newsId: 9717424C-96A9-5AAF-6EAD08423E312973
Title: Simulated Worlds: The Model G20 Initiative Gets Students Thinking Like Real Diplomats
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: The SIS program will hold the special conference this October.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 07/17/2018
Content:

The Model G20 Initiative is a program launched by American University’s School of International Service, and AU students are already ramping up for the October 2018 event.

Organizers of the conference simulate a real-life G20 summit, and Cecilia Nahón, Model G20 Initiative executive director, vouches for its authenticity. She’s well-positioned to know: Nahón was formerly Argentina’s ambassador to the US, and she spent four years as her country’s Sherpa (i.e., a delegation head) at the actual G20.

“Last year we were all very impressed with how realistic the simulation was. It really felt like we were on the G20 for a while,” she recalls.

The goal, Nahón says, is to get students thinking—and participating—like skilled diplomats confronting a variety of global challenges.

“We really aim to prepare future leaders to pursue international negotiations in a more effective way—understanding the other countries’ positions and interests,” she says. “Defending their national interests, but also striving for the common good. So we believe that these experiential learning experiences provide our students different types of skills that compliment their theoretical, economic, and research knowledge.”

In addition to Nahón’s leadership, SIS faculty member Andrew Spath is the Model G20 Initiative’s associate director.

Collaboration and Consensus

Last year, a group of mostly SIS students comprised the country team of Germany, which held the G20 presidency. This year, a similar group will represent Argentina, the current G20 chair. Model G20 teams include students from across AU and other universities, and young professionals at DC institutions such as the World Bank also participated.

Replicating the actual G20 structure, conferences proceed along two tracks: Finance and Sherpa. The topics for Sherpa are climate change and energy, gender equality, and migration and refugees. For Finance, they cover the future of work, international trade and tariffs, and global tax cooperation.

Whatever the topic, collaboration is the name of the game. “We most pride ourselves on the ability to provide a place for delegates to learn negotiation skills, and learn how to cooperate with people,” says Mya Zemlock, an SIS student who helped write the final communiqué.

“Students are really pushed to keep on negotiating for common solutions, even though they may come from very different starting points. Unless all the countries approve—for example, a position on international trade or global tax cooperation—the issues are not solved,” says Nahón.

The final communiqué is crucial, as the G20 leaders draft a statement addressing their views on issues and shared commitments. The communiqué ensures that all countries and stakeholders must forge consensus.

Extreme Pressures and Language

Hammering out that communiqué is tougher than outsiders assume. It underlines—and gives students newfound appreciation for—the extreme pressures real diplomats face.

“You have to carry yourself in a specific way. You have to watch every word that you say, because as you can see in the communiqué, people are fighting over words. Just specific words that they don’t want,” explains Zemlock. “And countries may go back and forth for 20 minutes about one word.”

Before the Model G20, students extensively research the country that they’ll represent. This can include working with government officials, as the German and Chinese embassies in Washington helped out last year.

With each team protecting its own interests, disagreements are inevitable once proceedings get underway. The German team, for instance, started with substantial ideological differences from the US on immigration and climate change.

“The University of Houston delegation representing the United States was convinced that the Paris climate agreement was bad for all the countries, and they wanted to withdraw,” recalls Kris Trivedi, a senior SIS student who served as Germany’s Sherpa. “As Germany, we worked with several of the European allies, as well as China and India, to try to get the room to agree that action on climate change needs to happen.”

The 2017 Model G20 occurred after the real G20 proceedings, and Trivedi calls this both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, you can get boxed into a position. But with the benefit of hindsight, you can purposely avoid perceived missteps that countries made.

“In working on climate change, we didn’t want to single out the United States. That’s what actually happened in Hamburg, where a special line in the communiqué said the United States was not involved in any of this. So we were trying to prevent that from happening in the simulation,” he says.

Students are sometimes forced to argue positions they don’t personally agree with, but that can be a valuable part of the experience. “I have friends who are rather conservative who participated last year and represented a country that was very progressive or liberal leaning. And it becomes difficult,” Zemlock says. “But if you’re able to do it, and you’re able to do it well, it means that you’ve done your research. It means that you’re developing your public speaking skills. It means that you’re working toward collaboration over anything else.”

Becoming Diplomats

Both Zemlock and Trivedi believe Model G20 provides quality career preparation. Trivedi is set to graduate in December, and he’s considering work in diplomacy or the think tank world. Zemlock, a rising junior, has a regional focus on Russia, and she’s open to policy work in this area.

In advance of the October Model G20, AU students are already researching issues pertinent to Argentina. Beyond direct homework, they’ve gained a better grasp—as news consumers and global citizens—of high-stakes international negotiations.

“I’ll sit with my dad now and there will be something on the news about, ‘The US won’t endorse the final G7 communiqué.’ And I would go, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a big deal!’ And he’ll say, ‘Explain this to me,’” says Trivedi. “Having done Model G20, it’s become less of an abstract concept.”

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newsId: 34840B27-E681-FB22-EEE084804188E8CB
Title: All That She Can Be: Melissa Mangold is a 2018 Tillman Scholar
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: The SIS grad student and Army veteran is currently a diplomatic security special agent.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/10/2018
Content:

Pat Tillman was an extraordinary individual, passing up millions of NFL dollars to serve his country after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He died tragically in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan, but his spirit lives on through the Pat Tillman Foundation. Every year, the Pat Tillman Foundation offers scholarships to outstanding active-duty service members, veterans, and their spouses. Melissa Mangold, an American University School of International Service graduate student, is among the 2018 Tillman scholars.

Mangold will use $6,000 in scholarship money toward her online master’s degree of international service. She didn’t know much about Tillman’s personal story—other than what she read in news reports—but she’s been inspired by him while applying for the scholarship.

“His life really does set a standard for all of us to try to meet. So I enjoyed applying for this, and I’m so honored to be a recipient. It’s going to help me continue to be the best that I can every day—by following his example,” Mangold says in an interview.

 

Found in Translation

 

A New Hampshire native, both of Mangold’s parents served in the military: her mother was a cook in the Army, and her father was a fireman and boiler mechanic in the Navy. During her high school years, Mangold was an exchange student in Japan, and she’d hoped to study the East Asian nation in college. Unfortunately, Mangold’s higher ed plans were derailed.

“My mom got really sick my senior year, and the treatments that we had to give her weren’t covered by insurance. So it ended up pretty much bankrupting our family,” Mangold recalls.

But she still had unfulfilled dreams, and serendipity intervened not long after 9/11. “I was waitressing in Florida, and I just saw my life going nowhere way too fast,” she remembers. “And one night, at one of my tables, I happened to say ‘you’re welcome’ in Japanese. And the customer said, ‘Oh, you speak another language?’”

