Syracuse University’s Middle Eastern Studies Program names new director

leigh   October 30, 2014   News


Thursday, October 30, 2014                              
Contact: Jill Leonhardt


Karin Ruhlandt, interim dean of The College of Arts and Sciences, and James Steinberg, dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, are pleased to announce that Assistant Professor of Political Science Yüksel Sezgin has been named director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program (MESP) at Syracuse University.  In recognition of the multidisciplinary nature of the program, the two deans also have indicated their intention to appoint an associate director of Middle Eastern Studies from the Humanities Division of the College of Arts and Sciences to complement the role of the director.

Sezgin’s research and teaching interests include legal pluralism, comparative religious law, and human and women’s rights in the Middle East and South Asia.  He has taught at the University of Washington, Harvard Divinity School, and City University of New York and has held research positions at Princeton University, Columbia University, Bielefeld University, American University in Cairo, and the University of Delhi.  Sezgin is the author of Human Rights under State-Enforced Religious Family Laws in Israel, Egypt and India (Cambridge University Press, 2013); he is currently writing another book tentatively titled Democratizing Shari‘a: How Do Non-Muslim Democracies Apply and Regulate Muslim Family Laws? His articles dealing with Middle East affairs frequently appear on

Sezgin is the recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Prize (2014), the American Political Science Association’s Aaron Wildavsky Dissertation Award (2008), and the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award (2008).  He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Ankara, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, University of London, and the University of Washington.

Launched in 2003, the Middle Eastern Studies Program has become one of the most popular and active interdisciplinary programs at SU, with more than 20 affiliated faculty from departments across campus, including anthropology, architecture, communications and rhetorical studies, education, fine arts, geography, health and wellness, history, international relations, languages, literature and linguistics, law, philosophy, political science, and religion.  It is housed in the Maxwell School’s Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs and coordinates the offering of a Syracuse University major and minor in Middle Eastern studies, as well as a graduate certificate of advanced studies in Middle Eastern affairs.  Overall, the program participates in offering 20-25 courses on campus each semester, including language studies in Arabic, Turkish, and Hebrew, and hosts conferences, lectures, a film series, and language tables; it also publishes a regular newsletter.

MESP has received funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as generous donations from alumni and friends.  This support has helped provide grants to students who wish to travel to the Middle East.

Deans Ruhlandt and Steinberg expressed their appreciation to Professor of Political Science Mehrzad Boroujerdi, founder of the MESP, for his outstanding service as director for the past 11 years.  Boroujerdi has recently been named chair of the political science department at the Maxwell School.

Bush School Students Conduct Field Research in Senegal

leigh   October 21, 2014   News

SenegalDuring the past summer, Dr. Jessica Gottlieb and three student interns from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University traveled to the West African country of Senegal to conduct two months of intensive field work and research.  Based out of a local research institute in Dakar, the nation’s capital, the team sought to understand how local elites—religious, traditional, or political leaders—can wield their influence to guide voters’ decisions, even when it goes against the voters’ best interests.

“Many citizens in new democracies are subject to the influence of powerful local elites when they go to cast their vote,” Gottlieb said.  “This is not necessarily a bad thing, but these local elites can also abuse their status and influence in ways that are more beneficial to themselves than the voters,” she added.

The field work involved a household survey, leader survey, and a series of behavioral games conducted in sixty-four rural Senegalese villages.  With the assistance of three Bush School students and several members of the local Senegal community, the research project was divided into three stages: training and preparation, field work, and data entry.

“Getting the first phase of the project underway was a herculean task,” said Bush School student Susana Svojsik.  “Given the size of our sample and complexity of the experiments, the number of individual pieces of material we had to prepare exceeded 10,000.”

During the first stage, Gottlieb and the interns trained sixteen enumerators to conduct the surveys and simulations and prepare survey and simulation materials for all 1,024 participants in the survey.  Since municipal elections were slated for the end of June, all of the training and fieldwork had to be completed in less than five weeks after the team arrived in the country.  Following a pilot test of the surveys and simulation, the sixteen enumerators were dispatched into the field.  To cover all sixty-four villages, each intern and the local supervisor managed a team of four enumerators.

