In a recent commentary for Breaking Defense, Sean O’Keefe, University Professor in the Maxwell School, noted the opening of President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1981, where the Republican observed that the peaceful and orderly transfer of national authority…
First EMIR in DC Class Reflects Strength of Unique Degree Program
Twelve students have enrolled in this semester’s first-ever offering of the Washington, D.C.-based Executive Master in International Relations degree, and together they reflect the extraordinary promise of this unique midcareer program. In its first year, the program has attracted students who represent such diverse organizations and range of experiences as National Geographic; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of State; the U.S. military; Congress; USAID; private multinationals in the pharmaceutical, agriculture and defense industries; charter school networks; and more. Students range in age from 27 to 54. Two already hold Ph.Ds.
“We’re thrilled to welcome this diverse group of accomplished professionals to be among the first to join the program” says Ryan O. Williams, assistant dean for Washington programs at the Maxwell School. “They bring an amazing wealth of experience.”
The EMIR in DC is offered through a unique partnership between the Maxwell School and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The 18-month program is the first and only advanced IR degree offered by a major research university in collaboration with a leading global think tank. It is intended for working professionals in the D.C. area with at least seven years’ experience. Courses are taught in the evening at CSIS by a combination of Maxwell School faculty and CSIS experts.
“It’s a unique opportunity for midcareer professionals in D.C. who want to advance their careers and deepen their understanding of critical global issues,” says Williams. “Some of the students want to switch career fields. Others want to understand the global and foreign policy aspects of something they already have a deep understanding of. And for some, it’s the thing that helps them get to the next level.”
That’s the case for Dan Myers, one of the members of the inaugural class. Myers wanted to pursue an advanced degree without having to take two years off to complete a master’s program. Myers, international policy manager for National Geographic’s Pristine Seas program, wanted a degree that would not only support his continued interests in international relations and foreign policy, but would offer him a new skill set and way of thinking about the world. “The EMIR program is perfect for me,” he says. “It will broaden my perspective on the key international issues of the day.”
Sunil Casuba hopes the EMIR will enable a transition from his position as an analyst in the cyber field to a career in international development. “The Maxwell staff has been enormously helpful, working with me on independent studies and internships abroad to broaden my understanding of development issues and help shape my career and interests,” he says.
For Will Stanton, a career educator, the program is a means to examine how America’s domestic public education crisis will impact the country’s ability to project strength internationally, as well as explore new opportunities in international relations not connected to education. “The hybrid professional/academic model that the architects of the EMIR program are designing has a chance to revolutionize certain aspects of adult learning and professional development,” he says. “While many professional and academic institutions skew towards learning that is either predominantly practical or predominantly theoretical, the EMIR program is giving us a chance to explore theory in practice rather than theory and, separately, practice.”
In their first semester, students are enrolled in courses with some of Maxwell’s finest professors: Leadership Strategy in Global Affairs, taught by University Professor Sean O’Keefe (former NASA administrator, secretary of the Navy and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget), and Comparative Foreign Policy, taught by Maxwell alumnus Chris Skaluba ’01 MAIR, who was previously a Europe/NATO policy director for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Ultimately, students in the program choose from five areas of specialization—global security and intelligence, foreign policy, global markets, global development or public diplomacy—and complete their degree with a final-semester capstone project. That project is pursued directly with CSIS experts, with the goal of researching and crafting an actionable policy analysis and recommendation on a complex issue in their focus area.
“The complexity of today’s global environment demands an interdisciplinary and practical understanding of the threats and challenges facing the international community,” says John Hamre, CSIS president and CEO. “We want to create a space where innovative ideas can surface and where the next generation of leaders can start to contribute meaningful policy ideas.”
The EMIR in DC program accepts applicants on a rolling basis for fall, spring and summer semesters. The priority application deadline for Fall 2018 admission is June 1.