newsId: D1192253-D14A-7250-3CBDE2B3BC63802C
Title: Ready to Launch
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: American University is a place for budding entrepreneurs.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 10/15/2014
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The Kogod School of Business recently launched a new Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative. It’s a way to cultivate entrepreneurial minds and ventures dedicated to economic, environmental, and social progress. A key component of this initiative is the new Entrepreneurship Incubator in Mary Graydon Center. To celebrate the Incubator’s official launch, there was a ribbon cutting in late September with AU President Neil Kerwin, Provost Scott Bass, Kogod Dean Erran Carmel, and AU alum Mark Bucher, a restaurateur who helped finance the remodeling of the Incubator space.

American University has a variety of great programs for budding entrepreneurs, and this new initiative reflects a campus-wide commitment to innovation.

Kogod and the New Initiative

In an interview, Kogod Professor Stevan Holmberg details the evolution of entrepreneurship education at AU. The business school had its first entrepreneurship course in 1987, with many more courses added in the decades since. By 2012, the School of Communication and Kogod forged a partnership with a master’s program in media entrepreneurship. In 2013, AU schools (Kogod, SIS, and SOC) announced a strategic partnership with 1776, a startup hub in downtown D.C. Kogod offers an entrepreneurship MBA concentration, and it recently added a minor in entrepreneurship for non-business majors.

AU’s curriculum on entrepreneurship is already experiential, with students practicing business pitches. But there was room to do more through this new initiative.

Holmberg_Ribbon_Cutting_NOID

“We were looking to expand the student learning experience by moving even further down the road towards having students actually live entrepreneurship and create new ventures,” says Holmberg, director of the Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative. He also says that AU students—typically passionate, with the desire to enact change—gravitate towards entrepreneurship. “It can be a business venture, or it can be entrepreneurship in terms of a nonprofit or social venture,” he explains.

Kogod’s Tommy White and Bill Bellows are co-directors of the nascent Incubator. Student teams trying to devise their own startups submit applications for an initial review, and White and Bellows will provide feedback for all applicants. Teams with more fully developed startup proposals will then present to a larger panel. Selected teams would have access to working space, a faculty coach, an outside mentor, and legal assistance. Through an entrepreneurship fund, AU faculty and business advisers will help students explore opportunities for seed capital and other sources of revenue.

“It’s great that we are getting a mix of applications from all the different schools, since the purpose is to make the Incubator an American University initiative,” says White.

AU is an ideal setting for cross-unit collaboration on a multifaceted subject like entrepreneurship. “It allows you to tap into multiple skill sets around the university,” Holmberg says. “So if we have a team doing a technology app, they could go to somebody in computer science for help with coding. Or they could go to somebody in film who might be doing video clips or documentaries.”

AU Pipeline

Young student entrepreneurs have received crucial guidance from professors in the past. While earning his MBA here, Tommy White took an entrepreneurship course on managing small and growing businesses taught by Kogod Professor Barbara Bird. “I just loved it, and it was exactly what I needed. I was in the middle of my startup, called the Institute for Public-Private Partnerships,” he says. The business succeeded and was sold to the infrastructure services firm Tetra Tech in 2008. Now he’s a full-time AU faculty member in Kogod’s Management Department.

Media Entrepreneurship

At the School of Communication, Amy Eisman discusses her role as director of the MA program in media entrepreneurship. “It is the intersection of media and business,” she says. “This is media defined broadly—it can be entertainment, sports; it can be an app.”

American University School of Communication Professor Amy Eisman

Since media companies are struggling mightily to navigate the current economic landscape, the startup culture in Washington, D.C. has exploded, she says. This makes the program attractive to mid-career professionals, who take classes in both SOC and Kogod.

“What we learned is that a lot of entrepreneurs are actually serial entrepreneurs. So they really like the game. They like to try new things,” she says. The projects in this program have run the gamut, with one student establishing an Indonesian cooking website and another student creating DeafTV.com.

Eisman explains the philosophy faculty members convey to students. “Let’s try, rather than think it’s not going to work. And let’s be able to change up if something is not working,” she says. “We’re perfectly fine if somebody discards an idea. That means the student has learned something.”

Social Enterprise

Robert Tomasko heads the social enterprise MA program at the School of International Service. Started in 2011, the program merges management with the study of social change and innovation. He says about half the students in the program have business backgrounds, while the other half are liberal arts-oriented. “Each of them comes to the program wanting to know what the other side knows. And there’s a lot of sharing.”

At the beginning of the SIS program, student pairs take a “plunge” by getting assigned to help a D.C.-based nonprofit or social enterprise. They’re tasked with helping this organization solve a pressing problem. Some organizations keep coming back each year to work with SIS students, he says.

Social enterprise is now an emerging sector of the economy. Tomasko says frustration with both the public and private sectors led to greater interest in the nonprofit world. “But there are issues with nonprofits, too. Many people flee to that sector because they don’t want anything to do with money. But if you talk to people who work at nonprofits, they spend all their time raising money,” he says. “With those three areas of discontent, I think social enterprise is offering students a way to pick some of the best from each of the sectors to try to remedy the problems.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

If you’ve plowed through the Steve Jobs biography or watched re-runs of Shark Tank, you might get an itch to start a business. But what makes somebody go the extra mile to actually do it?

Barbara Bird has studied entrepreneurial behavior, and she identifies certain attributes most entrepreneurs possess. “You can’t start a business if you don’t have high energy level, and if you don’t have a certain tolerance for risk. And it really isn’t even necessarily just tolerance of risk, it’s tolerance of ambiguity.”

Barbara Bird ID

Thomas Kohn argues that while the risk is undeniable, it’s a personal investment worth making. “I’ve mentioned to students that, in my opinion, there’s not as much risk associated with startups as some of them think there is. Right out of school, you can make almost as much in salary as you can with a big company,” says Kohn, an executive-in-residence in the Management Department. “Once you are an owner of a company—even if it’s just stock options—you feel totally different. You have a lot more incentive to work hard and to care.”

White adds that while entrepreneurship may not be innate to some students, it can certainly be taught. “Someone may really be a good idea person. But you might need someone to help shape that, manage that, and execute that,” he says.

And the goal of making money is within reach. “I do believe that entrepreneurship is one of the most likely pathways to wealth,” Bird says. “True ability to rise above the social and economic status you were born into is likely to come from starting a business.”

Brave New World

Advances in technology have made becoming an entrepreneur much easier. You don’t need to make huge capital investments and, say, open up a factory. You can run a profitable company with one laptop.

“I wish I had these tools 25 years ago when I was starting my company. It was expensive to start companies then,” White says. Now, he says, you have many different modes of communication, analytics, and social media tools to understand the marketplace and identify potential customers.

But as several professors warn, lower barriers to entry equals a lot more competition. “There are a lot of companies that won’t make it,” Kohn says. “But fortunately in this country having a failure—or two or three—under your belt is almost a badge of honor. It’s not a negative. And you learn a lot.”

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Title: "How Jewish is the Jewish State? Religion and Society in Israel"
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Subtitle: All-Day Conference, Tuesday, October 28, in SIS Founders Room
Abstract: Center for Israel Studies hosts international conference, October 28.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/14/2014
Content:

Israel was established in 1948 as a Jewish state, a fact that is not only stated in its Declaration of Independence, but one that has also been confirmed by every single government since its founding.

According to the former President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Justice Aharon Barak, "A Jewish state is a state whose history is bound up with the history of the Jewish people, whose principal language is Hebrew, and whose main holidays reflect its national mission." Yet, Barak insists that "the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish State cannot be identified with Jewish Law." Many Orthodox Israelis disagree. What is the meaning of a Jewish state and what place do Judaism and other religions play in such a state? Is there separation of state and religion in Israel?

To explore these questions and more, on Tuesday, October 28, American University's Center for Israel Studies (CIS) and Jewish Studies Program will host an all-day academic conference "How Jewish is the Jewish State? Religion and Society in Israel."

Religion and Society in Israel

With panelists invited from Israel, Europe, and the United States, the conference explores the separation of state and religion in Israel, and looks at the treatment and the internal structure of Israel's other religious and ethnic groups, as well as the question of religious pluralism in the Jewish state.

The conference culminates with an evening keynote address by the distinguished philosopher and scholar Moshe Halbertal, the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Jerusalem's Hebrew University and New York University's Gruss Professor of Law. Professor Halbertal will speak on "Israel: At the Crossroads of Democracy, Nationalism, and Religion." Professor Halbertal "is one of the leading public intellectuals of Israel and one of the key scholars when it comes to defining the place of religion in public life," says Michael Brenner, director of AU's Center for Israel Studies.

Legal Treatment of Religion

History Department Chair Pamela Nadell will moderate the conference's opening session. Panelists will address "New Frontiers in the Struggle between Religion and State," "Religion and State: Law in the Books versus Law in Action," and "Orthodox Monopolies: A Trojan Horse?"

Nadell reflects: "Since 1947, when David Ben Gurion, the founding prime minister of Israel, ceded to the Orthodox that Shabbat would be the nation's day of rest and that rabbinical courts would retain jurisdiction over Jewish marriage and divorce, there has been an ongoing struggle between religion and the state. Our panelists consider the ramifications of this policy on the contemporary scene." The panel includes Haifa University Law Professor Eli Salzberger, the founder of the Center for Crime, Law and Society and a former dean of Haifa University's School of Law; Yedidia Stern, the vice-president of research at the Israel Democracy Institute and a law professor at Bar Ilan University; and Kimmy Caplan, one of the world's leading specialists on Orthodox Judaism.

Non-Jews in Israel

Sociologist Calvin Goldscheider, scholar in residence at the Center for Israel Studies, chairs the afternoon panel on non-Jews in Israel. Speakers include Hebrew University Professor Ahmad Natour ("Islam and Muslims in the State of the Jews") and Amal el-Sana Alh'jooj, an award-winning Bedouin woman scholar and activist, who has advanced the cause of Shared Society between Jews and Arabs as well as promoting community development amongst Bedouin women. Professor Natour served as a kadi (judge) from1985-2013 and then President of Israel's Sharia Court of Appeals (1994-2013). In this capacity he made a significant contribution to the development of Sharia law in Israel and to its liberalization, especially in relation to the protection of the rights of women.

Jewish Pluralism

This last panel examines the viability of the extremely broad spectrum of religious attitudes among Israeli Jews, ranging from the ultra-Orthodox and the settler movement to the Reform movement and secular Jewish identities. What are their attitudes towards Israeli statehood and towards the separation of state and religion?

Panelists include AU Professor Gershon Greenberg, an expert on the Israeli ultra-Orthodox (haredim); the leading historian of Reform Judaism, Michael A. Meyer; Oxford University's Sara Hirschhorn, an expert on the settler movement; and one of the most powerful voices in the Israeli discourse on Jewish culture, religion, and secular identity, historian and writer Fania Oz-Salzberger.

For Registration and More Information

The conference is supported by the Knapp Family Foundation. For a full program description and to RSVP for any of the conference sessions, see http://www.american.edu/cas/israelstudies/rsvp/rsvp2.cfm

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Title: Intercultural Management Institute Hosts Fulbright Orientation
Author: Sabrina Garba
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Intercultural Management Institute (IMI) at American University’s School of International Service recently hosted the 2014 Fulbright Global Gateway Orientation for seventy incoming Fulbright students from forty-seven different countries.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/09/2014
Content:

The Intercultural Management Institute (IMI) at American University’s School of International Service recently hosted the 2014 Fulbright Global Gateway Orientation for seventy incoming Fulbright students from forty-seven different countries. 

The five-day workshop took place in Washington, DC, from August 18 to 22, and was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

The orientation prepared the Fulbrighters for cultural adjustment to life and academic study in the United States and introduced them to skills needed for a successful academic and professional experience in the United States.

The orientation included sessions that engaged participants in networking and leadership activities and educated them on American culture – including academic culture, intercultural understanding, and interpersonal relationships. 

Additionally, the Fulbrighters participated in cultural visits to four Smithsonian Museums as well as a local nursing and rehabilitation center to engage with members of the community and learn about American history and culture around Washington, DC. 

According to participant Silvio Canihuante, this orientation helped him to prepare for living in a foreign country and provided him with a network of friends. When asked about his experience at the Global Gateway Orientation he said: “The Gateway is unique, and I recommend it to every scholar. It was my first experience as a Fulbrighter outside [of] my original country. All the lectures and activities are extremely well planned and, depending on your previous experience in the U.S., they can reveal how our new home works. Foremost, I got to meet other Fulbrighters from all over the world. Now, I have friends from countries that I have only heard on Risk! games before. And, most important, when I arrived to the city of my program (NYC), I had friends. I don't see them every day because of school requirements, but the sensation to have a network of not only contacts, but friends as well, it helps a lot when you are arriving to an unknown city.” 

After completing their orientation, the international Fulbright students traveled to colleges and universities in all fifty states to begin their Fulbright programs as masters and doctoral students. 

Learn more about the Intercultural Management Institute.

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Title: ISIS in Iraq and Syria: Three Questions for Joe Young
Author:
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Abstract: The United States is leading an international coalition against the extremist group ISIS, which has seized parts of Iraq and Syria.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/02/2014
Content:

The United States is leading an international coalition against the extremist group ISIS, which has seized parts of Iraq and Syria. We asked Associate Professor Joe Young, who focuses on political violence and violent extremism, for insight into the jihadist group.

Q: How did ISIS, also known as Islamic State, become so powerful so quickly?

A: ISIS has deliberately attempted to govern parts of Iraq and Syria, giving the group access to revenues from oil fields, smuggled goods, taxing locals, and raiding financial institutions. After taking the northern Iraq city of Mosul, its finances ballooned. With ready volunteers drawn from inside and outside of Iraq and Syria, and a flow of resources, its power has grown quickly, but it is also not surprising. 

Q: Beyond the military campaign, how can the United States and its partners weaken groups like ISIS and counter violent extremism? 

A: The best way to counter ISIS, which may be different than other groups, is to focus on better governance in Syria and Iraq. In Syria, by resolving the civil war and allowing the Syrian people to govern themselves, the United States and the rest of the world would benefit by hopefully reducing a safe haven and territory for resource extraction for ISIS. Of course, after years of brutal fighting in Syria, most moderate voices that might be able to govern Syria in a more democratic manner have been silenced. In Iraq, the trick is to empower the Iraqi state in such a way as to improve capabilities to counter ISIS, but also in a way that is inclusive and does not isolate Sunnis, who are the basis of ISIS support in Iraq. 

Q: ISIS is dangerous--and wealthy. What is the best way to cut off funding for “terror corporations” like ISIS? 

A: I’m not sure I like the term terror corporation. ISIS isn’t just trying to make a profit and scare people, ISIS is trying to be the state. Like the mafia in the United States in the early 1900s, it is using ugly and brutal methods to establish control over populations in the region. It is more successful, again like the mafia, in places where state control is lacking. Until Syria and Iraq build strong, responsive state institutions, ISIS, or groups like it, will battle for how to govern people in the region. The ultimate goal, however, is to build strong institutions that are also constrained in their use of violence. It took the United States and Western democracies generations to figure this out (and we are still working on it).

Follow Professor Young on Twitter @JosephKYoung. To request an interview, please call (202) 885-5943.

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Title: Spotlight on the GEP Program
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program at SIS is committed to training the next generation of environmental leaders.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/29/2014
Content:

The Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program at SIS is committed to training the next generation of environmental leaders. The program equips students with the analytic and technical skills to build impactful careers focused on environmental protection and sustainability. We asked Simon Nicholson, director of the GEP program, to tell us more.

What is the core mission/vision of the program?

SN: We are a community of students, faculty, and alumni committed to working on the critical environmental and sustainability challenges facing people and the planet. To that end, our program offers two distinctive master’s degree tracks. The first is the Global Environmental Policy (GEP) option, for those interested in an interdisciplinary exploration of efforts to advance environmental protection. The second is the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (NRSD) track, a dual-degree program with the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica, for those interested in looking at international environmental protection and international development from the South and the North. Students in the NRSD program spend their first semester in D.C., and then a full year in Costa Rica, capped by a final semester back at American University’s DC campus.

How is the program unique? 

SN: The GEP program has a unique orientation, a unique location, uniquely talented and committed students, and unique program structures. 

Our orientation builds directly from the mission of the School of International Service, which is a school committed to a broad and interdisciplinary approach to the study of international relations that values public service, environmental stewardship, human rights, and social justice. The key word in the name of our school is service. 

Our students go on to serve the world through effective and thoughtful work in the public and private sectors. Our program also looks to take full advantage of our Washington, DC location. Students benefit from studying in a global epicenter of political life through carefully tailored events, site visits, internship and job placement opportunities, and much else. This is a place where it can truly be said that much of the best learning happens outside of the classroom. 

Our NRSD track is unlike any other program around, for the opportunity it provides to spend significant time at a premiere institution in Latin America studying with field-leading academics and practitioners. And the faculty based in DC, serving both the GEP and NRSD tracks, is among the world’s best. Our faculty includes figures like Ken Conca, a water governance and environmental peacebuilding specialist, Judy Shapiro, an expert on China and the environment, and Paul Wapner, one of the most important voices on questions of environmental ethics, social movements, and global environmental governance. 

You can see the profiles of all of our extraordinary faculty members here. Their research, teaching, and public engagement spans urban sustainability, climate change and energy, food security and food politics, climate geoengineering, sustainable design and architecture, and much else. 

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

SN: We are one of the oldest and most established programs in the country focusing on global environmental policy and international sustainable development. As such, we have a large alumni network and many other connections throughout DC and around the world. Our students truly are joining a community of people committed to work that improves the world. Professional relationships tend to flow directly from the deep personal relationships that are built among all members of our community. 

The GEP program is also immensely proud of the practica that teams of graduating students have been conducting in recent years. Students have investigated water and peacebuilding efforts in the Middle East, the ins and outs of the Farm Bill and broader U.S. agricultural policy, carbon offset projects in Costa Rica, and much else. These sorts of academic experiences are a direct bridge to fulfilling careers. 

Describe the students in your program: 

SN: Our students are grassroots activists, international environmental policy specialists, participants in intergovernmental climate change negotiations, and volunteers in grassroots community organizations. They focus on water, food, energy, climate change, urban development, global fisheries, sustainable design, and much else. That is, our students are a diverse bunch, united by a deep commitment to the hard yet immeasurably rewarding work of building a more just and sustainable future. 

Tell us about your own research and areas of expertise:

SN: My own work focuses mainly on global food politics and an emerging area known as climate geoengineering. The latter topic, which looks at big, speculative technologies that might be developed to tackle climate change, has been engaging the bulk of my energies over the last couple of years. I have set up, with some colleagues and students, an initiative known as the Washington Geoengineering Consortium, where folks can learn more about work in this area. I also gave a TEDx talk on the subject recently that the interested and/or adventurous might take a peek at. 

To learn more about the Global Environmental Politics program, please visit the website and find it on Twitter and Facebook. Students, alumni, and faculty also keep a blog.

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Title: Steiner Scholarship Supports Aspiring Diplomats
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: Mycal Ford, a student of East Asian Politics who was the first in his family to graduate from college, is the inaugural recipient of the newly-endowed Martin H. Steiner Scholarship.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/24/2014
Content:

Mycal Ford, a student of East Asian Politics who was the first in his family to graduate from college, is the inaugural recipient of the newly endowed Martin H. Steiner Scholarship. The scholarship supports a master’s degree student at the School of International Service who is interested in pursuing a career in diplomacy.

Ford is in the Global Governance, Politics, and Security Program and joins the SIS community with an impressive array of accomplishments in scholarship, service, and international experience.

He received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Chinese studies from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Ford conducted grant-funded research in China on the social construction of race in China as it relates to China’s public policy toward Tibetans.

He was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan for a year after graduating from college and then taught U.S. history at Xianfeng Training Institute in Chengdu, Sichuan, China -- watch a video of his experience there. Ford has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles, op-ed pieces, and online publications relating to his interests in East Asian politics as well as diversity, culture, and the arts. 

Ford plans to continue to explore his East Asian interests while in graduate school by examining the relationship between China and North Korea and gaining further understanding of conflict and cooperation in the international realm. 

Ultimately, Ford hopes to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service where he can work on global issues he is passionate about, such as alleviating poverty, ending cycles of violence, and promoting cross-cultural interaction.

The Steiner Scholarship was established in memory of Martin H. Steiner, a 1992 SIS graduate who yearned to join the Foreign Service and credited his studies at SIS for launching his successful diplomatic career. 

Learn more about opportunities to support scholarships at SIS: https://www.american.edu/sis/alumni/support.cfm

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Title: Students Explore Water and Cooperation in the Middle East
Author: Kristine Smith
Subtitle:
Abstract: This summer, SIS offered a graduate practicum on “Water, Cooperation, and Peace in the Middle East.”
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/22/2014
Content:

This summer, the School of International Service offered a graduate practicum on “Water, Cooperation, and Peace in the Middle East." A practicum is a team research course that is a capstone of the SIS Masters Program. Seven students and two SIS faculty members, Eric Abitbol and Ken Conca, traveled to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank for a two-week research project evaluating the environmental peacebuilding significance of cooperative household-level wastewater treatment systems located in the West Bank. Prior to the fieldwork, the students and professors participated in an intensive research and methodology workshop, and after returning to the United States, the students wrote an analytical report evaluating their findings in the field and the practice of environmental peacebuilding as a whole. Student participant Kristine Smith, GEP '15, shared her experience:

Following weeks of research and preparation, our practicum team traveled to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank from June 7–20 to conduct an appraisal evaluating the environmental peacebuilding significance of cooperative household-level wastewater treatment systems. Working in a complex conflict environment proved more challenging than we had anticipated, especially when tensions rose in the region after the abduction of three Israeli teens who were later found dead.

Meetings with Stakeholders 

This was the second year of the SIS sponsored practicum, and the second opportunity to work with Israeli and Palestinian partner organizations, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) and the Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group (PWEG). The practicum brought together SIS students from diverse programs, including Comparative and Regional Studies, International Development, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Global Environmental Politics. Our varied backgrounds allowed us to cultivate a well-rounded and nuanced understanding of water, conflict, and peacebuilding in the region. 

Over the course of two weeks, our group spent our nights at the Kenyon Institute, a picturesque British research institute located in East Jerusalem, and our days researching in Israel and throughout the West Bank, where we met with local citizens, town mayors, municipalities, NGOs, wastewater treatment professionals, and water authorities. 

Our unprecedented access to multiple levels of Israeli and Palestinian stakeholders meant that our days began early and ended late, but always wrapped up with a well-earned dinner containing an array of local dishes, such as Musakhan (a Palestinian dish of roasted chicken with cooked onions, spiced with sumac and sprinkled with pine nuts), and intense discussion of the day’s work. 

Tensions in Israel Rise 

On the fifth day of our research in Israel and the Palestinian West Bank, three Israeli teenage settlers were abducted near their religious school by the town of Hebron, a major Palestinian population center in the West Bank. By the sixth day, the entire mood in the region had shifted. Israeli security forces became much more visible, movement throughout the West Bank became more limited, with some towns, such as the town of Hebron put on “lock down.” 

In a conflict zone, the status quo can quickly transform without much warning and thus, researchers are challenged to adapt quickly. In the early days of the incident, we were able to carry out our research without much difficulty. However, the heightened tensions brought on by the search for the missing boys made our research on environmental peacebuilding increasingly difficult but at the same time, all the more important. Had our trip been scheduled a mere one to two weeks later, we may not have been able to effectively research in the region at all. 

This particular practicum is unique in that it explores an issue that is extremely sensitive and emotionally charged. Our group became more than a research group; in many ways it was a support group, as many of us were emotionally affected by our experiences in the field. Some dinners were full of serious discussion and a few tears, while others were spent laughing and exploring new cuisine, washed down with the region’s famous mint lemonade. 

Such is the environment in a complex conflict zone: a roller coaster of emotions and events, often unpredictable, but always extraordinarily valuable learning experiences. 

Water as a Means of Cooperation 

Our assignment was to evaluate the environmental peacebuilding significance of the cooperative household-level wastewater treatment initiatives—a project shared by AIES and PWEG. 

The team found that on a household level, the beneficiaries of the project view it as primarily a wastewater treatment project and do not emphasize the cooperative dimension of the project. At the institutional level, there is room for further engagement with Israeli and Palestinian water authorities, which are not always aware of the successes of these local projects. However, the environmental peacebuilding significance of these projects is strong at the organizational level, and has cemented a strong relationship between the Israeli and Palestinian individuals at the NGO-level. 

The next challenge for these partners is to ensure that their cooperation can permeate both at the local level and the governmental level. Displaying the successes and benefits that these innovative projects provide to local communities will aid in increasing cooperation at other professional and political levels. 

Learn more about SIS practica.

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Title: Community-Based Learning Builds Advocates, Activists
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: Chante Harris continues three generations of advocacy through AU’s service-learning.
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 09/19/2014
Content:

Activist Roots

As a child, Chante Harris’ family stories often dealt with marches, fire hoses, and police dogs. That’s because she comes from a long line of activists: her grandmother, mother, and aunt were all engaged in the Civil Rights Movement and the later struggles against inequality in Newark, N.J.

The family stories put Harris, now an AU senior, on a path toward service at American University, as she recalled thinking early on, “I need to be like that. I need to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

Today, Harris has specifically taken full advantage of AU’s community-based learning options—a program that engages students with the surrounding Washington, D.C., community. She’s volunteered across the city from local charter schools to literacy programs, getting to know the many issues facing residents.

Community Classroom

While AU holds a reputation for internships and solid academics, School of International Service professor Easten Law believes that community-based learning combines all of the above. “Often [service] almost conflicts with class responsibilities,” he said. “Students have to make choices between all these great resources in D.C. and their papers. What service-learning tries to do is integrate both into the class space.”

Meg Rego coordinates AU’s community-based learning through the Center for Community Engagement & Service (CCES), where Harris also works the front desk. Under Rego’s guidance, AU courses couple with dozens of local nonprofits, where students do everything from developing PR campaigns to building grant proposals.

“They get to collaborate with a community partner. They get to learn about the organization they’re working with. This has led to internships and job opportunities,” she said. “It lets them get their feet wet, engage with the community, and learn from that experience.”

For some two decades, students have participated in the Community Service-Learning Program, which adds an additional credit to any course that a student combines with a related service project. Starting this semester, however, CCES, Academic Affairs, and the Registrar’s Office rolled out a new course designation, “CB,” that denotes classes approved by a service-learning faculty advisory board.

Professor Law, whose cross-cultural communication course carriers the landmark “CB” designation, sends students to engage with ethnic minority communities at places like the Chinatown Community Center. He sees an immediate intellectual reward in the experiential learning.

“It’s made what they’ve learned more complex,” he said. “They realize that models and theories can look very clean on paper. When you have to deal with cross-cultural difference live, it’s a lot harder.”

For Harris, her time in the community (now as a YWCA mentor) has paved a solid path beyond graduation toward either government or nonprofit work—wherever she can be a strong voice for change.

“A lot of people want to go and represent a community before they’ve actually been engaged in that community and understand what its needs are,” she said. “It’s been great that I’ve been able to learn about a community that I’d either like to represent or advocate for one day.”

Two Missions, Combined

As community-based learning expands at AU to include 18 courses this fall, Rego notes this as fulfilling the university’s strategic plan, which calls for allowing any student the opportunity to take a course with a service component before graduating.

Plus, this semester welcomed the university’s first cohort of 40 undergraduate Community-Based Research Scholars. Participants receive merit scholarships and live together on campus in a living-learning community devoted to service in D.C.

“This is another way in which the university is living out that mission, to educate students and create really excellent citizens,” she explained. “We’re seeing there’s a way we can combine that very closely with supporting our community and acknowledging that our community can also greatly contribute to the education of our students.”

For Harris, as she looks toward possibly law school or the Peace Corps, it’s no surprise that she’s learned from the community both on and off campus. “I knew D.C. was that place, AU was that place, just in terms of being the most politically active campus,” she said. “When I got accepted, I was ecstatic. . . . It’s been amazing. I’ve had so many great opportunities since I came here.”

Still, she believes her work in becoming an advocate the likes of her grandmother or aunt is far from over.

“It’s really inspiring when you hear about your family doing things like that. You want to continue that legacy on,” she said. “American University has definitely helped me do that.”

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Title: Building the Knowledge Network
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Meet American University’s 23 new tenured and tenure track faculty members.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/17/2014
Content:

American University has amassed a talented crop of 23 new tenured and tenure track professors for the upcoming year. As part of the AU 2030 project, the university has invested significant resources in key subject areas that cut across departments. The new faculty will help foster an environment of academic excellence.

College of Arts and Sciences

Though the substance of his work delves into indecision, Mark Laubach has a clear idea about the research that animates him. "I like trying to figure out decision-making. How does the brain resolve a decision?" Laubach poses. "And how do you learn from one occasion to the next to do something better next time?"

Laubach is a new associate professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Along with other professors, Laubach hopes to collaborate with Terry Davidson, director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.

Laubach has been working with a National Science Foundation grant to understand brain circuits for executive control. Through Klarman Family Foundation support, he's been conducting research to comprehend neuronal circuits that control food-seeking behavior.

Originally from Bergen County, New Jersey, Laubach did his undergraduate work at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He was initially inclined towards marine biology, and one summer in Oregon he did a research project on crabs and their claws. He refocused his attention to neuroscience and neurobiology, eventually earning his Ph.D. from Wake Forest University.

American Univeristy associate professor of biology Mark Laubach.

Most recently, Laubach was an associate professor of neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine. He's made the move to Washington with his wife, Bernadette—a chemist and a preschool teacher—and their daughter and son. True to his North Jersey roots, Laubach is still loyal to the New York Mets and the New York Giants. But he's open to some of the local teams, and he's already started going to games with his sports-fanatic son.

Given his academic field, does he think about the neurons in his brain while he's fulfilling routine chores? "No, when I do my own decision-making, I do not think about my brain's role in it. But when I drive my car home, I end up having my best work-related ideas."

Other new CAS faculty:

Nicole Angotti is a new assistant professor in the Sociology Department. She's also a faculty affiliate at AU's Center on Health, Risk, and Society.

Michael Baron, who previously taught at the University of Texas at Dallas, is now a professor in the Mathematics and Statistics Department. Also teaching math and stats is assistant professor Kristina Crona.

John Bracht is now an assistant professor in the Biology Department. His research interests include genomics and cell biology.

Catherine Anne Claus is a new assistant professor in the Anthropology Department. Her teaching interests have included ocean studies and political ecology.

Joshua McCoy is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department. He's focused on new video game experiences through game technology, design, social science, and artificial intelligence.

Ying-Chen Peng is a new assistant professor in the Art Department. She's researched late imperial and modern Chinese art history, globalization in art, and Asian material culture.

Jennifer Steele is an associate professor in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health (SETH). She's an urban education policy researcher and she formerly worked at the RAND Corporation. Also joining SETH is assistant professor and nutritional neuroscientist Kathleen Holton.

Kogod School of Business

Andrew Schnackenberg, a new assistant professor of management at the Kogod School of Business, is not one to accept received wisdom. He's explored areas of the informal economy, discovering that industry consensus sometimes obscures a much more complicated reality.

He observed a dramatic shift in the discourse surrounding medical marijuana, and a certain amount of industry myth making. "[The industry has] repositioned the product as being less a threat to public well-being and more of a benefit to public health," Schnackenberg says. "There's evidence that marijuana is good for your health, but there's also a lot of evidence that it's not so good for your health."

He's also studied payday lending, an industry that he says is increasingly stigmatized. Much of his earlier research was on corporate transparency.

Schnackenberg was born and raised in Japan. He was heavily influenced by the experience, and it's even reflected in his research choices. "I've been interested in this idea of transparency because in Japan things were very nontransparent," he says. "With these controversial issues I've studied, there's a tremendous amount of symbolism and myth making that goes on. And this is something that I think happens all the time in Japan."

He did his undergraduate studies at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and started working at a private equity firm. He then went back overseas to complete his MBA in Australia. Upon returning to the U.S., he says he wasn't "satisfied with the answers to the compelling questions that business professionals have around these kinds of issues." He subsequently entered academia and earned his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University this year.

Other new Kogod faculty:

Shuai Ma is a new assistant professor in the Accounting Department. He's delved into issues such as tax reporting and corporate governance.

School of Communication

Benjamin Stokes is an incoming professor at AU's School of Communication. Stokes is currently doing his postdoctoral work at University of California, Berkeley, and he'll start at AU as a full-time faculty member in the fall of 2015. He's listed as a civic media research fellow at AU's Center for Media & Social Impact, and he'll be part of the AU Game Lab with SOC professor Lindsay Grace and others. His research and teaching revolve around civic learning and technology.

Incoming American University School of Communication Benjamin Stokes.

Stokes was born in Montana, but grew up in Ashland, Oregon. Even in high school, he was building online virtual field trips for kids. He got his bachelor's degree in physics from Haverford College. While living abroad, he studied West African drumming in Senegal.

Before launching a full-time academic career, Stokes worked in the nonprofit world. This included online education work on global poverty. "Increasingly, I got pulled into games," he says. While dealing with global interdependence and global citizenship, the biggest challenge was getting people engaged. "We discovered that games were a powerful way to build some of that cause and effect learning." He later joined with colleagues in launching a nonprofit, Games for Change, which facilitates gaming for social impact.

In designing games—particularly for mobile devices—he emphasizes the human component and game interactivity with everyday life. It's not just about advanced technology and coding, he says.

"The intersection around media that is partly online and partly face-to-face is really exciting. And it's a really good time for this right now. The technology makes it possible with phones. We're bringing the Internet back into the physical world."

School of International Service


Miles Kahler has been teaching on the West Coast since 1986. So moving across the country to take a new job at AU's School of International Service is certainly a big life change. Yet Kahler is no stranger to the area: He grew up near Baltimore, Maryland, and he spent time in Washington in the 1980s. In 2012-2013, he was on sabbatical and serving as a fellow at the D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Among other activities, he attended conferences at AU and met with SIS Dean James Goldgeier. "I was just very impressed with the trajectory of the institution," Kahler says.

Kahler will serve as a distinguished professor at SIS as well as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He's an expert on international politics and international political economy, with a focus on global governance and international monetary cooperation. He previously taught at University of California, San Diego.

During the Vietnam War era, Kahler became curious about international conflict. "It did get me interested in the question of imperialism, and why great powers or superpowers get involved in wars with much weaker powers," he recalls. When he eventually prepared his doctoral dissertation at Harvard, he focused on decolonization in Great Britain and France.

Kahler maintains many other intellectual passions, and he has an enduring connection to China. He was part of an early academic delegation there in 1979, around the time the U.S. formally recognized the rising nation. In 1980, he undertook his first teaching stint in Shanghai. "China was just opening again to the international economy and to the world," he says. "And meeting the students—who in many ways had their entire lives set back by the Cultural Revolution—was really quite an important experience for me." Kahler would return to Shanghai to teach in 2009.

In conjunction with his latest research, Kahler will teach an undergraduate senior seminar this spring on emerging economies, including Brazil, China, and India, and global governance. SIS has developed impressive faculty expertise to address issues related to governance at all levels, Kahler adds.

"'What is the most efficient, just means of governing an interconnected world?' is one of the critical questions that we face in the coming decade," he says.

Other new SIS faculty:

Adam Auerbach, a new assistant professor, recently received the 2014 Best Dissertation Award from the urban politics section of the American Political Science Association.

Austin Hart is now an assistant professor. He specializes in political campaigns and public opinion, with a focus on Latin America.

Sarah Snyder, also an assistant professor, is a historian of the Cold War and U.S. human rights policy.

School of Public Affairs

Derek Hyra is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and he will serve as the director of SPA's new Metropolitan Policy Center. "One of the missions of the center is to do interdisciplinary, collaborative research, but also to show and highlight AU's engagement in Washington, D.C.," says Hyra.

Hyra was first drawn to urban studies not in the classroom, but on the basketball court. Hyra grew up in Somers, N.Y., which he describes as a mostly white, middle-to-upper income suburb. Yet he played competitive basketball through an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team based out of West Harlem. "I saw Harlem in the late 80s and early 90s, when it was still coming off the crack epidemic. And there were a lot of abandoned buildings and vacant lots," he recalls. "A lot of what I learned through developing relationships with my teammates, who were mostly African-American kids from Harlem and the Bronx, really taught me about race in America." Hyra notes the overall value of this experience. "I didn't know it at the time, but it had a very dramatic impact on what I eventually did as a career."

Hyra ended up going to Colgate University, where he played Patriot League basketball for four years. He also discovered the writings of sociologist William Julius Wilson and learned about the historic conditions creating urban blight.

He's had a rich and varied career since that time, working at both the Housing and Urban Development Department and the Treasury Department. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Earlier this year, he ran in the Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat in the Northern Virginia-based 8th District. Though he lost, Hyra feels like he elevated the discussion on affordable housing.

"I try to look at how you can bring redevelopment to a low-income area, but do it in a way that's equitable," Hyra says of his research. He's examined gentrification and economic transformation in Harlem in New York and Bronzeville on Chicago's South Side.

For a forthcoming book, he completed a five-year ethnographic study of the redevelopment of the Shaw-U Street neighborhood in D.C. Outside of work, Hyra is a fan of jazz—one of the great cultural traditions of this Shaw-U Street area.

Other new SPA faculty:

Ryan Moore is a new assistant professor and his research interests include the politics of health, pensions, and welfare.

Elizabeth Suhay is an assistant professor of government. Her specialties have included political psychology and public understanding of science.

Erdal Tekin, a new professor, is an expert on health economics and policy. He comes over from Georgia State University.

Vicky Wilkins is a professor in the Department of Public Administration & Policy and an associate dean for academic affairs.

Thomas Zeitzoff is a new assistant professor. He's conducted research on political violence and political psychology.

American University Washington College of Law

AUWCL has several new faculty leadership appointments. Lia Epperson, an expert on constitutional law and civil rights, is now associate dean for faculty and academic affairs. Jenny M. Roberts has been appointed associate dean for scholarship. A former public defender and law clerk, she's done research on issues of right to counsel and indigent defense. Amanda Frost is the new director of the Doctor of Judicial Science (S.J.D.) Program. Frost has published widely and has been a frequent contributor to SCOTUSblog.

Tags: Biology Dept,College of Arts and Sciences,Featured News,Gamelab,Management Dept,Media Relations,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,Provost,Public Administration & Policy
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newsId: F3B21B48-E8B0-591C-C236E30BA02F899E
Title: The Militarization of Police at Home and Abroad
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: A panel discussion at the School of International Service on “The Militarization of Policing in Comparative Perspective” addressed this trend at home and abroad, looking at the United States, Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/16/2014
Content:

The recent race riots in Ferguson, Missouri put a spotlight on the militarization of police in the United States. A panel discussion at the School of International Service on “The Militarization of Policing in Comparative Perspective” addressed this trend at home and abroad, looking at the United States, Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

“The Militarization of Policing in Comparative Perspective” featured Associate Professor Cathy Schneider, who has written about police in Paris and New York City, Faculty Fellow Jessica Trisko Darden, who has studied policing and the military in Indonesia, and Georgetown University Assistant Professor C. Christine Fair, who has conducted research on security in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Schneider, whose recent book, Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York, garnered attention in light of the events in Ferguson, where riot police used military equipment and tactics, explained that the use of martial vocabulary for police activity precipitated the process of arming the police. 

“The idea of that police were engaged in a war with poor black and Latino communities dates back to the 1980s with Reagan’s thinly veiled racialized declaration of war on drugs and crime. After Reagan’s successful presidential bid, the Democrats followed suit.”

Trisko Darden pointed out that the notion of “protect and serve” is not a universal phenomenon. Her research on Indonesia showed that demilitarizing police is a difficult process that requires both institutional change and behavioral change. In Indonesia, militarized police are often deployed in response to mass gatherings, especially in areas with ethnic conflict, such as Papua. The police also play a key role in defending the economic interests of the government and protecting land rights. 

Trisko Darden described a culture in Indonesia where police are rewarded for minor arrests and where there is limited accountability, with investigations of human rights violations a rarity.

“Demilitarization is a very difficult process because the modes of interaction become very entrenched and the incentive structures have adapted to the level of militarization. It involves essentially re-learning behavior,” she said.

Fair, who served as an adviser to the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan, said: “The concept of a beat cop never really existed there—police were always politicized. The legacy of colonialism also meant that the job of the police was always to control and not to protect and serve.” 

She expressed dismay that police training programs in Afghanistan only last two months and that the U.S. focus on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration has allowed police abuses to take place.

Schneider noted that the politicization of policing, which occurs when politicians use wars on crime, drugs, immigrants, or terror to win elections, incentivizes police to treat minority neighborhoods as enemy armies rather than as vulnerable communities in need of protection. 

Schneider pointed out that minority communities want to have a police presence in their neighborhoods, so long as the police respect the community and are there to protect and serve. 

The panel was sponsored by GGPS and IPCR.

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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/

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Title: From a Semester in Norway to a Career in International Education: Caitlin Murphy, SIS/MA '14
Author:
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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!

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Title: From Undocumented to Unstoppable
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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Abstract: Daniel Alejandro Leon Davis achieved his college dreams, despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 06/13/2014
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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.

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Title: Julio Antonio Ubillús Ramírez, SIS/MIS '13
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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
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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.

 

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Title: Ann Mangold, SIS/MIS '12
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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

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Title: Profile: Jesse Pruett, SIS/MIS '12
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Abstract: MIS graduate uses his skills to mentor and develop the next generation
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
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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.

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Title: Jeremy Dastrup, SIS/MIS '11
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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
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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

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Title: Profile: Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
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Abstract: Meet Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
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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

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Title: SIS Alumna Writes to Showcase Modern Challenges in U.S. Identity
Author: Karli Kloss
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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.

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

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Update,Annual Giving,Kay Spiritual Life Center,School of International Service
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