Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Alumni Profile: Alan Causey

Name: Alan Causey
Program/Class: MIPP 2016
Affiliation: Conflict Management
Hometown: New Orleans
Current Occupation:  U.S. Army Infantry Officer

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
What appealed to me the most was the experience of the faculty combined with the location of SAIS. Many members of the faculty have real-world experience in their expertise. My first semester, I took a class called International Dispute Settlement Methods. There were two phenomenal instructors who were actively involved in international negotiations, which allowed the class to share in tested and up-to-date material. Another of my instructors would periodically speak with a former armed faction of South East Asia (with the permission of the U.S. Department of State of course!) and would take SAIS students along with him. This coupled with the campus sharing a block with about five embassies and the Brookings Institute, being around the corner from the U.S. Institute of Peace and many other international organizations, added to the appeal of SAIS.

What has been your favorite SAIS course so far, and why?
Behavioral Conflict of Sociology has been the most provocative course I took while at SAIS. This course really took the gloves off when confronting taboos, culture, and stereotypes. I appreciated the mix of social and natural sciences used by the instructor and students alike to present thought-provoking hypotheses or to draw unique conclusions. I found the learning atmosphere to be very Freirean, as discussion and debate were staples of the course. Differing from other courses I’ve taken, students wrote for an audience of both the instructor and other students adding to the range of unique ideas.

Can you tell us about your concentration and why you chose it?
I concentrated in Conflict Management (CM). As many in my cohort know, my military background somewhat naturally led me to initially align with Strategic Studies. Though ‘Strat’ is very popular, and for germane reasons, I found that Conflict Management gave me the diversity I was looking for. By that I mean, I was encouraged to approach conflict from a perspective less involved with the lethal means States use to solve conflict and rather focused more on the causes of conflict. The CM program satisfied my interest in socio-economic drivers of conflict. From this perspective, my hope now is to enrich my future military organizations.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
Don’t be afraid to share your experiences! There are many international students in attendance at SAIS and I found the richness of my classes was largely dependent on their diversity.  Hearing the perspective of someone from a country the class is studying is huge.  This is what develops the nuance SAIS-ers are expected to leave with upon graduating and this is also what creates the global network SAIS is so well known for.  I would also inform those outside the U.S. coming to SAIS that SAIS is a safe space for you to challenge popular opinions of what it means to be a citizen of your country. In doing so, simpler views of more complex ideas are seasoned, creating true global ambassadors.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

For Those Who Missed It: Summerfest Recap

This past Thursday, we hosted the first of three Summerfest receptions. For readers who may be unfamiliar with the event, Summerfest is annual series of receptions for prospective students interested in the field of international affairs. Admissions representatives, alumni, and current students from five schools of international affairs, including Johns Hopkins SAIS, discuss careers in international relations, degree offerings, and admissions requirements for entry into graduate school.

To kick off Thursday's reception, Sidney Jackson, SAIS Director of Global Enrollment and Recruitment, delivered opening remarks about the importance of an IR education in today's global climate and introduced the alumni panel, who would later answer a series of questions about their careers and their decision to study IR at the graduate-level.

Speaking on the alumni panel were Aichida Ul-Alflaha of Johns Hopkins SAIS, Laura Taylor-Kale of Princeton Woodrow Wilson School, Chris Maroshegyi of Tufts Fletcher School, Simon Harari of Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and Caroline McGregor of Columbia SIPA. On stage each panelist reflected on their experience choosing a program, and provided insights on their experience as practitioners.

Once the panel concluded, the panelists joined prospective students on the floor for appetizers and for further discussion. Prospective students had the rest of the night to chat with them one-on-one, to visit each school's information table, and to network with other prospective students.

If you missed June 23's Summerfest, be sure register for the July 14 reception that will be held at our campus in DC, or register for the July 20 reception that will be held on-campus at Columbia SIPA in New York City.

Sidney Jackson, Johns Hopkins SAIS Director of Global Enrollment and Recruitment, delivered opening remarks before introducing the alumni panel.

Each panelist reflected on their experience choosing a program, and provided insights on their experience as IR practitioners.

Prospective students had the opportunity to visit each school's information table to ask questions and to pick up materials.

After the panel, the panelists joined prospective students on the floor for complementary appetizers, desserts, and refreshments.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Charles Rangel Fellowship Program Announces New Deadline

Johns Hopkins SAIS students fund their studies in a variety of ways, one of which is by obtaining a fellowship. Recently, the Rangel Program announced a new deadline for their 2017 Graduate Fellowship Program, a program that funds a select few SAISers each year. Between both Rangel and SAIS, recipients receive full tuition.

The Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program is a U.S. Department of State program, administered by Howard University, that seeks to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers as Foreign Service Officers in the U.S. Department of State. Candidates must be graduating seniors or college graduates with strong academic records and a desire to promote positive change in the world.

The Rangel Program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service and those with financial need. Selected fellows will receive support for graduate school and will enter into exciting and rewarding careers representing the United States overseas. Program information and the online application for the 2017 Rangel Fellowship is available at

Program Benefits:
  • An orientation to the Program and the Foreign Service at Howard University in DC
  • Two summer internships, one on Capitol Hill in summer 2017 and one overseas at a U.S. embassy in summer 2018. The Program provides stipends, transportation and housing for these internships.
  • Up to $37,500 annually toward tuition, fees and living expenses for a two-year master’s degree in fields related to the Foreign Service such as Business Administration, Economics, Public Policy, and International Relations at a U.S.-based institution.
  • Mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer throughout the duration of the fellowship.
  • Employment in the State Department Foreign Service for those who successfully complete the program and Foreign Service entry requirements, with a contractual agreement committing each Rangel Fellow to a minimum of five years of service as a Foreign Service Officer.
To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen, must be seeking admission to graduate school in fall 2017 for a two-year program at a U.S.-based institution, and must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application.

The application deadline is September 19, 2016. Additional information and application materials are available at

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summerfest 2016: Coming to DC and NYC

The summer before applying to graduate school is an excellent time for prospective students to decide which program is the best fit. With applications for a number of graduate schools going live in late-September, starting to prepare now provides ample time to compare and contrast programs that on the surface seem similar.

Summerfest is an annual reception for prospective graduate students interested in the field of international affairs, aimed to be a one-stop shop for those who'd like to compare multiple programs in a single trip. During this reception, admissions representatives, alumni, and current students from five top schools of international affairs will be present to discuss careers in international relations, degree offerings, and admissions requirements for entry into graduate school.

This year, three receptions will be held--two in the District of Columbia and one in New York City. In addition to Johns Hopkins SAIS, institutions represented include: Columbia SIPA, Georgetown WSFS, Princeton University WWS, and Tufts Fletcher.

  • Register for the June 23 reception, held in DC, here.
  • Register for the July 14 reception, also held in DC, here.
  • Register for the July 20 reception, held in NYC, here.

Questions about Summerfest or other opportunities for prospective students? Leave us a comment below. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Exploring Washington: Think Tank Row

This is the first in a blog series about life in the District of Columbia. Today, we will discuss what Washingtonians call Think Tank Row, a cluster of policy, research, and advocacy institutes located along Massachusetts Avenue. One of the benefits of studying at John Hopkins SAIS is that campus is situated dead center of Think Tank Row, which places students in close proximity to some of the world’s most influential research and advocacy organizations.

Brookings Institution
Located right across the street from the Nitze Building, the Brookings Institution is widely recognized for its research in economics, foreign policy, governance studies, and global development. The Brookings Institution has been named “Best Think Tank in the World” for nine consecutive years in the University of Pennsylvania’s annual Global Go To Think Tanks Report.

The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an international educational and policy studies organization headquartered just a few blocks from Nitze. Throughout the year, the Aspen Institute regularly runs seminars, conferences, policy programs, and leadership development initiatives that the public (and SAISers) are welcome to attend.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
The oldest international affairs think tank in the United States, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace focuses its research efforts on foreign policy. Some of its current projects include the Cyber Policy Initiative; the Oil-Climate Index; and the Task Force of U.S. Policy toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics
Right next to the Nitze Building is the Peterson Institute for International Economics. As you probably gleaned from its name, its research is dedicated to international economic issues, with its current focus being on regional trade agreements and multinational investment; the transition of China’s growth model and its impact on the world economy; macroeconomic policy options after the financial crisis.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies
The center conducts policy studies and strategic analyses of political, economic and security issues throughout the world, with a specific focus on issues concerning international relations, trade, technology, finance, energy and geostrategy.

The American Enterprise Institute
The American Enterprise Institute specializes in seven primary areas of study: Economics, Foreign and Defense Policy, Politics and Public Opinion, Education, Health, Energy and the Environment and Society and Culture.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Opportunities for Prospective Students

As we discussed in our "Preparing Your Application" series, the ability to clearly articulate why you want to study at SAIS is crucial in developing a strong application. To accomplish this task, you must first acquire a deep understanding of what distinguishes SAIS from comparable graduate schools, and what distinguishes one SAIS degree program from another. The recruiting fairs listed below are excellent opportunities for you to gain insights about the top IR programs by talking with students, alumni, and staff firsthand.

Every summer, alumni, students and admissions staff from five top graduate programs in international affairs host a reception for prospective students. In attendance will be students, alumni, and staff from Johns Hopkins SAIS, Columbia SIPA, Georgetown SFS, Princeton WWS, and Tufts Fletcher. Summerfest will be held in DC and New York City. To register for the event nearest you, visit our recruiting calendar.

PPIA Public Service Expo
The PPIA Public Service EXPO serves as a creative commons for prospective applicants to public policy and international affairs schools. The EXPO brings together representatives of some of the nation’s top graduate programs in public policy and international affairs and employers. Undergraduates and graduate students are invited to attend. Click here for more details.

