculty as well as the School of International Service. I think close proximity to the nexus of politics and decision-making creates unmatched opportunities for students who study in D.C. I also liked the idea of having classroom interaction with fellow students who had a variety of experiences, from the private sector and government to NGOs and international development.

How I make a difference in the world:
I’m currently completing a Presidential Management Fellowship with the Department of Labor, Office of Public Affairs. The Labor Department’s mission focuses on promoting, developing and improving work opportunities for job seekers and wage earners. In addition, the department also works on preventing, mitigating and eliminating international issues such as human trafficking and forced labor. Although it sounds cliché, I really do feel like I’m contributing to making a positive difference in people’s lives, whether it’s making workplaces safer or helping to raise the minimum wage – these are things that matter, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
Through MIS, I formed a solid network of mentors, professors and friends who have offered invaluable advice and support in my professional pursuits. I feel lucky to have met such an intelligent and inspiring group of people. My time at MIS also helped me to secure my first post-grad school job, which was a great opportunity with a media company in Kabul, Afghanistan, which I learned about through a fellow MIS student.

Field of study:
The great thing about MIS is that there are very few required courses, which allows students to choose most of their electives to focus on key interest areas. It’s sort of like a “choose your own adventure” for graduate school. I chose to take courses primarily in international security and foreign policy, with a regional focus on the Middle East.

SIS activities:
Outside of class, I completed internships with the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, The Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and The New Yorker. I found these experiences to be extremely valuable because they provided practical insight into the issues I studied and helped me to explore possible post-graduation career options, as well as meet some very interesting people in the international relations field. Additionally, I spent time getting to know my classmates and professors. Not only have many of my classmates become close friends, but they also have served as an automatic professional network.

Languages:
Working knowledge of Spanish and Arabic. I also learned basic Dari (a Farsi dialect) while living in Afghanistan and found that immersion is the best way to learn a language quickly.

World issue of interest:
I don’t have a particular issue that I’m focused on, but I would say that anything related to education/literacy for women and children (particularly girls) is of interest. I am also interested in increasing foreign policy understanding and engagement amongst Americans. It seems fewer and fewer are involved or aware of what’s happening in domestic politics, let alone the rest of the world.

Professional role model:
My mom. She set a great example for my sister and me of how to balance a career with having a family/personal life. It must have been extremely difficult, but she never complained. I find this especially amazing since she taught first grade for 36 years – it can’t have been easy to manage a classroom of six-year-olds all day and then come home to run a household.

Favorite book:
That’s a tough choice. The first book that comes to mind is Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King. It’s a true story that recounts the experiences of American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to a hellish two-month journey through the Sahara. It’s a fascinating portrayal of human courage and resilience.

Favorite movie:
“The Lives of Others.” Set in the early 1980s, it follows the monitoring of East Berlin residents by the Stasi. I like films that are grounded in real-life events. I also love the movie “Working Girl” with Melanie Griffith. It’s a classic “girl power” movie.

Current residence:
Washington, DC

Tags: School of International Service
Suggested Home Page: Manage Subsite Mappings
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: 176C99A0-D4D6-153A-4B81EE16DE2822E9
Media:
newsId: AB62D6E3-0B19-07D5-6C50ABE95733BD66
Title: Profile: Jesse Pruett, SIS/MIS '12
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: MIS graduate uses his skills to mentor and develop the next generation
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

Why I chose MIS:
I chose MIS because it offered an internationally respected program with the flexibility to fit within a demanding and often unpredictable schedule.

How I make a difference in the world:
My father had a jar filled with coins he had collected from his world travels, which fueled an early fascination with all things “international”. I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved, in very small ways, with many of the significant world events of my generation. At this point it is my hope that I contribute through mentorship and development of other “internationals” whose own experiences will influence the direction of our country and the world.

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
MIS provided a great window into the nexus of academic theory and the real-world experiences of a great cohort of student-colleagues representing a broad swath of perspectives. Sharing the academic adventure with them enriched not only my appreciation of studied histories and subsequent events but it also expanded my understanding of my own experiences.

Field of study:
My official area of focus was U.S Foreign Policy, with an unofficial emphasis on the interagency aspects of expeditionary efforts abroad.

Languages:
English, Spanish

World issue of interest:
I am interested in how military and civilian instruments of national power can coalesce in expeditionary circumstances, coordinate with international partners, and collaborate with local populations and leaders to deliver the most beneficial expression of American ideals into that environment.

