Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The SAIS Bologna Seminar Series: an intellectual buffet

SAIS Bologna students hunger for knowledge. To help sate their appetite, they supplement course work with seminars and lectures on a wide range of topics.

Here are some of the subjects that speakers will tackle in December and January at SAIS Bologna:

  • economic integration in Asia
  • economics and global warming
  • the peace movement in Germany in the 1980s
  • Rio +20
  • war, technology and the rise of the West (1450-2011)
  • the Middle East and human trafficking
  • the fall of the Celtic tiger
  • "theory" at SAIS
  • anticipating global challenges
  • Mitterrand and German unification
  • building Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Libya after the fall of Qaddafi

For a peek at the list of speakers for December and January, click here.

For the full list of events at SAIS Bologna for this academic year, go here. For an RSS feed of upcoming events, click here.

Finally, for reports on our speakers, you can turn to the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR). Interns at BIPR, who are students at SAIS Bologna, churn out the reports, which include a summary of each seminar, a recording of the event as well as a brief interview with the speaker. A tidy way to keep informed.

I attend as many seminars as I can, both for the intellectual content and to observe the widely differing styles that speakers adopt. Call it a form of continuing education.

We consider the seminar series to be a crucial and valuable element of a SAIS education. We think you would too.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving in Bologna

SAIS Bologna celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday last week with a dinner for some 200 students, family members, faculty, staff and children at the Bologna Center.

Below, Briana Thompson, a U.S. national from the state of Massachusetts, shares her thoughts on what it meant to her to spend Thanksgiving here in Italy.

Thanks to the Student Government Association for organizing the feast, to those who prepared the food and to Julie Aaserud of Norway for supplying the photographs for this post.

I have spent almost every Thanksgiving Day in or near Plymouth, Massachusetts -- the site of the original meal between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. From a very young age, I learned all about the struggles of the settlers in this new land and their new friends, and went on countless field trips to see Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower and Plymouth Plantation.

Briana Thompson at the
SAIS Bologna Thanksgiving dinner
The lessons were simple and emphasized sharing, friendship, appreciating different cultures and of course being thankful for what you have. However, when I was younger it was very easy to simply associate Thanksgiving with football, turkey and a long weekend off from school.

Luckily, as I’ve matured, the holiday has become more meaningful. On the one hand, Thanksgiving (Eve, in particular) means reconnecting with hometown friends, regardless of the time and distance that you’ve been apart. I have come to appreciate just how special these people are, and I defer to a quote from the television show "The Wonder Years" to explain: “After all, if growing up is war, then those friends who grew up with you deserve a special respect. The ones who stuck by you shoulder to shoulder in a time when nothing is certain, when all life lay ahead, and every road led home.”

On the other hand, the fundamental aspect of Thanksgiving -- giving thanks for the blessings in one’s life -- has become increasingly important as I’ve gotten older. It is for this reason that spending Thanksgiving here in Bologna was not entirely different.

I will readily admit that I missed my family fighting over drumsticks, monopolizing the gravy, perpetually relegating my adult cousins and me to the kids' table, cuddling up on the couch in various states of delirium from food comas, etc. But I am so grateful that I have them and my friends to miss.

At the same time, sharing a meal with 200 plus SAIS students, faculty and staff this past Saturday was really an attestation to the unique family we’ve become here, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. For me, the spirit of the holiday was present more so this year than ever before as the emphasis was placed on all those lessons I learned as a kid (sharing, friendship, appreciating different cultures, being thankful) and less on football and stuffing my face.

I can’t say I’ll be adding pasta to my Thanksgiving Dinner menu from now on, but the post-meal dance party might just become a tradition.

The Gathering
Matthew Melchiorre
Polina Bogomolova
Geoffrey Levin
Rositsa Georgieva
Lachezar Manasiev
Petra Vujakovic
Nicholas Borroz
Julie Aaserud
Jemilatu Abdulai
Nelson Graves

Monday, November 28, 2011

Poll: Will the euro zone survive?

Here's our latest poll (in the upper right-hand corner of the blog):

Will the euro zone be intact one year from now?

Possible answers:

  • Yes, with the same number of members
  • Yes, with fewer members
  • Yes, with more members
  • No

We ran this poll during our online information session earlier this month, and the distribution of answers more or less mirrored the results of a survey of market professionals conducted the same week. Expert prospective applicants, I'd say.