“While in the field, I met with village chiefs and elders to stress the objective of our presence and seek their permission to conduct our experiment,” said Bush School student Kwamae Twumasi-Ankrah.  “It was a good way to practice my French while building relationships with my teammates.”

In addition to navigating the vagaries of life in a foreign country, the team was struck by the stark differences between the political campaigning process in Senegal and the United States.

“While campaign visits in America are fairly serious events, with speech giving and hand-shaking, the campaigns I witnessed in Senegal were more like community parties,” said Bush School student Kelsey Barrera.  “Further study of the democratic process in Senegal should help give us insight into possible solutions for strengthening democracy in these fragile or conflict-affected countries.”

After the surveys and simulation games were completed, the third and final stage of the project began—data entry.  Because transporting physical copies of thousands of pages of research data back to the United States was out of the question, the research team had to digitize all of the materials. 

Stockholm School of Economics announces double degree with SciencesPo

leigh   October 14, 2014   News

Two European APSIA members, Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) and Sciences Po, announced a new collaboration, and “joined their expertise to create a cross-disciplinary dual Master’s degree program.” – Sciences Po

“The aim is to create a top-class degree offering for graduate students planning careers in diplomacy, international organisations, social engagement, as well as international business and financial settings where a solid understanding of political dynamics are a crucial success factor.” – Stockholm School of Economics.

Students will earn two master’s degrees: one in business/economics from SSE, and one in international relations from from PSIA at Sciences Po. 

The two-year framework will accept qualified applicants from around the world and begin with up to 10 students in the fall of 2015. Several curricular combinations are possible, and prospective students must meet admission criteria for the chosen Masters programs at both schools. The first year is spent at Sciences Po in Paris studying international relations, and its second year is spent at SSE in Stockholm studying business administration and/or economics. On completion of their studies, successful candidates will receive two master’s degrees, one from each institution.

Learn more about admissions requirements here.

The Ford School Launches a New Website!

leigh   September 17, 2014   News

“What’s new about our site? Just about everything.”

ford_schoolFor the past ten months, The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy has been working to design, create, and implement a brand new website. ”From concept to functionality to content, our goal was to capture and convey our strengths and standing as one of the best policy schools in the country.” This launch coincides with the Ford School’s centennial year. Read more.

APSIA Summer 2014 Newsletter: Celebrating Grads

leigh   July 28, 2014   News

What do you do with an APSIA degree: Aleem Ahmed and Caroline Mauldin

leigh   July 25, 2014   News

ScreenShot1453HKSAleem Ahmed MPA 2015 and Caroline Mauldin MPA 2015 are benefitting two countries with a single grain.

Ahmed and Mauldin launched Love Grain last year to produce gluten-free cereals, pastas, and pancake and waffle mixes all made with teff — a high-protein, high-fiber grain that’s a staple in the Ethiopian diet.

“I am impressed with Love Grain’s commitment to the small hold farmers that grow teff in Ethiopia,” says Amy Davies, director of MPA Programs. “It’s been a pleasure to watch Love Grain grow as a result of Caroline and Aleem’s good work, and a pleasure to eat the pancakes — as I can personally attest that they are delicious.”

Love Grain was inspired by Ahmed’s experience working for the Teff Value Chain Program at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, where he helped three million farmers increase their yields. In the process, Ahmed learned that some seven-million teff farmers lack a market for their grain.

Ahmed and Mauldin saw an opportunity to bring healthy, gluten-free products to the U.S. market while at the same time, helping to improve the lives of Ethiopian farmers and their families in a sustainable way.

The partners are running Love Grain while both pursuing joint MPA/MBA degrees from Harvard Kennedy School and MIT Sloan. The idea evolved into a business plan that incorporated advice from professors and classmates, and the company took off from there.

What do you do with an APSIA degree: Jennifer K. Hong

leigh   July 24, 2014   News

hong-jenniferCreating Change
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy graduate Jennifer K. Hong (MPP ’11) is a Reports and Political Affairs Officer at the Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

“I don’t have day-to-day contact with the victims, but the most gratifying thing about the work I do is that it’s affecting the lives of trafficking victims around the world,” says Jennifer K. Hong (MPP ’11). Hong is a Reports and Political Affairs Officer at the Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and is responsible for diplomatic engagement around the issue of human trafficking in 19 Asian and Pacific Island countries. 