Professional role model:
The American Generals of World War II provide a series of case studies in achievement in International Affairs. Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, Patton, Marshall (and others) each offer lessons and insight into the traits required to commit to a cause, overcome doubt and hardship, balance strength and compassion and serve as leaders in incredibly intense environments. At the more personal level, my father is my truest role model, providing a foundation of character that I strive to build upon in both my professional and personal endeavors.

Tags: School of International Service
Suggested Home Page: Manage Subsite Mappings
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: AB6D0551-074E-DD9F-7FBCE40F5A1B71E7
Media:
newsId: AADB6511-08CB-D8D8-3E12501D334AC921
Title: Jeremy Dastrup, SIS/MIS '11
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: This MIS graduate serves and protects the United States by investigating criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats throughout Southeast Asia.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

Why I Chose MIS:
As a mid-career government employee I needed to find a program with an extensive selection of core and elective courses which would permit me to tailor my degree to my career needs. The MIS program gave me the latitude within my degree to become intimate with the subject matter which I knew my career was going to expose me to. I knew the MIS program, and American University, was the best choice for me when I selected it, but I did not fully realize how perfect a fit it was until I completed my degree and started to apply what I had learned to my career objectives.

How I make a difference in the world:
I interact with foreign government officials on a daily basis. I strive to understand their perspectives and needs. At the same time I am able to represent the United States in a positive light, helping to break down perceived cultural barriers. I give people from different walks of life a positive impression of what America is. This in turn facilitates mission success for me and the United States government.

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
My degree has provided valuable understanding of the underlying political, cultural, economic, and security developments within Southeast Asia, which have enhanced my ability to interact and succeed throughout my career in this region of the world. The principles I learned during my MIS experience, along with the high caliber of instructors and students, are something I reflect on daily and help to shape how I work in the world.

Field of Study:
Southeast Asian Security Issues

Languages:
Spanish and Malay

World issue of interest:
Security issues dealing with Southeast Asia and more specifically the South China Sea to include territorial disputes. How the economic growth of China and other Southeast Asian countries are straining stable security relations in the region and ultimately how that subsequent strain affects the military mission of the United States.

Favorite movie:
Any romantic comedy because it allows me to laugh and spend time with my wife after a long day.

Current residence:
Singapore

Tags: School of International Service
Suggested Home Page: Manage Subsite Mappings
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: AB0D33E3-A36B-F2D8-B79CF6CA90848E62
Media:
newsId: A8E4B3C9-F39E-F52A-234864A97B213006
Title: Profile: Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Meet Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

Why I chose MIS:
I moved to Washington, DC with the intention of making a career change, having worked in archaeology for over a decade. My work fell primarily on the environmental impact side of land development, and I reached a point where I wanted to broaden my career focus to include the bigger picture of global development.

I figured DC was probably the best place to pursue my expanded interests, being at the heart of policy development and our nation’s role in the world – I also have family in the area so I used these connections to facilitate my relocation. I was previously unaware of American University or SIS but quickly found out about them as I researched programs in the area. I was particularly drawn to SIS given their excellent reputation and their location within DC proper.

How I make a difference in the world:
I am still making my way, but am very excited about a new business that I am forming that seeks to combine for-profit and non-profit. I learned about this hybrid model through a Social Enterprise course that I took in my final semester, and it really opened my eyes to new possibilities. I hope to combine something I love – all-natural homemade lotions and balms – with a cause I care about – environmental sustainability and combating exploitation in developing nations – as most of these product ingredients come from developing and environmentally threatened areas. The nuts and bolts are still in formation, so stay tuned…

In the meantime I currently hold a few different jobs, acting as Executive Administrative Assistant for a small local business that manages investment portfolios, doing freelance editing work, and running a small greeting card business online, not to mention my most prized position – new mother!

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
Well, the full impacts are still unfolding, but I really cherished the experience of the program. The program was full of great courses and I really enjoyed meeting and collaborating with fellow professionals. The MIS program is unique in the level of experience and wealth of expertise held by the students themselves and I hope to always maintain the relationships I cultivated during my time there.

While I have found the job market to be extremely challenging in the time since my graduation and am still developing my new career path, I feel armed with a great new battery of knowledge and skills as I carve my way.

Field of study:
I chose classes from a fairly broad spectrum of fields within SIS, including US Foreign Policy, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Global Environmental Policy, Comparative Regional Studies and Social Enterprise. So much of the field of International Relations was really new to me, so I wanted exposure to as many elements as possible. However, I focused my research whenever possible on environmental issues and tried to keep my interests in mind while considering the emphasis of the curriculum at hand.