Answers to our polls are entirely anonymous. It's simple to participate: simply click on the button next to the answer you select.

We look forward to seeing what our readers think.

Nelson Graves

Friday, November 25, 2011

Quiz: Who Was This Man?

It's Friday and once again we can't resist the impulse for a quiz.

Who was this man and why was he important?

Send in your answers via the comment section below. The winner gets a SAIS Bologna tee shirt.

Nelson Graves

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Meet Prof. Mark Gilbert

History. How old fashioned, right?

Well, no.

Just try to make sense of what is happening in the euro zone without knowing some history. How many of you are convinced you have a firm understanding of how the Arab Spring came about without some knowledge of history?

As SAIS, there is no history concentration per se. History is intertwined with just about everything that is studied. It is a thread that stretches through every concentration.

Prof. Mark Gilbert grew up near Lincoln in England. He teaches intellectual and political history at SAIS Bologna. He is the latest professor to be profiled in this blog.

What courses are you teaching?
"Intellectuals & Politics" and "The End of European Imperialism" in the Fall Semester; "Peace & War" and "Europe in the Cold War" in the Spring Semester

Your degrees?
BA in Politics from Durham University; Ph.D in contemporary history from the University of Wales

Where have you taught?
Dickinson College (Pennsylvania), University of Bath (UK), University of Trento (Italy)

How long have you been teaching at SAIS Bologna?
Since 1999 as an adjunct at varous times; since September 2010 as a full-time member of staff

A link to a recent publication/oped/academic work by you?

Anything special about SAIS Bologna?
The sense of community, definitely. And not just between current faculty and students. The alumni really care about the Center's future and are a pleasure to meet.

Anything special about Bologna?
The warmth and generosity of the Bolognesi, which belongs to another age. The reds and ochres of the walls at sunset. Mind you, it is less clean and tidy than it used to be.

Your favorite book?
"War and Peace" or "Homage to Catalonia". I can never decide between the two. Anything by Tom Wolfe. Jane Austen, C.P. Snow, Tolkien, Leonardo Sciascia's "Candido", Vaclav Havel. Biographies. The first volume of Robert Skidelsky's biography of Keynes is a marvel. So is Michael Ignatieff's biography of Isaiah Berlin, which is a book I should have loved to have written myself.  

Mountain walking, snowshoeing, listening to jazz, theatre, squash before my knees caved in, cycling since. Travelling, of course.

A quote?
I'm doing this from memory, but Giovanni Guareschi, the author of the Don Camillo stories, says somewhere that "people in the city rush everywhere, hastening to save every single second and don't realize they are throwing a lifetime away." I think this is true and it is worse now than when he was writing (the 1950s).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The cost of graduate school: Investing in your future

Graduate school is an investment. The question for you is whether it is worth it.

Let's look at the costs and benefits. First, the costs.

Every graduate student, whether or not they pay tuition, shoulders an opportunity cost of foregoing job earnings for education. If you go to graduate school next year, you will not be pocketing the money you would be earning if you were working a full-time job. I cannot quantify that. Some of our students give up high-paying jobs to come to SAIS. Others not so. But every student could have chosen to work.

In most cases, the opportunity cost of studying far outstrips the price tag of school. And every student bears that cost.

Then there are the outright costs: tuition, books, living expenses, travel. We provide an estimate for incoming students. Here is the estimated budget for 2011-12 at SAIS Bologna.

If you add the opportunity and the real costs, it comes to a chunk of money. No one would deny that. The question then becomes: Is it worth it?

The return on your investment can take many forms. Some are straightforward: SAIS is a professional school, and most of our students use it as a springboard to a career in the international sphere. You may not know what job you will have when you leave SAIS, but you know the choices are exciting. Our alumni are leaders in many fields -- from the private to the public, from corporations to international organizations, from governments to NGOs.

Take my own experience. I was a high school teacher before starting SAIS. I yearned for a job on the global stage. When I finished SAIS, by virtue of my studies there, I was able to make a credible pitch to cover international finance as a journalist in Washington. That led to an unexpected but fulfilling career as a foreign correspondent.

I cite this because it is not atypical of SAIS graduates: There are doors leading to places many can only dream of.

Even before leaving SAIS, when one is at one's studies here, the experience can be gratifying. This blog has featured many students describing the learning experience in and outside the classroom, of deepening their knowledge through course work and by sharing experiences with the diverse student body.