From July to February of each year, Hong travels to these countries and works with government officials, as well as civil and international organizations, to further the U.S. agenda to eradicate modern-day slavery. Her work entails advocating for new laws, increase in prosecution and convictions of trafficking offenders, better protection for trafficking victims, and awareness campaigns among vulnerable populations.

Hers is a grueling schedule: a recent trip to four different islands involved 16 flights. One trip, from Timor-Leste to Solomon Islands, took 36 hours. ”But it’s what I love,” Hong says. “It’s a privilege that I’m able to represent the United States in a human rights issue that I care deeply about. I don’t take any day or any exchanges that I have—with the foreign embassies here or our embassy abroad or with government interlocutors—for granted.”

As preparation for her career, Hong credits the Gerald R. Ford School’s Susan Waltz’s ability to offer a “three-dimensional look into a policy issue. It’s been so crucial for what I do,” she says. “The issue isn’t just ‘trafficking and victims’ or ‘trafficking and the government isn’t doing anything.’ It’s all about how they interplay together.”

Bon voyage, and best wishes to the graduating class of 2014

leigh     News

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy 2014 Commencement“You are not just graduates of a great university,” Senator Carl Levin told the Ford School’s centennial graduating class. “You are graduates of a school of public policy, which implies that you—your ideas and passions, your hard work and drive and grit—can help shape the policies that government adopts.”

Senator Levin, who gave the keynote speech at the Ford School’s centennial commencement ceremony, spoke about the difficult challenges policymakers face, and the rewarding nature of the work.

“To accept the responsibility of influencing public policy is to accept the responsibility to advocate for what may be unpopular at the moment,” he told graduates, reflecting on President Gerald R. Ford’s decision to pardon Richard Nixon after Watergate, and the principled decisions of many other politicians and policymakers. “Advocating for an unpopular position means acknowledging the real challenges we face. Whether it’s Afghanistan or health care reform or the budget, anything worth doing risks the possibility of failure….”

Watch the commencement ceremony video
Download a copy of Senator Levin’s remarks

What do you do with an APSIA degree: Anjuli Pandit

leigh     News

Anjuli_PanditAnjuli Pandit, Sciences Po – PSIA 2013, speaks of the confidence and expertise she developed during her Master in International Public Management, and how it has translated into professional opportunities for her.

As an American with Indian origins, I grew up in 9 countries. Before PSIA, I was Project Manager for the Climate Project India. I returned to India post-graduation as Director of Global Communications for Greenlight Planet, a social business that sells solar lights to the world’s 1.5 billion off-grid villagers. It was a fantastic position, but as the days went on I realized that all the skills I had developed in PSIA were not being fully put to use. I had promised myself that post-graduation I would plunge into the policy world head first, because PSIA had given me the confidence that I could survive and even excel in this new career choice.

In January 2014, just 6 months after graduation, I joined the chairman’s office of Tata Sons, the holding firm of the 100 billion USD TATA Group, as Manager Public Affairs. This move has been the plunge I was seeking as I have found myself with responsibilities and a scope for real impact in public relations. Often I find myself in situations which fit perfectly into the exercises our Sciences Po professors guided us through, except this time it is real! Prepare a policy document for your boss who is about to meet the Foreign Affairs Minister of a country in which you would like to expand business. Pitch a business plan for building a large hydro plant to various European ECAs for funding. I’m ready to take on such challenges, Sciences Po prepared me for this.

Announcing the 2014 Rosenthal Fellowship Class

leigh   June 4, 2014   News

The Harold W. Rosenthal Fellowship in International Relations and its partner, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), announce the selection of thirty fellows for Summer 2014.  The Fellowship provides graduate students at APSIA member schools the opportunity to spend a summer working on international relations related issues in the US government Executive Branch or the Congress.