He turned out to be an Army recruiter, and after some discussions, Mangold was in the Army recruiting office two days later. Soon after she was headed to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California with hopes to learn Japanese fluently. To her surprise, the language choice wasn’t really up to her, and she was assigned Korean instead. But in a post-9/11 environment, there was great demand for Arabic speakers, and she learned that language in a year and a half of intense study.

Some of her professors in California were first-generation Middle Eastern immigrants, and it was a critical period for their home region. “I was there when we captured Saddam Hussein. And there was just that tension in the air—people didn’t know how to feel about it. They were happy, but cautiously optimistic,” she says.

Mangold was subsequently stationed in Georgia to do intelligence work, mostly plowing through reports in a windowless room for the remainder of her enlistment. She’d eventually land a position at the State Department, going to school at night to earn her bachelor’s degree at George Mason University.

 

State Department and Security

 

Mangold was a civil servant at Foggy Bottom before working at the US embassy in Tunis. She came to appreciate the food, music, and culture of Middle Eastern societies. She remembers how aftershocks from a terrorist attack in southern Tunisia permeated the entire country, affecting people quickly.

“What I really love about the culture is how close-knit everyone truly is,” she says. “After serving there, it makes sense to me why the Arab Spring started in Tunisia.”

Mangold later took interest in diplomatic security. It’s an occupation populated with many ex-military officials, so it seemed like a natural fit for her skill set. She’s now a special agent with the Diplomatic Security Service, the law enforcement arm of the State Department. She’s currently involved in high-threat training, which prepares agents for posts like Kabul or Baghdad.

“This training is wild. We just run around with our vest on with our weapons and get shot at by paintballs,” she says. “It’s really intense. It’s been a lot of fun.”

But she doesn’t just view this work as a series of physical challenges. She wants to understand policy—to get a more complete picture of the countries where she might be stationed—and that’s a major reason why she enrolled at AU.

“I chose American because it has a very good reputation within the State Department,” she says. “Between Foreign Service officers and diplomatic security, sometimes there’s a bit of misunderstanding with roles and responsibilities. So what I viewed my degree from AU being is a bridge over that gap.”

There’s even a familiar State Department face at AU. Her former boss at the agency, Raymond Maxwell, is now a part-time reference librarian at AU. “Almost every opportunity I had was from him. He’s just incredible.”

 

What’s Next

 

She’s slated to finish her SIS master’s degree in May 2019, and she says the program exceeded her expectations: “I just felt so supported. I love the course curriculum. I love the content, and the online forum is perfect for me.”

Long term, Mangold would love to go back overseas to work with embassies, but she’s not fixated on a particular position. In one form or another, she’s thinking about the greater good.

“I think the service life was really instilled in me by my parents. My mom was always having us out doing community service, and getting involved with our church,” she says. “So it just never really was a question. I really take a lot of personal pride in this lifestyle.”

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newsId: 2EDB039F-C7A4-BD3F-66CC7D445E6072DC
Title: Russia is top on NATO’s agenda, and Trump is the wild card
Author: Professors Garret Martin and Balazs Martonffy
Subtitle:
Abstract: NATO summits are generally sedate events that celebrate the trans-Atlantic alliance, but this year’s summit is likely to include a heavy dose of drama.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 07/10/2018
Content:

In ordinary times, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summits are generally staid and well-prepared events that celebrate the achievements of this nearly 70-year-old political and military alliance of North American and European countries.

The 2018 NATO summit in Brussels will likely include more drama.

The alliance, founded after World War II, collectively provides military security for all its members, from the United States and Canada in the West to the Baltic states in the East. Leaders from the alliance’s 29 member states will meet for two days in their new NATO headquarters on July 11.

A key part of the agenda: Russia – specifically, President Vladimir Putin’s growing belligerence in Europe and worldwide.

Proposed measures include overhauling of the NATO Command Structure to streamline the planning and execution of NATO military operations.

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is pushing for a plan that would enable NATO to deploy 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons, and 30 navy ships within 30 days of any threat in NATO territory. This would be an upgrade on NATO’s current capabilities and provide a more credible deterrence.

Also on the agenda are NATO’s plans to improve its cooperation with the European Union to combat disinformation campaigns, election interference and other non-military threats.

But US President Donald Trump has been critical of NATO, calling members “free-riders” who do not spend enough on defense. And he has bickered with many of the United States’ closest allies, including Germany, Canada and France.

As scholars who closely study NATO, we believe that personality clashes between world leaders could undermine NATO’s achievements so far in presenting a united front against Russia’s global aggressions. And they could prevent attempts to continue that joint effort.

A resurgent alliance

In early 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member state.

At the time, NATO was struggling to define a new core mission as its military operations in Afghanistan wound down. NATO members were also arguing over how much each country should contribute financially to the alliance’s collective defense, a debate as old as NATO itself.

The September 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, which took place while Russia waged war in Ukraine, gave the alliance a renewed determination to bolster its core task of collective defense.

Unusually quiet when the invasion first took place, NATO came out strong against Russia. They agreed to increase defense spending and military readiness to prevent Putin from invading other neighbors, particularly NATO’s three Baltic member states.

To do that, NATO established four new battalions along its “Eastern Flank,” reassuring Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland that NATO troops will defend their borders. It also developed a high-readiness task force that can rapidly respond to military aggression against NATO members.

That meant tackling the bureaucratic and legal restrictions that make it all but impossible to move troops and equipment quickly across Europe.

The troubled transatlantic context

The United States has so far strongly supported NATO’s assertive plan for deterring Russia, despite President Trump’s apparent affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

NATO must also address other serious global security problems at the Brussels meeting, including terrorism. Members plan to establish a formal counterterrorism training mission in Iraq, which in theory Trump should support.

But Trump has had major disputes with NATO members over other international issues. Since the last NATO gathering, in May 2017, Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate accord, ended the Iran nuclear deal, to which many NATO members were signatories, and ordered trade tariffs against many NATO countries.

He also caused consternation by refusing to endorse a joint statement at the June G-7 summit in Canada, the annual meeting of the world’s seven most industrialized nations.

If these tensions spill over into the NATO summit, it could be paralyzing. Its 1949 charter states that NATO decisions be consensus-based. That means any one member-state can block its entire agenda.

An accusatory American president

The US president is a wild card who brings uncertainty to most any meeting he attends.

Sometimes Trump charms his partners, as he did when French President Emmanuel Macron visited Washington, DC, in April. But at other world gatherings Trump has given tongue lashings to longtime American allies.

His tactic as the NATO summit approaches has veered toward confrontational. Recently, the White House reportedly sent letters to a number of European partners – all NATO members – warning them of serious consequences if they failed to step up defense spending.

Last year, he scolded fellow leaders for the same thing at a NATO gathering in Brussels. More member states are now on course to meet some of the internal defense spending goals set by NATO, but it may not placate Trump.

All US presidents since NATO’s founding have expressed concerns about cost-sharing. But none have done so as bluntly or disdainfully as Trump does.

