newsId: 94E7DB0F-E0A5-A0EC-9F89681FD1BFE9E5
Title: Taking Advantage of the SIS Backyard
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle:
Abstract: Washington, D.C. is the hub for the nation’s foreign policy. AU’s School of International Service (SIS) is an arm’s length away from some of the most influential embassies, world leaders, and agencies in the world.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

Washington, D.C. is the hub for the nation’s foreign policy. AU’s School of International Service (SIS) is an arm’s length away from some of the most influential embassies, world leaders, and agencies in the world.

SIS graduate students and alumni now have access to the powerful “SIS backyard” via a new student-alumni engagement event series that takes participants behind the scenes at some of the top international relations organizations. Stephanie Block, SIS associate director of alumni relations, collaborated with the AU Career Center, the AU Alumni Association, the SIS Alumni Chapter, and the SIS Graduate Student Council to develop SIS Industry Days, an event series that occurs four to six times a year.

Essentially a series of adult field trips, SIS Industry Days gives students and alumni inside access to organizations that conduct foreign policy. The site visits include meetings with AU alumni that work for the employer, panel discussions, behind-the-scene tours, and networking over food and beverages with other alumni, students, and employees.

“Our SIS Industry Days events symbolize our commitment to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of international relations,” says SIS Dean Jim Goldgeier. “It provides access to our local, outstanding institutions, maximizing opportunities for students and alumni.”

The series launched at the State Department in spring 2013, followed by visits to the World Bank, the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Each organization allows for a different size group and offers a unique itinerary of activities.

The State Department provided an intimate group with small discussions throughout the day, a tour, and concluded with a seated lunch, while the World Bank event featured four AU SIS alumni panelists, a question and answer session, and a networking reception.

The NCTC event was a half-day of mini-presentations by NCTC AU alumni employees—some of the nation’s top terrorism analysts—along with a surprise visit from the Center’s director, Matthew Olsen. The highlight was a behind-the-scenes tour of the Operations Center.

Most recently, the series wrapped up for the school year at USIP lead by SIS alumna, and acting USIP president, Kristin Lord, SIS/BA ’91.

“Integrating work into the educational experience magnifies the impact of both,” says Brian Rowe, AU Career Center Director of Experiential Learning. “Giving students the opportunity to put theory into practice enables them to contextualize what they have learned academically.”

Block is now exploring possible events at the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the Woodrow Wilson Center, US Agency for International Development, and maybe even trips to New York City and Boston and elsewhere for the 2014-15 school year.

Be sure to bookmark the AU Alumni Events Calendar, which lists upcoming events.

If you are an alumnus/a interested in hosting an SIS Industry Days event at your employer, please e-mail sisalum@american.edu.

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Title: SIS Shines at ISA Convention
Author: Mana Zarinejad
Subtitle:
Abstract: Dozens of SIS faculty and students recently returned from the 55th annual convention of the International Studies Association.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

Dozens of SIS faculty and students recently returned from the 55th annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), the largest organization dedicated to the study of international affairs, with more than 6,500 scholars from around the world.

The 2014 convention, titled "Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization," took place March 26-29 in Toronto and featured 1,000 panel presentations from scholars and students, including approximately thirty SIS faculty and one dozen doctoral students who attended to present their research.

The highlight of the annual convention is the presidential address, led this year by SIS Professor and UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance Amitav Acharya, who assumed the presidency of ISA during the convention. Acharya is the first non-Western president of the association in its fifty-five-year history.

Fittingly, Acharya challenged his colleagues during his address to think beyond the Western perspective when contemplating theories of international relations and to consider his concept of non-Western international relations theory, which he and colleague Barry Buzan of the London School of Economics published in an edited volume of the same name in 2013. Acharya's speech resulted in a standing ovation from the large convention audience and was followed by a reception in his honor.

SIS also hosted a reception during the four-day conference that included alumni and accepted graduate students living in and around Toronto, who had an opportunity to meet with current SIS graduate students and faculty.

Other highlights of the annual convention included:

  • The Peace Studies Section of ISA honored SIS Professor Abdul-Aziz Said with the Distinguished Scholar Award for his long-time contribution to the field of peace and conflict studies.
  • The Theory Section of ISA honored SIS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Patrick Thaddeus Jackson with its inaugural best book award for his book, The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations.
  • The Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Studies Section of ISA honored SIS Associate Professor Christine Chin for her book, Cosmopolitan Sex Workers.
  • The International Communication Section of ISA elected SIS Assistant Professor Craig Hayden as its new Program Chair-elect, which will enable him to ascend to Chair of the section one year later.
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Title: PEERS Take a Stand on Sexual Assault Prevention
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: One student group represents a campus united in support.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/04/2014
Content:

Standing

Speaking at the front of a room full of young men last fall, Kirsten Franzen was anxious. “I was really nervous,” Franzen recalled. “It was for a fraternity, and there are a lot of stereotypes around fraternities. I didn’t know what it was going to be like.”

Franzen, a junior in the School of International Service, was conducting her first workshop on sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. As a member of Peer Educators for the Elimination of Relationship & Sexual Violence—or PEERS—she’s dedicated to raising awareness around these issues and promoting an end to them.

Daniel Rappaport, AU’s sexual assault prevention coordinator, heads the 15-member group through the Wellness Center. Under his weekly instruction, Franzen and the others earn academic credits while learning how to facilitate workshops and affect change on campus.

To him, though necessary, sexual assault often isn’t an easy topic to approach. He lauds Franzen for standing up. “It’s such an admirable and courageous thing for students to devote their time and energy, for at least two semesters, to making this issue a significant part of their life with the intention to help others,” he said.

Educational Push

PEERS, now in its third year on campus, isn’t the only program at AU addressing sexual assault education. In fact, according to associate dean of students Michelle Espinosa, 96% of incoming AU freshmen experience education on the topic either at Eagle Summit summer orientations or the online Haven program.

But, as chair of the university’s faculty and staff Sexual Assault Working Group, Espinosa wants to build upon that figure. “It’s a very strong number of students that have participated. What we’re really interested in targeting now is the ongoing education,” she said. “What are we doing to back that up throughout the academic year and throughout all four years that students are here?”

Part of that expanded education and attention has come through Rappaport himself. His position began as part-time in 2010; now he serves students as a confidential victim advocate and prevention educator on a full-time basis.

He believes the changes send a message about the university. “It shows a dramatic and significant improvement in not only trying to prevent sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking,” he said, “but ensuring that students have a confidential resource who specifically works with those issues, ensuring that students are receiving the care from the university that victims of those crimes deserve.”

Throughout April’s National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Rappaport and scores of AU student groups, offices, and departments are hosting events across campus to keep a spotlight on the issue, which disproportionately affects college students.

