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ENGAGING WORLD LEADERS, GROUNDBREAKING INSIGHTS


The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosts many special events providing students, faculty, alumni, and guests opportunities to hear a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the issues that shape our world. 'The Recap' captures important events across our three campuses.

Please visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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ENGAGING WORLD LEADERS, GROUNDBREAKING INSIGHTS


The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosts many special events providing students, faculty, alumni, and guests opportunities to hear a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the issues that shape our world. 'The Recap' captures important events across our three campuses.

Please visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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Celebrating the Class of 2018


Celebrating the Class of 2018


May 23, 2018

The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) held its Washington, DC commencement ceremony on May 23. The school conferred degrees to more than 500 students in the Master of Arts, Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance, Master of Arts in Global Policy, Master of International Public Policy, and Doctorate programs. 

Hailing from 69 different countries, Dean Vali Nasr said the Class of 2018 represented a rich diversity of ambitions and goals. In his address, he called on graduates to advance the cause of global cooperation in which the school was founded, noting the potential for graduates to make their mark as the international order is at the threshold of change.   

The keynote address was delivered by Michèle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Co-Founder and Managing Partner at WestExec Advisors. Flournory encouraged graduates to frame their future careers in terms of lifelong service, no matter what roles they choose. "In these challenging times, your service and commitment are more important than ever. I urge you to step up; don’t opt out," Flournoy said.   

Jeffrey and Shari Aronson received the Founders Award for extraordinary support of the school. The Aronsons' long record of support includes commitments of more than $10 million in new resources across many divisions of the university, allowing the school to strengthen faculty expertise in strategic areas of study.

Vice Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs Peter Lewis presented awards recognizing members of the class for individual achievements. Quinn Campbell received the William C. Foster Award for distinguished service to the school. The Christian A. Herter Award for outstanding academic achievement was presented to Elias Dammann, Brendan McCartney, Lauren Sidner, Emily Weiss, Rachel Xian, and Hao Zhang.

Master of Arts graduate Abigail Gage delivered the student address, emphasizing the close relationships and wide spectrum of perspectives she and her classmates will take with them into the world. Student Government Association President Natalia Arenas remarked on the ways the Class of 2018 made the most of their graduate school experience. In closing, Dean Nasr invited family, friends, and graduates to the Arena Stage for a celebratory reception. 

A commencement celebration was held at SAIS Europe on May 19 featuring a keynote address by Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs of The Scottish Government, Annabelle Ewing B’82. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center commencement ceremony will be held June 15. 

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Reflections on a Life Lived Fully with Gloria Estefan


Reflections on a Life Lived Fully with Gloria Estefan


May 9, 2018

Gloria Estefan, Singer-Songwriter and Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient

Johns Hopkins SAIS was honored to welcome Gloria Estefan as part of the Women Who Inspire lecture series. Estefan shared her experiences as a Cuban-American woman and generously dispensed advice for not just the students of the school but all members of the community. The discussion was moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute.

To understand the beginning, sometimes it’s necessary to start from the end: Estefan spoke about how she has the luxury of choice today–when starting out, we may have to do things that we may not necessarily want to and “ride on the momentum.” Today though, Estefan can choose where to focus her energies: on family, for example. She highlighted the role her husband, Emilio, has played throughout her life–balancing her out, being each other’s best cheerleader, and their combined desire to maintain who they were in the music industry and evaluating the value of their work in order to ultimately stick to that commitment. “[You] don’t want to succeed [while] not doing what you like. [If] you’re going to do that for the rest of your life, you better like it!” Estefan advised.

Estefan also talked about the power of example and how being around the women in her family who did everything showed her that there was no glass ceiling. In the same vein, she encourages cultural diplomacy in her music by broadening the scope of her songs to reach as many people as possible, while pushing open the doors for other artists such as Shakira, Ricky Martin, among others. On speaking about her accident, she pointed out that fame was never the goal and it can easily be taken away. Instead, she emphasized the power of connectivity–that everything we do can make a difference in someone else’s life.

