Professors worked as government officials

Professor Karl Inderfurth takes the same route into work every day, but that is where the similarities end between his old job as assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs at the U.S. Department of State and his new one teaching Elliott School students.

Inderfurth is one of many GW professors who have served in the upper echelon of our federal government and who now teach GW students.

“I dealt with a lot of big issues and important moments, which meant a lot of travel,” Inderfurth said about his time dealing with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other South Asian countries.

Inderfurth said uses the experience and influence he garnered during his years as assistant secretary and as U.S. representative for special political affairs to the United Nations to benefit not only his students but also the entire GW community.

“I was able to assist in bringing Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf here to GW (last fall),” he said. More recently, he helped recruit Mahmud Ali Durrani, ambassador of Pakistan, to speak at the Elliott School on Sept.18.

“I’m able to draw upon my experience with (former Secretary of State) Madeleine Albright” to teach students about the practice of international affairs, he said. “I’m trying to focus on the things that I know best, and I think that my students hopefully get a lot out of it.”

Leon Fuerth, research professor of international affairs is also engaging his students by utilizing his government experience. Fuerth served as national security adviser to former Vice President Al Gore.

“It’s not the same world,” Fuerth says of his switch from government to academia. In the White House, “days were punched out into 15 minute intervals. Professors have their own goals and their own forms of stress,” he said, but there is not as much of a premium on finishing tasks on short deadlines. “I realize scholarship has to take its time,” he said.

Fuerth has taken advantage of his position at GW to start The Project on Forward Engagement, which he hopes will address issues that he observed during the administration of President Bill Clinton that detract from the effectiveness of the government.

“The more I looked at things, the more I realized that there has been an acceleration of significant changes,” he said. But this has the negative result of “less time to figure out how to respond” to changes, he added.

“I am trying on my own to identify the shortcomings in the way much of our government works,” Fuerth said. He is also looking for ways “to improve the executive branch to include foresight.”

Fuerth said he uses his experience in the executive branch to give his students a realistic view of what the government can accomplish.

Professor of Economics and International Affairs and Director of the Institute for International Economic Policy Michael O. Moore recently served a year on the Presidents Council of Economic Advisers.

While serving on the CEA, Moore gave President Bush and his staff feedback on the implications of current and proposed economic policies.

“It was an overwhelming job,” Moore said. “I liked the excitement of working in the White House, but it’s wearing.”

“I came out less cynical about the government than when I went in,” he said. “I was impressed by the professionalism (of the executive branch), ” he added, noting that political appointees would request his professional, apolitical opinion so they could be as informed as possible when making decisions.

“I’ve always tried to bring real-world policy questions into the equation,” Moore said of his teaching methods. But after a year in the White House, “Students seemed to pay more attention to what I said.”

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