A Safe Space

Franzen will host a number of workshops for fraternities, sororities, and residence halls this month. And this time, she’s looking forward to it.

Her first nerve-riddled presentation for the fraternity? “It was great. The guys were really active and really well versed in the issues,” she explained. “It was just a really positive experience for me. Ever since then, I’ve just been like, ‘Yeah! Workshops!’”

The rest of PEERS echo her enthusiasm. After all passing the competitive application process to join and completing fall training, the group’s efforts landed them an invite to present their approach at a regional conference.

Espinosa’s not surprised. Aside from the group, she sees the student culture on campus as one that takes issues like this one head on. “It speaks to how our students recognize the importance of this issue for themselves and their peers,” she said, “and I think it speaks to the university’s leadership appreciating how important this issue is to the safety of our students and their academic success.”

With the nerves of her first workshop behind her, Franzen anticipates a lifetime beyond campus of making this issue central to her personal life. Other PEERS members plan to pursue law degrees and advocacy work, but she views the skills she’s gained from the group as valuable, no matter what the career.

“My goal, personally, is to incorporate this into my everyday life and make sure that people around me feel like I’m a safe space and confidential resource for them to talk to, just to carry that with me wherever I go,” she said.



Check out AU’s calendar of events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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Title: IR Online Mobile Application Now Available
Author: John Sinden
Subtitle:
Abstract: New app helps close the mobile gap for students across the globe.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 04/03/2014
Content:

International Relations Online with 2U, Inc., the leader in creating online academic experiences for top universities and colleges, is pleased to announce the introduction and availability of a new mobile application for iOS and Android. Better connecting IR Online students to the program’s world class faculty and course content, the innovative app allows for student access to lessons, documents, photographs and videos, as well as communicate live with fellow students and professors regardless of where they’re located across the globe.

“The IR Online program in our School of International Service equips top international relations students with the knowledge and skills needed to help address increasingly complex global issues. Providing students with a mobile application enables them to instantly access information, our top-ranked faculty, and to navigate all aspects of their course content, from anywhere in the world,” said Leeanne Dunsmore, Associate Dean for Graduate Admissions and Program Development at American University’s School of International Service.

“Students are not simply accessing information via smartphones, but they’re managing more of their lives on mobile devices than ever before. We are constantly looking for ways to encourage our students’ participation and engagement in their academic programs, so this app helps us foster even greater anywhere, anytime connectivity to deliver just that – while actually amplifying the overall learning experience,” added James Kenigsberg, Chief Technology Officer at 2U, Inc.

The new app will also notify students of upcoming assignment due dates, live class sessions, and course events, as well as give the students the option to record and submit videos of graded assignments to professors. For students looking to access videos and course content offline, the app enables them to select and download for accessibility anytime.

Features

The International Relations Online app, developed by 2U, Inc., allows students to:

  • Interact directly with other students and professors on their mobile devices
  • Review course materials and course videos - both online and offline
  • Submit projects and assignments
  • Set reminders for upcoming due dates, events and more

Availability

The iOS app can be found in the Apple iTunes Store.
The Android app is available in the Google Play Store.

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Title: AU Alumni and Friends Meet Up for Fun, Games, and Scholarship
Author:
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Abstract: Library friends and donors enhanced our Game Design & Persuasive Play collection at our recent Gaming with a Purpose fundraising event. This new collection will support the new MA in Game Design & Persuasive Play’s program in the School of Communication.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/02/2014
Content:

Donors, alumni, faculty, and students all came together to support the new Master of Arts in Game Design at Gaming with a Purpose, a fundraising event hosted by the Library on March 18. This event featured game materials that donors could choose as a gift to the Library in support of this new initiative. All of the event proceeds from the event will be used to support development of this collection.

American University's Master of Arts in Game Design in the School of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences is a unique, multi-disciplinary program focused on game design, play theory, and game engagement strategies intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges. The program is designed to develop the intellectual capacity of students as designers, developers, consumers, and games administrators. This is the only degree in persuasive play in the United States. Students who graduate from the program will be prepared to for a wide variety of jobs utilizing next-generation media engagement to change people’s interests, activities, and opinions.

Lindsay Grace, Director of the Persuasive Play Initiative, is a game designer and researcher. His game designs have received awards from Games for Change Festival, Meaningful Play, Advances in Computer Entertainment, and Gamescape. He has published more than 25 papers, articles, and book chapters on games since 2009. Grace describes AU's concept of gaming with a purpose as "games that go beyond entertainment—pursuing how games can change people’s behavior and how to produce socially responsible games.”

To support this initiative, the Library needs to build a collection of materials relevant to the field. To that end, we have been purchasing scholarly books in this field and speaking with faculty members about their instructional needs. They requested a substantial number of games—and we are pleased to fulfill this request.

The games that we acquired through the generosity of our donors include classic games, which can be used to teach the fundamentals of game development; vintage games, which can be used to increase our understanding of a specific era; war games, which simulate the complexity and strategy of combat situations; games based on real-world scenarios, such as a pandemic outbreak, which illustrate the theories of persuasive play; and others. The materials that we have acquired to support this program aid faculty to create a framework for discussion in their classrooms. Adding games to the curriculum is an ideal way to give students a hands-on understanding of the theory and mechanisms of game design and persuasive play.

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Title: Rosiland Jordan speaks at the 15th Annual IMI Conference on Intercultural Relations
Author: John Sinden
Subtitle:
Abstract: Rosiland Jordan emphasized the challenge and importance of reaching audiences cross-culturally.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 04/02/2014
Content: This article first appeared in the International Relations Online Blog.

At the 15th annual Intercultural Management Institute conference, Rosiland Jordan, a correspondent with Al Jazeera English, emphasized the challenge and importance of reaching audiences cross-culturally. Her mission is to produce “good journalism” by approaching every story in a truly objective manner and laying information out “in a way people can understand as clearly as possible.”

Producing comprehensible objective news for audiences of different cultures is easier said than done. History, cultural diversity, and language barriers all have the potential to distort a story’s true message. Whether you are a journalist delivering international news or a diplomat, you must be aware of and sensitive to cultural differences. Jordan highlighted this point by urging journalists to break down, not reinforce, stereotypes.

One takeaway from Jordan’s keynote speech was that we should stop assuming the world we grew up in is the same as the world today by improving our cross-cultural understanding and communication. Drawing on the Cold War as an example, Jordan illustrated how it is easy to fall into the trap of labeling an entire nation of individuals based on past political events. Today’s challenge is to analyze and understand cultural differences and to use these differences as a positive advantage.