The shadow of Putin

NATO summits are usually an easy opportunity for its member states to tell an uplifting story about the enduring vitality of the post-World War II global order.

Leaders from both sides of the Atlantic use these annual gatherings to show their unity against the global threats of the day. By extension, they effectively reaffirm the 70-year-old Western-led international economic and security system, in which NATO plays a key role.

A NATO summit marked by distrust and public divisions would be consequential at any time. This year it would be particularly detrimental because the NATO summit comes days before Trump’s first bilateral meeting with Putin, scheduled for July 16 in Helsinki.

For NATO’s European members, Russia is among the world’s most pressing security threats. Members are already concerned that Trump might do what he recently did with North Korea and make undue concessions to Russia – such as recognizing the annexation of Crimea or withdrawing US troops from Germany. Those concerns would be heightened if the summit fails.

The ConversationAs Ian Lesser, director of the transatlantic-focused think tank the German Marshall Fund, has said of Trump’s Europe travel agenda, “Meeting Putin in the wake of a symbolic and successful NATO summit is one thing, but a meeting against the backdrop of a summit that goes badly is quite another.”

This article was written by Professors Garret Martin and Balazs Martonffy and originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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newsId: C6EF6488-A382-4199-83DD38039FE371BC
Title: What is the WTO?
Author: Professor Stephen Silvia
Subtitle:
Abstract: The WTO has been a success for global trade. Would it matter if the US left the organization, as President Trump is reportedly considering?
Topic: International
Publication Date: 07/03/2018
Content:

President Donald Trump has made the World Trade Organization a frequent target.

Recently, he’s reportedly considering suspending US compliance with the global body – a claim the White House quickly denied.

What exactly is the WTO, and would it matter if the US left it? As an international trade scholar, I’d like to start with the history.

History of the WTO

Creation of the Geneva-based WTO in 1995 was the culmination of a 50-year effort spearheaded by successive US governments to establish and secure a rules-based multilateral trade regime.

Before World War II, European powers imposed harsh trade restrictions against countries outside their empires, which hurt US exporters substantially. This also contributed to Japan going to war to carve out an “East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” and Nazi Germany attacking eastward to obtain “living space” – that is, vassal territories – nearby.

The 1948 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO’s predecessor, was designed to avoid a repeat of the collapse of trade in the 1930s that worsened the Great Depression and to eliminate market access as a reason to go to war.

A success story

The result has been spectacularly successful. Country exports as a share of global output surged from less than 5 percent in 1948 to over 30 percent today.

This enabled countries to grow faster and steadier and brought peace and prosperity to Europe and Japan.

Members of the WTO, which currently number 164, agree to four core principles:

  • non-discrimination, which means all imports are subject to the same tariff rate, with some exceptions
  • reciprocity, which balances the reduction of barriers and allows for retaliation
  • transparency
  • decision-making by consensus.

How it works

The WTO facilities trade negotiations among member countries to open up markets and settle disputes that arise.

Subsequent rounds of negotiations have allowed countries to take big steps toward trade liberalization, while balancing concessions with benefits.

When disputes arise, such as the Trump steel tariffs, impartial panels adjudicate using WTO rules and permit injured countries to sanction violators. The US ranks among the most frequent and successful users of this, which has helped keep markets open for American exporters.

What would happen if the US left

If the US were to leave the WTO, other countries could freely raise tariffs against it. And the US would lose access to the dispute settlement mechanism, which would make retaliation the only response available.

The ConversationThis would inevitably raise prices and reduce choice for US consumers, undercut the competitiveness and profitability of companies that rely on imports, and slow economic growth. The WTO’s demise would also raise the odds of violent conflict among states.

This article was written by Professor Stephen Silvia and originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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newsId: 1D0533F0-0E51-CD45-AC78B551E8CE247A
Title: 10 Reasons You Need to Go to Preview Day
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: Why American University’s “open house” event is a must for prospective students.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 06/26/2018
Content:

1. Preview Day provides prospective AU students and their families with a taste of AU. After reading through promotional materials, it's worth getting the authentic, firsthand AU experience.

2. Explore AU's beautiful, thriving campus. Take a campus tour led by current AU student ambassadors - many of whom decided to come to AU when they came to Preview Day. This spring, AU became the first university in the US to achieve carbon neutrality. And another fun environmental fact? AU's entire campus is a designated arboretum. 

Preview Day is a chance to see AU's campus on a typical day during the academic year.

3. It tells AU's Office of Admissions that you are interested, which could be beneficial when you apply. AU's admission evaluation process factors in a student's level of interest. A campus visit is the best indication.

Coming to Preview Day tells AU's Office of Admissions that you are interested.

4. Learn more about AU's academic programs. During the Academic Overview sessions, students get the low-down on one of six AU schools of their choice: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Kogod School of Business, the School of Communication, the School of Education, the School of International Service, and the School of Public Affairs.

5. Hear directly from current AU students about what it's really like to be an AU student - without your parents. Ask any question during the "Life as an Eagle" for-students-only session.

Ask current students about their experiences at AU.

6. See our augmented reality posters. These signs come to life with the Tour AU app. Can you find all four posters on campus?

7. Find out if one of AU's signature first-year programs would be right for you. Learn about AU's most rigorous academic programs and living-learning communities: the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars, AU Honors, and the Community-Based Research Scholars.

8. During the Student Life Fair, get more information about the residence halls, dining plans, student activities, and how you can become a member of the Blue Crew. Also learn about study abroad, opportunities to engage in service projects, the University Library, and numerous other campus offices that provide social, spiritual, health, or academic resources for students.

Students join the Blue Crew to cheer the AU Eagles to victory.

9. Meet admissions experts. Also, investigate options to help finance your education.

10. It's free! There is no charge to participate. Even breakfast and lunch are free.

Register for Preview Day

 

Tags: Admissions,College of Arts and Sciences,Kogod School of Business,Media Relations,Office of Admissions,Office of Campus Life,Office of Enrollment,Office of Financial Aid,Prospective Students,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs
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Title: A new world is dawning, and the US will no longer lead it
Author: Professor Emeritus Gordon Adams
Subtitle:
Abstract: President Trump’s impulsive actions may be upending the international order, but America was already losing its dominant role in world affairs before he took office.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 06/26/2018
Content:

From pulling out of treaties to denigrating allies to starting trade wars, the impulsive actions of President Donald Trump are upending the international order that has been in place since the end of World War II.

But even before Trump’s belligerent foreign policy positions, America had been gradually losing its dominant role in world affairs.

A power shift among the nations of the world began at the end of the Cold War and has been accelerating this century.

It is not as simple as saying “America is in decline,” since America remains a powerful country. But American global power has been eroding for some time, as I argue in the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions 2018” volume. The power of other countries has grown, giving them both the ability and the desire to effect global affairs independently of US desires.

