The Elliott School of International Affairs celebrated its 10th anniversary and a century of international affairs studies at the University Friday during the ESIA “State of the School” address.
ESIA Dean Harry Harding discussed the future of the school at the event in Stuart Hall. A panel of distinguished graduates highlighted the ever-expanding opportunities for GW international affairs students.
“We are improving the quality and range of the program and the school is becoming better known in the city, country and abroad,” Harding said.
University Archivist G. David Anderson, who gave a slide presentation at the event, said GW has offered programs in international affairs since 1898. In 1966, the school became a separate entity and in 1988 was named after former GW President Lloyd H. Elliott.
Harding said the school is integrated with faculty in other schools, particularly the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences, which has helped its success. He also said the school’s location is an asset.
“The fact that we are located in the very heart of D.C. gives us a great ability to integrate theory and practice,” Harding said.
Last year, the ESIA graduate school underwent key changes. This summer, a new office of career development was created with increased staff, Harding said.
This year, the graduate school saw an increase in admissions and the yield was higher than ever, Harding said. Although the number of students has risen slightly, Harding said ESIA’s graduate students’ GRE scores and grade point averages have both increased.
ESIA will hire three more professors this year. The school also will complete a review of the undergraduate curriculum. Harding said the review probably will lead to a revamped core curriculum and possibly a wider range of concentrations.
But specializations such as South Asian studies and African studies may not be possible, Harding said.
“A large part of the issue is about resources. It’s very costly to provide enough courses in a subject to form a new concentration,” Harding said. “We are really trying to accommodate as many requests as possible in one way or another.”
Students will be involved informally in evaluating the undergraduate program.
“Although there is no formal committee that involves students, I am pretty confident we know the main feelings of the students in the program,” he said. “We get feedback through town hall meetings we hold twice a year, the peer and academic advisors and the senior survey.”
He said the main challenge is to “get the word out about how much progress we’ve made over the past five to 10 years, and the quality of our programs and students.”
As part of the alumni panel, 1976 graduate Tom McDonald, who is the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, emphasized conducting foreign policy is becoming more difficult.
“As we look to the next century, it’s not east-west conflicts that we’re dealing with, it’s the proliferation of regional disputes,” McDonald said.
“There’s a new world order to be concerned with and we need to be smarter, tougher and more creative as we go forward,” he said.
Raul R. Herrera, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1981 and juris doctorate in 1984, spoke about his experience as general counsel of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, an investment bank created by 36 countries that supports the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Increasingly, financial markets can be more important than diplomacy in resolving international disputes,” he said. He also stressed the importance of internships and networking.
A.R. Forcke, who received degrees in 1987 and 1990, said her training in science, technology and public policy has afforded her numerous job opportunities.
“Your degree becomes important on a daily basis in business transactions,” Forcke said. “As a graduate of the Elliott School, you become the ambassador of your company.
“Your ability to make businesses run because you understand people and cultures makes you a valuable commodity,” she said.
Miles Friedman, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1971, is executive director of the National Association of State Development Agencies. Friedman said many development agencies have foreign components that need people with an international affairs background such as graduates of the ESIA.