Managing and recognizing cultural differences is what the IMI strives to instill in the participants of its annual conference. Dr. Gary Weaver, Executive Director of the IMI, is also the professor of International Relations Online at American University’s Intercultural Communication course. Through his Intercultural Communication course, Dr. Weaver is working to break down cultural barriers and to teach intercultural negotiation to his students. Students publish an essay within the Intercultural Management Quarterly (IMQ), a publication of the IMI with the same mission to improve intercultural dynamics within global organizations.

Whether you’re a student in Dr. Weaver’s course, a participant in the IMI’s 2014 Annual Conference, or an individual reading Al Jazeera English, Rosiland Jordan’s message holds significance for all of us. She closed her keynote presentation with a description of why she and her colleagues work so hard to deliver objective news for universal viewing. She stated she simply wants to “…be a part of the whole that is humanity.”

**The Intercultural Management Institute’s annual conference was held March 13-14, 2014. The conference serves as an opportunity for leaders and future leaders in the intercultural communications field to learn from each other through each other’s knowledge and experience. The participant list includes diplomats, intercultural communications trainers, current students, researchers, military personnel, and many others.

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Title: Scholar Puts Focus on Care at Home and Abroad
Author: Antoaneta Tileva, SIS/MA '10
Subtitle:
Abstract: Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation, visited SIS as part of the Dean’s Discussion speaker series. Titling her talk, “Revaluing Care, at Home and Abroad,” she spoke about a broad range of issues, domestic and foreign.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Content:

Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation, visited SIS as part of the Dean’s Discussion speaker series. Titling her talk, “Revaluing Care, at Home and Abroad,” Slaughter spoke about a broad range of issues, domestic and foreign. The revaluing of care is a reference to a feminist theory called the ethics of care, whereby labor in the private sphere, such as caring for the home and children, is valued equally to labor in the public sphere.

Slaughter has moved from academia to policy and now to a major DC think tank. She is the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton, where she previously served as dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. From 2009–2011 she served as director of Policy Planning for the U.S. Department of State, the first woman to hold that position. Previously she was the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School.

In 2012, Slaughter published a seminal article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” in The Atlantic, which became the most read article in the history of the magazine and helped spawn a renewed national debate on the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality. She wryly remarked that, to this day, the article is referenced as "The Article" among the myriad of pieces she has authored in her academic career.

In outlining the evolution of her thinking since the article was published, Slaughter said, “I don’t think the problem alone is discrimination against women, although that is not to dismiss that as an ongoing problem facing women, especially low-income women.” The statistic of roughly 5% of women in top CEO positions and under 20% of women in U.S. leadership positions is, in a sense, baffling considering the higher rates of women graduating from college, she noted.

“The deeper problem,” she said, “that unites the many facets of the symptoms we see, is less about women per se and more about not valuing the kind of work that women have traditionally done. We don’t value care; we value competition and consumption.” Slaughter suggested that until the global economy is able to value care as much as earning an income, not much headway can be made.

Taking her care versus competition framework to a global scale, Slaughter said: “we should place an equal weight on human interest and government interest. What happens to people in a country should be of as much value as what happens politically.”

Referring to the conflict in Syria, she stated, “I have been very passionate about the need to do more in Syria.” Invoking the principle of “responsibility to protect” is relevant in the case of Syria, she argued, since it is committing crimes against humanity on its own territory. “Syria is the Rwanda of our time. An estimated 150,000 people have already died in this conflict; the entire region surrounding Syria has become majorly destabilized,” she said.

Commenting about Russia, Slaughter said that the West is playing into Russian president Vladimir Putin’s hands by treating Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a return to a world in which Russia and the United States are the principal adversaries.

The SIS Dean’s Discussion series showcases significant foreign policy actors and thinkers in conversations with the dean. In addition to Slaughter, Dean’s Discussions this semester have included Maria Otero, former Under Secretary of State Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights and former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and Tara Sonenshine, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Videos of all Dean’s Discussions are available on the SIS Past Events page.

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Title: SIS Professor's Book Explores War on Tribal Islam
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: In his latest book, The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror became a Global War on Tribal Islam, Akbar Ahmed focuses on tribal areas in Islamic regions, the peripheral areas between states, and the communities living between borders.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 03/25/2014
Content:

“After 9/11, I dedicated myself to creating bridges of understanding between different cultures and faiths,” says SIS Professor Akbar Ahmed. In his latest book, The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror became a Global War on Tribal Islam, Ahmed focuses on tribal areas in Islamic regions, the peripheral areas between states, and the communities living between borders.

This is the third of a series of four books by Ahmed with Brookings Institution Press examining relations between the West and the world of Islam after 9/11, with the forthcoming Journey into Europe completing the quartet that also included Journey Into America and Journey Into Islam. Ahmed, a leading authority on contemporary Islam, is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at SIS.

In the book, Ahmed provides an exhaustive survey of tribal cultures across North and East Africa, Yemen, and Southwest and Southeast Asia. The title of the book is a metaphor: the thistle was how Russian author Leo Tolstoy described the tribes living in the Caucusus in his book Hadji Murad, because—like the flower—Tolstoy found the people to be thorny and prickly. The drone, on the other hand, is a symbol of globalism and the epitome of technological development.

In The Thistle and the Drone, Ahmed explores tribal history, culture, code of honor, and tribal Islam—an Islam very different in nature from what the mainstream media depicts. Drawing on forty case studies that Ahmed and his team of student researchers interviewed and analyzed, Ahmed focuses on the dichotomy between center and periphery.

The first main finding of the book is that terror towards the West is perpetrated primarily by tribal people. The rhetoric used by Osama bin Laden and others is very tribal in nature, Ahmed says. Thus, he notes, “the West is fighting one kind of war when it is an entirely different kind of war to them.”

The second major point is that Ahmed believes that there is a way that the tribes can be pacified via peaceful and diplomatic means, citing the examples of the Aceh in Indonesia or relations between Scotland and England.

The central argument of The Thistle and the Drone is that the “war on terror” is ultimately a war between a central government and a periphery. In Ahmed’s view, the “center” is nearly always in direct conflict with the tribal societies—a war of the state vs. its domestic antagonists.

These tribal societies are often fighting against modernity or increasing encroachment upon their territories and way of life. “These tribes already have turbulent relations with the central government, which has failed to bring them into the nation, and the war on terror has only exacerbated this tension.”

This central vs. periphery tension is something Ahmed sees as fixable but not in how it has been approached thus far, particularly when it comes to drone warfare. “Drones have in essence become a symbol of Western arrogance. A far cry from the surgical-precision weapons they are described as, they have devastating moral costs.”

The Thistle and the Drone has received many honors; it was named a "Book of the Year" in the Times Literary Supplement, won the prestigious German Peace Prize at the 2014 Karachi Literary Festival, was shortlisted for the Coca-Cola Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book at the 2014 Karachi Literary Festival, and was named a finalist in the Political Science section for the Foreword Reviews 2013 Book of the Year Awards.

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Title: AU Grads Find Fulfillment in Public Service
Author: Devin Symons
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Abstract: Graduates Reflect on Employers Recognized as 2013 Best Places to Work in Government
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/24/2014
Content:

During her five years at the Smithsonian Institution, Sarah Block, CAS/BA '09/MA '13, worked with all 19 Smithsonian museums and their accompanying research centers. What started out as an internship her junior year, turned into a full-time job contracted through the Smithsonian’s Office of Policy and Analysis. It was an invaluable experience for Block.

“It was an opportunity to learn a wide range of research methods,” she says. “I got to go behind the scenes, spoke with countless visitors, and gained some amazing mentors.”

Block is far from the only one to speak positively about the experience of working for the Smithsonian. On the 2013 list of Best Places to Work in Government, the Smithsonian was ranked 2nd in job satisfaction among midsize agencies. The list, compiled annually by the Partnership for Public Service, is based on data collected from over 376,000 civil servants, and ranks agencies by employee satisfaction and commitment.

Jonathan Ludwig, SIS/MA '13, works at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), one of the two large agencies (along with NASA) that showed an increase in job satisfaction in 2013.

“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to serve our country and America’s veterans during my service at VA,” he says. “It has been an honor.”

Ludwig began his career in public service with an internship at the State Department. Following graduation, he completed a two-year internship at VA, after which he was hired as a career employee.

He says working in government can be challenging but rewarding.

“Once you accept some of the realities of working in government, you learn to work within that context to be nimble and creative in a way that is realistic and possible,” he says. “That is often the nature of public service, which is overseen and accountable to American citizens.”

Ludwig has plans for the future that build on his time at AU and his government experience. His degree in Global Environmental Policy combines politics, science, and economics at a time when key issues in both public and private sectors require knowledge of multiple disciplines.

“My experience at AU helped shape my goal of working in sustainability and green building in a professional context,” he says. “My hope is to combine my experience at VA, my volunteer work, and my education at AU to become a leader in the sustainability and green building industry.”

Block too speaks to the public service nature of her work in government as a distinct positive.

“Being part of the government in the way the Smithsonian is, it’s great to know that tax money is going to these museums and these exhibits that so many people get so much out of,” she says. “Living in D.C. you don’t necessarily take advantage of the museums and all they have to offer. Working at the Smithsonian was a good way to force me to see the museums and find out what was going on so I could recommend things to others.”

Block is looking for a way to leverage her experience with one kind of public service into an ongoing career in another. She hopes to work hands-on in programming for local government, where the impact of projects can be quickly seen.

“A value I gained from spending time at AU is that of being engaged with your community: going out, exploring it, seeing what their needs are,” says Block. “I feel that’s something that professors at AU really do value and try to pass on to students. Often professors and students are working on issues specific to D.C., and that’s something that’s inspired me to be more active in my community.”

For those who work in the federal government, that community can feel as large as the entire nation—a challenge, perhaps, but that hasn’t stopped AU grads like Block and Ludwig from working to make it the best community they can and learning from their time in public service.

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Title: Israel and Water Conference Examines Critical Issues
Author: Jamie McCrary
Subtitle:
Abstract: Israel is recognized for its creative and innovative approaches to address water scarcity.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 03/14/2014
Content:

For Israel, water scarcity is not just a problem; it is a way of life. Located in one of the driest regions in the world, the country has historically suffered from a continuous shortage of water, exacerbated in recent years by droughts and a steadily increasing population. While lack of water is certainly a pervasive problem throughout the region, Israel is better recognized not for its water scarcity, but for its creative and innovative approaches in addressing this challenge. 

These approaches—as well as their potential for facilitating peacemaking in the region—were the focus of Israel and Water: Scarcity, Innovation and Cooperation, an intensive one day conference organized and sponsored in part by AU’s Center for Israel Studies. Held at AU on March 4, 2014, the conference brought together academics, scientists, entrepreneurs, and policy-makers to learn and reflect upon diverse Israeli methods of water management and collaboration. “What was particularly meaningful to me was the opportunity to bring together these inter-disciplinary professionals in one room and put all their work in context,” says Laura Cutler, managing director of the Center for Israel Studies and organizer of the conference. “This is one huge advantage of hosting this type of gathering at a university. Working with such a fantastic team was a wonderful experience.”  

Referred to as the “Silicon Valley” of water technologies, Israel’s water management is based on two approaches: desalinization (the process of converting salty water into drinking water), and waste water re-use. The country’s technological infrastructure reflects a commitment to these approaches, sustaining one of the largest desalination plants worldwide and the largest wastewater treatment plant in the Middle East. One reason for Israel’s continued success in water management innovations is its tie between public and private sectors. “The Israeli government is committed to working with entrepreneurs advancing the water industry, which helps to position Israel as a country to help others globally,” says Meital Stavinsky, shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, LLC, and a speaker at the conference. “These advances in technology are truly the most valuable resource we can provide for addressing water shortages.” 

While Israel’s developed water technology has helped alleviate water shortages, the region continues to face challenges affecting water availability and consumption. One pressing issue is the shrinking Dead Sea, which is losing water at a rate of about one meter annually. The terminal lake of the Jordan River system, the Dead Sea receives much of its water supply from the Jordan River. In recent years, however, water that would have flowed into the salt lake is being diverted from the river due to critical water shortages in the three-country region. This, in combination with successive years of drought and an increasing population, intensifies the need for continued innovation and action.  

Though further technological advances are necessary to address the drying Dead Sea and multiplicity of other issues, progress cannot be sustained without collaboration among all parties involved. Because water resources are shared between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, cooperation is key in ensuring the region is able to provide an adequate supply of water. “Water is a matter of both technological and governance innovation,” says Eric Abitbol, an AU professor and a speaker at the conference. “In the Middle East, water is a trans-boundary resource that crosses borders between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. Even if water is produced in Israel, it is then sold to the Palestinians and Jordanians, impacting the politics and economics of water governance. Water related innovation is therefore deeply enmeshed in the regional political economy.”  

Abitbol points out that this intertwining of technology and governance has the potential for conflict, but also holds a great potential for peacemaking. The need for continued collaboration surrounding water issues forces all three countries to set aside their differences and work together, opening the door to regional cooperation for current and future generations. “To facilitate peacemaking, it is not enough to simply increase quantities of water in the region, even with the most sophisticated technologies,” says Abitbol. “That is part of it, but it cannot be divorced from water governance and building relationships of trust and equity between conflicting parties.” 