I am a foreign policy scholar and practitioner who has studied US foreign policy through many administrations. I believe this global trend spells the end of the “exceptional nation” Americans imagined they were since the nation was founded and the end of the American era of global domination that began 70 years ago. We are no longer the “indispensable” nation celebrated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the end of the last century.

Pax Americana no more

Since the end of WWII, the US has been the central player in the international system, leading in the creation of new international organizations like the United Nations, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

American diplomacy has been essential to multinational agreements on trade, climate, regional security, and arms control. Americans could and did claim to be at the center of a “rules-based international order.”

Those days are gone.

Not only do China and Russia contest America’s global role, a growing number of other countries are asserting an independent and increasingly influential role in regional economic and security developments.

Neither American political party has come to grips with this sea change. Until they do, US global actions are likely to be less effective, even counterproductive.

Who’s on top?

The power shifts are increasingly visible. In the Middle East, the US hoped for decades to isolate Iran as a pariah and weaken the regime until it fell.

Today, that goal is unimaginable, though national security adviser John Bolton continues to imagine it.

Iran is and will remain an increasingly assertive and influential power in the region, defending and promoting its interests, and competing with the Saudi regime.

The Russians are in the Middle East region for good, building on their long-standing relationship with the family of Syria’s dictator.

Turkey, a rising regional power, acts increasingly independent of the preferences of the US, its NATO ally, playing its own hand in the regional power game.

The US helped unleash these trends with the strategically fatal invasion of Iraq in 2003 – fatal, because it permanently removed a regional leader who balanced the power of Iran. The failure to create a stable Iraq stimulated regional religious and political conflicts and rendered ineffective subsequent US efforts to influence current trends in the region, as the continually ineffective policies in Syria show.

In Asia, decades of US condemnation and efforts to contain the rise of Chinese power have failed. An assertive China has risen.

China now plays almost as powerful a role in the global economy as the US. It has defended an authoritarian model for economic growth, armed artificial islands in the South China Sea, and built a military base in Djibouti. China has created new multilateral organizations for security discussions and one for infrastructure loans, which the US declined to join. It has developed a global lending program – the Belt and Road Initiative – and has stepped into a stronger global role on climate change. And China is spreading its political and economic influence into Africa and Latin America.

The US cannot slow Chinese economic growth nor contain its power. China is changing the rules, whether the US likes it or not.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan moves toward a renewed nationalism and has removed restrictions on its defense spending and the deployment of its military in the face of growing Chinese power.

North Korea behaves more and more like a regional power, winning a direct meeting with the US president while making only a general commitment to denuclearize. The prospect of a unified Korea would bring into being another major regional power center in the Northern Pacific.

Other countries, like the Philippines and Australia, hedge their bets by improving bilateral relations with China. And India is a growing economic and military presence in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia.

Nor will the US contain the rise of Russia, whose government poisons its citizens overseas and kills dissenters at home. At the same time, Russia is rebuilding its military and intruding in others’ elections. The Russian regime is threatening its near neighbors and actively engaging in the Middle East.

President Vladimir Putin asserts Russia’s interests and role in the world, like any other great power. Russia is consciously and actively rebalancing the power of the United States, with some success.

Military power, the American global trump card, is not as useful a tool as it once was.

While the US continues to have the world’s only global military capability, able to deploy anywhere, it is no longer evident that this capability effectively sustains US leadership. Clear military victories are few – the Gulf War in 1991 being an exception. The endless US deployment in Afghanistan carries the whiff of Vietnam in its inability to resolve that country’s civil war.

Meanwhile, the militaries of other countries, acting independently of the US, are proving effective, as both Turkish and Iranian operations in Syria suggest.

Abroad at home

The transition to this new era is proving difficult for American policy-makers.

The Trump “America First” foreign policy is based on the view that the US needs to defend its interests by acting alone, eschewing or withdrawing from multilateral arrangements for trade, economics, diplomacy, or security.

Trump praises “strong” nationalistic leadership in authoritarian countries, while democratic leadership in allied countries is criticized as weak.

In response, allies distance themselves from the United States. Others are emboldened to act in an equally nationalistic and assertive way.

Some conservatives, like Sen. John McCain, call for confrontation with Russia and strengthening traditional American alliances, particularly NATO.

Others, like John Bolton, call for regime change in assertive powers like Iran.

Liberals and many Democrats criticize Trump for alienating traditional allies like Canada, France, and Germany while befriending dictators. Policy-makers once critical of confrontational policies now condemn Trump for failing to confront Russia and China.

A different president in Washington, DC, will not restore the “rules-based” international order. The underlying changes in global power relations have already undermined that order.

A neo-conservative foreign policy, featuring unilateral American military intervention, as favored by John Bolton, will only accelerate the global shift. Liberal internationalists like Hillary Clinton would fail as well, because the rest of the world rejects the assumption that the US is “indispensable” and “exceptional.” Barack Obama appeared to recognize the changing reality, but continued to argue that only the US could lead the international system.

The ConversationAmerica will need to learn new rules and play differently in the new balance-of-power world, where others have assets and policies the US does not and cannot control.

This article was originally published by Professor Emeritus Gordon Adams on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Title: Working toward a more equitable world
Author: Kaitie Catania
Subtitle:
Abstract: After losing multiple women in his family during childbirth, Adam Odomore became inspired to improve outcomes for women and whole communities through women’s empowerment and education.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 06/14/2018
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International Development student Adam Odomore, SIS/MA ’19, who grew up in Nigeria, has seen first-hand how a lack of opportunities and resources can hold back talent and success. Perhaps because of this, he is motivated to avail himself of all that comes with being a graduate student at the School of International Service (SIS): education, internships and professional experiences, a supportive community, and a chance to pursue his passions.

But Odomore’s career path almost followed a different road, one that likely wouldn’t have led to SIS at all. Originally, he wanted to be a doctor.

In Nigeria, where access to affordable and quality healthcare is limited for many, childbirth complications are not uncommon. Odomore’s mother died during his birth. Because his father provided for his family from America, Odomore was raised in Nigeria by his grandmother and his aunt. During the birth of her third child, Odomore’s aunt also passed away.

“I wanted to become a doctor to help mortality rates for moms and babies and create more opportunities for healthcare,” he says. “But then I realized that healthcare is just one symptom of the issue, really. There’s a bigger underlying factor of poverty and education.”

Today, Odomore is working to improve livelihoods and communities through women’s education and empowerment: “The education of girls helps solve poverty, affects health and child marriage, and tackles other root problems.” Ultimately, with more educated girls and empowered women, Odomore says international development work will become more gender equitable as well.

Through his studies and his experience, Odomore understands that a significant portion of women’s empowerment work and gender equity involves engaging men on the issues: “For development to actually be successful, we can’t work with women only, because gender includes more than just women.”

Men’s engagement, Odomore explains, is getting fathers, brothers, and community leaders on board with women’s empowerment and helping men better understand how educated and empowered girls can improve communities as a whole: “It’s also understanding how to influence leaders in communities, how to work with them to create policies that help women’s empowerment initiatives, and also changing their perceptions of what it means to be gender equitable and what gender equality actually means.”

Ultimately, Odomore’s contribution to improving gender equity is conducting and writing policy-relevant research. As an intern at Women for Women International, a global nonprofit that supports marginalized women, he prepared and presented a report about men’s engagement programming to organization leaders. His report included best practices and challenges in men’s engagement initiatives and an assessment of Women for Women International’s model for men’s engagement programming.

While improving livelihoods for women and transforming gender norms is an uphill battle that has long been fought, Odomore says he’s beginning to see some victories around the world.

“It’s becoming more visible with #MeToo happening. People are recognizing that we need to change these gender norms and that men need to be educated on gender rules and patriarchy. There is progress being made right now and I want to continue to be part of this movement, part of this change, and to help inform and help create policies that keep the momentum going. It’s just the beginning.”

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Title: Doomsday Scenarios: SIS Prof Sharon Weiner Talks Nuclear Weapons and Choices
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: With a prestigious fellowship, Weiner will examine why the US maintains a massive nuclear arsenal.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 05/24/2018
Content:

From North Korea to Iran, US efforts to curb nuclear proliferation are constantly making headlines. Yet there’s another story—perhaps an alarming one, depending on your perspective—that’s received far less attention: The United States is poised to spend roughly a trillion dollars modernizing its own nuclear arsenal.

As Sharon Weiner, a professor in American University’s School of International Service, explains, this was not inevitable. US nuclear weapons policy is the result of conscious decision-making. Now, Weiner is embarking on a prestigious two-year fellowship in hopes of understanding how we got here.

Weiner is among 31 recipients of the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, which offers grants of up to $200,000 to support the publication of humanities and social science research. She’ll spend her first sabbatical year as a visiting researcher at the Program on Science at Global Security in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

“I feel fortunate that I have this time. This is a real luxury, to think about just this and only this,” Weiner says. “The US has made consistent choices, and I’m trying to look at those choices and say, ‘What bureaucratic, societal, and cultural factors influenced us to choose this answer, as opposed to another answer?’”

A World Full of Warheads

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy warned that we could face a world with 15 or 20 nuclear-armed countries by the mid-1970s. Despite the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, the great powers came together to sign the landmark Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968. As part of the agreement, the Americans and the Soviets agreed to “pursue negotiations in good faith” toward nuclear disarmament, while nonnuclear states that signed the treaty were prohibited from proliferating.

Yet after numerous arms control agreements, both the United States and now-Russia still possess thousands of nuclear warheads—by far the largest stockpiles in the world. Why?

“The simplest reason is power,” Weiner says. “Nuclear weapons are used as a currency of power, and until something else replaces them, people don’t want to give them up.”

In addition, she says that nuclear weapons, while not cheap, are often viewed as cost-efficient compared to other forms of defense. And the weapons ultimately arm the commander-in-chief with more agency and independence.

“The president of the United States can sit at his desk, and in about 10 minutes, without consulting a single human being, launch a third of our nuclear weapons. So if you’re the president, and you’re responsible for the security of this country, it’s kind of in your best interest to have that capability. You don’t have to negotiate with anyone,” Weiner says.

She notes how economic factors and bureaucratic interests sustain the nuclear status quo. After the Cold War, the United States halted production of most plutonium pits—the fission cores at the center of the weapon. But now the Trump administration plans to ramp up pit production in South Carolina and Los Alamos, New Mexico.

“The South Carolina site is really motivated by domestic politics and jobs. But should we be using jobs as the reason why we maintain a provocative defense relationship with Russia with nuclear weapons?” she asks. “Let’s give those nice people in South Carolina something else to do. How about working on the environmental legacy of past nuclear weapons’ production, which we still haven’t figured out what to do with?”

Strategies of Deterrence

Weiner also plans to use the Carnegie Fellowship to examine different perceptions of deterrence among nuclear-armed states. The United States has translated deterrence into strategies for its nuclear weapons, she says. “That determines choices about what weapons to buy and the force posture for those weapons. In other words: What weapons are on alert? What weapons aren’t on alert? What types do you need?”

Another nuclear power, China, has a policy of finite deterrence. With about 270 warheads, it maintains a much smaller arsenal than the United States and Russia. “They don’t think they need enough nuclear weapons to fight a nuclear war with the US. They think they just need enough to cause some pain and suffering,” she explains. “With 200 nuclear weapons, covering many major American cities, that could kill millions of people.”

The doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” is not exactly reassuring to most people. The frosty US-Russia relationship hasn’t resulted in a hot war, but Weiner thinks the argument that “nuclear deterrence prevents nuclear war” is dubious.

“What if it happened accidentally? If you look throughout history, few wars are wars of choice. What is war? It’s me telling you, ‘I want this thing, and you better give it to me. Otherwise, I’m going to hurt you.’ And you can misunderstand, miscalculate, or misperceive my intentions, and we end up fighting,” she says.

The large American nuclear arsenal also complicates diplomacy with smaller, so-called “rogue states.” The Trump administration has projected a blustery, hawkish stance toward Iran—a strategy that Weiner says has its limitations.

“The strong-arming approach is basically, ‘You can’t have the weapons that I have, and I’ve spent my history telling you that the weapons I have are important.’ So why would anybody not want those weapons?” she asks. “And with this new modernization plan, the US is saying to the rest of the world that nuclear weapons are salient for us for the next 100 years.”

Where’s the Groundswell?

The generation that grew up in the 1980s was mesmerized—and horrified—by a pop culture depiction of the nuclear apocalypse. In November 1983, with Cold War tensions escalating, millions of Americans were transfixed by the TV movie, The Day After.

Yet in the decades that followed, fears of nuclear annihilation abated. To be sure, Americans now have plenty of other issues to worry about, including climate change and near-weekly mass shootings. But Weiner thinks that, without public pressure, US nuclear policies will persist under the radar.

“If you ask why we haven’t gotten rid of these weapons, quite frankly, we haven’t really mobilized politically to do much about this,” she says.

A few years ago, Weiner wasn’t trying to spark activism—maybe just raise awareness—when she watched The Day After with her AU students. Though it originally aired long before they were born, it was still timely. The movie traumatized the students, and Weiner discussed it with them until 2:00 a.m.

She now believes that Trump-North Korea-Iran concerns are waking people up to the existential threat of nuclear war. “I think the sheer size of the devastation causes people to put it in a box and say, ‘This is so horrible, I can’t contemplate it—so I’m not going to engage with it.’ But some people think, ‘This is so horrible, I have to do something about it.’”

Either way, after her fellowship, Weiner will return to SIS to reengage with her students. She hopes to share what she’s learned, as her classes grapple with these grave matters.