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Defense and Security in the Baltic Sea


A Conversation with Minister of Defense for Sweden, Peter Hultqvist

Defense and Security in the Baltic Sea


A Conversation with Minister of Defense for Sweden, Peter Hultqvist

May 9, 2018

Peter Hultqvist, Minister of Defense for Sweden

Swedish Minister for Defense Peter Hultqvist visited the school to offer insight on Sweden’s defense policies and the security issues of the Baltic region. The discussion was moderated by Professor of Strategic Studies Thomas Rid. 

Considering Finland’s agreement with the Soviet Union and Norway’s membership in NATO post-World War II, Sweden pursued a stance of non-alignment while upgrading its own military. Today, despite current Swedish perception that the country is safe and they do not feel immediately threatened by their neighbors, Hultqvist emphasized the continuous preparation undertaken by Sweden’s government to improve national capabilities and develop security cooperation and interoperability strategies with international actors and organizations, especially in the transatlantic region. In particular, he highlights the procurement of submarines and ground-based air defense and reactivation of conscription to deal with potential flash-points in the Baltic Sea; while at the same time deepening bilateral and multilateral interoperability tactics with Finland, the Baltic republics and the US to tackle not just naval security but also terrorist threats similar to the Paris attacks.

Hultqvist also discussed efforts to mitigate the effects of social media on undermining Sweden’s political system, after sharing a personal experience where his signature was used in a fake letter that a Swedish company sold weapons to Ukraine. He further elaborated on Sweden’s active cyber status which is developing defense systems and leadership of state authorities to handle cyberattacks.

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A Conversation on North Korea with Admiral Mike Mullen


A Conversation on North Korea with Admiral Mike Mullen


May 8, 2018

Admiral Mike Mullen, Former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Retired US Navy Admiral Mike Mullen visited the school for a discussion on the de-nuclearization opportunities opening up in the Korean peninsula. Mullen served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 under both presidents Bush and Obama, and oversaw the end of the US mission in Iran. He is known for his efforts on behalf of veterans and for his role in dismantling the military's 'don’t ask don’t tell' policies.

Mullen began by expressing his cautious optimism regarding President Trump’s attempts to start a dialogue with North Korea. However, he warned that President Kim’s strategy is borrowed from his father and grandfather. To first make a grand gesture, then spend years negotiating a treaty, all the while developing their nuclear capabilities. However, he warned that this time around, President Kim already has well developed nuclear capabilities. For this reason, Mullen stressed the importance of planning for the likelihood that even if the talks seem to be productive, the North Korean regime might not abide by the terms of any agreement.

Mullen shared his concern over the tense and threatening comments between the US and North Korean presidents and the potentially dire consequences of open conflict on the peninsula. At the same time, the admiral pointed to the role of the American public in holding their politicians accountable for matters such as this which truly are life and death situations. He encouraged students in the audience to take an active political role and to work together to force leaders of this country to take serious and calculated decisions about Korean security issues.  

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Political Risk in the 21st Century


A Book Discussion with Condoleezza Rice and Amy Zegart

Political Risk in the 21st Century


A Book Discussion with Condoleezza Rice and Amy Zegart

May 2, 2018

Condoleezza Rice, 66th U.S. Secretary of State and Senior Fellow in Public Policy, Hoover Institution at Stanford University
Amy Zegart, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Co-Director, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University
Moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Professor Amy Zegart of Stanford University visited the school for a discussion on their new book, Political Risk: Facing the Threat of Global Insecurity in the Twenty-First Century.

Rice and Zegart explained that their book's purpose was to describe how technology has forever changed who counts as a 'political actor.' The field of political risk has traditionally centered on governments, central banks, and politicians as risk factors. Today, however, major disruptions can be caused by Twitter users, terrorists, activists, hackers, and insurgents.  

Technology has enabled virtually anyone to publish and promote their views at will, which has changed the landscape of political risk and made it a factor that every business, no matter their size or location, needs to prepare for, Rice and Zegart said.