A major peacemaking development recently initiated in the region is the Red Sea Dead Sea Water Conveyance, an endeavor that both addresses the drying of the Dead Sea and drastically bolsters the area’s water supply. The first ever regional project endorsed by Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians, the initiative aims to create a pipeline between the Red Sea at the southern tip of Israel and the Dead Sea in the Arava Valley. Water will be pumped from the Red Sea to a desalination plant in Jordan that will process and disseminate drinking water to the region. The saline by-product will be piped into the Dead Sea, helping to replenish the ailing salt lake. This undertaking marks a historic collaboration between the three authorities, demonstrating a joining of efforts to better their shared environment. Jordanian water minister his Excellency Dr. Hazim El-Naser signed the project agreement on behalf of his country and was Skyped into the conference to discuss the endeavor. “The initiation of this project was successful because of the urgent need for water by all parties,” says El-Naser. “It opens the gates for major regional cooperation.”  

While the AU conference marked an important opportunity to collect ideas and discuss issues, the topics discussed are part of a much larger global conversation. Abitbol hopes the conference will add to this bigger conversation and encourage continued peaceful collaboration, discussion, and action. “My hope is that it expands the conversation around regional hydro-politics and promotes discussions on Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian trust-building,” Abitbol says. “I hope the conference can be a catalyst for forming new water-related partnerships and dialogues and inspires parties to engage in peaceful and equitable cooperation.”  


A special thanks to the partners in and outside of the AU community who helped make Israel and Water: Scarcity, Innovation, and Cooperation a success:

AU partners: Center for Israel Studies (CAS), Kogod School of Business, AU Global Environmental Politics Program (SIS), Department of Environmental Science (CAS), William K. Reilly Fund at Center for Environmental Policy (SPA), Center for Environmental Film-making (SOC), AU Office of Sustainability.  

Non-AU partners: Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, American Associates, Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Additional Support was provided by the Embassy of Israel, Maryland/Israel Development Center and Richard * and Lois England (*deceased)

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newsId: 69E4DAE0-FEBE-7A0E-DA58D6BFCCAED21B
Title: Joe Eldridge, SIS/MA ’81, Inspires Sense of Giving among AU Community
Author: Ann Royse
Subtitle:
Abstract: Chaplain and alumnus Joe Eldridge explains why he supports AU while also encouraging others to give.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
Content:

As chaplain of American University, Joseph Eldridge, SIS/MA ’81, can often be found on campus talking to colleagues, listening to students, and lending his support to countless university events. 

Joe’s journey at American University began during a chance meeting in Brazil with former faculty member, Dr. Brady Tyson, where the two developed a friendship and mutual admiration for each other’s work in human rights. Dr. Tyson, now the namesake of AU’s Brady Tyson Award for Excellence in Work Related to Human Rights, recommended that Joe apply to the master’s degree program in international relations at the School of International Service. Fortunately for AU, Joe followed his friend’s advice, thus beginning a long, successful, and fulfilling career at the university where his passion and work now meaningfully intersect.

Although his current job concentrates on theology, it is widely known that Joe has a long and illustrious career in the international human rights and humanitarian field, focusing specifically on Latin America. While at AU, Joe was introduced to the concept of peace and conflict resolution from the well-renowned professor and scholar of peace and conflict studies, Abdul Aziz Said. Said also introduced the idea of civil resistance and peacemaking as drivers of sustained change, and this truly resonated with Joe’s passion for civil society and international transformation.

As university chaplain, Joe now uses many of his skills and experience to mentor students as they transition through some of the most transformative years of their lives. He enjoys watching students from when they first step onto campus through their days of graduation and the beginnings of various career paths. Joe is continuously enthusiastic about partaking in this vital era in the students’ lives and it is the reason he remains an integral part to the AU community. 

However, guiding students is only one of the many ways Joe shows his support to American University. He also gives back through the university’s annual fund and is passionate about encouraging other alumni, faculty, staff, and parents to do the same. When discussing AU, he says, “AU is a place of utter transformation and it offers so many ways to find participation…a sense of community is in the air.”

So, as the 2013-14 school year comes to a close and AU presents its newest graduates to the world with all of the tradition, pomp, and circumstance they deserve, consider giving back to the community where many students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends began their journey.

In fact, there are countless places to offer your support, whether it is to a school’s specific Dean’s Fund, the AU Fund for Excellence, or the new UFUND, where the university’s own clubs and organizations fundraise for specific programmatic needs. The university relies on the support and dedication of alumni, faculty, and staff members like Joe, who truly inspire the rest of the AU community to give back to any area that signifies and commemorates your own AU experience.

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Title: First Generation SIS Alumna Inspired by Parents’ Work Ethic, Family Values
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle:
Abstract: Gloria González-Micklin, SIS/BA ’80, immigrated to America in 1972. Her parents made extreme sacrifices to provide a better life for their six children.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/13/2014
Content:

Gloria González-Micklin, SIS/BA ’80, born in Bello, Colombia, immigrated with her family to New Holland, Pa. in 1972. Her parents, textile factory workers, made extreme sacrifices to provide a better life for their six children. Without their guidance and sacrifice, González-Micklin says, she would not have achieved the professional and academic milestones in her life.

“Who would have known that the daughter of two working class immigrants would be the individual charged with arranging major events requiring high security protocol for China’s leadership and their U.S. cabinet counterparts,” González-Micklin says. 

As Director of Programs for the US-China Business Council (USCBC), a non-partisan, non-profit organization of American companies involved in trade and investment with China, Gonzalez-Micklin executes major meetings and high security events for key stakeholders in U.S.-China relations, including China’s ranking officials, their American counterparts, senior U.S. business executives, and scholars during their visits to Washington, D.C. and New York City. In addition, González-Micklin manages her department and annual gala fundraiser. 

“I launched the USCBC Gala in 1998 to mark the Council’s 25th anniversary,” González-Micklin says. “This past December, as we celebrated our 40th anniversary, we honored Dr. Henry Kissinger for his many contributions to contemporary U.S.-China relations over the past four decades.” 

González-Micklin earned her master’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin and lived in China from 1992 to 1996 accumulating experiences and memories to last a lifetime but also gaining cross-cultural skills that proved invaluable in her subsequent career in Washington, DC. 

She has had the privilege of meeting every Chinese leader (President and Premier) since Zhu Rongji, including current leader Xi Jinping. 

Her work on key events for visiting Chinese officials regularly puts her in direct contact with China's most senior diplomatic representatives, and with key figures in the U.S. Congress, the State, Commerce, Treasury departments, and other agencies engaged in US-China bilateral relations. “It has been fascinating to be part of these historic events, which must be flawlessly executed,” González-Micklin says. “It is also rewarding to know that, in a small way, I am contributing to the ongoing and expanding dialogue between the two largest economies in the world.”

González-Micklin holds a special place in her heart for American University and the School of International Service. “I give of my time by participating in SIS alumni chapter events here in Washington as well as helping the next generation of international relations leaders by advising and mentoring students.” In 2001, she received a recognition for her contributions to the AU community at large. She is also active with the Hopkins-Nanjing Center where she established the Jim Townsend and Sandy Perry Memorial Endowment Fellowship in 2003.

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Title: Profile Ben Edgar, SIS/BA '11
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Abstract: Alumni Profile of Ben Edgar, SIS/BA '11
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/16/2014
Content:

What was one important turning point during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?

One session I had with David Fletcher his junior year. I was deciding what to do with my life, considering a bunch of different fields, and David told me to go to career fields. Having him push me to talk and connect with people was a big turning point. Especially meeting with the Deloitte, they’re really active and exciting, so interacting with them, seeing how they challenge themselves, that was a turning point.

What has been a pivotal piece of knowledge that has led me to my current position?

Going through your major, you’re not really sure, but by junior year, you’re focused on your major. With a degree like international relations, where you learn so many different things, economics, politics, a language, there are so many ways to translate that information in a lot of different ways. Deloitte capitalized on that, and on my ability to learn quickly and well, so I could do well in the business and consulting arena. Once you’re there, you’re only a step away from your major. My realization was that after your first job after school, you’re not tied to your major forever. Skill sets are translatable. Interests change.

Why SIS?

Coming from Massachusetts, I wanted to experience a different part of the country. I really liked American as a school, and liked the SIS program. It’s highly ranked, has a lot of really interesting courses, and it came down to a combination of geography and the prospect of being challenged in the classroom.

What courses stood out for you?

Between junior and senior year, I took three classes that stood out: International Terrorism – fascinating to read about these cases and terrorism throughout history. Looking at past examples was really great! Another course: Cybercrime, espionage and war crimes – that class stretched my limits going really technical into computers, and how to prevent computer hacking and spying, firewalls, etc. and looked at the political side to everything, what political implications they held, the faculty member was an advisor in the white house. Another course: Eastern Religion – a gen ed course that was great. Getting to read about Taoism and expanding my knowledge base on things I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to study otherwise.

How are you making a difference in the world?

I got involved at Deloitte with the Wounded Warrior Mentorship program. I chose to work with a group of veterans who served in the past 10 or 15 years. We paired up with people from Walter Reed hospital in Bethesda and provided professional mentoring relationships for Wounded Warriors, who might have a hard time getting contacts, resumes, connections, or even folks who hadn’t been to college, getting those resumes/applications ready. My own mentee was in that situation, and helping him apply to various colleges was a great part of my job at Deloitte. Now I am trying to see if I can continue working with the Wounded Warriors out in the Seattle area.

What world issue are you interested in?

War in Afghanistan/Pakistan. Just because I’m connected with the Wounded Warriors. It hasn’t been talked about a lot in the news lately, and to be honest, the number of wounded warriors coming back is less and less, which is great, but I keep my finger on that the most.

Who is your professional role model?

A manager at Deloitte on my last project was the first manager I had that struck a balance between knowing the projects/material and managing at a higher level as well. That’s a really difficult balance to strike, being high above everything, but also down in the weeds. He really did that well, and outside there were other things, but that’s something I really want to take with me.

What's your favorite book?

The Heart and the Fist by Eric Grytons – He was a Navy SEAL for a number of years, and grew up and went to Oxford for grad school. Was an accomplished boxer there, a smart guy. He talks about the difference between international diplomacy and what you can do by avoiding physical action and using diplomacy, but also what is needed and what is necessary in brute force. It makes you think on multiple levels in that regard, and that was a book I read really soon after I graduated. It still gets me thinking about our servicemen, and our diplomats, and how they balance the political sphere in everything they do.

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Title: Profile of Sam Olens, BA/SIS '78; MA/SIS, '80
Author:
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Abstract: Mr. Olens is the Attorney General for the state of Georgia.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 01/16/2014
Content:

What was one important turning point during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?

A global perspective, respect of all people.

What has been a pivotal piece of knowledge that has led me to my current position?

As Winston Churchill stated, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."

I chose SIS because of:

Liberal arts, the professors, location.

How I make a difference in the world:

I seek to make a difference through Tzedekah and promoting the rule of law.

I also speak:

Spanish

I am interested in:

Economic Development, Human Rights.

My professional role models:

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson and Professor Abdul Aziz Said.

Favorite authors:

James Joyce, John Steinbeck and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Favorite movies:

Schindler's List, Rain Man, E.T.

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Title: Profile Mariel Verdi, SIS/BA '07, MA '10
Author:
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Abstract: Profile Mariel Verdi, SIS/BA '07, MA '10
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 01/09/2014
Content:

Why did you choose SIS?

The School of International Service and American University offered the International Affairs education I was looking for, a top-ten international studies school, and value. If it were not for the generosity of the need-based scholarship from AU, I would have never been able to have the same experience that I did. I will always be grateful for the school's generosity.

How do you make a difference in the world?

I have always aimed to serve others. Recently, I led a group focused on narrowing the gender gap in Department of State leadership by empowering and encouraging women at the entry and junior levels of their career. Through mentoring, panel discussions, and small group engagement with leadership, a small board of directors and I grew the organization to over 500 members. On a more personal level, I inspired three female interns to successfully pursue full time careers. It was a three-year labor of love. Now that I have joined Booz Allen Hamilton, I coordinate outreach activities for federal sector clients that successfully convey their message while ensuring they can serve the taxpayer.

How has SIS made a difference in your world?

SIS created an environment where I could meet people who shared my passion for international affairs and had a different perspective on the world. I had classes with professors and students from all over the world and across the United States. They challenged me to think about my opinions and find the facts to support them. I will never forget the wide-eyed inspiration I felt when Professor Vidyamali Samarasinghe would tell us about her field research surrounding the health of female tea farmers, the pain I felt when Professor Christine Chin talked about her interviews with sex workers, and the enthusiasm I couldn't but take on when learning from Professor Nannette Levinson. It was an unrivaled experience.

What is your field of study?

I completed my Bachelors in International Studies with a focus on International Development and Latin America in 2007, and my Masters in International Communication with a focus on Information Communication Technology for Development in 2010.

What world issue most interests you?

The construction of mobile phone and fiberoptic networks worldwide, especially in Africa, and its effect on economic development and health.

Who is your professional role model?

First, Madeleine Albright. She combined intelligence, dogged determination, and shrewd judgment to tackle some of the world's most complex problems during her career, spanning from academia, to the National Security Council, to the United Nations, then the Department of State, and now the National Democratic Institute.