SIS activities:
I tried to get involved in as many activities as possible to take full advantage of my time at SIS. I was elected as the MIS Representative on the Graduate Student Council (GSC)  and also sat on the Networking and Foreign Affairs Committees for the GSC. As the representative to MIS, I organized events to help students in the program network and stay connected with one another.

I also participated in negotiation practices with AU’s Negotiation Program (AUNP) , a really spectacular and unique student-run program, and attended weekend problem-solving workshops operated in partnership with other universities in the area. I spent a term in a Dialogue Development Group , another great AU program, which was very personally enlightening and challenging, and participated in a German language study group.

Finally, I took advantage of the Summer Abroad Program opportunities and spent a summer in Brussels learning about the inner workings of the EU, as well as living with a local family, and conducted a related independent study research project. After returning, I was selected to present at the SIS Summer Abroad Student Research Symposium that fall. (And yes, I did still study and sleep during all this!)

Languages:
English (native), German, currently studying French.

World issue of interest:
Environmental sustainability; development and exploitation

Professional role model:
That’s a tough question. There are so many remarkable professionals I have been lucky to work with over the years and many people who have influenced different elements of my life. I’ve also been very blessed with amazing friends and family and an extremely supportive husband.

On a very personal level, my Sensei (my martial arts instructor of over 15 years) has had an immense impact on my life. As a woman in a tough arena, she helped me learn how to be strong and comfortable being in charge yet gentle at the same time, and how to always have compassion for others even when faced with aggression. She helped me develop a personal confidence that carries over to all other aspects of my life.

My stepfather, as well, has had a large impact on my professional development. He inspires me in the way that he continuously works to improve himself professionally, and never shies away from making a leap to something new. He has managed to work his way up into a really impressive career while always keeping up great relationships and treating others with respect, not to mention being a really supportive and loving family member.

Current residence:
Jupiter, Florida

Tags: School of International Service
Suggested Home Page: Manage Subsite Mappings
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: 7145530D-D2F1-D66E-F0FFF4F0F98E95E4
Media:
newsId: 9EAAD75B-E8DF-00F0-7C47D563E160BB62
Title: SIS Alumna Writes to Showcase Modern Challenges in U.S. Identity
Author: Karli Kloss
Subtitle:
Abstract: Carla Seaquist, SIS / BA ’67 strives to give space to many of the complicated, and at times, ephemeral social and political issues facing our country.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 05/08/2014
Content:

As a writer and playwright, Carla Seaquist, SIS/BA ’67, strives to give space to the complicated political, cultural, and ethical-moral issues facing our country. She began her career in civil rights activism, helping to organize the women’s caucus at the Brookings Institution from 1972 to 1976.

She then moved to San Diego where she served as the city’s equal opportunity officer from 1977 to 1983, successfully moving women and minorities into nontraditional jobs. For this work she was awarded NOW’s Susan B. Anthony award “for courage and hard work on behalf of women and minorities.”

The shift from civil rights to writing was a logical progression, Seaquist says. She began working as a freelance writer until she moved on to playwriting.

During the siege of Sarajevo, Seaquist reached out to the manager of a Bosnian radio station. They built a unique relationship over the phone. She turned their conversations into a play, Who Cares?: The Washington-Sarajevo Talks, a universal drama about the saving power of human connection in chaos. This play has had three productions, including at Washington’s Studio Theatre. Seaquist has written three other plays.

The shift from playwriting to more direct commentary happened on September 11, when she witnessed the Pentagon on fire. As a result, Seaquist became a contributing writer for The Christian Science Monitor and, now, The Huffington Post.

Seaquist published her first book of commentary, Manufacturing Hope: Post-9/11 Notes on Politics, Culture, Torture, and the American Character, in 2009. Her forthcoming book is titled Can America Save Itself from Decline?: Politics, Culture, Morality. She also published Two Plays of Life and Death.

“I have found the SIS take-away tool–the need to develop a conceptual framework–very useful,” Seaquist states. “International relations made me a world citizen, providing me with an outlook that’s global, not parochial, and a keen interest in history and other cultures–all very helpful in writing commentary.”

Seaquist lives in Washington state with her husband Larry, a state legislator, and is working on a play titled Prodigal.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,School of International Service
Suggested Home Page:
Profile:
Photos: 0
Success Story Photos: 698A4FAB-CEAC-6C66-FF9B08E4E8C1CC96
Media: