newsId: D6518B70-5056-AF26-BEA79EB65860A77E
Title: Professor’s Book Examines Single Market in Europe and United States
Author: Anne Deekens
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Abstract: Professor Michelle Egan’s new book -- Single Markets: Economic Integration in Europe and the United States -- analyzes the challenges in constructing an internal market from constituent nation states on both sides of the Atlantic.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/22/2015
Content:

Professor Michelle Egan’s new book -- Single Markets: Economic Integration in Europe and the United States -- analyzes the challenges in constructing an internal market from constituent nation states on both sides of the Atlantic. She asks, what accounts for the political success or failure in creating integrated markets?

By comparing the experiences of nineteenth century America and post-war twentieth century Europe, Single Markets demonstrates how single market formation in both places followed a similar trajectory. The book illustrates the process of market consolidation through a detailed comparison of the “four freedoms” that are cornerstones of a single market -- the largely unrestricted transfer of people, goods, services, and capital across different jurisdictions.

Egan, the Jean Monnet Chair at AU’s School of International Service and an expert on the European Union, asserts that the EU is facing a number of challenges with its single market due not only to populist backlash throughout Europe but also in terms of the sovereign debt crisis that find many parallels in nineteenth century American market integration with its panics, defaults, and recessions.

Many Europeans today, particularly in Greece and the United Kingdom, are concerned about increased centralization and perceived threats to national identity in Europe. This phenomenon, Egan argues, is similar to the reaction the U.S. government faced from agrarian populist parties when it created a single market during the nineteenth century. The issue still resonates today in the United States where there is strong resistance in the west to federal intrusion over land and water rights.

“When I began this research, I sought to explore how markets are created and integrated,” explains Egan, who presented her book at SIS on April 22. “How can states create legitimacy and support for market integration and deal with the populist backlash from those negatively affected by increased market competition? I was interested in how the United States did it. Although I did not necessarily strive to give lessons to Europe, I did want Europeans to think about the historical parallels to the economic and political dilemmas they face today.”

For instance, both cases show evidence of interplay between different levels of government in determining distributive outcomes, an evolution of a legal framework for the market, and the development of new regulatory strategies to deal with changing economic realities.

“I identified several parallels, particularly in the creation of institutions, governments, and democratic reforms,” says Egan. “I found that the success of single markets depends on building greater state capacity and democratic institutions.”

Egan concludes that in both the United States and the EU, the establishment of one market, one currency, and a more unified banking and financial system transformed largely autonomous or sovereign constituent units into a more unified economic entity. Since the EU is still expanding and developing its single market, Egan recommends that the European Court of Justice continuously adjudicate in order to ensure that the single market operates effectively.

Egan will present her research findings to the European Parliament in Brussels in July and will commence a fellowship at the Wilson Center in the fall.

Follow Professor Egan on Twitter at @MichelleEgan14.

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Title: AU 2030: Amitav Acharya
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: SIS professor Amitav Acharya encourages new ways of looking at the world.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 05/21/2015
Content:

Asking the Right Questions

If the United States is no longer the world superpower, some analysts predict an impending power vacuum. Yet Amitav Acharya opines that this line of thinking misses the point. "Americans and media analysts often argue, 'If the U.S. doesn't lead, who will lead?' Now, to me, asking the question in this way is part of the problem," he says.

If we're asking the wrong question, we may have a fundamental misunderstanding of the current international landscape. It's impossible for one nation to step in and solve the world's problems, he says. Instead, he suggests that the U.S. share responsibilities with emerging powers, such as Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia.

"The United States is part of the solution for sure, but it should encourage other countries to take up the burden of leadership. And they will not do that unless the U.S. actually tells them that we're not always going to lead. So we have to change the mindset," Acharya says.

Acharya, a professor in American University's School of International Service, explored some of these issues in his most recent book, The End of American World Order. Acharya sees the U.S. in relative decline, while still wielding considerable influence. His research falls under the AU 2030 area of global governance.

All the World's a Stage

Traditional "realist" international relations theory posits that with the decline of a global hegemon (such as the U.S.), we might move from a unipolar world to a multipolar order of diffuse power and numerous competing nation-states. If another nation rises to challenge the hegemon, we could have a bipolar world resembling the U.S.-Soviet, Cold War confrontation.

To Acharya, neither bipolar nor multipolar systems accurately reflect current realities. In an increasingly interdependent world—with digital communications, trade, tourism, and overlapping financial interests—there are a number of actors besides nation-states that factor into global governance.

Instead of "multipolar," Acharya uses the term "multiplex," with international politics echoing the experience of going to a multiplex movie theater. The audience has a variety of viewing choices, he explains. And many people are involved in the making of each film. "It's not just about power. It's also about ideas," he says. "With multiplex, the actors are not just great powers. They can also be international organizations, nongovernmental actors, and corporations."

Acharya says the multipolarity concept emanates from 18th and 19th Europe, a time of warring nation-states and colonialism. Multipolarity is less applicable in the 21st century. "European interdependence was basically a regional interdependence. Today we have global interdependence," he explains. "Power is widely dispersed today; whereas in the multipolar era, it was all European powers competing with each other."

Regional Differences

Throughout his career, Acharya has discouraged Western-centric views of international relations. A scholar of East and Southeast Asia, he cautions against comparing this region to Europe or North America. While some scholars believe that a rising power will exert inordinate influence on its neighbors, Acharya argues just the opposite: regional forces will probably shape an emerging nation like China. "The prospect of Chinese hegemony is a lot less likely than what a lot of pundits have talked about," he says.

This is a region transformed, and Acharya doubts we'll see an ideological bloc in China's image. "In the 50s and 60s, Asia was a mostly authoritarian region, and there were very few real democracies. Today, democracies are almost equal to or even outnumber—depending on how you define them—the number of autocracies," he says.

Many Asian nations are now part of a framework of multilateral institutions, such as ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Intra-Asian trade has roughly doubled since the 1950s, he adds. "The region is more interdependent, and that creates constraints on what China can do." This subject may form the basis for his next book, he says.

Visiting the Ruins

The son of a school headmaster, Acharya was born in Odisha, India. He earned his Ph.D. in Australia, doing his doctoral dissertation on U.S. military strategy in the Persian Gulf. After a fellow professor invited him to visit Singapore, he shifted his academic focus to that area of the world. "I fell in love with Southeast Asia. And this is very important to my research. This is a very open, multiethnic, multicultural region," he says. "I saw that there was a lot of genuine interaction. And there was space for everybody."

He worked in Canada, Singapore, and England before eventually taking a position at AU in 2009. "Without the support of SIS and AU, I could not have pursued my very ambitious and multifaceted research agenda. It is here that I feel really at home," he says.

He now lives in Bethesda, Md. He's an avid camper, and he frequently travels around the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

That affinity for nature once inspired him to climb Mount Kinabalu, one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia. And Acharya maintains a connection to the region's culture. While Ancient Greeks spread their influence in the Mediterranean through force, he notes that Southeast Asian rulers voluntarily imported Indian culture and religion for political reasons. He delved into this topic in his book, Civilizations in Embrace.

Some of the early Buddhist and Hindu temples are still active, and he recently came back from a cultural excursion to Indonesia. "To this day, one of my single most important hobbies is to travel to the old ruins," he says. "Southeast Asia was really the laboratory for me to look at the transmission of ideas."

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Title: Student Explores Migration Pressures in Mexico
Author: Anne Deekens
Subtitle:
Abstract: A spring 2015 practicum team, led by former senior government official Fulton Armstrong of the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, traveled to Mexico to examine migration pressures from Central America to the United States.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/21/2015
Content:

The Practica Program at the School of International Service is designed to give second-year master’s students real-world experience in project management and consulting while preparing them for post-graduate careers. A spring 2015 practicum team, led by former senior government official Fulton Armstrong of the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, traveled to Mexico to examine migration pressures from Central America to the United States. We asked Chad Whatley, SIS/MA ’15, a participating student, to share his experiences with us.

First, why did you decide to attend the School of International Service?

I came to the School of International Service for a number of reasons. First, the school’s reputation for excellence is well known in the international affairs community. The faculty at SIS has been fantastic, as well as my fellow classmates in the Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program. Second, the school’s commitment to sustainability was a huge factor in bringing me here for graduate study in the GEP program. It was a great choice. The practicum was also another reason why I chose to come to SIS, as it allowed the opportunity to gain professional experience in international environmental affairs.

What motivated you to join the SIS Practicum Team on Migration Pressures?

I received my undergraduate degree in Spanish and spent the 2014 academic year studying in Costa Rica with the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (NRSD) program, so this practicum in particular fell right in line with my academic background and career interests. It was also compelling for me because it seemed like an incredible opportunity to address a timely political issue: migration from Central America to the United States.

Can you tell us more about the research, fieldwork, and clients involved?

Our goal was to understand the drivers of migration -- the factors that "push" people to abandon their homeland and that "pull" them to the United States -- and analyze how the policies and programs of the United States and its partners could better address those causes.

To explore these issues, our team conducted research, interviews, and fieldwork on the economic and political forces that drive migration. My work took me to Mexico City over spring break, where I was able to interact with U.S. Embassy and Mexican Foreign Ministry officials, members of civil society, academia, and locals to discuss the issue of migration.

Our faculty advisor was Fulton Armstrong, a former U.S. government official now at the AU’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, and our client list included: the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of the Vice President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the embassies of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

What were some of your main research findings?

The issue of migration is complex, and since we were dealing with four different countries there were often anomalies. Economics and governance were huge factors across the board; however, violence actually became less statistically significant than we originally projected. For my part, I focused on environmental issues and how they impacted migration flows. This may seem not as important as other drivers like the youth bulge, but the research indicated a cyclical effect between these issues and climate change, natural disasters, overpopulation, food insecurity, and soil degradation. Thus, the issue was interesting to be engaged with, and to unpack and explore.

How would you describe your practicum experience?

The practicum experience was challenging, but rewarding. I gained experience in using critical professional skills, including briefing, memo and grant writing, policy analysis, and most of all, teamwork. I know these skills will be beneficial in my future career in international environmental affairs.

What advice do you have for other students who might want to join a practicum?

My advice would be to apply for the subject you are interested in or the one in which you will gain the most experience. Luckily, I was able to do both because my practicum was on a cool topic and I got to work for my ideal clients. Not only that, but I also received the opportunity to learn from a wonderful practicum advisor.

I could not be more pleased with the practicum I chose during my final semester. It was a fantastic experience!

Learn more about the SIS Practica Program: http://www.american.edu/sis/practica/index.cfm

Interested in pursuing or sponsoring a practicum? Contact Stephanie Fischer, the director of Experiential Learning, at fischer@american.edu

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Title: The Pacific Trade Deal -- Three Questions for Stephen Silvia
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Abstract: President Obama is trying to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a large trade accord with eleven nations in the Pacific Rim. We asked Professor Stephen Silvia, an expert on labor issues, for some insights:
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/19/2015
Content:

President Obama is trying to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a large trade accord with eleven nations in the Pacific Rim. But the president is facing opposition from his own party. We asked Professor Stephen Silvia, an expert on labor issues, for some insights:

Q: The TPP is the largest trade deal in a generation. What does the pan-Pacific pact seek to accomplish?

The objective of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is to create an economic area spanning both sides of the Pacific that has trade without tariffs and liberalized investment rules. Currently, twelve countries that produce 40 percent of global output are parties to the negotiations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

Q: President Obama is seeking “trade promotion authority” (TPA), otherwise known as “fast track” legislation, to enact the TPP and other trade agreements. Last week, the President faced a setback when Senate Democrats temporarily blocked opening floor debate on the bill. What are the opponents’ concerns?

There are many. The treaty as it stands does not address the issue of currency manipulation, which is when a country depresses the value of its currency in order to sell more products abroad. The White House resisted a provision against currency manipulation, claiming that had that been in place during the financial crisis, foreign governments could have used it against the United States when it resorted to quantitative easing to stimulate the economy. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO trade union confederation, said that this justification for excluding language against currency manipulation was, “just pure, unadulterated horse-waste.”

Many Democrats also object to the investor-state dispute settlement provision in the draft agreement, which permits investors to bring disputes before an arbitral tribunal for settlement instead of a court. Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbiters are typically corporate lawyers. Critics claim that corporations have used ISDS tribunals in existing trade agreements to overturn national laws and regulations. Some Democrats are concerned about the open nature of trade promotion authority. They fear that China will be let into the TPP. They want the addition of new parties to the agreement to be subjected to congressional approval. Many Democrats argue that the environment and labor rights provisions in the agreement fall short, even though the Obama administration counters that they are the strongest ever negotiated in any U.S. trade agreement.

Republican skeptics, principally Tea Party Republicans, simply don’t want to give President Obama any additional authority in any area.

Q: What do you think the odds are of the TPP passing?

The Obama administration has an uphill battle on its hands and very few tools to fight it. First, the president has to get fast-track authority (TPA), which will be difficult. Fast track is ultimately likely to clear the Senate because the Republicans and Democrats worked out a deal to allow separate votes on Democratic concerns, namely, currency manipulation, beefed up assistance for workers who lose their jobs owing to trade, and African trade promotion. This compromise, however, is not sufficient to guarantee passage of fast track authority in the House. At this point, Republican House Speaker John Boehner has said that he needs fifty Democrats to vote for the bill because he cannot get enough House Republicans to vote for it.

If the Obama administration succeeds in getting fast track authority from Congress, it then still must submit the actual TPP agreement to both houses of Congress for approval. If the president fails to get TPA, he would have to make a hard choice: continue to pursue the TPP without TPA, or abandon it. Congress did pass free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea without TPA in 2011. The governments of several parties negotiating the TPP have indicated, however, that they would abandon the talks if TPA did not pass.

The AFL-CIO has pulled out all stops in opposition to both TPA and the TPP. It has suspended campaign contributions and redirected money to wage a multimillion dollar campaign. The union confederation has threated to cut off campaign contributions to any member of Congress who supports either bill.

The administration has made passing the TPP a priority, but it may not prevail. In the past, administrations worked with sympathetic congressional leaders to use earmarks to persuade wavering members of Congress to vote their way. Since earmarks have been banned and Congress is still operating under the budget sequester, such “side payments” are no longer available, which makes finding a majority in both houses of Congress for TPA and the TPP considerably harder than it had been for previous administrations.

Silvia is the author of Holding the Shop Together: German Industrial Relations in the Postwar Era. For media requests, please call J. Paul Johnson at 202-885-5943.

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Title: Women’s Council Supports Pakistani Entrepreneurs
Author: Samssa Ali
Subtitle:
Abstract: The U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, established by American University and the U.S. Department of State, is based at the School of International Service and is committed to increasing the number of Pakistani women in the workplace.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/18/2015
Content:

Dynamic Pakistani women have long influenced the history of their country -- from Fatima Jinnah, one of the leading founders of Pakistan, to Benazir Bhutto, the first female Prime Minister of a Muslim country. However, millions of Pakistani women are still unable to realize their full potential.

American University and the U.S. Department of State sought to address this problem by establishing the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council in 2012. The Council is based at AU’s School of International Service and is committed to increasing the number of Pakistani women in the workplace. Since its founding, the Council has built bridges between the United States and Pakistan and has supported the economic empowerment of Pakistani women through of its initiatives in entrepreneurship, employment, and education.

Low female participation in the workforce exacerbates Pakistan’s economic challenges. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Gender Gap Report, Pakistan ranks well below the world average in making economic participation, health, political engagement and educational opportunities equally available to girls and women. This reality hurts Pakistani families, Pakistani companies and public institutions, and ultimately, the Pakistani economy and society.

Melanie Bixby, Executive Director of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, attended the annual Pakistan-U.S. Business Opportunities Conference in Islamabad in March along with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Honorary Council Advisor and Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Jalil Jilani, and other high-level officials. For the first time, the conference featured a plenary session on women’s entrepreneurship and employment issues in Pakistan. The session was attended by Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, and Engro, among other large corporations.

Over the course of three weeks in Pakistan, Bixby met with female entrepreneurs, business leaders, and associations to advance the Council’s efforts to increase the number of Pakistani women in the workplace. The Council, through its network, will aim to link more qualified female candidates to corporate employment opportunities. The U.S. Embassy’s Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) of students and professionals is among those partnering with the Council.

The Council also brings underprivileged Pakistani high school girls to the United States to attend pre-college summer programs on leadership, entrepreneurship, and foreign relations at American, Harvard, Smith, and other universities through the U.S. Summer Sisters Exchange Program.

Bixby, who has more than twenty years of U.S. State Department experience working in regional, foreign assistance, and global issues, also advocated for the creation of the Pakistan Women Entrepreneurship Program (PWEP). PWEP, launched on March 25 as a joint initiative of AU and the Lahore University of Management Sciences, is an entrepreneurship certificate program that will help women start and scale businesses in a practical and integrated fashion.

According to Bixby, many companies in Pakistan now seek to hire women, but despite intentions to reach 50 percent female employment, they struggle to meet their target. Companies cite a hard time finding qualified women candidates, especially companies requiring science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) skills. However, as more girls are encouraged to complete their education and build careers, this can change.

Bixby is confident that the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council can help make an impact by partnering with companies and business associations to provide internship and training programs for Pakistani women.

Learn more about the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council at SIS: http://www.american.edu/sis/us-pakistanwomenscouncil/

Read about the launch of the Pakistan Women Entrepreneurship Program: http://www.american.edu/sis/news/20150420-American-University-Launches-Pakistan-Women-Entrepreneurship-Program.cfm

Ali is the Program Coordinator for the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council at SIS.

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Title: Reflections on Civil Rights in Selma, Ferguson, and Baltimore
Author: Barbara Wien and Jessica Obi
Subtitle:
Abstract: Professorial Lecturer Barbara Wien and Jessica Obi, SIS/MA '15, reflect on their experiences exploring civil rights issues in Selma, Alabama and Ferguson, Missouri -- and the riots in Baltimore, Maryland -- in the following commentaries.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/14/2015
Content:

Professorial Lecturer Barbara Wien and her students visited Selma, Alabama in March for the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches. They then traveled to Ferguson, Missouri to march alongside protestors and to participate in citizens’ human rights hearings with those who have suffered from police brutality. Wien and Jessica Obi, SIS/MA '15, reflect on their experiences -- and the recent riots in Baltimore, Maryland -- in the following commentaries.

From Selma to Ferguson: What’s at the Core of our Current Police Crisis?

Wien is a longtime peace and human rights activist who teaches about civic engagement, grassroots movements, and nonviolence.

As we witness the rise of a new Civil Rights movement against police brutality in the United States, we cannot ignore the anguish of our African-American brothers and sisters, nor go about our business as usual. The urgent task before us as public intellectuals and educators is to build powerful coalitions with our students to end violence in U.S. culture. We must build powerful coalitions with our students and engage in informed dialogues if we are to change the course of human events in our nation.

Where do we begin this task after so many lives have been lost? Truth telling about systemic racism is the first step in a painful journey toward atonement and transformation. What follows are my reflections while traveling with students from Selma, Alabama to Ferguson, Missouri from March 5-15, 2015.

Students and professors from American University and Bucknell University drove to Selma for the historic reenactment of the great Civil Rights march fifty years ago. It is estimated that 71,000 people descended on the small town in March 2015 in commemoration of the historic fight against racial injustice. Unfortunately, not much has changed in Selma in fifty years. Although “Whites Only” signs are gone, approximately 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is two times higher than the state average. Many of the dusty storefronts we passed were abandoned.

Elected officials, celebrities, and the media did not seem to take much notice of the economic plight of the locals. Despite these conditions, we met inspiring organizers and citizens everywhere we went. While marching across the bridge to Montgomery, I met poor, elderly residents who asked for help with predatory landlords and banks and medical care. I also met White military instructors from a nearby army base who said the many traffic tickets and bench warrants issued to African Americans are a way of suppressing the Black vote.

I learned on this trip that criminalizing African Americans allows Whites to deflect responsibility for the legacy of slavery and the resulting structural inequalities in housing, education, employment, banking, policing, mass incarceration, courts, the legal system, health care, and other institutions. Police simply serve as the blunt instrument for the rest of us. Criminalizing African Americans is deep in our psyche. It allows Whites to project our deepest fears about ourselves onto “The Other.”

After Montgomery, we caravanned to St. Louis for a “Truth-Telling Weekend” where youth of color spoke of being brutalized by police. I learned in Ferguson that the human windpipe is broken when a person is lynched. Eric Garner’s windpipe was also broken in Staten Island. Therefore, the chant “I can’t breathe” evokes the memory of the thousands of lynchings that occurred over generations and connects the conditions of yesterday to today. Modern day lynchings are a reality when almost 5,000 unarmed citizens have been shot and killed by police in the United States since 2000.

Black Americans are not passively submitting to such criminalization. In the past, there were hundreds of slave rebellions. Today, we see hundreds of nonviolent actions against police brutality and the militarization of our communities. Young brothers and sisters will not tolerate deflection and racism anymore. A new generation is rising and the narrative is changing. Awareness is growing that racism is a White problem and we have a lot of work to do. We cannot return to business as usual.

AU offers courses, teach-ins, faculty meetings, rallies, performances and plays, "unlearning White privilege" workshops, and campus dialogues. Students, administrators, and faculty are trying to come to grips with the unfolding crisis. I hope we will all heed the call to be “allies,” not bystanders to history.

Recently in Baltimore, we saw rioting, but also hundreds of acts of nonviolence. Citizens of Baltimore have actually been marching nonviolently against police violence since 1948 when a Black soldier who had just returned from World War II was shot by White police. We are at a watershed moment in U.S history. This time we must not look away and “pretend that we just didn’t see.”

Witness to Ferguson

By: Jessica Obi

Obi is a master’s student in the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs (EPGA) program. Here, she reflects on her experiences participating in the Truth Telling Project in Ferguson, Missouri.

Think about what you saw on the news about the events in Ferguson. You watched footage of riots and violent outbreaks in the streets. In reality, nothing can describe what it was really like to be in Ferguson at that time -- to meet and march alongside the people who call the town their home. That Ferguson was not captured on camera.

On my first night in St. Louis in March, I joined my professor, Barbara Wien, for a facilitator training meeting as part of a Truth-Telling weekend. After the meeting, we headed to downtown Ferguson to join in on a demonstration in front of the Ferguson Police Department.

Our procession walked a few hundred feet, circled back around, and then gathered in a parking lot across the street from the station. One of the leaders of the march had a bullhorn, calling for those who had been out protesting since the day that Mike Brown was shot to share their stories of why they were there.

It was here that I witnessed community level truth telling. Ironically, we were preparing for a weekend that took an immense amount of planning and diligence, yet in this moment, people came together with little effort to speak their truths.

One of the leaders mentioned that when you break bread with someone, you become a part of that person’s community. In Ferguson, we broke bread together, protested, marched, and sang. I learned more in that weekend about the power of a movement and its people in making change than any academic course could teach me.

Ferguson is the spark that the United States needs right now, and I stand in solidarity with its people -- and many others nationwide -- who are refusing to accept the system as it is.

No justice, no peace.

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Title: SIS Graduates its First Class of International Relations Online Students
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Abstract: American University’s School of International Service (SIS) celebrated the graduation of its inaugural IR Online cohort on Sunday, May 10.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/13/2015
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American University’s School of International Service (SIS) celebrated the graduation of its inaugural IR Online cohort on Sunday, May 10. Over the course of their program, the ten graduates were based in countries across the globe including Afghanistan, Belgium, Cambodia, Egypt, and Qatar. Seven of them joined together on American University’s Washington, D.C. campus to participate in graduation ceremonies alongside the School’s more than 600 on-campus graduates.

IR Online launched in May 2013, making SIS the first top-ten ranked school of international affairs to offer a graduate degree fully online. The program has enrolled more than 150 students since inception and was created as a flexible option for high achieving mid-career professionals as well as for those interested in beginning a career in international relations from anywhere in the world. Students participate in live weekly class sessions utilizing its partner 2U’s cloud-based interactive platform.

SIS Dean James Goldgeier noted the success of the online program and said, “2015 marks the first graduating class of the School of International Service online Master’s Degree in International Relations, where students across the country and around the world pursued their studies in this first-ever online degree of its kind. These students took a substantial risk to try something that had never been done before in the United States. They were innovators. Today they are graduates. Congratulations to all of you.”

IR Online graduate and lieutenant in the United States Navy, Emily Ham, who is currently based at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, provided a keynote address at the SIS ceremony. “The vast majority of you have no idea who I am. You haven’t seen me on campus and you’ve never had a class with me,” said Ham. “Over the past 2 years I’ve been enrolled in IR Online – for those among you who are skeptical of online education, let me assure you we have shared many of the same experiences. During my two years in this program, I have sat through lectures while in fifteen countries. I have read textbooks and written papers while on trains, planes and automobiles. I have even submitted an assignment while on a ferry boat crossing the English Channel. Conducting my studies online has allowed me to continue serving my country overseas while obtaining a graduate education from one of the top International Relations programs in the world.”

Students enrolled in the IR Online program can pursue concentrations in United States Foreign Policy and National Security, International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, International Development, or Global Security.

For more information about International Relations Online, visit ironline.american.edu or call 1-855-306-AUIR.

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Title: AU Announces Abdul Aziz Said Fund for Peace and Conflict Resolution
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Abstract: American University announces Abdul Aziz Said Fund for Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/11/2015
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Since its founding, the School of International Service (SIS) has sought to understand conflict, cultures, and inequality. SIS has been largely led in this journey by Professor Abdul Aziz Said, the longest-serving faculty member at American University (AU) and the first occupant of the endowed Mohamed Said Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace.

Revered by legions of former students and peacebuilders across the globe, Said began teaching at AU in 1957, after attending AU as an undergraduate and then a graduate student. As he prepares to retire, AU is pleased to announce the establishment of the Abdul Aziz Said Fund for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

“We are delighted to honor Professor Said’s remarkable legacy and his lasting contribution to AU and SIS with this new fund,” said SIS Dean James Goldgeier, “Professor Said taught, mentored, and inspired thousands of students, alumni, faculty and staff across American University for nearly six decades. The fund enables us to ensure his legacy lives on in perpetuity.”

A Career Promoting Peace

Since first experiencing war as a child in French-occupied Syria, Said has dedicated his life to understanding and enabling peace. He has worked to generate new insights into the cultural dimensions of world politics, improve Islamic-Western understanding, and position societies in the Middle East, the West, and around the world toward peace. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has mentored generations of peacemakers and activists in Washington, DC, and worldwide.

The senior ranking professor at the university, Said has been a long-time champion of tolerance and inclusion and founded the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program at SIS. His past and current public service includes serving as an adviser for the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the United Nations, and the White House Committee on the Islamic World. In addition, he has helped guide and/or has served on the boards of directors of various international nongovernmental organizations, including Search for Common Ground, Nonviolence International, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and the El-Hibri Charitable Foundation. Among his numerous awards, Said was the first-ever recipient of the El-Hibri Peace Education Prize in 2007.

Beyond advising organizations and teaching generations of peace activists, Said has actively participated in peace negotiations in the Middle East for more than fifty years. He participated in back-channel negotiations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1980s, recommending nonviolent activism as a way forward. After 2003, he worked with tribes in Iraq to help stabilize the country, serving on the Department of State’s Future of Iraq Project and advising the country’s first interim president, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar. Said has been active in supporting democracy in Syria since the 1950s, most recently advising the Syrian National Council, an umbrella group of moderate opposition activists.

Said has authored more than sixteen books, including Contemporary Islam: Dynamic, Not Static (co-edited with Meena Sharify-Funk and Mohammed Abu-Nimer; Routledge Publishers) and Islam and Peacemaking in the Middle East (co-authored with Nathan Funk; Lynne Rienner Publishers). His scholarship has continually highlighted topics before their time, including how phenomena ranging from multinational corporations to ethnicity and revolutionary diffusion altered dynamics in the international system in the early 1970s. Said’s recent research explores frameworks for “localizing” peace practices to sustainably tap cultural resources, support local solutions, and empower agents of social change.

The Abdul Aziz Said Fund for Peace and Conflict Resolution

The Abdul Aziz Said Fund for Peace and Conflict Resolution will support programming, conferences, and faculty and student research. Alumnus Jeffrey Sine, SIS/BA ‘76, chair of AU’s Board of Trustees, helped establish this fund with a generous gift.

“Dr. Said has inspired generations of students who, in their journeys and in their work, have created a ripple effect that continues to enrich the lives of others through mutual understanding and seeking common ground,” Sine said. “Funds like the Abdul Aziz Said Fund for Peace and Conflict Resolution are crucial to advancing the university’s mission and exemplify AU’s commitment to serving a larger broader community and addressing the great issues of our time.”

To learn more and to contribute to the Abdul Aziz Said Fund please visit:
https://www.american.edu/sis/alumni/support.cfm

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Title: SIS Students, Professor, Receive University Awards
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Abstract: The School of International Service is proud to announce that three SIS students have received University Awards this year! University leadership will present the awards to the recipients on May 8 at a President’s Awards Program and Reception.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/07/2015
Content:

The School of International Service is proud to announce that three SIS students have received University Awards this year! University leadership will present the awards to the recipients on May 8 at a President’s Awards Program and Reception.

Candace Evilsizor, who is graduating summa cum laude, is the recipient of the President's Award. The President's Award is the highest award for undergraduate students and is presented to a graduating senior whose accomplishments over the course of his/her undergraduate years are truly exceptional and reflect the highest ideals of American University.

Evilsizor focuses on migration and refugee issues in the United States and abroad. The award comes with a $1,000 contribution, which Evilsizor will use to continue her Arabic language studies.

Evilsizor also received the Fletcher Scholar Award, given to a senior who best exemplifies integrity and selflessness in citizenship on and off campus, together with academic achievement.

Cambodian student Essarayoss Mean earned the Carlton Savage Award, given to an international student who has contributed most to increase intercultural understanding at the University. He has focused on bridging cultural groups on campus.

For her research around human trafficking, Ph.D. student and adjunct professor Davina Durgana received the award for Outstanding Scholarship at the Graduate Level Award. This award recognizes exceptional academic accomplishments and scholarly contributions to the field by a graduate student.

University faculty awards were bestowed at the Faculty Recognition Dinner on April 26. Hurst Adjunct Professorial Lecturer Eric Novotny received the University Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. The award recognizes excellence in teaching as documented by student evaluations, comments, and feedback, originality of course, and the provision of superior learning.

University staff awards will be presented on May 19, as part of Staff Appreciation Week.

Learn more about University Awards: http://www.american.edu/universityawards/index.cfm

Read more about the student award winners:

University Awards: Well Awarded Wonks: http://www.american.edu/ocl/news/Well-Awarded-Wonks.cfm

President's Award: No Borders to Human Compassion: http://www.american.edu/media/news/20150428-Candace-Award.cfm

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Title: U.S. Drone Strikes -- Three Questions for Jeffrey Bachman
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Abstract: We asked Director of the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs program Jeffrey Bachman for some background information on the U.S. drone program:
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/06/2015
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The Obama administration recently acknowledged that a CIA drone strike in January, aimed at an al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan, accidentally killed two hostages, including a kidnapped American. We asked Director of the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs program Jeffrey Bachman, who writes frequently about the U.S. drone program, for some background:

Q: President Obama said the operation was “fully consistent with the guidelines” for counterterrorism strikes against al-Qaeda. Are the current guidelines sufficient to avoid civilian casualties?

A: This is a more complex question than it might appear to be on the surface. This is because there are two sets relevant guidelines -- those established by President Obama and his administration and those established by international law.

In terms of the President’s guidelines, it depends on which guidelines were applied. In May 2013, President Obama gave a speech at the National Defense University during which he said that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured -- the highest standard we can set.” However, it was recently reported that President Obama had secretly exempted strikes in Pakistan from the above limitations. It has also been reported that the strike in question was a signature strike. Signature strikes -- strikes launched against suspected militants based only on classified “signatures” that include certain behaviors, patterns of life, and physical appearance -- have resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties. Further, the Obama administration apparently counts all military-age males killed in drone strikes as legitimate targets. Therefore, when taking the above together, I do not think it can be said that the current guidelines are sufficient.

In terms of international law, the current guidelines are unequivocally insufficient if we apply human rights law to drone strikes outside of Afghanistan. Under human rights law, lethal force would only be justified if the individual targeted posed an immediate or imminent threat to those attempting to detain the individual or if the individual posed such a threat to others. Therefore, in situations where those limitations were not met, every use of lethal force by the Obama administration in Pakistan would violate the prohibition against extrajudicial killings.

Q: The CIA has been conducting drone strikes in Pakistan for more than a decade under a program authorized by President George W. Bush and then expanded by Obama (although the number of drone strikes in Pakistan has declined since 2010). Why has the Obama administration relied so heavily on drone strikes?

A: It depends on what one wants to believe. Some have made the case that the indefinite detention and systematic torture perpetrated under the Bush administration at Guantanamo Bay, as well as President Obama’s pledge to close the prison, led the President to adopt a preference for killing suspects rather than capturing them. I think there are also other reasons. As was seen during the intervention in Libya, clearly President Obama believes Congress has little oversight regarding the use of drones, even when they are operated by the military. President Obama essentially made the case that because drones do not physically put members of the military in harm’s way, their use does not equate to direct participation in hostilities.

Further, drones have been used in ways where conventional military tactics would not be used. Often when drones are criticized, some come to their defense by arguing that it’s better to use drones than to deploy conventional air force or boots on the ground. However, one should ask whether the United States would be involved militarily at all in Pakistan if it needed to rely on its conventional air force or boots on the ground. If the United States would not, why is it acceptable that it is using drones?

Q: Drone strikes are a signature tactic of the Obama presidency. Will the new disclosure cause the administration to curtail or scale back the program?

A: If the disclosure does lead to a scaling back of the program, it will likely only be temporary. We have previously seen a scaling back in Pakistan after numerous reports from UN Special Rapporteurs and human rights NGOs raised questions about whether individual drone strikes had violated international humanitarian law, and whether some of these individual strikes reached the level of war crimes. However, we also saw an increase in drone strikes in Yemen.

What we need is greater transparency and an independent criminal investigation. There is no doubt at this point that there is enough evidence, enough known, to warrant such an investigation. This, of course, should not be interpreted as passing judgment but rather as an objective recognition that drone strikes have caused significant physical and psychological harm to those living in areas where drones are typically used.

Follow Professor Bachman on Twitter @jeff_bachman. For media requests, please call J. Paul Johnson at 202-885-5943.

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Title: SIS Alumna Helps to Raise Funds for Small Nonprofits in NYC
Author: Stephanie Block
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Abstract: Dana Williams, SIS/MA '86 wears two hats as a real estate professional and nonprofit fundraiser.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/14/2015
Content:

Having the unique privilege to meet and work with people from around the world with fascinating lives is the best aspect of her work, says Dana Williams, SIS/BA '86.

When the economy declined a few years ago, the real estate professional sought other sources of income and experience. Through her search, Dana discovered The Funding Network USA (TFN) New York and enthusiastically approached the organization on various occasions to serve on their team.

Beyond the hardships that came as a result of the economic downturn were glimmers of sunshine, Dana says. "I realized how drawn I am to supporting grassroots projects with positive, sustainable solutions to complex problems," she adds. She serves as project director for TFN NY in addition to maintaining a successful real estate career with Sotheby's International Reality and acting as vice chair of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation's Brokers Partnership.

TFN is a global organization that hosts live crowdfunding events on behalf of grassroots, social impact non-profit organizations. The first organization to benefit from TFN's fundraising work is Harlem Grown, a small non-profit with a mission to inspire youth in Harlem, N.Y. to live healthier and more ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition.

Dana has also served as a board member for Habitat for Humanity NYC, as gala co-chair and mentor for Children's Aid Society and volunteered at the 1st Tribeca Film Festival.

Dana was attracted to AU's School of International Service mostly because of her lifelong intrigue with Keyna. "SIS encouraged a study experience abroad, so I chose to study in Kenya for a semester," she explains. "Going to school in Washington, DC was an exceptional opportunity that I never took for granted."

Dana's memories of her undergraduate experience are certainly fond. "I remember a small group of us meeting at the Tavern after Professor Duncan Clarke's energetic and inspiring lectures to simply talk about the world," she shares. "Some of my activities included mentoring and interning on Capitol Hill with an organization that lobbied for U.S. sanctions against the South African government."

From showcasing an apartment with a balcony overlooking Central Park to traveling to Harlem Grown to coordinate TFN's summer event which they will host in its garden, no two days are ever the same for Dana.

Regardless of how busy her days get, Dana says always has time to stay connected with friends from AU. "I made the most valuable and lifelong friendships at AU," she says. "I have a core group of close friends from AU that live in Australia, California and nearby."

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Title: Be Curious and Stay Connected: Lessons from Tony Silva, SIS/MA '94
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA '11
Subtitle:
Abstract: Tony Silva, SIS/MA ’94, looks back on his AU experience and his international communication master’s program.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 02/09/2015
Content: "Be curious and remain curious."

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

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

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

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

5 things Tony Silva says his AU experience taught him: 

  1. Be curious and remain curious.
  2. Stay engaged and interested in many things.
  3. Bring new thinking into the workforce.
  4. Allow and accept the evolution of communication.
  5. Stay connected with people. Staying connected helps operating in this world a little bit better.
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Title: SIS Graduate Student Studies Development in Africa
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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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
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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
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,School of International Service
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newsId: 17586CF3-9100-C85A-DFAC23808CB4475F
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
Content:

How has SIS made a difference in my world?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Why I chose SIS?

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

 

Fields of study?

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

 

Languages?

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

 

World issue of interest?

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

 

Professional role model?

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

 

Favorite book?

  • "Ficciones" by Jorge Luis Borges.

 

Favorite movie?

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

 

Current residence?

  • I am currently living in Prague, Czech Republic.

 

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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
Content:

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

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

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

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

Languages:
English, Spanish

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

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

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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
Content:

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

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

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

Field of Study:
Southeast Asian Security Issues

Languages:
Spanish and Malay

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

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

Current residence:
Singapore

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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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