Next, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She successfully put compassion into domestic and foreign policy to make some of the most beneficial changes at home and abroad. She could also eloquently reply to even the most vitriolic of colleagues on the Hill.

What is your favorite book?

Atlas Shrugged. It uses vivid imagery to demonstrate the world's struggles with economic shifts in the time it was written. It also features a strong female protagonist.

What is your favorite movie?

Love Actually. It is a funny, intelligent, very human romantic comedy.

Is there a pivotal experience that led to your current position?

When I stood in front of the group, celebrating the second anniversary of Executive Women at State: Entry and Junior Level, a group that I founded in 2009 in response to the attrition of entry level women who had joined the Department of State of peers, I realized that with enough determination, I could do anything and do my part to make the world, my workplace, my community a better place.

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Title: Alumna Creates Cause-Based Marketing Firm to Promote Do-Gooders
Author: Kristena Wright
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alexa Loken, SIS/BA ’10, launches Loken Creative to aid nonprofits and caused-based organizations
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 10/09/2013
Content:

When alumna Alexa Loken, SIS/BA ’10, found herself on AU's campus, she was intrigued by the steady buzz of motivated young people ready to change the world. With a few dreams of her own, she had no problem fitting in and expressing her interests. It wasn’t until after meeting her now husband Erik, another AU grad, that she was truly able to hone in on her niche.

“He told me I was destined to be a sales person but I knew I didn’t want to sell products. After graduating from AU and NYU, I figured out that I could definitely sell a service, and I knew I was passionate about it.”

Alexa believes her experience at American University is one of the major contributors to her career success thus far. So we asked her more about it.

Alexa says, “This may sound really cheesy but I really wouldn’t be where I am today had I not gone to AU.” An international relations major, she participated in the Washington Mentorship Program, studied abroad in Malaysia and China, was a member of Alpha Phi Omega co-ed community service fraternity, and Eco-Sense. “I was able to meet so many different people through my involvement at AU, which showed me that if you see a need that isn’t being filled, why not go out and fill it yourself if you have the expertise, financial capabilities, and passion to pursue it?” she says.  

Alexa’s resume shows off work all over the country, including New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and an overseas venture to Beijing. Gaining experience in online marketing, search engine optimization, advertising, print marketing, and grant writing are just a few of the things she has done. During her eight-year stint in the environmental world, she fell in love with non-profits and knew that she wanted to embark on a journey that would utilize her expertise to help organizations reach their full potential through creative marketing services.

In 2013 Alexa launched Loken Creative, a marketing agency for cause-based organizations where innovation, idealism, and expertise create opportunities for good. “I always loved the process of working on a project and moving on to the next project so that I could take the organization to the next level piece by piece. Now, I always tell my clients we want to be their niche, we want to be their extended arm. We aren’t looking to take over their world, only to make their world an easier feat to tackle.”

With 12 staff members, seven of whom are also AU graduates, Alexa shares the advice she has for current students:

“Be sure to dabble in as many different internships, classes, and jobs as you can to really figure out what you like and don’t like in regards to a work environment. Find mentors that will give you constructive criticism and ensure that they are from different walks of life to give you the best well-rounded outlook on life. If you're looking to start your own business, be sure to run a pilot program so that you can scale up over time. Lastly, as long as you can make it work financially, do exactly what you want to do. Sometimes you have to work a second job for a while, but finances should never hinder you from following your dreams.”

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Title: SIS Alumna Geeta Raj is Expanding Children's Imaginations Around the World
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle:
Abstract: She launched The Global Sleepover, a children's interactive story series about four friends who go on sleepovers all over the world learning to be global citizens along the way.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 10/08/2013
Content:

In 2011 Geeta Raj, SIS/MA ’03, left a comfortable, secure lifestyle working for a large international development agency to begin a new chapter of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. She launched The Global Sleepover, a children’s interactive story series about four friends who go on sleepovers all over the world, learning to be global citizens along the way.

“I get excited by new ideas, innovation, and creating new initiatives from scratch,” Geeta says. “I put my interest in innovation together with my love for children’s books and, before I knew it, a creative venture became a start-up.”

The Global Sleepover stories are available to select audiences in hard copy or on iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, or iPod touch with narration, touch and drag options, and sound effects. Each story is fully illustrated, focusing on one international theme or culture, and includes activities. Stories are based on traditional picture books, aimed at ages four through eight, and focus on issues of global relevance, social change, and social and environmental responsibility.

Geeta finds her new work is often a balancing act of meetings, progress and refinement, and communications and creative/design strategy. She also is an independent consultant in international development for various non-profits as well as USAID.

“I love the flexibility of my lifestyle,” Geeta says. “I can travel and sometimes I work from a café, a shared office space with other entrepreneurs, or out of my home office.”

Geeta grew up in Massachusetts and Texas, but has lived around the world, including time spent in the Balkans, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Colombia. She remembers the opportunities AU and Washington, D.C. provided her as a graduate student in the international peace and conflict resolution program, and she feels AU fosters the perfect combination of theoretical and practical experience for students.

“My work brings the little kid out in me,” Geeta says. “Watching creativity and imagination transform into ideas and practical execution is one of the best parts of what I do.”

Geeta hopes to grow The Global Sleepover, and she also is working on writing a non-fiction manuscript about reuniting with her father in India after not seeing him for 25 years. Soon she will be sharing this personal story as a mainstage speaker with The Moth, a true storytelling organization based in New York City that is often featured as one of the most popular podcasts on Apple iTunes.

“I’m loving the journey of finding those who know what I don’t,” Geeta says. “Those who are forward-thinkers, risk-takers, and visionaries continue to be my favorite. Of course, those who love sleepovers are my favorite too.”

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Title: Profile: Aldo Prosperi, SIS/BA/MA '09/'10
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Abstract: Profile: Aldo Prosperi, SIS/BA/MA '09/'10
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 08/06/2013
Content:

How has SIS made a difference in my world?

Entering SIS as a freshman, the school broadened my areas of study beyond my limited interests at that point. I feel like if I had been at another school that did not provide such a clear and balanced curriculum I might never have moved outside my comfort zone. While I still had the freedom to pursue my own particular interests (usually whatever class was being taught by Ambassador Quainton that semester), SIS also pushed me to take equally valuable courses in cross-cultural communications, international economics, China-Japan relations and more.

What was one important turning point during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?

While I had planned on pursuing a foreign policy-related career back in high school, I can absolutely pinpoint one SIS class where everything fit together and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had chosen the right path. Professor Murray's Foreign Policy Decision Making class showed me that foreign policy really isn't the result of a few demi-gods sitting in a smoke-filled room making choices for the rest of the world. Rather, I was able to explore the multitude of theories that support foreign policy decision making in which I now have the opportunity to play a - very minor - role. Also, that course let me write my favorite term paper ever - Cloudy With a Chance of Wienerschnitzel: The Decision Behind the Berlin Airlift.

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

I absolutely would not be in my current position if I had not earned a Presidential Management Fellowship while at AU. SIS played a vital role in helping me receive this fellowship through broadcasting the PMF as a career alternative and providing preparation for both the entrance examination and the PMF job search process.

Why I chose SIS?  

Pretty simple, actually. I honestly do not believe that any other school can offer the perfect blend of underlying theory and applicable "how-to" lessons like SIS. Just as importantly, I would categorically say that my professors at SIS were committed to teaching first, any other project came second.

How I make a difference in the world?

I currently work for the Chief Financial Office of the Department of Homeland Security. My portfolio inside the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation includes the department's cybersecurity, intelligence, infrastructure protection, and biometric security missions. Our goal is to provide a strategic view of resource requirements across DHS and present data-driven analysis during the creation of a five-year budget. By presenting comprehensive resource alternatives to leadership, I think that our team makes a difference by helping to drive deliberative and efficient decisions in a constantly maturing department.

Field of study?

U.S. Foreign Policy

SIS activities?

SIS Undergraduate Research Symposium

Languages?

German and Italian

World issue of interest?

Transnational crime, counter-terrorism strategies, cybersecurity, international religious freedom, European integration, Italian politics.

Professional role model?

Since the age of three - not a typo - my role model has been Thomas Jefferson. Even now from a professional perspective I still find so much to model and repeat from Jefferson's life - especially his ability to connect themes and facts from various disciplines and sources. I think that today's professional world sadly forces us to become experts in a narrow field of study instead of encouraging a general approach to global issues. While I can't say that I will invent a swivel chair and experiment with French oenology while writing timeless political philosophy like Jefferson, I always hope to keep a broad view of the world around me.

Favorite book?

Non-Fiction - Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August provides a vivid inspection into her introductory statement that war is "the unfolding of miscalculations." The entire book focuses only on the first month of World War I, but highlights so many tragic ingredients to war that remain constant in international relations - secret alliances, sabre-rattling arms races, military overconfidence.

Fiction - My favorite novel is The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Combine Aristotle's literary criticism, St. Augustine's theology, medieval Benedictine monks and wrap it up in a murder mystery and I'm hooked.

Favorite movie?

I can't imagine that any film will ever surpass La Vita é Bella as my favorite movie. Roberto Benigni's use of comedic effects like racially superior Italian bellybuttons and signs that say "No spiders or Visigoths allowed" provide a simultaneously thoughtful and cheeky counter to the evils of the Axis regimes. Plus it's always an inspiration to think that a poor waiter's greatest weapon against the horrors of a concentration camp was his unconditional love for his son and his principessa.

Current residence?

Columbia Heights

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newsId: 49302A66-09A1-2841-06D0467CC0FE2AA2
Title: Profile: Fernando Astigueta, SIS/MA '05
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Abstract: A profile of Fernando Astigueta, SIS/MA '05
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 08/06/2013
Content:

What was one important turning point during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?

I have been with the US Treasury for the past 6 years working counter-narcotics sanctions focused in Latin America, primarily Colombia. Given my career path, I credit my graduate thesis work with Cathy Schneider as a turning point for me during my time at SIS. My thesis titled, “New Wars and Old Wars in Colombia”, was a stepping stone to what I do now in my profession. That knowledge also prepared me well as I spent two years in Bogota, Colombia as an Assistant Attaché for our office which was stationed at the US Embassy.

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

The entire SIS/CRS experience helped mold me for what I do today. I’ve also done some sanctions work in the Middle East realm. Two courses that helped me prepare for that focus were “Post Saddam Iraq” and “Combating Terrorism”.

Why I chose SIS?

I chose SIS for its impeccable reputation as one of the top schools focused in International Relations, particularly the CRS program. The program exposed me to many different aspects of both the security and development world.

How I make a difference in the world?

As I mentioned earlier, I work with the Treasury Department, particularly that which focuses on counter-narcotics sanctions. I work cases that ultimately freeze the bank accounts of some of the world’s most significant narcotics traffickers.

Field of study?

Comparative and Regional Studies

Languages?

English/Spanish

World issue of interest?

Latin America, primarily Colombia

Professional role model?

Ronald Reagan

Favorite book?

Diplomacy-Henry Kissinger

Favorite movie?

Traffic

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Title: Profile Jumoke Balogun, SIS/MA '11
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Abstract: A profile of Profile Jumoke Balogun, SIS/MA '11.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 08/05/2013
Content:

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 think my overall experience at SIS influenced my professional path, but I have to credit the wonderful friends I gained. During my time at SIS, a group of young Africanists organically formed an “Africa Happy Hour” group and we have all stayed in touch. I have a friend in the Peace Corps in Senegal, a friend focused on maternal health issues in Sub-Saharan Africa, another working at a boutique consulting firm focused on US-Africa trade relations, and a hosts of others doing amazing work around the world. I met all of these wonderful people at SIS and they continue to be great influence on me. I actually cofounded compareafrique.com with another SIS alum, Kizito Byenkya (SIS/MA ‘10).

Why I chose SIS?

I actually started at AU as a public history historian and was enrolled in the history program at the College of Arts Sciences, but I strolled past the DAV during my first semester and the rest is history …or I guess it wasn’t. After speaking with professors and other students, I knew that this was the place for me. Not only is SIS one of the highest ranked schools in the nation, I chose SIS because the professors and the student all seem to have the same passion as I do for “waging peace.”

How I make a difference in the world?

I think compareafrique.com is where I see myself making a difference. The website sustains a forum that encourages those who are not your “atypical wonk” in international development discourse to become active agents of change. Compareafrique.com is a forum that is open to everyone, but we are also mindful of our role as young adults who are members of the African Diaspora. I think our presence not only diversifies opinions about how development should look/work in Africa, but this forum also puts Africans in the Diaspora in a strategic position to act as bridge-builders between their respective countries and policymakers in the West.

Field of study?

Civil Society; Sub-Saharan Africa

Languages?

Yoruba; English

World issue of interest?

The proliferation of drones; unrest in Egypt and Syria; violence against women from Steubenville to Tahrir Square.

Professional role model?

Hillary Clinton; and the mother of Nigerian feminism Funmilayo Ransom Kuti (1900-1978)

Favorite book?

Ake: The Years of Childhood (Wole Soyinka); Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson; Short Stories by Guy De Maupassant

Favorite movie?

How to Marry a Millionaire; Any Nollywood movie with a linear plot

Current residence?

Washington D.C.

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