newsId: 45F50083-5056-AF26-BEA8642456AAE5DE
Title: Professor’s Book Examines Governance in Nigeria
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: Using the case study of Nigeria, Assistant Professor Carl LeVan‘s new book explores how political actors and the policymaking process shape government performance.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 12/11/2014
Content:

What are the conditions for good governance in Africa, and why do many democracies still struggle with persistent poverty?

Using the case study of Nigeria, Assistant Professor Carl LeVan‘s new book, Dictators and Democracy in African Development: the Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria, explores how political actors and the policymaking process shape government performance.  

Drawing on a historical study of Nigeria since independence, the book argues that the structure of the policymaking process -- by which different policy demands are included or excluded -- explains variations in government performance better than other commonly cited factors, such as oil, colonialism, ethnic diversity, foreign debt, and dictatorships.  

LeVan, an expert on comparative political institutions, democratization, and African security, links the political structure of the policy process to patterns of government performance. He shows that the key determinant of performance is not the status of the regime as a dictatorship or a democracy, but the structure of the policymaking process by which different policy demands are included or excluded.  

By identifying political actors with the leverage to prevent policy changes, he demonstrates how these “veto players” affect the performance of two broad categories of public policy: goods and benefits enjoyed at the national level and those at a local level. 

“Many African countries grapple with questions of inclusion and the scope of participation in the government. But if inclusion undermines one category and advances another, that is very much a dilemma. I called it a Madisonian dilemma, since I used the work of James Madison as a theoretical framework,” he says.  

This “Madisonian dilemma” has important implications for African countries struggling with the institutional tradeoffs presented by different regimes.  

LeVan’s research shows that the number of veto players reliably predicted government performance between 1960 and 2007. Regimes with more veto players had higher inflation, bigger budget deficits, and larger student/teacher ratios. However, these regimes also restrained spending on goods characteristic of patronage. 

The book challenges conventional explanations that blame ethnicity, oil, foreign debt, and other factors for public policy performance. “Far too often, we focus on constitutions and parliaments; my research shows that institutions matter when people make them matter,” LeVan says. 

By showing differences across regimes, LeVan’s book demonstrates that the structure of the policymaking process matters. 

LeVan’s career spans academia and policymaking. Prior to joining academia, he worked for U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and then as the National Democratic Institute’s country director in Nigeria. He is a frequent commentator on African politics.  

Follow Carl LeVan on Twitter at @Dev4Security.

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Title: Graduates Find Career Success Off The Beaten Path
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: From porcupines to proposals, AU grads follow their passion to find jobs they love.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/04/2014
Content:

AU alum Kenton Kerns, CAS/BA '07, doesn't have your typical workday. At 6:30 every morning, Kerns and his coworkers begin the day by checking on the hundred animals living in the National Zoo's Small Mammal House. From feeding, cleaning, and medical checkups to enrichment activities, training, and research—no two days are exactly the same. 

"Working at the National Zoo is really exciting," Kerns says. "There's always something new going on, and you definitely feel like you're part of something bigger that's helping save species and habitats around the world."

Kerns started working at the National Zoo as an intern during his senior year at AU. After graduation, he applied for a full-time position that opened up at the Small Mammal House. He's been there ever since. 

"Before my internship, I didn't really understand what zoos did," he says. "The National Zoo, especially, is a leader in conservation and research—so much happens behind the scenes."

The research aspect was appealing to him and also a reason he was able to stand out as a candidate. 

"AU's biology program was research focused, and that was an advantage," he says. "A lot of people don't have that research background."

Through AU, he was also able to study abroad in Australia, which he says was an important element of his animal-focused education. Since graduation, Kerns has stayed in touch with some of his professors, and has been invited back to AU to speak to current students. 

"I feel really lucky to have found a job in a career I love that still offers so many opportunities," he says. "Meeting interns and students who are just starting out is an energizing reminder."

Joshua Joseph, CAS/PhD '04, is another alum who followed a unique career path. As an undergraduate, Joseph studied painting and history, both subjects he was passionate about but wasn't sure how to apply after graduation. He's now an officer of planning and evaluation at the Pew Charitable Trusts and an adjunct instructor for AU's School of International Service. 

"I was one of those pretty clueless undergraduates—I had such a limited idea of what I could do with my majors," he says. "I thought I could either be a graphic artist or starving artist. I didn't realize then how design thinking might be used in so many different ways, that the way they teach you to write and analyze and research in history could be valuable in other areas."

Joseph now runs "Networking for Introverts" workshops for the Career Center, based on his own experience of finding alternative ways to make contacts and connections. He wants to help current students learn from his approach and from his career path. 

Joseph credits Marie Spaulding in the AU Career Center with helping him develop ways to investigate potential career options and communicate his interests and abilities to employers.

He says, "I think that's one of the biggest challenges for career centers: to help students recognize where the gems are in their experience and pull those out, to see the value in things they are passionate about."

Joseph finds his work at the Pew Charitable Trusts fulfilling because it allows him to do just that, to apply his whole range of experience to the job.

"What I really like about what I do now is that it takes everything that I've ever done and pulls it all together," he says. "In this job you need a technical background to understand how the research works, but also soft skills, knowing how to communicate, how to give feedback and ask questions in ways that are constructive."

Speaking from his own experience, Kerns has advice for current AU students on finding your own way.

"Really accentuate the positives of your degree, and take full advantage of your location in D.C.," says Kerns. "Because the College of Arts and Sciences is not a huge school, it's easier to make connections with professors and other students in your program, and the networking opportunities are easier and more helpful than they might be somewhere else."

His advice for students who want to work at the zoo: "Volunteer. Get as much animal experience as you can. You need the degree, but that alone is not enough."

If you're not sure exactly what you want to do, that's perfectly fine too, says Joseph. It's not necessarily about the title, but rather the area you're passionate about and what you can bring to it. 

"Don't focus so much about finding the right job; a lot of people have a job in mind, but what's more important especially early on is figuring out the direction you want to go in," says Joseph. "Ask yourself, what do I like to do? What have I liked doing in the past? What are the skills I want to be using in my next job? Aim to figure out what are the things you want to do, as opposed to the specific name of the field or position."

In other words, do what you love. The rest will follow.

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Title: What Factors Influence Leaders to Compromise?
Author: J. Paul Johnson
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU author's new book explains why hawks become doves.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 12/04/2014
Content:

American University's School of International Service assistant professor Guy Ziv's new book, Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel, examines the role that leaders' personalities play in dramatic foreign policy change.

The policy implications of Ziv's research are significant. Ziv says, "If there are certain common factors underlying a leader's shift from a hawkish foreign policy orientation to a more dovish one, then identifying such factors could, among potential benefits, help policymakers shape the circumstances that might sway other leaders to opt for peace diplomacy."

With growing violence in Jerusalem and the prospects for Mideast peace looking bleak, Ziv's book is timely. What is the likelihood that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will take bold steps to break the impasse in the peace talks and work earnestly toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Ziv sheds new light on what it takes for decision-makers to revise their hard-line beliefs and pursue new, more accommodative policies.  

Case Study of Leadership: Shimon Peres

Ziv chose former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres as the primary leader in his case study because of Peres' six decades of public service at the highest levels of decision making. "Peres is an exemplary case of a hawk-turned-dove," Ziv argues. His formative political years were spent running the ministry of defense, where he oversaw furtive arms deals and the development of Israel's nuclear weapons program. He was a fierce advocate of counter-terrorism attacks. Following the 1967 War, Peres established some of the first Jewish settlements in the newly-occupied West Bank. His foreign policy views during the first half of his career were hard-line compared with his colleagues in the governing Labor Party.

It was only in the late-1970s and early-1980s that Peres emerged as a champion of the Middle East peace process, revising his positions on territorial compromise, negotiations with the PLO, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinian statehood. Utilizing archival documents and interviewing dozens of political elites with close connections to Peres –and Peres himself –Ziv explains not only Peres' dramatic shift, but also why it occurred sooner than others, such as his archrival Yitzhak Rabin.

Ziv's book also serves as a political biography of one of Israel's most important political players who has held every senior position in the Israeli government and changed the course of Israeli history.

Three Central Findings

Ziv's research led him to three central findings concerning a leader's dovish shift.

First, applying insight from cognitive psychology, Ziv finds that the more cognitively open and cognitively complex a leader is, the more likely that leader is to change his foreign policy preferences, thereby becoming more dovish—leaders typically go from more hawkish to dovish. Looking at Israeli leaders, Peres and Rabin agreed to make significant compromises with the enemy. However, Ziv shows that Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, who were far less cognitively open and complex, never budged in their foreign policy positions. Ziv traces how Peres and Rabin concluded that peace and security for Israel could only be obtained with the PLO through negotiation and painful territorial concessions.

The second key finding is that how a particular leader perceives the impact of a shift in the distribution of power on the state's security interests is critical in determining whether he will opt for the status quo or to change foreign policy direction. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the PLO's gambit to back Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War, Peres and Rabin recognized the PLO's weakened position and Israel's upper-hand to seek an historic compromise. Both leaders perceived that Israel's long-term security interests could be cemented if they considered accommodating the adversary.

The third key finding is that, to the extent that Israel's leaders have changed from hawks to doves, they have done so following domestic political realignments that favored more dovish policies over hawkish ones. Ziv explains that moving to the left politically in the case of Rabin and Peres for the Labor Party mainstream provided the opportunity to pursue more dovish policies.

Where Is Netanyahu on the Cognitive Spectrum?

"Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the hawk who 'outhawked' Ariel Sharon throughout the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century until Sharon suffered an incapacitating stroke," says Ziv. Netanyahu warned the Likud Central Committee in 2002 that a Palestinian state would be a mortal danger to Israel. However, President George W. Bush's "Road Map for Middle East Peace," which was based on a two-state solution, backed Sharon and Netanyahu into a corner. Sharon accepted the Road Map (albeit with reservations), but Netanyahu continued to oppose a Palestinian state. Only in June 2009 did Netanyahu succumb to U.S. pressure and publicly accept a two-state solution. Nevertheless, Ziv points out that Netanyahu's sincerity to promote this solution is doubtful given both his rhetoric and his unilateral actions, such as the approval of an unprecedented construction of housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

Netanyahu, Ziv shows, is an unreconstructed hardliner who remains opposed to a Palestinian state. As Ziv points out, "Netanyahu chooses to surround himself with loyal political supporters who identify with his worldview, therefore leaving little room for change." Ziv concludes that Netanyahu's cognitive structure is more closed than open and more binary than complex. 

Late 20th Century Pantheon of the Cognitively Complex

Cognitive complexity and openness were well represented in the late-20th century. U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan both met the thresholds, as did Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev according to Ziv's examination.  

Looking ahead into the 21st century, Ziv sums up his key takeaway in his actor-specific approach, suggesting that shedding light on the thinking of the propensity behind a leader's ability to update his core beliefs or remain committed to them regardless of circumstances is an important measure. How a decision maker reacts to changed circumstances is important and can make the difference between initiating or continuing a protracted conflict and ending it.

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newsId: 813D5D8C-5056-AF26-BEB631D331DCFB35
Title: Renowned National Security Experts Join SIS
Author:
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Abstract: Gen David Barno and Dr. Nora Bensahel join SIS adding military and defense expertise
Topic: International
Publication Date: 12/03/2014
Content:

American University's School of International Service (SIS) announced today that national-security experts Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.) and Dr. Nora Bensahel will join SIS on January 12 as distinguished practitioner-in-residence and distinguished scholar-in-residence, respectively. General Barno, a highly decorated senior officer with over thirty years of military experience, and Dr. Bensahel, a prominent scholar, are preeminent authorities on U.S. national security, defense, and military affairs.

"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Dave and Nora to the School of International Service," said SIS dean James Goldgeier. "Dave and Nora are very highly regarded experts on national security issues and will add immeasurably to the school's research, teaching, and activities related to defense and military studies."

"We are very glad to be joining a school with the reach, depth, and energy of SIS," said Dr. Bensahel. "We couldn't imagine a better place to connect scholarship with policy." General Barno added, "In addition to our policy research, Nora and I will be working on a book on the history and future of warfare. We are both truly excited to collaborate with faculty members and students on this important project."

About Gen. Barno

General Barno commanded at every level during his thirty-year Army career, serving as an infantry officer, Ranger and paratrooper. He served in special operations forces with Army Ranger battalions, including combat in both the Grenada and Panama invasions.

In 2003, he was selected to establish a new three-star operational headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan and take command of the 20,000 U.S. and coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. For nineteen months as the senior American commander, he was responsible for overall coalition military leadership of the war in Afghanistan, implementing a new counterinsurgency strategy in close partnership with the U.S. embassy and coalition allies.

From 2006-2010, General Barno served as director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. Concurrently, he was the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans and Families from 2007-2009.

General Barno frequently serves as an expert consultant and commentator on national security policy, civil-military issues, the changing character of conflict, and leader development. Since leaving military service, he has published extensively and testified before Congress over a dozen times. General Barno was most recently a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Responsible Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

A 1976 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, General Barno earned his master's degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. General Barno has received numerous awards for his military and public service.

About Dr. Bensahel

Dr. Bensahel was most recently senior fellow and co-director of the Responsible Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, where she previously served as deputy director of studies. She is a widely published expert on U.S. defense policy, U.S. military operations and force structure, coalition and alliance operations, and leader development. Her CNAS publications include Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity, The Seven Deadly Sins of Defense Spending, Building Better Generals, and "Charting the Course: Directions for the New NATO Secretary General."

Prior to CNAS, Dr. Bensahel served as a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where she authored numerous reports including After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq, and "The Experiences of Foreign Militaries," in Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy. Dr. Bensahel has also written several book chapters and has published articles in Survival, Journal of Strategic Studies, Joint Force Quarterly, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Defence Studies, and European Security.

Dr. Bensahel spent more than a decade as an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, where she taught M.A.-level classes and received the Alumni Leadership Council Teaching Award. Dr. Bensahel is also a frequent commentator in well-known media publications and programs.

Dr. Bensahel received her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from the Department of Political Science at Stanford University and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Cornell University. While at Stanford, she worked as a research assistant for former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. She held fellowships at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.

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Title: The Outbreak and the Aftermath
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: An American University Ebola working group is formed to help West Africa.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 11/26/2014
Content:

An Interdisciplinary Approach

Ebola fears may have subsided in the United States, but the deadly virus is still ravaging West Africa. American University professors have formed an interdisciplinary group to study the ramifications of Ebola. The Ebola Research and Action Working Group includes Susan Shepler, Thespina (Nina) Yamanis, Maria De Jesus, Rachel Robinson, and Daniel Esser from the School of International Service; Kim Blankenship, a sociology professor from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Jeremy Shiffman and Erdal Tekin in the School of Public Affairs.

"This is a really ad hoc working group that we've put together, mostly in response to this crisis," says Shepler. "And we all have different questions related to the outbreak. Some are more short term, asking 'How can we be of assistance to those on the ground?' And some faculty members are looking at more long term social science questions about the impact of Ebola on this region. Others are interested in the politics, the economics."

Shepler and Yamanis have already started collaborating. Shepler is an anthropologist with 26 years of experience working on Sierra Leone, a country hit hard by this epidemic. Yamanis has a background in public health, specifically how behavior change can influence the spread of infectious diseases.

"Anthropology sort of takes a long time, and we write long treatises about culture. And it was really exciting to think about ways that I could work with people in public health like Nina, folks who are doing things so much faster and with more immediate impact," Shepler says.

"There's a real need for anthropologists like Susan, who have an in-depth knowledge of Sierra Leone and its people, to work on Ebola prevention," Yamanis adds.

Confronting Ebola

The American news media and the public are less concerned with Ebola these days. Most experts believe an outbreak in the U.S. is highly unlikely. Yet the AU Ebola working group emphasizes the need to help people suffering in other parts of the world. More than 5,000 people have died in West Africa from Ebola. The average person in the region contracting the virus has about a 70 percent chance of dying. So, in many ways, this is still a dire situation.

"There was too much reaction to what was going on in the U.S., and I still feel not enough reaction to what's going on in West Africa. So the balance has been off," Shepler says.

Yamanis and Shepler identify major challenges facing West African countries dealing with the virus. Health care systems in the region are weak. And these inadequacies are exacerbated in countries recovering from war, such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. Pervasive mistrust of public officials led many West Africans to initially doubt the outbreak's existence.

"There's also a lack of basic materials. Now that people are in emergency mode, and understand that it's real, they don't have some of the simple things like soap, like chlorine bleach, like gloves," Shepler explains.

Communication networks and transportation systems are also severely lacking. Yamanis says a friend of hers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to use a canoe to reach one of the villages. (This anecdote was mentioned in October by President Obama.)

Acting Locally, Acting Globally

Jeremy Shiffman conducts research on the politics of health policy in low-income countries. He talks about the impetus to bolster local health care systems dealing with Ebola. 

"In this case, the international community needed to respond, and it responded late, unfortunately," he says. "I think the deeper issue in the future is really finding ways to strengthen the health systems of potentially affected countries, so that the primary response can come from within the country. Some countries affected by Ebola are able to contain it with little international support, and that's what you want to happen."

While people might now assume Ebola can be confined to West Africa, Yamanis says there's a collective incentive to combat it. "The longer the crisis continues in those countries, the more at risk we are. This is a globalized world. So it is also related to our personal security," Yamanis says. "That's why we send the CDC. It's because we realize that epidemics are transnational."

And Yamanis also argues this is an opportunity for the U.S. to help the developing world. "We do public health really well in this country, and I think our ability to export that and sustain it abroad leads to goodwill."  

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Title: Alt Break Endowment Honors Chaplain’s Legacy of Social Justice
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: Named for Alt Break pioneer Joe Eldridge, endowment supports student exploration.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 11/21/2014
Content:

University chaplain Joe Eldridge visits the university pool almost every day for what he calls his “laps of gratitude.” For him, paddling through the cold water is a spiritual experience as much as it is physical exercise. “Thank goodness that I can do this,” he thinks to himself with each lap.

“It is one of those times that you can just be,” he explained. “It’s a meditation.”

His commitment to this practice reflects the dedication he has to his true passion: social justice. Now, a new endowment bearing his name will associate Eldridge with this mission for years to come.

Assistant vice president of Campus Life Fanta Aw spearheaded efforts to create the Joseph T. Eldridge Social Justice Alternative Break Endowment, which will help students with financial need participate in AU’s Alternative Breaks program—a program Eldridge created.

“The Alternative Breaks program is such a valuable program for our students and so in line with the values of this institution, which are social justice and community-based learning,” Aw said. “We’re really celebrating the legacy of a great person, who continues to do this work day in and day out.”

Pioneer in Compassion

In 1999, Eldridge hung a simple flier in the lounge of the Kay Spiritual Life Center. The paper advertised a spring break trip to aid Honduras in relief efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. Students flocked to the opportunity, planting the seeds for what would become a cornerstone of the AU experience.

“The demand was there. We didn’t create the demand,” Eldridge explained. “What was lacking was the supply.”

Responding to that demand, the Alternative Breaks program has expanded under the roof of AU’s Center for Community Engagement & Service to offer around 15 student-led trips across the world each year, during which students explore social justice issues from HIV/AIDS in South Africa to refugees in Israel and beyond.

“It is an important—I would say necessary—complement to the academic learning that takes place here,” said Eldridge, who also serves on the board of directors at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

As Aw points out, however, the university recognizes that the cost of traveling abroad can prove prohibitive for many students seeking such an impactful experience. To that end, she set in motion fundraising efforts for this new endowment.

“We are very aware of the fact that our population is changing and that we have more students coming here who could use a helping hand, especially when it comes to taking advantage of all the programs and experiences that this university offers,” she said. “And Alt Break figures among those.”

Eldridge’s wife Maria Otero believes Aw got it right when naming the endowment for her husband. She points out Eldridge’s 1970 founding of the Washington Office on Latin America, a highly influential organization on human rights in the area.

Though she might be biased, she knows a thing or two about the field; she recently served as Undersecretary of State for Civilian, Democracy, and Human Rights under Former Secretary Hillary Clinton.

“Joe is really one of the founders of the human rights field,” Otero explained. “He’s really dedicated his life to social justice and to ensuring that peace and justice are part of the way in which American University provides education to its students.”

A Legacy to Inspire

While Eldridge has inspired many students to different careers, studies, and life paths through Alternative Breaks, he himself is an alumnus of AU’s International Peace & Conflict Resolution program and of the neighboring Wesley Theological Seminary.

In light of his academic, personal, and professional pursuits in these areas, Otero is thrilled that the endowment will continue her husband’s work decades into the future, just as the Washington Office on Latin America has, now in its 40th year.

“He’s loved working with the students so much that having this be a part of his legacy at AU gives me great joy,” she said.

For Aw, that is exactly what she believes this fund—as well as an AU education—is all about. “We’re first and foremost about students, the student experience,” she explained. “We’re about social justice access. We’re about learning in fundamentally different ways. Communities, in many ways, are an extension of the classroom. We’re about values that we can operationalize.”

In the meantime, Eldridge will continue his daily visits to the university pool, each lap and each step back to his office one of thanks—thanks for the ability to pursue his passions both in and out of the water.

“I’m grateful that folks have given me the privilege to be here,” he said. “It’s a great gift to be where I am.”

Support the Joseph T. Eldridge Social Justice Alternative Break Endowment.

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Title: Professor Participates in High-Level UN Advisory Group
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: Last month, SIS Associate Professor Charles “Chuck” Call was part of a United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) advisory group that submitted its final report to the UN Secretary-General.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 11/12/2014
Content:

Last month, SIS Associate Professor Charles “Chuck” Call was part of a United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) advisory group that submitted its final report to the UN Secretary-General.

The PBF is a global fund that supports post-conflict peacebuilding initiatives. It was established by the Secretary-General in 2006, following a request from the UN General Assembly and Security Council.

Call was named to the PBF advisory group by the UN Secretary-General in 2012, along with nine other peacebuilding and conflict resolution experts from around the world. Call, an expert on post-war peacebuilding, post-conflict governance and reconstruction in Latin America and the Caribbean, recently returned to SIS after a year at the U.S. State Department where he served as Senior Advisor for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. 

The PBF is meant to assist countries emerging from conflict. It supports peacebuilding activities that contribute to post-conflict stabilization and that strengthen the capacity of governments, national and local institutions, and transitional or other relevant authorities. 

The PBF advisory group was tasked with assessing the fund’s work and making recommendations to improve its capacity. The advisory group focused on four strategic priorities: expand the role of women in peacebuilding, improve monitoring and evaluation, coordinate and work with international financial institutions, and hone strategic positioning. 

In presenting the report to the Secretary-General, advisory group chair Ambassador Jan Knutsson of Sweden noted that the PBF has proven to be a unique instrument with a strong track record of providing flexible and timely support to address key peacebuilding issues in settings where other funding was not readily available. 

The advisory group noted that it has seen a number of improvements over the past three years, including in the fund’s monitoring and evaluation, partnerships with other organizations, and gender-responsiveness.

“It was a privilege to learn from some of the world’s experts on peacebuilding in the advisory group and to work with UN staff who are tasked with responding quickly to some of the most challenging conflict environments in the world,” said Call. “I was able to contribute to the monitoring and evaluation of the UN peacebuilding efforts and gain some insights for our students about the intricacies of the United Nations.”

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Title: Student Gains Research Experience on HIV Study
Author: Molly Maguire-Marshall, SIS/MA ‘15
Subtitle:
Abstract: Assistant Professors Nina Yamanis and Maria DeJesus led a collaborative and cross-disciplinary research project last year assessing the HIV risk for Latino men in Washington, D.C. who have sex with men.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 11/03/2014
Content:

Assistant Professors Nina Yamanis and Maria DeJesus led a collaborative and cross-disciplinary research project last year assessing the HIV risk for Latino men in Washington, D.C. who have sex with men. We asked SIS student Molly Maguire Marshall, who worked on the project, to share her experience with us:

The graduate programs at the School of International Service appeal to potential students for many reasons. For me personally, the most appealing aspect was the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with faculty members who were also practitioners and researchers.  

As a graduate research assistant, I was fortunate to work on a qualitative health study focused on the social and structural contexts of HIV risk for Latino immigrant men who have sex with men in Washington, D.C. I had some prior experience in qualitative methodology through participatory action research with community projects during my Peace Corps service in Ecuador, but additional formal training was something I was eager to seek out at SIS.  

As part of a team of graduate students, we were trained by Professors Nina Yamanis and Maria de Jesus in qualitative methodology and ethics. Our comprehensive training felt like a methods research course, with an added field work component. We were able to apply the methods we had learned and come back together as a team to share our experiences and make adjustments as necessary.  

Some days I went home from our training sessions and talked my roommates into doing mock interviews with me in order to practice interview techniques and become more familiar with the interview questions. Due to the HIV focus of our study, many of the questions about sexual practices and behaviors were quite personal, and I wanted to be as comfortable as possible with the interview guide. After our training and preparation, we went into the field not just as graduate students, but as fellow researchers playing a significant role in the data collection of the research study. Professors Yamanis and de Jesus involved us as much as possible in the study, which not all primary investigators take the time to do. Their deliberate efforts to include us not just as data collectors but as part of a research team greatly enhanced our learning.  

An important aspect of qualitative research is that data collection often happens through face-to-face interactions, such as the interviews in our study. This adds a personal component to the research topic and makes it much easier to begin to understand and address complex issues like HIV through lived experiences.  

Our study found relationships between HIV risk behaviors and the effects of lack of documentation for immigrants, such as unstable housing and employment, lack of access to health care and legal services, and negative effects on mental health through loneliness and isolation. We have shared our preliminary findings with our partner organization Empoderate at La Clinicia del Pueblo in Washington, D.C. and several papers are forthcoming. Ultimately, we plan to write a grant proposal for an intervention with this demographic that focuses on addressing the social and structural barriers we identified and explored. 

During my two years of work as a research assistant, I learned through hands-on involvement in the many phases and processes involved in research studies. This included initial literature reviews, the development of consent forms, interview guides, and surveys, data collection, analyzing the data, and presenting preliminary themes and findings. Many of the technical skills that I learned and honed in graduate school were from my work as a research assistant. 

My research work experience was a kind of curriculum parallel to my coursework, often intersecting and reinforcing what I was learning in my classes. I now confidently consider myself a researcher, and know that I will continue to apply these skills in my work as a development practitioner.

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Title: Spotlight on the NRSD Program
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Natural Resource and Sustainable Development (NRSD) dual MA degree program is housed in the Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/31/2014
Content:

The Natural Resource and Sustainable Development (NRSD) dual MA degree program is housed in the Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program. NRSD graduates earn two masters degrees, one in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service and another in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. We interviewed Dr. Judith Shapiro, Director of the NRSD program for AU (Professor Brian Dowd-Uribe directs the program for the University for Peace) to learn more:

Tell us about the NRSD program. 

JS: I have directed the NRSD program for AU since its inception more than a decade ago and feel more strongly than ever that it is a very special program. The two-year course of study combines professional experience and coursework in Washington, DC, which is a global center of power in the environment and development policymaking world, and applied fieldwork and additional coursework in Costa Rica, which is a gloriously beautiful country that is a pioneer in sustainability in the Global South. 

The program is a unique collaboration between two extraordinary schools. The School of International Service (SIS) is one of the world’s leading institutions of international studies. The UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), is an all-graduate, 200-student school set in a beautiful nature reserve on a mountainside outside the capital, and is dedicated to the study of peace, sustainability, and justice. The combination provides an unforgettable graduate experience. 

What is the core mission/vision of the NRSD dual MA program? 

JS: The dual degree program offers students the opportunity to gain an international policymaking perspective while based in Washington, DC before transitioning to a year of applied sustainable development and natural resource management studies at UPEACE. Students have the opportunity to move from the macro to the micro and back again, thereby developing a unique appreciation for the challenges of sustainable development and a toolkit of skills that allows them to make a meaningful contribution to efforts to address them. 

We aim to incubate committed, passionate professionals. Our hope is that all of our graduates will gain the skills and self-knowledge to find meaningful and effective niches in the broad field of sustainable development and that they will be uniquely qualified to engage with the core challenges facing the planet. 

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

JS: We have a terrific alumni network made up of people who have chosen to stay involved with the program and share internship and job leads, return to campus to speak about their experiences, and help current students make wise choices. We encourage NRSD students to find an internship when they arrive in DC, even if it’s just one afternoon a week. Our courses often include field trips to places like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, and we invite professionals into the classroom. 

While students are at UPEACE, much of their experience is applied learning, which helps them develop unique skills that are highly valued as they enter the job market. Finally, the capstone experience sets students up well for the next steps. If they do an extensive research project, they gain deep expertise in a specific topic; if they do a practicum, then they build direct experience with partners such as the World Resources Institute, the Rural Farm Coalition, the District of Columbia Government, the U.S. Department of State, and AU’s Office of Sustainability. 

This year, a new practicum, for the Natural Resources Defense Council, focuses on establishing a framework for evaluating and monitoring the voluntary commitments that governments, corporations, and other institutions are making in the lead-up to the 2015 climate change negotiations. Experiences like this can position students well in the job market. 

Describe the students in your program: 

JS: We have a fantastic group of students! I think the unusual structure of the program attracts adventurous, special people. Our students are often outdoorsy, creative, and highly motivated. I love working with them. Almost all of them come to the program with prior professional experience, so they know clearly why they have returned to graduate school in this particular field. Many are returned Peace Corps volunteers. The students’ varied and interesting life experiences are one of the program’s greatest strengths. I’d also like to note that our faculty members are outstanding. All are committed to our students even as they conduct cutting-edge research in such topics as water governance, political ecology of food and agriculture, peri-urban sustainability, climate justice, and geoengineering. 

What do they tend to do after graduation? 

JS: After graduation, a fair number of students find work at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of State—in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and at USAID. But we have graduates in almost every major environmental non-governmental organization and consulting firm, as well as some who choose to move to rural areas to run organic farms or work in renewable energy or local conservation initiatives. Some live overseas working on (or even running) country programs such as those for the United Nations Development Program, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or Catholic Relief Services. Some pursue a Ph.D. I try to stay in touch with them via LinkedIn and am always interested to see where they are five, ten, and fifteen years after graduation. I should also mention that NRSD students compete very well for national scholarships like the David I. Boren Fellowship and the Fulbright. 

Tell us about your own research and areas of expertise: 

JS: I’m actually a China specialist, not a Latin America specialist. I’ve published many books on human rights and environmental issues, most recently Mao’s War against Nature (Cambridge University) and China’s Environmental Challenges (Polity). Because environmental degradation in China is such a hot topic, I give a lot of media interviews and public lectures. Recently, I’ve become very interested in China’s global impact, as the country seeks to meet its vast resource needs and export some of its pollution. There was a nice marriage of my interests last spring, when I was the faculty supervisor for a practicum we did for the World Resources Institute on the impact of Chinese investment in Peru’s mining sector. The students produced an outstanding report. At the moment, I’m focusing on the second edition of China’s Environmental Challenges and will be adding more of this international material. That’s what I expect to be working on when I make my annual visit to the University for Peace next month! 

To learn more about the NRSD dual degree program, please visit www.american.edu/sis/gep and www.upeace.org.

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newsId: DB94321A-C61B-1ACA-214871830B3994C6
Title: AU a Top Contributor in Teach For America’s Most Diverse Corps To Date
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU graduates find success and opportunity with Teach For America despite an increasingly competitive selection process.
Topic: Education
Publication Date: 10/30/2014
Content:

For the past several years, AU has joined the likes of Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown University as one of Teach for America's (TFA) Top Contributors, a list that features schools with the most graduates sent to TFA each year.

This year, 21 AU graduates joined the most diverse teaching cohort in the nonprofit's history. Almost half of TFA's more than 50,000 applicants identified as people of color, nearly half received Pell Grants, and more than one-third were the first in their family to attend college.

Despite an increasingly competitive admissions process and an overall acceptance rate of just 15 percent, AU students continue to succeed. 

TFA recruiter Seon Jeon has an idea why AU students tend to do well in the application process.

"[AU students] are very strong candidates: competitive, social justice-driven, and often engaged in the D.C. community," she says. "They really understand the depth and breadth of education inequity, and they want to do something about it."

AU students are often passionate about social issues and looking for ways to enact positive change in the world, and for some, TFA is the best way to do that.

Cheria Funches, SPA/BA '14, started her time with TFA this fall, teaching at an elementary school in New Orleans. 

"My experience so far has been eye-opening," she says. "You learn so much about yourself through this experience, and it is extremely important that you have a growth mindset at all times."

Funches says she first heard about TFA at on-campus information sessions, and that she received support from her mentors at AU and from the local TFA recruiter in deciding to apply. 

"I am passionate about education reform, specifically in urban districts, and a lot of my mentors thought the best place to start would be on the ground level as a teacher," she says.

TFA continues to grow and refine its selection process to recruit top candidates. Its most recent corps had an average GPA of 3.4 and included more than 30 student-body presidents and nine Gates Millennium Scholars. 

"TFA is looking for people with leadership skills and a passion for social justice," says SPA career advisor, Jennifer Carignan. "In your application, you want to show how your background—work experience, internships, volunteer work—demonstrates that kind of passion and commitment to TFA's goals and ideals."

Funches is glad she applied. After TFA, she plans to work as a school administrator with the hope of one day opening her own school and working on education policy at the national level. For now, she is taking it one class at a time. 

"These students will remember you forever, and the impact you make on their lives will change your life as well," says Funches. "The relationships you build with the students in your region will be the start of an amazing journey."

 

The next deadlines to apply for Teach For America are December 5 and January 30.

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newsId: 65DAC901-A6A4-8974-68EDC272F0D9A737
Title: SIS Graduate Student Studies Development in Africa
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kafia Ahmed, second year SIS graduate student in IPCR interned in Kenya.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/13/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

SIS: Are you still in contact with the organization? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KA: Yes.

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

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

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Title: From a Semester in Norway to a Career in International Education: Caitlin Murphy, SIS/MA '14
Author:
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Abstract: Profile of Caitlyn Murphy, SIS/MA '14
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/06/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIS: Would you recommend the program to your peers? 

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: From Undocumented to Unstoppable
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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Abstract: Daniel Alejandro Leon Davis achieved his college dreams, despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 06/13/2014
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
Author:
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Abstract: An SIS graduate student from Peru brings his skills to his country's embassy in Prague, Czech Republic.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
Content:

How has SIS made a difference in my world?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Why I chose SIS?

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

 

Fields of study?

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

 

Languages?

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

 

World issue of interest?

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

 

Professional role model?

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

 

Favorite book?

  • "Ficciones" by Jorge Luis Borges.

 

Favorite movie?

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

 

Current residence?

  • I am currently living in Prague, Czech Republic.

 

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Title: Ann Mangold, SIS/MIS '12
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Abstract: Alumna’s Fellowship Allows Her to Make a Difference through Federal Service
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current residence:
Washington, DC

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

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

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

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

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

Languages:
English, Spanish

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

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

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Title: Jeremy Dastrup, SIS/MIS '11
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Abstract: This MIS graduate serves and protects the United States by investigating criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats throughout Southeast Asia.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

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

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

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

Field of Study:
Southeast Asian Security Issues

Languages:
Spanish and Malay

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

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

Current residence:
Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World issue of interest:
Environmental sustainability; development and exploitation

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

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

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

Current residence:
Jupiter, Florida

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Title: SIS Alumna Writes to Showcase Modern Challenges in U.S. Identity
Author: Karli Kloss
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Abstract: Carla Seaquist, SIS / BA ’67 strives to give space to many of the complicated, and at times, ephemeral social and political issues facing our country.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 05/08/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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