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Maxwell Students Connect with Issues Experts Around the Country
Faculty and staff in the Maxwell School are helping international relations students stay ahead of the game by connecting them with leaders in the field.
Gathering together around a conference table in Eggers Hall, a group of eager undergraduate and graduate students talk softly while waiting to be connected by phone to the Council on Foreign Relations. These bi-weekly conference calls with internationally known experts provide a platform where students exchange ideas and thoughts on current issues and crises. They connect students directly to top-notch analysts, often people with significant foreign policy-making experience.
In the October session, SU students discuss America’s recent foreign policy with Senior Vice President of Council of Foreign Relations, James M. Lindsay. They are joined via the conference call with students at other universities, colleges, and military academics, on this day including the University of Pennsylvania, University of Mississippi, the Daniel Morgan Academy, University of Connecticut, and Roosevelt University.
Maxwell students chose to ask a question about possible changes in foreign policy in the upcoming year. Questions from other participants review changes in economic expediencies, the interconnectedness of world systems and the implications for policies at home. A clear sense of the multiple dimensions on which foreign policy is based is apparent in the students’ questions, as they raise concerns about many sides of each issue.
Student Rigo Melgar finds the approach a comprehensive way to get a different perspective on relevant topics. “We get academic opinions here, but through this exercise we get an expert opinion from someone who directly deals with these issues,” says Melgar. “It’s like a debate on conference call, where we get to know what other schools are thinking and also get answers to our questions from an expert.”
“These calls have the great feature of letting our students hear questions from other students across the country and join in the conversation themselves,” says Amy Kennedy, who administers the program in her role as academic advisor in the undergraduate International Relations Program. “This is another way in which we expose our students to current issues and actors,” says Kennedy. “Participating in the call keeps Maxwell students up to date on both expert opinion and the concerns of students from other top programs around the country.”
The program was initiated at Maxwell by professor of economics Mary Lovely, who also chairs the International Relations Program. It was started for undergraduate students, but welcomes participation by graduate students.
“We provide a variety of ways for our students to connect with the policy and professional world,” says Lovely. “Our focus is on making connections between the classroom and the world and helping students see themselves as serious actors in international affairs.”
To listen to the audio recording and transcript of the call, go here.