Virtual APSIA Graduate School Fair
If you can't make it to any of the in-person events above, then you may want to take advantage of the Virtual APSIA Graduate School Fair. At this online event, prospective graduate students can learn about programs from officers of APSIA member schools, including Johns Hopkins SAIS, American SIS, Columbia SIPA, and more. For more about this event, please click here.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Student Profile: Seth Gilpin

Name: Seth Gilpin
Program/Class: MIPP/2016

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
One reason was the diverse student body arriving from campuses in Nanjing and Bologna.  My classes have been filled with students from around the globe.  The perspective that US students gained by studying at these campuses along with the perspective shared from students coming from the overseas campuses have created classroom environments where discussions are rich with deeply considered, practically-centered ideas.  Another reason was SAIS' location in the heart of the US policy making and shaping.  Proximity to key think thanks provides an incredible opportunity to learn from academics and practitioners by merely walking down the street or seeing the individuals in the classroom leading the discussion.

What has been your favorite class so far, and why?
My international financial markets class with Professor Roger Leeds stands out as an outstanding class as it represents the ideal international-policy focused learning the SAIS community fosters.  First, Professor Leeds balances academic credentials with practical experience.  His expertise in instructing theory of a particular topic was coupled with a powerful practical experience from his days as a market trader.  We would take current topics, read about the historical and academic background to the topic, and then discuss in class the possible solutions to advancing an issue while keeping in mind all stakeholders. Second, Professor Leeds cares deeply about the SAIS community built through class after class of students who gone before mine that rose to the challenges of international policy-making.  He would always make a point to highlight how SAISers are leading influential change after graduation.

Can you tell us about your concentration, and why you chose it?
I chose to learn something about which I had little expertise when I came to SAIS because I was on an organizationally-sponsored year of study.  I have had an enormously successfully career as an Air Force Officer and was selectively-chosen for an opportunity to study at a non-military institution.  That chance has opened the door for me to explore different approaches to solving problems.  I chose to study international economics as I thought I could look at a problem my organization has been grappling with from a different perspective.  My professional work has been influenced by the impact of "big data", i.e., receiving enormous amounts of data from disparate sources.  I believe that the economics profession has been addressing the issue of big data in the markets for decades and getting the opportunity to learn how international economics has built models transform data into actionable information is something I enjoy learning about in my classes.

What are some other activities you're involved in at SAIS?
As a mid-career professional, I have been part of a cohort of similar individuals.  We have a weekly meet up to network and discuss what we are learning in class.  Our cohort also benefits from an amazing professional staff at SAIS who programs various professional development activities like how to use social media for job searching or professional etiquette classes.  These practical courses are a fun way to learn new things.  I am also active as a SAIS interviewer for new students.  I enjoy getting to know the applicants from around the world who are applying to SAIS.

Where are you interning/working, and what type of work do you do?
I'm an Air Force Officer who is essentially on a year sabbatical from my professional career conducting intelligence analysis tailored for US Air Force requirements.  In my previous work, I have lead individuals who take data from multiple sources, translate that data if required, put the data into context, and then use the information derived from that data to help create operational effects to advance US interests in various areas of the world.  The US Air Force uses air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command & control to create global vigilance, reach, and power for the nation.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduating from SAIS, I will return to the US Air Force to continue my active duty service.  SAIS has given me an outstanding network of internationally-focused professionals who will be instrumental to solving problems together from our various positions within and outside of government.  I have heard the term "interagency" and "multi-national/multi-lateral" solutions before, but I believe SAIS has given me the professional skills and network to understand how to implement those solutions along with the talented group of people who will make those solutions a reality.

What is some advice you would give to someone considering applying to a program like SAIS?
Take time to reflect on what is important in an academic setting and what that setting means for how you learn.  For me, I think that much of the learning at SAIS comes from the in classroom discussions facilitated by the incredible faculty SAIS is able to leverage based on its location in DC.  Reflecting about whether a demanding studying requirement along with a challenging classroom wherein one's ideas will be tested, critiqued, corrected, and honed is truly what you want from an academic experience.  One can easily survey the ideas and theory of international policy by reading relevant literature; what makes going to SAIS different is familiarity with the ideas and theory are merely the starting point to a deeper understanding of those concepts from exceptional interactions with fellow students and faculty.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
Be ready to immerse yourself into the multiculturalism that is the SAIS community!  I love the pride fellow students demonstrate about their nationality or culture.  Students are always willing to share how a Korean tea ceremony works or why different cultural values exist in a particular country.  SAISers learn a lot about the different regions of the world based on the fellow students who come from those regions.  Sharing those experiences with others will be a vital part of studying in the US.  Also, taking a break from SAIS to explore other areas of the US is important too.  Students are organizing trips to national parks, cultural sites, and foodie favorites to experience the US first hand.