For the audience of students and alumni—many of whom are current or aspiring practitioners of political risk consulting—the discussion was an excellent extension of the material and cases they have studied in the classroom.  

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Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan


A Conversation with Dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan


A Conversation with Dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

April 30, 2018

Steve Coll, Dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Johns Hopkins SAIS welcomed Steve Coll, Pulitzer Prize winner and Dean & Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism, to talk about his book, “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan”. This book is the sequel to “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the C.I.A., Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.”

Coll began the discussion by outlining the three themes of his book, taken from the perspective of the U.S. First are the war aims of the U.S. What is the U.S. interest in sending people to Afghanistan? Second is the view of Pakistan as a sanctuary on the one hand, and arguments that the U.S. is using Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (I.S.I.) to destabilize Afghanistan on the other. Finally, the book notes the ambiguity of U.S. strategy in the region.

The discussion then goes into greater detail on the roles of the I.S.I. and the C.I.A. Coll likens the I.S.I. to Moby Dick–it is unclear where power really lies in the organization. And while the C.I.A. maintains close ties to the I.S.I. for counterterrorism activities, the two organizations skirt the issues of Kashmir or the leadership of the Taliban. After all, counterterrorism is the one thing that the C.I.A. can deliver on, compared to any other arm of federal government.

Looking forward, Coll identifies three fault lines in the relationship triangle between the U.S., Pakistan, and Afghanistan. First, the new generation is a powerful force in any country because they are constantly “plugged in” and can be factionalized. Second are the post-American geopolitics and the spoilers in the region in the form of Russia and Iran. Lastly, internal Afghan politics will determine what are the next steps in this complex issue.

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Diversity in the U.S. Military and the Contributions of the Sikh-American Community


Diversity in the U.S. Military and the Contributions of the Sikh-American Community


April 27, 2018

The Honorable Ravi Bhalla, Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, U.S.A., Retired, Former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe
Dr. Tammy S. Schultz, Director of National Security and Joint Warfare, and Professor of Strategic Studies at U.S. Marine Corps War College
LTC Kamal S. Kalsi, D.O., FACEP, U.S.A.R., President of the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA)
Moderated by Shamila Chaudhary, Senior South Asia Fellow at New America, Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute, and Senior Advisor to Dean Vali Nasr at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Johns Hopkins SAIS was honored to host members of the Sikh-American community for a dialogue on diversity in the U.S. military, and the intersection of core values in Sikhism and military service.

To kick off the event, a documentary short film was shown detailing the struggles of Bhagat Singh Thind as one of the first Sikhs to serve in the U.S. Army. This was followed by a panel discussion on religious accommodation and the challenges to and opportunity for broader diversity in the U.S. Army.

The Honorable Ravi Bhalla spoke of his experiences with the British Air Force and how discipline takes a different, though no less effective, form for Sikhs in military service. Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, U.S.A. highlighted that the pragmatism of uniformity in the military is balanced by diversity and the strength of the individual, wherein these individuals become “valuable pieces [for] forming a more perfect union.” Dr. Tammy Schultz notes that the U.S. is slower to address diversity in its military compared to developing nations. 

LTC Kamal S. Kalsi, D.O., FACEP, U.S.A.R. thanked the panelists for their insights and introduced a musical performance in celebration of Vaisakhi, the South Asian harvest festival and the birthday of the Sikh faith. Following the presentation, guests enjoyed a reception and an art exhibit.

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IDEV Practicum Presentations


IDEV Practicum Presentations


April 27, 2018

The final presentations for the International Development program’s practicum project were presented at the Washington, DC campus, featuring insights from the faculty, clients, and 24 IDEV students participating in 2018. Students, faculty and the clients that teams had been working with for the past year were all in attendance. This was the 5th practicum cohort that had completed the program which consisted of a total of 24 students.

Vice Dean Peter Lewis discussed the benefits of the practicum—now in it's fifth year—for enhancing student learning. He said the school has set a goal to introduce a practicum curriculum to all concentrations in the future. Following Lewis’s address, Professor Tanvi Nagpal reviewed recent accomplishments of International Development program's practicum and how it has evolved.

Students presented their findings on a variety of topics including social impact bonds, water and sanitation projects, mobile technology and financing, and food fortification. The presentations showcased the excellent work done by each of the teams. After the team presentations, students and clients responded to audience questions about their projects. 

After all the presentations, Nagpal closed the event by inviting clients to work with the IDEV program again next semester. The event was followed by refreshments and a short networking event in the adjoining room.

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Is There a Path to Democracy in the Arab World?


Is There a Path to Democracy in the Arab World?


April 26, 2018

Salam Fayyad, Former Prime Minister, Palestinian National Authority
Moderated by Vali Nasr, Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS

Salam Fayyad visited the school to speak about the underlying issues that led to the Arab Spring movement beginning in 2010. He said the region's economy is largely tied to the oil market, thus the significant decline in oil prices in recent years had a negative impact on the economies of Arab nations. He noted the region has been suffering from major economic weakness for a long time, creating a long-running youth unemployment problem which has contributed to the unrest of the Arab Spring.

On the topic of economic restructuring, Fayyad said the government revenue base is not sufficiently diversified and still dependent on oil. It is crucial for policymakers to think of ways to generate more government revenue because democracy is attainable when governance issues are addressed, Fayyad said.

Answering questions from the audience, Fayyad discussed pluralism as a feature supporting democracy, given that it is difficult for the state to act autocratically if the government is comprised of a multiplicity of factions, introducing a layer of accountability. Fayyad noted that democracy in the US has been a work in progress and the concepts for a dual or multiple-state system for the Palestinians should be given the opportunity to adapt and improve as well.

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Building Resilience to the Economic Threat of Invasive Species


ERE - Swiss Re Practicum

Building Resilience to the Economic Threat of Invasive Species


ERE - Swiss Re Practicum

April 25, 2018

Stephanie A. Shwiff, Research Economist of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Kara Frame, NPR
Stanley W. Burgiel, Assistant Director of the National Invasive Species Council at the U.S. Department of the Interior
Rachel McCormick, Counsellor and Program Manager of Energy and Environment at the Embassy of Canada
Alex Kaplan, Head of North America and Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships at Swiss Re
Moderated by Celeste Connors, Associate Practitioner in Residence at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Johns Hopkins SAIS Energy, Resources, and Environment (ERE) Practicum students, in partnership with the global reinsurance leader Swiss Re, presented research on the economic impact of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Managing the negative impact of non-native species is a hundred-million dollar venture, and as these invasive species spread, the options for controlling their population become more limited, the student team explained. Hence, prevention measures at the early onset of the crisis is the recommended method for tackling this threat. The practicum students determined that proposed solutions include private-public partnerships, diversification of tree stock, general education, and a dedicated team to tackle this problem–essentially, a “SWAT team for invasive species.”

The panel of experts provided their own insights on the conducted research. Stephanie Shwiff emphasized the economic costs of shutting down trade and managing the spread of disease of animals affected by the changing ecosystem brought about by invasive species. Stanley Burgiel noted that the economic effect on job numbers, industries and the global supply chain are strong reasons for policy action. Rachel McCormick spoke about the cross-border policy coordination of the U.S. and Canada in the Great Lakes in order to manage these invasive species, as well as the relevance of these issues to the G7 Summit. Alex Kaplan explained the overall benefits to the community and the insurance sector on prevention and early management of invasive species. Each panelist also highlighted established public-private partnerships that have effectively managed invasive species in their areas.

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Cities as Innovation Centers: Investing in Resilient Infrastructure


Cities as Innovation Centers: Investing in Resilient Infrastructure


April 24, 2018

Kevin Bush, Chief Resilience Officer, Government of the District of Columbia
Jo-Ellen Darcy, former Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, United States Army
Samantha Medlock, Senior Vice President and Head of North America Capital, Science & Policy, Willis Towers Watson
Josh Sawislak, Global Director of Resilience, AECOM
Moderated by Celeste Connors, Associate Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment

Students in the Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) program, in partnership with the global engineering company AECOM, presented research on climate risk and resilient infrastructure for their annual practicum project. The issue is a pressing concern for experts, considering it is estimated that up to $90 trillion in new investment will be required in urban infrastructure by 2030—more than the entire value of existing urban infrastructure today. At the same time, losses due to weather-related events are rapidly increasing.

