Message from the Dean

photo: Michael E. Brown
March 20, 2015

In January, the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) survey ranked GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs in the top ten for the study of international affairs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The survey—a poll of more than 1,600 scholars—is the only one that ranks international affairs academic programs.

The Elliott School is a superb place to study international affairs because of our extraordinary comparative advantages. We are in the process of recruiting our next class of undergraduate and graduate students, and we are about to send a new generation of graduates into the world, so this is a good time to reflect on the special attributes of an Elliott School education.

First: our people. The Elliott School has some of the top international affairs scholars in the world. In the latest TRIP survey, Professor Martha Finnemore was identified as one of the most influential scholars in the international affairs field. In January, China Foreign Affairs University placed GW Professors David Shambaugh and Robert Sutter on its list of the top 20 China experts in the United States. New GW faculty member Sabina Alkire has been recognized by Foreign Policy magazine as one of its “Top 100 Global Thinkers” for her work with Maria Emma Santos and GW’s James Foster on poverty measurement.

In the field of international affairs, the challenge is to cover a big world well. The Elliott School’s faculty members represent more than a dozen disciplines, and their expertise spans the globe. In this issue of Briefing, six Elliott School faculty members analyze some of the challenges facing the world in 2015.  Allison Macfarlane, a geologist by training and recently the chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, looks back on the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and draws lessons for the future. Skip Gnehm, former U.S. ambassador to Kuwait, provides background on political rivalries in the Middle East. These are just a few highlights of the many ways in which Elliott School faculty are helping to shed light on global developments. Elsewhere in this issue of Briefing, you will find more examples—from op-eds and press clips to congressional testimony.

Elliott School students are another component of our “people power.” Elliott School students come from around the world, and they are deeply committed to making the world a better place. For example, in February, several Elliott School students traveled to New York to take part in the UN ECOSOC Global Youth Forum, where they had the opportunity to engage with international leaders about global development and other issues. 

The second part of the Elliott School’s equation: our proximity. Washington, DC is one of the best places in the world to study international affairs, and the Elliott School’s location in the heart of Washington is truly unique. The IMF and the World Bank are a two-minute walk from the Elliott School building. The State Department and the White House take five. Many students gain professional experience during their time at the Elliott School by working or interning at U.S. government agencies, international organizations, think tanks, or nonprofit advocacy organizations. 

The Elliott School’s academic reputation and central location, combined with its nonpartisan nature and outstanding facilities, generate exceptional convening power. The Elliott School sponsors an unparalleled program of special events—more than 300 lectures, panel discussions, and conferences every year. These programs provide our students with excellent opportunities to engage with policymakers, diplomats, scholars, and other experts from around the world.

In our globalizing, interdependent world, caring about international problems isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. The issues that we study at the Elliott School—from war and peace to poverty and development to democratization and human rights—are life and death issues for hundreds of millions of people around the world. The ability to navigate in our increasingly complex global environment is a vitally important skill, one that is honed by a world-class, international affairs education.

The Elliott School is one of the best places in the world to obtain an international affairs education because of its extraordinary institutional advantages:

People + Proximity = Power

An Elliott School education puts students in a unique and powerful position to make a difference in our world.

/s/ Michael Brown
Michael E. Brown
Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University