Many readers know that one of my favorite adages is, "It's not the destination that counts but the getting there." At SAIS, the destination does count -- we want our graduates to land the jobs that inspire them. But the "getting there", or the time spent at SAIS, is also extremely satisfying. So the return on investment starts on Day One, not just at graduation.

If we continue to attract top students from around the world, it is because they recognize the benefits of the investment and also know how to make the best use of it.

How do they pay for it? Almost all students combine a mix of resources to make ends meet.

Most receive financial aid from SAIS, and in many cases the aid cuts the tuition cost substantially. For more information on financial aid and fellowships, click here.

Many land scholarships outside SAIS's control from national, international or local foundations. Some of these are well known, others less so. For a partial list of such sources, go here.

Most SAIS students have worked before starting their studies, and they may have set aside some savings to help defray the costs. Many work part-time jobs while studying. Even eight hours a week can help pay a large chunk of the rent.

Finally, some students take out loans. This is very common in the United States where subsidized student loan programs have existed for many years. But not only U.S. students. SAIS Bologna students who are citizens of EU member states are eligible to take out a fixed-rate loan from UniCredit Bank for up to 15,000 euros per year. For more information, click here.

Financing graduate school, wherever one goes, is a complex matter that extends well beyond the headline tuition figure and the size of financial aid packages. For some students it is daunting because it marks their first foray into the full complexities and challenges of personal finance.

But it can be done. You may not feel fully on top of the financial challenge at this point. My recommendation would be to think big: Why do I want to go to graduate school? How will it benefit me? Will it help me be where I want to be in 5, 10, 15 years?

Once you've tackled those questions, the nitty gritty of costs will tend to fall into place because you will see them as an investment that yields benefits far into the future.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Open Day at SAIS Bologna on Dec 9

Are you interested in learning more about SAIS Bologna? In getting an up-close view of who we are and what goes on here?

Then you might be interested in attending Open Day.

Every year we throw our doors open to prospective applicants. This year Open Day is on Friday, December 9. It offers a unique chance to experience what studying at SAIS is like. The registration form and the program are here.

In a previous post, Byron Sacharidis, a current MA student from Greece who attended Open Day last year, offered his thoughts on what it meant to him: "Right away, the feeling of belonging and the discovery of a rare, close-knit community, where diversity and camaraderie thrive, fueled my enthusiasm about what this beautiful city has to offer."

Open Day is a unique opportunity to see the campus; speak to students, professors and staff, and attend classes. You are about to embark on a long journey, and you need to know which ship you might get on.

We understand that many prospective candidates may not be able to attend. Some are too far away and others will have conflicting commitments. If you can't make it and you want to learn more about SAIS, do get in touch. We'll do our best to answer your questions. We are available for chats on the phone (+39 051 29 17 811) or Skype (jhubc.admissions). You can also contact us by email.

Some readers know that we've been holding online information sessions. The next one is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13 at 12 noon Italy time (1100 GMT) to accommodate prospective applicants in Asian time zones. Please send us an email if you'd like to participate.

We hope to see many of you on December 9.

Amina Abdiuahab

Monday, November 21, 2011

Room 201: an ad hoc quiz

We stopped running a weekly quiz some months ago after readers urged us to spend our energies on other challenges. Fair enough. We do aim to please.

Still, we can't resist running an ad hoc quiz based on the photo below, which was provided to us by a loyal in-house reader.

First, an important ground rule: This quiz is not open to current members of the SAIS community (ie, current students, staff or faculty).

Second, the prize: a SAIS Bologna tee shirt (like the one worn by Maarten Vleeschhouwer in this photo).

The quiz: If you followed this note and went to Room 201, you would see a SAIS Bologna professor. In what country was he born?

You can send in your answers as comments to this post or with an email to

Nelson Graves

Friday, November 18, 2011

Halloween pix

It's midterms at SAIS Bologna. That means some stressed-out students. A good time for some levity.

Below you'll see some pictures of SAIS Bologna students at this year's Halloween party. Next week members of the community will sit down together for a Thanksgiving meal, organized by the Student Government Association. Halloween and Thanksgiving are quite different, but they are both occasions to get together and have some fun.

Staci Raab won first prize for her costume depicting the Arab Spring. Hats, or rather keffiyeh, off to Staci.

(I definitely showed my age when I asked Amina, "Who is Steve Hurkel?" No laughing, now.)

"Arab Spring"
Staci Raab

"The Two Towers"
Katherine Parnell and Graham Norwood

"Prof. John Harper"
Geoffrey Levin

"Rosie the Riveter"
Shelley Ranii

"Steve Hurkel"
Dominique Mack

Nelson Graves

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our poll: Papandreou erred. Or did he?

Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stumbled badly when he called a referendum on the EU financial aid package.

That was the overwhelming view of the participants in our latest poll that ran earlier this month.

Only one respondent to the anonymous survey said the scion of one of Greece's most prominent families had acted correctly in proposing the referendum -- a proposal he quickly withdrew before he was forced to resign in favor of a caretaker government.

No sooner had we posted the question than Papandreou backtracked on his threat, and the notion of a referendum was consigned to the dustbin. The near-unanimous view of our respondents seemed to be borne out by the Greek leader's own actions.

But today's certainties often change color with time. How will history judge Papandreou's move?

What if Papandreou was not interested in surviving politically -- an idea, I know, that is difficult to contemplate when considering modern-day politicians? What if his real intention was to provoke panic in financial markets and force the opposition to accept a unity government for the good of Greece? Did he succeed or fail?

Or what if he wanted to provoke panic in financial markets and thereby increase his leverage in negotiating with the EU -- to reduce the costs on Greece?

Or perhaps the lone respondent who hailed Papandreou's move was short Greek sovereign debt?

You might hear such questions in the halls of SAIS, where our students and faculty love to challenge the views of the many. No sacred cows or easy truths here.

Comments from our readers, Greek or otherwise, most welcome.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Analytical Essay

Applicants to SAIS are asked to submit an analytical essay as part of their dossier.

I can hear our sharpest readers ask: "But did you require that last year?" The answer: SAIS DC did but SAIS Bologna did not.

This year Bologna and DC have aligned many requirements as part of a single, online application. All M.A. applicants are asked to submit an essay that discusses "an issue of national or international importance and its concern to you." The length limit is 600 words.

This kind of essay is as new to Bologna Admissions as it is to our applicants. Who better to tell us how to do it than a current student who has gone through the experience?

Sarah Ralston is a first-year M.A. student at SAIS DC. Before I let you have a glance at the essay that she submitted, consider some of the things she did before she started SAIS:

Sarah Ralston
After she graduated from university (Johns Hopkins), she worked for the U.N. Development Fund for Women in Mexico City. Then, from Washington she helped to support an Iraqi refugee family of three as they navigated the complexities of the U.S. social welfare system. She then started work for the U.S. Treasury Department, first in the International Affairs Department, then in the Financial Management Service.

In the analytical essay that she submitted as part of her application, she discussed an aspect of her work at Treasury. You might admire her grasp of the subject matter. Note also how she mixes her personal experience with the subject.

She packs a lot of information into a mere 572 words. If you're having trouble keeping to 600, get out the editorial scalpel or start over.

Recently we asked Irena Peresa and Sebastian Alexander Ernst to write about the statement of purpose. Here is what Sarah told us when we asked her about the analytical essay:

When it came time for me to write the analytical essay for my SAIS application, I had difficulty narrowing down potential topics. There was no shortage of timely and interesting subjects in the field of international relations to choose from. But I wanted to identify a policy-relevant issue that wouldn’t be too far removed from the themes contained elsewhere in my application.

After much deliberation, I committed to writing about the use of financial inclusion as a tool for development. Aware of the word limit, I took a broad approach to the topic. As is often the case for me, getting the first draft down on paper was the hardest part of the process. I went through several revisions and asked for feedback from two different readers, mostly to ensure that my points were clearly stated without jargon or superfluous detail.

Eventually, my essay became a brief policy summary about the pros and cons of expanding financial inclusion to achieve broader economic development. I also tried to convey to the admissions committee why I thought the issue of financial inclusion was relevant for today’s policy makers, and how the topic related to my own interests and experiences.

When it comes to picking your topic, rest assured that it’s hard to go wrong. If you’re looking for inspiration, try flipping through a recent issue of The Economist.

Don’t feel pressured to reach any earth shattering conclusions. You don’t need to write a 600-word masterpiece. You’re simply using the essay to show the admissions committee that you’re comfortable writing about issues in international affairs. Pick a topic that’s meaningful for you, and if you manage to help the reader understand your connection to the issue, even better.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meet Prof. Winrich Kühne

SAIS professors are academics, practitioners or both. Today we introduce you to Winrich Kühne, a practitioner par excellence who has a Ph.D and a publishing record to boot.

The latest edition of La Rivista has an interview with Kühne, who is the Steven Muller Professor in German Studies. The article lists some of his many accomplishments: founder and former director of the German Center for International Peace Operations in Berlin; longtime consultant to the German parliament and government; senior adviser to the European Union's former Crisis Prevention Network; member of the international advisory board of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations' Lessons Learned Unit; a member of election observer missions in Namibia, Malawi, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa.

Kühne is too modest to mention it, but in 2009 SAIS Bologna students awarded him, together with Thomas Row, the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award.


What course are you teaching?
Two courses: "War, Conflict, State Failure and Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa" and "Theory and Practice of Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding". In the courses I link academic teaching very much with real life experience in the field.

Your degrees?
Ph.D in International Law, University of Munich and Tuebingen, Germany

Where have you taught?
My work experience is much more important than my teaching although I taught at the University of Munich for a while and lectured at many German and international academies as well as research and training institutes.

Important stages of my working life:
  • Director of the German Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF) 2002-2009
  • Deputy Director of the German Think Tank Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) 1995-2002; before I was head of its Africa Department
  • many field trips to Africa and other places where conflicts were going on or in the process of being managed or even resolved.

How long have you been teaching at SAIS Bologna?
Since 1991 after former SAIS Bologna Director Steve Low recruited me at a Winston House conference near London. As I enjoyed the Center, the students and the staff so much, not to mention beautiful Bologna, I kept returning although it was not easy in certain phases of my professional life to harmonize the Bologna schedule with tough professional demands, in particular the development of the German Peacekeeping Training Center.

A link to a recent publication/oped/academic work by you?
"Peace Operations and Peacebuilding in the Transatlantic Dialogue" (2009)

Anything special about SAIS Bologna?
Great place to teach and to learn!

Anything special about Bologna?
After more than 20 years I still love walking around between teaching hours and exploring its many picturesque "stradine" and corners.

Your favorite book?
Oh God, there is more than one...

Tennis, skiing and being idle whenever possible

A quote?
"While we are planning life it is doing something else." One of my favorite quotes which I learned in Africa.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Online information session: Tuesday, November 22

It's recruiting season, and so over the past few weeks we've connected with prospective applicants, both near and afar. Nelson and I have traveled to a half dozen European cities to meet hundreds of potential candidates.

Still, as much as we like to travel, many applicants are outside of our physical reach.

Luckily, technology is a help. Some readers know that we had our first online information session in October. This month, we'll be holding a second such session. Please mark this date and time in your calendars if you are interested in learning more about SAIS Bologna:

November 22 at 7 p.m. Italy time (1800 GMT or 1 p.m. U.S. East Coast time).

If you'd like to attend, please send a message to and we will send you details on how to connect.

The session, expected to last about 45 minutes, is timed to accommodate applicants based in the Americas. The next session, which will be in December, will keep in mind those located in Asia.

At the start of the session we will introduce you to SAIS and the programs we offer. Alissa Tafti, a first-year student in Bologna, will be with us. Then participants will be able to ask questions, either via the audio connection or chat.

In October, we offered a separate audio connection that ran in parallel with the presentation platform. Participants told us that was awkward, and so this time we will use the audio application inside the web platform, called Adobe Connect. We'll be sure to send you clear instructions ahead of the information session.

We'll be looking for feedback after November's session, too, to help us hone our skills.

Other important dates to remember:

OPEN DAY on Friday, December 9. You can register online here
- Online information session, tentatively set for Tuesday, December 13 and aligned with Asian time zones.
- February 1, 2012: deadline for applications submitted through the Bologna Admissions Office (U.S. citizens and applicants interested in starting in Washington have a January 7, 2012 deadline) 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The CV: an antipasto, not the main dish

How ironic if a blog post on CVs were long and messy. So I'll keep this as tight as a good curriculum vitae.

Your goal is simple: to offer a snapshot of your experience. Like good writing, it is as hard if not harder to write tight than to write long. A CV is not a smörgåsbord or even a main dish. It is an hors d'oeuvre.

Do you know how much time someone generally takes to read the CV of a job or graduate school applicant? I won't dare quantify it. Suffice it to say that it's no longer than the time it takes a harried Italian commuter to down an espresso coffee on the way to work.

Like an antipasto, a CV is meant to whet the reader's appetite. You want to answer some basic questions so that the reader can situate you and, hopefully, be interested in learning more. What are those questions?

- Where have you studied, what did you study and when?
- What kind of work experiences have you had and where?
- Have you received any special awards or recognition?
- What languages do you speak?
- What else makes you truly unique?

The reader should have to take no more than 30 seconds to have a basic idea of your background. The emphasis is on "basic". You will have a chance to delve more deeply into your past and your future in your statement of aims and, if you are applying to SAIS Bologna, your interview. You want the reader to be interested in learning more about you, not to answer any and all questions on the CV.

A few pitfalls:

- If there is a gap of more than 6 months in your academic or professional experiences, you should explain that in your statement of purpose. Experienced readers of CVs spot such gaps immediately. Most everyone has such gaps; they just need to be explained.

- A CV that is too long is a turn-off. What is too long? How many angels can you fit on the head of a pin? I like one-page CVs, but others want more detail. Make the CV as long as it has to be to cover your experiences without inflating them. At some stages of an application or for certain positions, more detail is needed. In any case, make sure each word counts. If a word is not needed, cut it out.

- It can be useful at the top of a CV to summarize your background. But beware of overdoing it or of using wooden or hackneyed language.

- Does anyone nowadays not know basic computer applications like Word, Excel or Powerpoint? It's a given, so no need to mention them.

I know someone out there has this question: What is the difference between a CV and a resume? Some consider the resume to be a compact CV, which they feel should be at least 2 pages. That distinction may hold true for individuals with substantial professional experience. That is not the case with most of our applicants.

A good CV is crisp and clean, easy to read and a help to the reader who wants to know quickly what you've done without wasting time. Don't think you need to put everything except the kitchen sink in your CV. Consider it more the architect's sketch of the kitchen.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


When you start your application to SAIS there are two things you need to have at hand: the application instructions and a checklist.

Most of the fields you'll complete in the online form are intuitive. However, we strongly recommend having instructions close by for reference. Please be sure to go over your application several times before you click on the "submit" button because you will not be able to make further changes once your application has been submitted.

How do you know which application instructions you should look at?

On our website, we devoted a page to instructions for each program. If you select the program you wish to apply for, the relevant instructions will appear. You'll also find instructions on the application form. The system will direct you to the right instructions as you select the program and the campus you'd like to start your SAIS studies at.

A checklist is a good way to make sure no items are missing from your application.

Below is one we made for you. Some of the items listed may not apply to you. For example, if you are in your final year of your undergraduate studies, you will not be required to send us a degree certificate. Likewise, if your native language is English you''ll need not submit TOEFL or similar scores. However, you'll need to prepare most of the documents in the list. Even if you feel you've got a memory like an elephant, please keep this checklist nearby.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We are available on email (, Skype (jhubc.admissions) and telephone +39 051 29 17 811.

Amina Abdiuahab

Friday, November 4, 2011

Our latest poll

More and more of our readers are following this blog via email. It's a convenient way to stay in touch.

However, from time to time we run polls on the blog, and they can be seen only if you view the blog on a browser. When we polled followers earlier this year, asking what kind of surveys they would like to see, they cited polls on SAIS Bologna and also on current events.

With that in mind, we've launched a poll that will run for a few more days:

Did Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou do the right thing in calling a referendum on the EU's latest financial aid package?

We encourage you to vote. It takes little more than a click of the mouse. The votes are anonymous, and it is interesting to hear people's views.

In the future, we'll be sure to announce our polls in separate posts to make sure all readers know about them.

Nelson Graves

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meeting our faculty: Prof. Jones

Erik Jones is professor of European Studies at SAIS Bologna. He is also the director of the new Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR).

One of the most viewed posts in this blog's 10 months of existence is a video chat with Prof. Jones in which he discussed the interviews that we conduct with all applicants. You might enjoy watching it.

While you're at it, check out Prof. Jones's work on the eurobond proposal.