“AU students are great. They want something from that classroom, and they think you’re going to tell them something to change the world,” she says. “In reality, you don’t know how to change the world. You just start to think about this and have that conversation.”

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Title: US and Europe Face an ‘Increasingly Loveless Marriage’ after Trump’s Iran Deal Withdrawal
Author: Professor Garret Martin
Subtitle:
Abstract: After Trump's withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, Professor Garret Martin explains Europe's response and what comes next.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/16/2018
Content:

Beyond its potentially dramatic consequences for Middle East stability, Trump's May 8 decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal has also damaged the United States' relations with its European allies.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom worked with the Obama administration to barter the United Nations-approved Iran agreement in 2015. Now, the three European signatories must figure out how to save that deal and continue working with a U.S. president who has mostly shown them contempt.

As a scholar of transatlantic relations who has followed the Iran deal for years, I am frankly skeptical that Europe can manage either.

Last-minute negotiations

The United Kingdom, France and Germany tried desperately to convince the U.S. not to withdraw from the Iran deal, which is a signature achievement of EU foreign policy that took a decade of painful diplomatic efforts to seal.

Starting in January, senior European officials began meeting frequently with their American counterparts to address Trump's objections to the deal, which is designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Since his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has scorned restrictions in the deal that diminished over time, condemned Iran's ballistic missile program and criticized Iran's generally bellicose behavior across the Middle East.

In Europe's view, the nuclear deal is working. The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Tehran has complied with the terms of the accord, halting uranium-enrichment activities and submitting to invasive international inspections.

British Prime Minister Theresa May asked Congress to stand by the deal in January. In late April, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel even traveled to Washington to personally urge Trump not to abandon it.

Their efforts came to naught.

How to save the deal

The remaining signatories--Russia, China and the three European nations--are now in flurry of diplomatic activity trying to salvage their agreement.

An American withdrawal endangers its survival because of the country's sheer economic muscle. Trump's threat to impose " the highest level of sanctions" - targeting both Iran and nations that do business there - could easily make the deal unworkable.

The Iran agreement is essentially a quid pro quo. Signatories lifted sanctions, offering Iran the prospect of economic opportunities, in exchange for Tehran agreeing to scale back its nuclear program. If European powers cannot deliver real economic benefits, Iran may declare the deal dead.

If that happened, Iran would most likely resume uranium enrichment. That step, analysts say, could trigger more violence in the already volatile Mideast--a region just a stone's throw from southern Europe.

Defending European business interests

In addition to re-imposing sanctions on Iran, the White House has given foreign firms operating in Iran up to 180 days to wind down business there or else be barred from the U.S. banking and financial system.

These measures could hit several major European firms particularly hard. The French oil company Total and German industrial manufacturer Siemens, to name a few, both recently signed major contracts in Iran. They may be able to appeal to the U.S. government for exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

To protect European businesses from punitive U.S. sanctions, one option would be to revive and amend the EU's 1996 blocking regulation. That rule, passed after the U.S. Congress levied sanctions against Iran and Libya, shielded European firms from U.S. secondary sanctions by declaring them unenforceable within the EU.

The European Investment Bank could also consider providing smaller firms--those without a stake in the U.S. market, say--credit lines and financing to create a safer, more stable environment for doing business with Iran.

The most extreme retaliatory option would be for the EU to levy sanctions on U.S. assets in Europe.

As Jeremy Shapiro of the European Council on Foreign Relations recently commented in The New York Times, Europe must now decide "not if they stick with the deal but will they stand up to the American effort to unravel it."

What next for transatlantic relations?

Ultimately, I believe that European companies would be wary of risking U.S. sanctions. Trade with Iran has rapidly increased since the deal went into effect in 2016, but it still represents less than 1 percent of the EU's global trade. The U.S. is the EU's largest trading partner, responsible for nearly 17 percent of all trade.

Diplomatic slights aside, in purely business terms, France, Germany and the U.K. know that the U.S. can take away far more than Iran can give.

Macron, Merkel and May thus face a dilemma: how to salvage their relationship with a U.S. president who has just demonstrated exactly how little he thinks of them.

Trump's jettison of the nuclear accord is the latest in a series of rebukes to Europe. Since taking office, Trump has moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem - which the EU opposed - and withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement. He also wants to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports.

European leaders could limit discord by appeasing Trump, while waiting out his administration. Europe remains dependent on the U.S. for its security. And, in any case, getting all 28 members of the EU to agree to take any punitive measures against the U.S. would be a tall order.

In the meantime, the president's "America First" foreign policy could significantly damage the multilateral international order to which the Europeans are committed.

My best guess is that the U.S.-Europe relationship will become an increasingly loveless marriage.

These old allies will cooperate on a transactional basis on areas of common interest, such as counterterrorism and trade. But the shared world vision that has defined this partnership since World War II could very well be lost.

This article was originally published on The Conversation by P rofessor Garret Martin. Read the original article.

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Title: SIS’s PhD program: rising in stature and prominence
Author: Sarah Quain
Subtitle:
Abstract: As PhD Program Director Sharon Weiner steps down to pursue a 2018 Carnegie Fellowship, we explore how her leadership helped elevate the program to become a top-20 international relations PhD program.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/08/2018
Content:

Under the direction of Professor Sharon Weiner, the PhD program at the School of International Service (SIS) has been restructured and grown in external recognition over the past five years. Earlier this year, Foreign Policy magazine ranked it among the top-20 international relations PhD programs in the world, a first for SIS.

During her tenure as PhD program director, Weiner has worked with other faculty to introduce a more rigorous academic grounding in international studies, included additional research methods training in the curriculum, and both international relations and concentration comprehensive exams. "The program now has more structure, more rigor, and higher expectations of students, but also additional resources to help students achieve those expectations," said Weiner.

Recently named a 2018 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Weiner will step down from her position as PhD director in June to pursue a year of research focusing on deterrence and the use of nuclear weapons. "When it comes to nuclear weapons, deterrence can lead to multiple answers to the same problems," said Weiner. "I'm researching what choices the US made to answer these problems, what those choices reflect, and why those choices became requirements when there were actually many options." Weiner's research will also involve using virtual reality to better understand how people make choices about whether or not to use nuclear weapons.

"Our PhD program has made impressive advances with Sharon Weiner at the helm," said Interim Dean Christine BN Chin. "Her work with the program and the SIS faculty has helped attract extraordinary PhD students and ensured our students' success after graduation. And I'm so pleased that Sharon has been recognized for her own work by the Carnegie Corporation. It shows our faculty's commitment to continuing to grow their own field's body of knowledge and to remain on the leading edge of scholarship."

Topping a list of the program's strengths is its multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary nature. While some PhD students may want to pursue a more traditional international relations degree, others may want to use research methods from a variety of academic disciplines. SIS offers the coursework and faculty support for both.

"To truly understand international affairs, it's great to pull from different perspectives from multiple disciplines," said Weiner. "When a PhD student comes to SIS, their dissertation committee could include an anthropologist, a sociologist, and a political scientist. We have faculty from various disciplines who can all help PhD students. That's something unique to SIS."

Professor Carl LeVan, the PhD program placement director who helps PhD students find meaningful employment after graduation, echoed the importance of drawing on the expertise found across SIS: "One of Sharon's most enduring contributions will be recognizing the challenges and strengths of SIS's program, coming up with strategies for leveraging that interdisciplinarity, and creating spaces where faculty and students can really talk to each other across our fields."

SIS's interdisciplinarity also provides students with choices in terms of what academic approaches they take, said Professor Boaz Atzili, the incoming PhD program director: "I think that's really exciting in terms of advancing knowledge, which is what we try to do in academia."

The PhD students themselves are vital to the SIS community. SIS admits eight to 10 new PhD students a year and has around 50 PhD students at any time. Those students aren't just receiving an education; they're contributing to the academic and intellectual community at SIS and preparing themselves to make change in the world.

"SIS attracts students who are committed, not just to a life of learning, but to learning with a purpose," said Weiner. "Some go on to work in academia, and others go to work in the policy community, but the thing that unites them is that they all think the world can be different, and they want tools to make that happen."

Anne Kantel, a fifth-year PhD student whose dissertation looks at legitimacy and compliance in natural resource governance in Uganda, said one defining element of all the students in her cohort is their interest in contributing to the wider world: "People come here because they want to achieve something beyond just getting a PhD for themselves. They want to be active members of political society."

Faculty, while perhaps thought of as the imparters of knowledge, also benefit from the strong cohorts of PhD students at SIS. "Beyond being teaching and research assistants, PhD students have intellectual curiosity and capabilities that keep faculty on their toes," said Weiner.

"The PhD program fulfills an important function at SIS," said Atzili. "It is the crux of the connection between teaching and research. Top-level research institutions must have a good PhD program to attract good faculty and produce cutting-edge research."

SIS faculty are involved in the PhD program on various levels, from teaching courses to serving as formal or informal advisors to students completing dissertations.

"Besides the students, a key strength of the PhD program is the faculty," said Weiner. "When you work with a PhD student, you're training them to be your colleague, and you're training them to be smarter and more capable than you are. It's incredibly rewarding, and it's a relationship you have with students, not just while they're at SIS, but for their entire careers."

Atzili, who will become PhD program director in July, noted that this is an exciting time for the program. While the recent Foreign Policy ranking has given SIS's PhD program more attention, Atzili said the school is now poised to achieve even greater exposure for its unique, interdisciplinary, and community-focused PhD program.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of leading the program, Atzili is most excited for working closely with the diverse and hardworking group of students. "All PhD students go through tremendous intellectual growth between their first year and graduation. I'm looking forward to being part of that process."

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newsId: D4AFBC67-5056-AF26-BEB05C1EA74843E3
Title: SIS Alumna Spends Free Time Advocating for Women
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle: Shayna McCready, SIS/MA '14 shares with the Alumni Association her experiences as an ambassador and founding member of the DC committee for Ladies Get Paid
Abstract: Shayna McCready, SIS/MA '14 shares with the Alumni Association her experiences as an ambassador and founding member of the DC committee for Ladies Get Paid.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/08/2017
Content:

While her day job is spent as a federal contractor for the US Department of State, Shayna McCready, SIS/MA '14, stays plenty busy and passionate outside of work as an Ambassador and founding member of the Washington, D.C., committee for Ladies Get Paid (LGP).

The educational and community-based organization provides tools and resources to help women advocate for their value in the workplace, which hopefully leads to increased recognition and rewards.

"When I am not managing U.S. funding for diplomacy and development, training for a race, or volunteering at my local Yoga studio and the Washington English Center as an ESL tutor, I am organizing and bringing women together across the DMV," Shayna says. "Since launching LGP in New York in 2016, we've hosted seven town halls with over 700 attendees. Our community is global with over 3,000 members."

Shayna feels the momentum LGP is building will evolve into a global women's movement. She credits her American University School of International Service (SIS) graduate program experience as well as her career in global diplomacy and peacebuilding for her passion in building networks to expand female expectations.

The AU experience provided Shayna with opportunities to engage in various fieldwork experiences. She completed a Graduate Practicum researching factors influencing economic resilience in Rwanda with Global Communities as well as an Alternative Study Abroad (also in Rwanda) and volunteered for needs assessment research in Haiti.

"I wanted to attend SIS to have the opportunities to engage directly with the leadership shaping the world of international diplomacy and development," Shayna expresses. "Washington, D.C. is a unique place to study in that you can read and study a topic in a book and then physically head over to dialogue with individuals working in the US federal agencies, working groups, and forums where the topics you read about are being discussed in real-time."

During her studies, she recalls working under Professor Loubna Skalli Hanna, which provided her the unique chance to explore research on the intersection of development, politics, gender, youth, culture and communication.

"In many places around the world including the US, when women's rights are threatened and systems of equality are undermined, everyone suffers the collateral damage," Shayna says. "No society is immune from backlashes, especially in relation to gender and equality. There is a continuous need for vigilance for women's and girls' full enjoyment of their social, political, and economic rights."

Read more about LGP.

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Title: Making the most of the SIS network
Author: Erin Kelly, SIS/MA & SIS Alumni Relations Program Assistant
Subtitle:
Abstract: SIS graduate student Erin Kelly shares how spending time with alumni at annual SIS events eased her networking nerves.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/06/2017
Content:

Like any graduate student, I was skeptical about the role networking would play in my academic schedule at American University. But, at the student-alumni events I attended my first semester, I learned that true networking is about the personal connections you make. So forget the fancy reception rooms and high-powered lunches, real AU wonks can network anywhere: including next to the giant panda habitat at the National Zoo.

One event I attended to build my networking skills was the annual SIS Deans Reception, which brought 21 graduate students, staff, and faculty together with 19 alumni for a casual evening of cocktails and a tour of ZooLights, the National Zoo’s holiday light display, hosted by Dean James Goldgeier. Between appetizers, ice breakers, and a speech about the new SIS Office of Career Development, students and alumni alike felt the strength of the AU connection—as we all say: "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle."

While networking can be tough, I found that the informal setting and lighted pathways of the National Zoo allowed graduate students and alumni to truly come together. At the reception, I saw my fellow students meet alumni who worked throughout DC. Most students are only aware of a handful of career options, and meeting alumni who have paved unique career paths broadens our horizons.

 

Several of the alumni I chatted with began discussing SIS. Between recommendations about classes to take and professors to meet, I learned which skills alumni had learned at AU have served them best in the workplace. Perhaps the most important moment of networking for me was hearing about the job searching process from alumni who had been in the position I am in now. Listening to the tips they had picked up and the careers they have now made me more confident about finding my next step after AU.

 

Events like the Dean's Reception not only expose students to new possibilities, but keep alumni close to the university community as well. AU's office of alumni relations puts on a variety of events that bring students and alumni together. Students who are nervous about learning to network can use the SIS Office of Career Development to broaden their skills. Once you have your business cards, check out which upcoming alumni events are right for you!

 

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Title: AU Launches Crowdfunding Platform
Author: Joanna Platt
Subtitle:
Abstract: UFUND is a platform the AU community can use to directly fund projects and initiatives.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/15/2016
Content:

American University's Office of Development and Alumni Relations recently launched UFUND, a crowdfunding platform just for the AU community. This is a new way for alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university to directly fund the projects and initiatives they care about most.

AU faculty, staff, and students are planning ventures to shape the future of the community, nation, and world. By making a gift, donors support the development and success of these projects.

Currently, UFUND features five initiatives – The Eagle Innovation Fund, the DC-Area High School Ethics Bowl, an Alternative Break in Cuba, the Skills for Success Career Seminar, and production of the documentary In The Executioner's Shadow.

Members of the AU community are invited to submit new projects to be featured on UFUND.


 

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Title: Jorhena Thomas, SIS/MA ’04: From AU to Homeland Security
Author: Patricia C. Rabb
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jorhena Thomas is an AU Alumni Board member and homeland security expert.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 09/09/2015
Content:

"With my MA from SIS in hand, I was very competitive in the field I wanted to go into," says Jorhena Thomas, SIS/MA '04, while describing the benefits of receiving a master's degree from the School of International Service. "My coursework at AU forced me to think critically, which has served me well in my career progression," she adds.

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Jorhena describes herself as "a Midwestern girl through and through." She earned a bachelor of arts in international studies from Oakwood College in 1998 and a master of arts in international affairs from AU in 2004. Jorhena formerly worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an intelligence analyst for eight years. During this time, she spent five years focused on international terrorism investigations at the Washington Field Office and three years in the International Operations Division as the intelligence program manager for the FBI's 11 Legal Attaché offices in the Americas region.

Jorhena is now deputy director and operations manager for the Washington Regional Threat Analysis Center, which is a division of the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. In this role, Jorhena ensures that relevant intelligence information and analysis products get to the right people at the local, state, and federal levels, with a particular emphasis on public safety issues in the District. "I can only do this through a wonderful and dedicated team of analysts, liaisons from partner agencies, and interns," she exclaims. WRTAC focuses on all public safety issues—including terrorism, law enforcement, emergency management, and critical infrastructure protection.

During her time at AU, Jorhena remembers watching the buildup to the Iraq war while taking a class with Dr. Clovis Maksoud. She recalls him providing "incredible insight and perspective" as events developed over the course of several months in that region. Jorhena also joined a "wonderful array of dedicated and passionate fellow students" as a member of the Student Organization for African Studies while on campus. 

As an alumna, Jorhena enjoys giving back as a member of the AU Alumni Board and as a SIS alumni-student mentor. The experience of being a mentor to a current AU student is something she finds extremely rewarding. "I've learned as much from my mentee as she's learned from me," she says.

In her spare time, Jorhena enjoys reading biographies, getting great deals in thrift stores, and traveling to exciting destinations with her two children: an 11-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son. One recent highlight was taking her children on their first international trip. The family traveled to Guatemala where they enjoyed time with a host family, learning how to harvest fruit from trees, wash laundry by hand, and hand-grind coffee. "It was eye opening, humbling, and fun," she says.    

Although she is undoubtedly busy with both work and family, Jorhena is impassioned about volunteering. "I volunteer at AU because I think it is a great institution and I want to continue to be a part of what makes it great," she says.

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Title: SIS Alumna Helps to Raise Funds for Small Nonprofits in NYC
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle:
Abstract: Dana Williams, SIS/MA '86 wears two hats as a real estate professional and nonprofit fundraiser.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/14/2015
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Having the unique privilege to meet and work with people from around the world with fascinating lives is the best aspect of her work, says Dana Williams, SIS/BA '86.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: From Undocumented to Unstoppable
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
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: SIS Alumna Writes to Showcase Modern Challenges in U.S. Identity
Author: Karli Kloss
Subtitle:
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: First Generation SIS Alumna Inspired by Parents’ Work Ethic, Family Values
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle:
Abstract: Gloria González-Micklin, SIS/BA ’80, immigrated to America in 1972. Her parents made extreme sacrifices to provide a better life for their six children.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/13/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Achievements,Alumni,Marketing,Marketing and Advertising,School of International Service
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Title: SIS Alumnus Nur Ali Followed his Dream and Traveled the Fast Track from SIS to NASCAR
Author: Stephanie Block
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Abstract: Since he was a little boy, Nur Ali, SIS/BA ’98, dreamt of racing cars. His dream became a reality very soon after graduating from American University.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/11/2013
Content:

Since he was a little boy, Nur Ali, SIS/BA ’98, dreamt of racing cars. His dream became a reality very soon after graduating from American University.

“Education is so important, and I am glad I had the opportunity to go to such a reputable school,” says Nur. “But racing was what I wanted to do since I was a little kid.”

Nur was born in Pakistan and raised in Germany until the age of eight. His family then relocated to Fort Worth, Tex.

Fluent in German, Urdu/Hindi, and English and raised by parents who were proponents of education and supportive of following one’s dreams, with no prior race car driving experience, Nur went to Ohio to attend the Skip Barber Racing School just after graduating from AU.

After graduating from racing school, Nur went back to Texas, and, in 2005, he received an invitation to serve as the Team Leader for Team Pakistan in the A1Grand Prix – World Cup of Motorsport – an international racing series – making him the first driver of Pakistani descent to race professionally. President Musharraf launched Team Pakistan announcing Nur as the leader at an exclusive, extravagant affair.

Nur raced internationally for a few years with the intention to transition into NASCAR, which he did at the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway in the NASAR Nationwide Series on October 20, 2012. News spread quickly in his home country of Pakistan that Nur had become the first Pakistani-American to race NASCAR.

“I would not be where I am without my education from American University,” Nur says. Outside of racing, he serves the community by mentoring and educating children about the importance of education. “Because I completed my education, I always have something to fall back on.”

In mid-December 2012, Nur attended a three-day practice drive in Daytona Beach, Fla. and is continually striving toward his next goal. “I am either in the gym working with a personal trainer, strategizing with my public relations team on how to secure sponsorships, or serving the community,” he says. He also is working closely with NASCAR to bring more visibility to the sport internationally.

Nur hopes to be either a part- or full-time driver with NASCAR in 2013. He is already scheduled to race a few junior races, including the NASCAR K & N Pro Series and the ARCARacing Series.

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