View the list of 2014 fellows and placement offices

Established in 1977 in memory of Harold Rosenthal, a Congressional staffer and victim of international terrorism while on official duty, there have been 227 Fellows to date.  Since the inception of the Rosenthal Fellowship, many Rosenthal Fellows have also participated as EVP Fellows in The European Union Visitors Program (EVP).

In a joint statement, Carmen Mezzera, Executive Director of APSIA, and Rick Gilmore, Chairman of the Rosenthal Fellowship, said, “The program’s success depends first and foremost on the outstanding caliber of our fellows, the extraordinary support we receive from host offices in the Congress and Executive Branch, APSIA member school support, and the generous contributions and support of our Board, donor institutions, and longstanding friends of the program. The Fellowship is living proof that terrorism cannot overwhelm the human spirit.  We’re a program whose purpose is to provide exceptional students with unique government experience. They are our future leaders in new approaches to problem solving in international relations.”  The program is particularly pleased to continue its collaboration with the Robertson Foundation for Government and welcomes its support of four Fellowships. We also take great pride in the Alumni Advisory Council and the Rosenthal Roundtables where recognized experts and practitioners in international relations address Rosenthal and Robertson fellows and alumni.

This year’s Fellows represent 16 APSIA schools and will intern at the Departments of Defense, Labor, State, Treasury, USDA, and in committees and individual offices of Members of Congress.

Run in association with APSIA, the Rosenthal Fellowship receives support from a number of individual donors as well as the Robertson Foundation for Government, the Rotary Foundation and, previously, from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.  Fellows are current graduate students in international affairs nominated by their schools and are both US citizens and foreign nationals.  Former Senator and Vice President, Fritz Mondale, serves as honorary chairman of the Fellowship.

2014 Rosenthal Fellows and Host Offices

Benjamin Briese (University of Denver), U.S. House of Representatives, Office of Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA)

Frank Broomell (Harvard University), APSA/SEA/South Asia Directorate

Clarke Burns (Georgetown University), APSA.AOC/Pakistan/Directorate

Emily Cole (Tufts University), US House of Representatives, Ways and Means Committee

Sean Patrick Comber (Syracuse University), Department of State, Embassy of the United States in Manila, Philippines

Lara Danielle Crouch (Georgetown University), Department of Defense, Strategy, Plans and Force Development

Sam duPont (Princeton University), Office of the US Trade Representative and Rotary-Rosenthal Fellow

Owen Fletcher (Johns Hopkins University), US Department of Defense, Office of Secretary of Defense, China Desk/ APSA/East Asia

Barak Gatenyo (Sciences Po), US House of Representatives, Office of Ami Bera (D-CA)

Tschuna Gibson (American University), US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Alexandra Hackbarth (Syracuse University), US Department of Defense/Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict

Mark Hoover (Tufts University), US Department of State, Embassy of the United States, Burkina Faso

Brianna January (University of Maryland), US Department of Labor

Joyce Kang (University of California-San Diego), US Department of Labor

Kendrick Kuo (Johns Hopkins University), US Department of Treasury, Office of International Monetary and Financial Policy

Erica Lally (Johns Hopkins University), US Department of State/The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan

Rachel Mann (American University), US Department of State,The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Arthur Paul Massaro III (University of Maryland), US Department of State,The Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Jamie Morgan (Princeton University), US Department of Defense

Rebeca Orrie (Texas A&M), Department of Defense/ Mideast Partnership Program

Kaitlin Oujo (Columbia University), US Department of Defense, International Security Affairs/Middle East 

Sarah Park (Columbia University), US Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Andrew Reighart (University of Maryland), US Department of State/Bureau of Energy Resources

Dan Rothstein (University of California-San Diego), US Southern Command, Miami

Jennifer Rowland (Harvard University), US Department of Defense, International Security Affairs, Africa

Jenny Russell (Texas A&M), US Department of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs

Amanda Van Dort (University of Michigan), US Department of State, Embassy of the United States, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Diana Won (University of Michigan), US Department of State, Embassy of the United States, Lima, Peru

Satomi Yanagidani (Yale University), Office of Sen. Levin and Office of Cong. Jim McDermott

Olivia Zetter (Harvard University), US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor