newsId: 2C4E8A81-C380-4120-B1A2A8C64C35960C
Title: Students Explore Water and Cooperation in the Middle East
Author: Kristine Smith
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Abstract: This summer, SIS offered a graduate practicum on “Water, Cooperation, and Peace in the Middle East.”
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/22/2014
Content:

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

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

Meetings with Stakeholders 

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

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

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

Tensions in Israel Rise 

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

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

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

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

Water as a Means of Cooperation 

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

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

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

Learn more about SIS practica.

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

Activist Roots

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

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

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

Community Classroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Missions, Combined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College of Arts and Sciences

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

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

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

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

American Univeristy associate professor of biology Mark Laubach.

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

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

Other new CAS faculty:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kogod School of Business

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

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

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

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

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

Other new Kogod faculty:

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

School of Communication

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

Incoming American University School of Communication Benjamin Stokes.

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

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

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

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

School of International Service


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

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

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

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

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

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

Other new SIS faculty:

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

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

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

School of Public Affairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other new SPA faculty:

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

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

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

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

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

American University Washington College of Law

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

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Title: The Militarization of Police at Home and Abroad
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: A panel discussion at the School of International Service on “The Militarization of Policing in Comparative Perspective” addressed this trend at home and abroad, looking at the United States, Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/16/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The panel was sponsored by GGPS and IPCR.

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Title: War Powers: Three Questions for Shoon Murray
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Abstract: The Obama administration says that it does not need approval from Congress to launch an air war in Syria and Iraq against the terrorist group known as ISIS. We asked Professor Shoon Murray for her insights.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/15/2014
Content:

The Obama administration says that it does not need approval from Congress to launch an air war in Syria and Iraq against the terrorist group known as ISIS, because the campaign is covered by the existing authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. We asked Professor Shoon Murray, author of The Terror Authorization: The History and Politics of the 2001 AUMF, for her insights:

Q: What was the original intention of the AUMF and how has it changed over time?

A: Lawmakers meant to unleash the president to go after the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks; they did not intend for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to be a decades-long, open-ended, handing-over-of-war authority for the president to use against any terrorist group he may deem dangerous.

The AUMF was passed hastily: the Senate and House passed the resolution on September 14, only three days after the attacks, and President Bush signed it into law on September 18. In their haste, lawmakers reached for a legal framework—a broad use-of-force authorization—that had only been used for conflicts against nations (at least since the beginning of the 20th century). They retrofitted this practice by adding the words “organizations, or individuals” to allow the president to go after non-state actors. 

By doing so, the AUMF authorized the war in Afghanistan against al Qaeda leaders operating there and the Taliban government who had supported them. It also authorized the president to use force against al Qaeda operatives outside of that battlefield, wherever they resided. The 2001 AUMF has no built-in geographic boundaries—it is not specific to a nation or region—and it has no stated expiration date.

Still, lawmakers did build in one limit: there had to be a nexus with the 9/11 attacks. The statute authorizes the president to use military force only against those “nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons …” 

Once passed, however, the 2001 AUMF took on a life of its own and has been used very broadly by both the Bush and Obama administrations. It has been invoked as providing the authority for the warrantless National Security Agency (NSA) domestic surveillance program, military tribunals, indefinite detention of al Qaeda and Taliban captives, and the lethal targeting of al Qaeda leaders around the world and newer associated groups. 

Q: President Obama outlined a plan to combat ISIS. Some have characterized it as a “shoot first, ask Congress later” strategy. Does the AUMF cover ISIS? 

A: The short answer is “only because the president and his lawyers say so.” The application of the 2001 AUMF to ISIS is a big stretch. ISIS did not exist in 2001; it wasn’t a party to the attacks against the United States. Nor does ISIS easily fit the criterion of being a “co-belligerent” with the core al Qaeda organization in its conflict with the United States. The two groups are not operationally linked. They have had a rupture, a falling out. 

I think the President should have asked Congress for a new authorization specific to ISIS. 

Q: What is the larger significance of this apparent signal of open-ended support for the war authorization? 

A: The shift in Obama’s position on this issue is surprising and worrisome. Only last year, the Obama administration broached the idea of taking America’s counter-terrorism policy off of its wartime footing. In a major speech at the National Defense University in May 2013, President Obama called for refining, and eventually repealing, the 2001 AUMF and spoke of a time when the war with al Qaeda would come to an end. 

If Obama is allowed to use acrobatic legal reasoning to expand the scope of the 2001 AUMF, so might the next president. It means that the 2001 AUMF could become a permanent accruement of power to the president to use force against extremists with some tentative link to al Qaeda without involving Congress. It allows the president to bypass the 1973 War Powers Resolution when dealing with certain terrorist groups. 

At issue is a continued erosion of Congress’s constitutional role in deciding when the country uses military force. And, so far, members of Congress have just allowed it to happen.

To request an interview with Professor Murray, please call (202) 885-5943.

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Title: Blank Check
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: SIS professor’s new book tackles the law that unleashed a war without end.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/09/2014
Content:

Soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the nation was swept up in a combination of shock, righteous indignation, and patriotic fervor. On September 14, Congress voted on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was aimed at the perpetrators of the attacks. In both houses of Congress, just one lonely soul, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., voted against the authorization. And how, you may ask, was Rep. Lee recognized for voting her conscience? She got enough death threats that she needed special Capitol Police protection. The frenzied, post 9/11 atmosphere left little room for dissent.

Yet as School of International Service professor Shoon Murray demonstrates in her new book, Rep. Lee may have been prophetic. "The statute was passed in haste, with no sense of where it would lead," Murray says in an interview. "It just took on a life of its own."

Murray's book, The Terror Authorization: The History and Politics of the 2001 AUMF, describes a law that was ill-conceived and too broadly defined. It helped spawn an open-ended War on Terrorism, with shifting conflict theaters and a rotating cast of enemies. Even as a battle-fatigued nation tries to extricate itself from Afghanistan, AUMF is still on the books as a legal justification for war-making all over the globe.

Rush to Act

Even with overwhelming support for action, Senate leaders pushed back against initial White House drafts, one which would have granted presidential authority to use force within the United States. Still, the final version of this 60-word document was all-encompassing. It authorizes the president to use force against "those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks" or "harbored such organizations or persons." Since U.S. officials had not yet definitively determined the culprits, Al Qaeda isn't even mentioned in AUMF. But in the early weeks, it would be interpreted as the right to wage war against the Taliban for harboring Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

"By applying this legal framework to 'nations, organizations, or persons' connected with the attacks on 9/11, Congress granted significant war authority against nonstate actors without clear geographical bounds or an expiration date," Murray writes in her book.

"It allows the president to use force wherever Al Qaeda operatives reside, which is a broad expansion of presidential force that was never meant to be permanent," she says.

Executive Power

Murray says AUMF has given both the Bush and Obama administrations carte blanche to implement a number of controversial policies. NSA warrantless surveillance was initially defended using AUMF, but it was later placed under a different authority. Military commissions, drone strikes, and indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay have all been justified by AUMF.

During the "imperial presidency" period (circa 1950 to the early 1970s), Congress was deferential to the president on foreign policy, Murray writes. Like AUMF, the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed with near-unanimous congressional support. Yet as the shadowy circumstances surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin incident came to light, President Lyndon Johnson was accused of gross deception. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright, D-Ark. notably apologized for sponsoring the resolution, calling it a "contract based on misrepresentation."

But the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was at least confined to one nation and one enemy, Murray says. "Even though it was a blank check, it wasn't, in some ways, as much of a blank check as this. AUMF has no geographical limitations. You can go anywhere," she explains. "It allows the president to use force in countries where we're not at war, like Yemen and Somalia."

An Emotional Issue

A major problem with AUMF, Murray notes, is that it has no sunset clause. And members of Congress have been hesitant to revisit an issue fraught with political risk. "Part of this story is the congressional abdication in war powers. I think that there's a way in which they want to give over responsibility to the president," she says.

Today's climate is different from the one immediately following 9/11. Yet Murray assumes AUMF could still pass now, and a re-opened debate could even lead to a more expansive version of the statute. "Terrorism is such an emotional issue," she says. "There's a perception that Al Qaeda is everywhere. And there is no distinction between the core Al Qaeda, who attacked the United States, and other groups, who may not be focused on the United States."

There are some indications of change, however. At a National Defense University speech in May 2013, President Obama signaled that he'd like to revise and ultimately repeal AUMF. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has a bill to sunset the law. "I think what you need to do is pinpoint and debate if there is a group actually targeting the United States. Then you have an authorization that is targeted towards that and has a limited time period," Murray says.

But without deliberation on this issue, protracted conflict is almost inevitable.

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Title: SIS Welcomes New Faculty
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Abstract: The School of International Service is pleased to announce new tenure-line and term faculty members.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/04/2014
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The School of International Service (SIS) at American University is pleased to announce the following new tenure-line faculty members:







Adam Auerbach, Assistant Professor
Auerbach’s research interests include the political economy of development, local governance and representation, and comparative political institutions, with a regional focus on South Asia and India in particular. His dissertation examines informal community governance and development in India’s urban slums. The project draws on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, and an original survey he designed and administered across eighty slums in two north Indian cities. His research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, and the National Science Foundation. He received the 2013 Best Fieldwork Award from the Comparative Democratization Section of APSA and the 2014 Best Dissertation Award from the Urban Politics Section of APSA. He earned his Ph.D. in political science and M.A. in agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Austin Hart, Assistant Professor
Hart specializes in political campaigns and public opinion around the world, particularly in Latin America. He analyzes the television advertising strategies candidates employ in response to the national economic and institutional constraints they face and the effects of these strategies on voting behavior and policymaking outcomes. Hart's research has been published in the Journal of Politics and Comparative Political Studies and has been funded by competitive grants from the National Science Foundation and the TESS program (Time Sharing Experiments in the Social Sciences). He earned his Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas and B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Kansas.

Miles Kahler, Distinguished Professor
Kahler is an expert on international politics and international political economy, including international monetary cooperation, global governance, and regional institutions. Kahler was most recently Rohr Professor of Pacific International Relations and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) and the Political Science Department, University of California, San Diego. He has been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2012-2013), at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (2007-2008), and at the Council on Foreign Relations (1994-1996 and currently). He is a member of the editorial board of International Organization. His current research centers on the role of emerging economies in global governance and challenges to the nation-state as a dominant unit in the international system. Recent publications include Integrating Regions: Asia in Comparative Context (co-editor, Stanford University Press), Politics in the New Hard Times (co-editor and contributor, Cornell University Press), and “Rising Powers and Global Governance: Negotiating Change in a Resilient Status Quo,” (International Affairs, 2013). He received A. B. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University and a B. Phil. (M. Phil.) degree from Oxford University.

Sarah B. Snyder, Assistant Professor
Snyder is a historian of U.S. foreign relations and specializes in the history of the Cold War, human rights activism, and U.S. human rights policy. Her book, Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network, (Cambridge University Press), analyses the development of a transnational network devoted to human rights advocacy and its contributions to the end of the Cold War. The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations awarded it the 2012 Stuart Bernath Book Prize for best first book by an author and the 2012 Myrna F. Bernath Book Award for the best book written by a woman in the field in the previous two years. Her second book, Human Rights Before Carter (under contract with Columbia University Press) explores the development of U.S. human rights policy during the 1960s. In addition to authoring several chapters in edited collections, she has also published articles in Diplomatic History, Cold War History, Human Rights Quarterly, Diplomacy & Statecraft, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, and Journal of American Studies. She previously served as a Cassius Marcellus Clay Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Yale University, the Pierre Keller Post-Doctoral Fellow in Transatlantic Relations at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, also at Yale, and as a professorial lecturer at Georgetown University. She earned her Ph.D. at Georgetown, M.A. from University College London, and B.A. with honors from Brown University.

Stephen Tankel, Assistant Professor
Tankel specializes in international security with a focus on political and military affairs in South Asia, transnational threats, Islamist militancy, and U.S. foreign and defense policies related to these issues. He has published widely on these topics and conducted field research on conflicts and militancy in Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Balkans. Columbia University Press published Tankel’s first book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba, in summer 2011, and will publish his next one, which explores jihadist-state dynamics, in 2015. Tankel is a non-resident scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is currently on leave working as an Advisor for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs at the Department of Defense. Tankel is on the editorial board of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and is a senior editor of the web magazine War on the Rocks. In addition to his writing, he is frequently invited to advise U.S. policymakers and practitioners on security challenges in South Asia and threats from Islamist militancy around the world. Tankel earned his Ph.D. in War Studies at King’s College London, MSc at the London School of Economics, and B.S. at Cornell University.

Joe Young, Associate Professor
Young’s research seeks to understand the cross-national causes and consequences of political violence. He studies whether and why the interaction of states and dissidents turns violent and what kinds of violence develop. He is interested in topics such as insurgency, civil war, interstate war, and terrorism. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles across academic disciplines, including political science, economics, criminology, and international studies. Young is a contributor to the blog, Political Violence @ a Glance, and an associate editor for ISQ Online. Young’s research has been supported by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism START, where he is an Investigator and Research Affiliate. Young holds a joint appointment between SIS and the School of Public Affairs at American University. Young earned his Ph.D. at Florida State University, M.A. at Ohio University, and B.A. at Stetson University.

SIS is launching six tenure-line faculty searches this fall

In addition, SIS welcomes the following new term faculty members:

Marion Dixon: Dixon received her Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University. She has a M.S. in Development Sociology from Cornell University and a B.A. in Political Science from University of Michigan. Her research focuses on international development, political economy, and political ecology. Her dissertation focuses on agriculture and food system change in Egypt during the 19th century and the post-Cold War era.

Daniel Dye: Dye received his Ph.D. and M.A .degrees from AU SIS and has a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. His dissertation focuses on the discourse around globalization in British party politics.

Laura K. Field: Field received her Ph.D. in Political Theory and Public Law from University of Texas at Austin, Department of Government. She received an M.A. in Political Theory and a B.A. in Politics Science (with honors) from the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on the rhetoric of character in the work of Rousseau and Nietzsche.

Travis Hall: Hall received his Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. He has an M.A. in International Communications and a B.A. in International Relations from American University. His dissertation focuses on the historical contexts through which governance structures identify individuals by recourse to their bodies.

Ash Jain: Jain received a J.D. and a M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan. He is a senior analyst and practitioner in international affairs who is an expert on international norms and law, global governance, international organizations, transnational security, and emerging powers. He has served as a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff during the Bush and Obama administrations, as an advisor for the White House Office of Global Communications, and with the staffs of Senators Fred Thompson and Dan Coats.

J. Thomas Moriarty: Moriarty is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, Department of Politics, and also has an M.A. in Politics from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in International Politics from Pennsylvania State University. He served as a National Security Policy Advisor on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, and non-resident Transnational Security Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His research focuses on international security, U.S. foreign and defense policy, and transnational security.

Andrew Spath: Spath is a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University. He has an M.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and a B.A. in Political Science from Indiana University. His research focuses on comparative politics, politics and society of the Middle East, authoritarian regimes, conflict studies, and foreign policy analysis. His dissertation focuses on how leadership change affects political activism in nondemocratic regimes.

Susan Thomas: Thomas received her Ph.D. in Education, Culture, and Society from the University of Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University. Her research focuses on international education, globalization, race and citizenship, transnational migration, and South Asian diaspora. Her dissertation focuses on ethnographic examination of educational migration among middle-class youth from South Asia to the United States in the context of globalization of higher education.

Eugene Walton: Walton received his Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from Duke University. His research focuses on the relationship between identity-based political violence and international conflict. His dissertation focuses on militant non-state actors and international crises.

Barbara Wien: Wien completed an M.A. in Comparative World History and Economics at the City University of New York. She has a B.A. in Public Communication and International Relations from American University. Wien is an accomplished practitioner in the field of peace and conflict resolution, who led eight national nonprofit organizations and taught at five universities, including AU.

Follow SIS faculty members on Twitter.

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Title: Global Learning at Ground Level
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: For those seeking hands-on international experience, competitive scholarships like Fulbright and Boren can prove ideal.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 09/03/2014
Content:

Going abroad on a Fulbright or Boren award is certainly no vacation. The AU students who win these awards are seeking and finding something else: a challenging and uniquely rewarding experience with the potential to change the course of someone's life. Sometimes that means experiencing the unexpected.

Dara Jackson-Garrett, SIS/BA '13, was teaching English on a Fulbright in Venezuela when anti-government protests erupted across the country.

"My Fulbright experience was not your typical abroad experience," says Jackson-Garrett. "Not many people come back from their Fulbright with stories about watching mass protests or the National Guard chasing people down your street. For the first time in my life, I wasn't reading about civil unrest or discussing the shortages or analyzing the situation, I was living it." 

That is the true promise of these prestigious national scholarships: the opportunity to go beyond the page, to learn by living. 

"It was the best year of my life," says Leanza Bethel, SIS/BA '15, of her Boren Scholarship in India. "I was able to study Hindi and take classes in the master's department at Manipal University, to meet with policymakers, to intern with an NGO, and conduct research for my thesis by going out into the field and interviewing women in the sex industry—just amazing opportunities." 

The Fulbright Program offers participants the opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research around the world. This year 11 AU students accepted Fulbright Grants through the U.S. Student Scholars program, one student received the newly-established Fulbright National Geographic award, two undergraduates received Fulbright United Kingdom Summer Institute awards, and one alumna was named an alternate for the Fulbright Clinton Fellowship. 

The Boren Awards recipients receive funds to study, intern, or conduct research in languages and areas of the world that are deemed critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. This year 23 AU students were awarded Boren Undergraduate Scholarships and Graduate Fellowships, making the university number one in the nation in combined Boren recipients for the second consecutive year.

"I think that American University has a high success rate with Fulbright applications because the university as a whole focuses on a global view of the world," says Jackson-Garrett. "We are taught how to analyze world events, research new opinions in our respective fields, and form our own educated opinions."

The dedication of faculty and staff to fully support and guide students throughout the application process may also play a role in consistent awards success. 

"I have no doubt that the generous support I received from the AU community made all the difference in terms of my preparation of a successful Boren application," says Guru Amrit Khalsa, SIS/MA '13, who is currently in India on a Boren Fellowship, studying Hindi and conducting research on India's climate change policy. 

She credits faculty members and the Office of Merit Awards with helping her craft a research program and approach her application critically.

"My dream is to work for the federal government," says Khalsa. "I feel that my Boren Award will provide me with unique experience in attaining my professional aims."

For students considering applying for either award, these winners have some advice. 

"Your thesis should be on something you are truly passionate about," says Bethel. "Otherwise you're depriving yourself of future opportunities. The internship and career opportunities I have now to work in my chosen field come directly out of my Boren experience."

"Begin the process early, and utilize all of the resources AU has to offer," says Khalsa. "The Office of Merit Awards offers one-on-one assistance, as well as group sessions. Discuss your plans with your professors, and consult them in the early stages when you are playing with ideas–I found this incredibly helpful, in terms of tweaking my ideas and framing them in terms of U.S. national security."

And remember, ultimately, why you are going.

"I think a lot of time especially in international relations and politics in general it is easy to forget about the people who are experiencing these events," says Jackson-Garrett. "Fulbright taught me that policy is great, but that the people we are discussing, their lives, and their challenges, are very real."

The application cycle begins in September for Boren Awards, and in March for Fulbright Grants. Visit the Office of Merit Awards for more information.

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Title: Professor Investigates Conflict and Stabilization in Afghanistan
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: Associate Professor and Director of AU’s Global Public Media Research Project Shalini Venturelli recently returned to American University after a year in the Afghanistan investigating the conflict there and studying stabilization efforts.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 09/03/2014
Content:

Associate Professor Shalini Venturelli recently returned to American University after a year in Afghanistan investigating the conflict there and studying stabilization efforts. Her aim was to seek a deeper understanding of the underlying forces that drive conflict and peacebuilding in unstable countries.

“I have been studying the sociocultural drivers of the Afghanistan conflict in order to inform policy and support efforts on security and stabilization,” she explained. “More broadly, my goal is to develop complex qualitative analysis of the sociocultural dynamics of conflict and peace-building relevant to current and future conflicts.”

Venturelli studied how to advance the conditions of security and stabilization, strengthen the capability of Afghan security forces and institutions, and help Afghans adopt sustainable policies for security and governance. 

Venturelli’s study is the largest of its kind. It contains data covering a broad range of issues relevant to Afghanistan’s population, governance, security, and stabilization. The scope of the study is unprecedented, ranging from the local population, Afghan civilian leadership, Afghan National Security Forces, to cultural analysis of extremist networks, and the intangible sociocultural and information environment that drives conflict conditions. 

Her year-long field investigation across multiple provinces included:
• examination of perceptions, beliefs, and participation in elections at the local/regional level
• interviews with Afghan leaders at the local, provincial, and regional levels
• observation of Afghan decision-making, leadership models, meetings, and shuras
• study of the interplay between governance and security among Afghan organizations
• interviews and focus groups with local, regional, and national media • examination of the relations among civilian and security organizations
• cultural analysis of the strategic communication environment of the conflict
• investigation of the sociocultural evolution of insurgency
• sociocultural analysis of the creation of civilian safe havens through narrative strategies
• investigation of forms of population resilience and resistance to insurgent control 

The battle for the hearts and the minds of the population, she observed, is fought on a number of fronts. Venturelli observed that the insurgency, much like the government, vies for the support of civilians. The security forces, in turn, rely on the confidence of the local communities in their ability to secure the population from the insurgency. 

Venturelli’s field research demonstrated the critical role of the strategic communication environment and the narrative strategies employed by the press, insurgents, and government organizations in shaping the conflict environment and confidence in prospects for stability. 

In the process of interviewing, observing, and understanding the Afghan people, Venturelli discovered sociocultural and sociopolitical factors and dynamics that had not been fully investigated in the literature on conflict. These include:
• the significance of leadership discourse models to the security and governance environment
• the fusion of feudal and technical systems within evolving organizational structures
• the power of intangible forces such as contradictory concepts of knowledge and intelligence
• effective models for advancing capability gains among Afghan partner organizations
• the evolution of cultural resilience mechanisms among communities and leaders caught up in conflicts 

For her extensive frontline research efforts in field investigation and analysis of the sociocultural drivers of conflict, Venturelli was awarded the U.S. Army Commander’s Medal for Civilian Service and the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism

The award citation notes: “Her efforts greatly contributed to the overall increased effectiveness of advising Afghan partner organizations, ultimately achieving quicker and more efficient results. Her research and recommendations on how to better integrate security forces and on the development of more effective media relations were in particular beneficial. Her tremendous efforts will have a long lasting effect on the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the region, significantly contributing to the mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan partners.”

Venturelli is currently working on compiling policy reports, lectures, and a book manuscript from the data she collected. She hopes her firsthand field investigation efforts in Afghanistan demonstrate the vital role of social science analysis in advancing a deeper understanding of how to stabilize the complex environment of population-based conflict.

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Title: Unrest in Ferguson and Beyond: Three Questions for Cathy Schneider
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Abstract: Associate Professor Cathy Schneider comments on the increasing militarization of policing in minority neighborhoods.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 08/29/2014
Content:

On August 9, police in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, shot an 18-year-old unarmed black youth, setting off riots and demonstrations in Ferguson and beyond. Associate Professor Cathy Schneider is author of Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York and an expert on policing and social movements. We asked her to comment on the increasing militarization of policing in minority neighborhoods.

Q: You have noted that the response in Ferguson echoes the riots of the 1960s in the United States and those in Europe over the past decade. Is history repeating itself?

A: There are aspects of the situation that have not changed much since the 1960s in the United States or Europe. There are other elements of the crisis that are different from the ways that most communities respond to police violence in the United States today. What is unchanged is that police treat poor and stigmatized minority communities differently than they treat middle class and wealthy white communities. Police only use violence against poor people and stigmatized minorities. Mayors and police chiefs rarely hold officers accountable for abusing members of minority communities. Consequently, officers working in such communities treat residents of these communities as dangerous and criminal rather than as vulnerable and in need of protection. When officers are not held accountable for the mistreatment of minority residents, increased police violence is almost the inexorable result.

Almost all riots erupt after the killing of minority youth, in communities with a history of tension between residents and police and where residents have no alternative avenues of redress. What changed after the riots of the 1960s was the emergence of an array of community organizations focused on combatting police violence. Many of these organizations are led by activists that cut their teeth on the race riots of the 1960s. Many of these activists were hired in the late 1960s as peacekeepers, often by mayors using Great Society program funds. These activists and organizations developed a standard nonviolent repertoire for dealing with police violence, which included lobbying local officials and pressing district attorneys for indictments, holding mass marches and sit-ins, requesting federal interventions, and in general using the legal process and the courts to resolve grievances.

Q: Your book notes that for racial and ethnic minorities, police force often represents subjugation. Why do some instances of police violence result in riots, and others do not?

A: Riots are the last resort for communities that find all other avenues blocked. Where even the most limited opportunities to pursue redress exist, riots are rare. Justice takes many years, and is infrequent at best. It takes an enormous amount of mobilization to convince district attorneys to indict police officers, yet families rarely win criminal cases against police. Community activists often have to mobilize to get the federal government to intervene on civil rights grounds, and some families see a modicum of justice that way, usually very short prison sentences for the offending officer or officers. Far more commonly, cities settle civil suits out of court. In New York, for example, the city spent almost 25 million dollars a year during the 1990s to settle police brutality cases. But while families all wanted justice not money, the long legal process exhausts everyone involved. Community anger is channeled into the courtroom and off the streets.

Q: Should policing become less militarized? How can police departments build trust among communities and help to calm racial tensions?

A: Police should not treat poor vulnerable communities as enemy countries and should not be using military uniforms and equipment. Good police understand that their job is to protect and serve the community, and that good policing depends on establishing trust relationships with community members. Police normally do this when working in white middle class or wealthy communities. Yet poor minority communities are more in need of protection. Residents of poor neighborhoods are those most likely to be victims of crime. They are most in need of protection. But police are not rogue agents. For police to understand that they should protect and serve vulnerable communities there has to be political leadership that wants police to do that. You need a mayor that directs his police chief to serve the community, not occupy it. Good policing involves working with communities to resolve community problems. Police should not be rewarded only for netting large drug arrests or arrests for people who commit “quality of life” crimes such as painting graffiti. But ultimately voters have to change their priorities. It is the voters who are responsible when they elect candidates who demonize poor stigmatized populations, who use martial vocabulary, playing on white voter's racial fears, and who promise to provide security by cracking down on dangerous communities.

To request an interview with Professor Schneider, call (202) 885-5943. Follow her on Twitter @schneidercathy1.

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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.

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Title: Julio Antonio Ubillús Ramírez, SIS/MIS '13
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Abstract: An SIS graduate student from Peru brings his skills to his country's embassy in Prague, Czech Republic.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
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How has SIS made a difference in my world?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Why I chose SIS?

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

 

Fields of study?

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

 

Languages?

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

 

World issue of interest?

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

 

Professional role model?

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

 

Favorite book?

  • "Ficciones" by Jorge Luis Borges.

 

Favorite movie?

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

 

Current residence?

  • I am currently living in Prague, Czech Republic.

 

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Title: Ann Mangold, SIS/MIS '12
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Abstract: Alumna’s Fellowship Allows Her to Make a Difference through Federal Service
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
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Why I chose MIS:
I chose MIS because of its location in Washington, D.C. and the excellent reputation of its faculty as well as the School of International Service. I think close proximity to the nexus of politics and decision-making creates unmatched opportunities for students who study in D.C. I also liked the idea of having classroom interaction with fellow students who had a variety of experiences, from the private sector and government to NGOs and international development.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current residence:
Washington, DC

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Title: Profile: Jesse Pruett, SIS/MIS '12
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Abstract: MIS graduate uses his skills to mentor and develop the next generation
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
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Why I chose MIS:
I chose MIS because it offered an internationally respected program with the flexibility to fit within a demanding and often unpredictable schedule.

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

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

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

Languages:
English, Spanish

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

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

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Title: Jeremy Dastrup, SIS/MIS '11
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Abstract: This MIS graduate serves and protects the United States by investigating criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats throughout Southeast Asia.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
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Why I Chose MIS:
As a mid-career government employee I needed to find a program with an extensive selection of core and elective courses which would permit me to tailor my degree to my career needs. The MIS program gave me the latitude within my degree to become intimate with the subject matter which I knew my career was going to expose me to. I knew the MIS program, and American University, was the best choice for me when I selected it, but I did not fully realize how perfect a fit it was until I completed my degree and started to apply what I had learned to my career objectives.

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

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

Field of Study:
Southeast Asian Security Issues

Languages:
Spanish and Malay

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

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

Current residence:
Singapore

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Title: Profile: Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
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Abstract: Meet Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
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Why I chose MIS:
I moved to Washington, DC with the intention of making a career change, having worked in archaeology for over a decade. My work fell primarily on the environmental impact side of land development, and I reached a point where I wanted to broaden my career focus to include the bigger picture of global development.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World issue of interest:
Environmental sustainability; development and exploitation

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

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

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

Current residence:
Jupiter, Florida

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Title: SIS Alumna Writes to Showcase Modern Challenges in U.S. Identity
Author: Karli Kloss
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Abstract: Carla Seaquist, SIS / BA ’67 strives to give space to many of the complicated, and at times, ephemeral social and political issues facing our country.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 05/08/2014
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As a writer and playwright, Carla Seaquist, SIS/BA ’67, strives to give space to the complicated political, cultural, and ethical-moral issues facing our country. She began her career in civil rights activism, helping to organize the women’s caucus at the Brookings Institution from 1972 to 1976.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Joe Eldridge, SIS/MA ’81, Inspires Sense of Giving among AU Community
Author: Ann Royse
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Abstract: Chaplain and alumnus Joe Eldridge explains why he supports AU while also encouraging others to give.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
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As chaplain of American University, Joseph Eldridge, SIS/MA ’81, can often be found on campus talking to colleagues, listening to students, and lending his support to countless university events. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: First Generation SIS Alumna Inspired by Parents’ Work Ethic, Family Values
Author: Stephanie Block
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Abstract: Gloria González-Micklin, SIS/BA ’80, immigrated to America in 1972. Her parents made extreme sacrifices to provide a better life for their six children.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/13/2014
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Gloria González-Micklin, SIS/BA ’80, born in Bello, Colombia, immigrated with her family to New Holland, Pa. in 1972. Her parents, textile factory workers, made extreme sacrifices to provide a better life for their six children. Without their guidance and sacrifice, González-Micklin says, she would not have achieved the professional and academic milestones in her life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Profile Ben Edgar, SIS/BA '11
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Abstract: Alumni Profile of Ben Edgar, SIS/BA '11
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/16/2014
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What was one important turning point during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?

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

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

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

Why SIS?

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

What courses stood out for you?

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

How are you making a difference in the world?

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

What world issue are you interested in?

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

Who is your professional role model?

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

What's your favorite book?

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

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