Your degrees?
AB, Princeton
MA and PhD, SAIS

What courses are you teaching?
West European Political Economies, Central and East European Political Economies, Risk in the International Political Economy, European Research Seminar

Where have you taught?
Central European University, University of Nottingham, SAIS Bologna Center

How long have you been teaching at SAIS Bologna?
Since February 2001 – in residence since September 2002

A link to a recent publication/oped/academic work by you?
See for publications

Anything special about SAIS Bologna?
The community atmosphere. I don’t know any place that has as tightly knit a group of students and scholars as we do.

Anything special about Bologna?
The combination of young and old. You have about 100,000 university students living and studying in a place that has a 900 year old university.

Your favorite book?
If you want fiction, then I read a lot of junky sci-fi (Robert Heinlein) and fantasy (Robert Jordan). My reading age varies between 13 and 16. I read the Game of Thrones books in about a month. I am now working on a series by David Weber. If you want non-fiction, then I would probably go with Richard Bookstaber’s Demon of Our Own Design or Robert Schiller and George Akerloff’s Animal Spirits. But I also enjoy books on US foreign policy and am working my way (slowly) through the various Republican candidates.

I like to swim, either long-course or open water. Sometimes I get afraid of what else might be in the open water – particularly when I cannot see the bottom.

A quote?
Churchill was pretty good with the one-liners. Take your pick.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One application -- two admissions offices

We now have a single, online application -- whether you want to start your SAIS studies in Bologna or Washington.

But the application requirements will vary according to two factors:

- Where you want to start your studies, and
- Whether you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or not.

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, your application will be handled by the SAIS DC Admissions Office irrespective of where you want to start. The DC office also handles applications from non-U.S. citizens who want to start in Washington.

If your application is going to be handled by the SAIS DC Admissions Office, you can find the instructions here.

Alternatively, if you are a non-U.S. citizen and you want to start in Bologna, your application will be handled by the SAIS Bologna Admissions Office. In that case, you can find your application instructions here.

As you fill out the application, you will have a chance to provide both your nationality and your choice of campus. With that information, the system automatically directs the application to the appropriate office.

Confused? Here is a matrix that should make it simple:

I can hear your question now:

Do the application requirements differ whether you are applying through DC or Bologna?

The short answer is, "Yes."

The main differences relate to standardized tests, interviews and fees. Specifically:
  • Those applying through SAIS DC are required to take either the GRE or the GMAT. Those applying through SAIS Bologna are not. Note that we strongly recommend that all applicants take either the GRE or the GMAT. While the scores are only one element in a student's dossier, they can provide important information to both the applicant and the institution. High scores can potentially strengthen a candidate's application.
  • All candidates applying through Bologna will be interviewed as part of the review process. The SAIS DC Admissions Office does not require interviews.
  • Candidates applying through Washington pay an $85 application fee. Those applying through Bologna do not.
We realize that this is complicated. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Our email is Our phone number is +39 051 29 17 811.

Likewise, if you are not sure where you would like to start your SAIS studies, why not contact us? We will try to help you weigh the pro's and con's. A chat on the phone might clear things up for you.

Bottom line: We understand if you are still feeling your way. Don't hesitate to drop us a line or call us, and we'll do what we can to help.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From BC to DC

What's it like to be a SAIS student who spends a year in Bologna and then moves to Washington, DC?

I took advantage of a brief stopover in the U.S. capital last month to speak to two students who recently settled in Washington after studying last year in Bologna. Who better to describe the experience that about one half of SAIS students share: a first year of study in Italy followed by a second and final year in DC?

Marcus Watson worked in London for three years as a corporate lawyer before starting SAIS in the autumn of 2010. His concentration is International Development -- little wonder given experiences he has gained working in Tanzania and Uganda.

Even before Shoko Sugai graduated from college in 2009, she had helped victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and of the 2006 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Her concentration is Conflict Management.

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In the short film below shot on the SAIS DC campus, Marcus and Shoko discuss the challenges of moving from Bologna to Washington: difficulties finding housing and the "bidding system" to get into popular classes. Shoko says it's a "little bit chaotic" living for nine months in Italy and then picking up stakes for the U.S.

Any regrets?

"I really do believe that if you go to Bologna and then come to DC, you get the best of both worlds," Shoko said.

"I think the experiences definitely complement each other," Marcus said.

If you are reading this on email, you can view the video here.

Nelson Graves