Danny Jeon, Jingwei Jia, June Choi, and Yan Fan took the stage and shared the outcome of their research. Their objective was to identify ways to materialize the benefits of infrastructure resiliency in order to create a business case and mobilize public and private funding. They explored the opportunities and challenges for investment and provided recommendations and four case studies on how coastal cities are implementing innovative solutions.

The team used data for 500 hurricanes and compared a no-investment baseline to three scenarios where investments in resilience were implemented in Miami. The investments include strategy for flood protection, installation of architecture for flood water diversion, and upgrading the aging infrastructure. The team used statistical methods to analyze the correlation of hurricanes, and concluded that in the three scenarios where resilience strategy was adopted there was a significant reduction in infrastructure damage.

Associate Professor Celeste Connors moderated the panel featuring expert practitioners discussion of how their respective agency addresses resilience. Jo-Ellen Darcy of the U.S. Army mentioned that some of today's aging infrastructure will not pass resilience tests. Kevin Bush of the Government of the District of Columbia described his agency's efforts to develop a resilience strategy. 

Samantha Medlock of Willis Towers Watson, said resilience begins and ends with good data and risk analytics. The better that we can understand the current state of strength or relative vulnerability of a given asset, the better we can translate that risk into a language the insurance market can understand. She said that the potential for a public private partnership is very promising.

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Matters of State: Politics, Governance, and Agency in China- Africa Engagement


4th Annual SAIS-CARI Conference

Matters of State: Politics, Governance, and Agency in China- Africa Engagement


4th Annual SAIS-CARI Conference

April 19-20, 2018

Lina Benabdallah, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations, Wake Forest University
Deborah Bräutigam, Director of China-Africa Research Initiative and Director of International Development
Tom De Bryun, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Paul Kadetz, Drew University
Brian Levy, Professor of International Development, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Hezron Makundi, University of Dar es Salaam
Jackson Miller, Harvard Kennedy School
June Sun, Africa's Asian Options (AFRASO)
Barney Walsh, King’s College London
Ying Xai, Harvard University
Full Conference Agenda

The school's China-Africa Research Initiative (SAIS-CARI) held its 4th Annual Conference featuring panels exploring China's relationship with Africa on leadership, regulation, healthcare, state capacity, and data.

Among the first-day highlights was the panel "Leadership, Power and Agency, and Regulation" which focused on the context of key China-Africa relationships. Speaking on this panel was Ying Xai of Harvard Univeristy discussed the implications of policies, laws, and agencies for outward investment regulation in China. Barney Walsh of King’s College London analyzed the leadership perspective on China-Africa relations. June Sun of AFRASO considered the of emerging markets’ participation in global internet governance using China and South Africa as case studies. Jackson Miller of the Harvard Kennedy School analyzed the "Sino-fication" of Malagasy politics using a model popularized by the Kung Fu Master Gao.

The Conference continued on Friday with a panel on “African Capacity, Bureaucracies and Norm Diffusion.” Johns Hopkins SAIS Professor Brian Levy noted that every presentation at the conference showed complexities of country-context, sectoral contexts and multiplicities of Chinese and African actors.

Hezron Makundi of the University of Dar es Salaam discussed the negotiation of the technological capacity and transfer in Chinese projects and the role of the Tanzanian government. Tom De Bryun of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven discussed decision-making power and African agency in projects undertaken with Chinese, Brazilian and Indian companies. Lina Benabdallah of Wake Forest University analyzed agency and complexities by exploring the extent to which skills transfer are accompanied by the transfer of norms. Paul Kadetz of Drew University discussed diplomacy and dependency to unpack the outcomes of sustainable self-development in Sino-Malagasy health diplomacy.

Additional panel videos available at SAISEvents