Thursday, October 31, 2013

The nightmare before mid-terms

Vampires, monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches and devils: SAIS Europe students took time out from studying for mid-term exams to celebrate Halloween in a 16th century palazzo in the center of Bologna.

Some revelers took up topical themes -- the capsizing of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship and climbing the corporate hierarchy, among them -- while others dressed as literary or historical characters or settled for the supernatural.

A jury of faculty and staff chose winners in five categories:
  • Most creative: Mitchell Delaney (survivor of Costa Concordia disaster)
  • Funniest: Keila Ortiz Caraballo (Big, Bad Wolf)
  • Scariest: Grace Cineas, Kathlyn Collins and Amaury Muñoz (Walking Dead)
  • Most topical: Ben West (Corporate Ladder)
  • Best group: Hank Webster and Tobias Akerlund (le Due Torri)
Here is a slideshow that captures some of the costumes and fun:

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

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Starting your application

Some of you will want to mark this date on your calendars: January 7, 2014.

That's the deadline for applications to SAIS for 2014-15.

Two months might seem a long way away. But it takes time to compile a strong dossier, and the best applications tend to come from students who've thought long and hard about why the want to go to graduate school and why SAIS.

Here are some suggestions on how to get started -- if you haven't already.

To start your application click here.

If you are a non-native speaker of English, you should book the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) exam as soon as possible. You want to make sure you have enough time to prepare for one these tests. 

They are not difficult, but you're best to familiarize yourself with the format to achieve the best possible scores. You might consider taking the test more than once if you're not happy with the results.

If you're unsure whether you qualify as a native English speaker, take a look at this document.

GRE or GMAT: Are they required?

U.S. applicants and non-U.S. applicants who wish to start their SAIS studies in Washington or who are open to starting at either campus must submit the results of either the GRE or the GMAT. Non-U.S. applicants who want to start in Bologna are not required to take either of these tests, but we strongly recommend that they do so.

In September we held an online information session on standardized tests with current student Jenny Lu. If you'd like to listen to it, send an email to

This is the most personal part of the application. The statement should capture your persona and personality, your reasons for wanting to study at SAIS and your future goals. Admissions Committee members enjoy reading statements, but remember that they read many of them. Think of ways in which you can make yours stand out.

Earlier this month, we discussed the statement of purpose in an online information session with current student Lauren Hartel. If you'd like to hear her tips, send us a message at

In addition, here is a post by Nora Sturm (BC13/DC14) and here's another one by Irena Peresa and Sebastian Ernst (BC12/DC13).

Here's your opportunity to give a sample of your writing and analytical skills. The Admissions Committee wants to see you tackle a topic of your choice, demonstrating sensitivity to different sides of an argument, in no more than 600 words.

Ally Carragher (BC13/DC14) wrote about an issue that interested her and was relevant to what is studied at SAIS. You can find her essay here.

We will be discussing the analytical essay during an online information session on December 12. Send us an email if you'd like to participate in the session.

You probably have a CV that you used when applying for a job or an internship. Make sure you don't leave out the experiences you've had that are relevant to SAIS.

We are often asked how long the CV should be. There's isn't a page limit, but even a senior person can capture their career in two pages or less.

You can submit almost all of your documents online
If you haven't done so already, you might want to inform your referees of your intention to apply to graduate school. The earlier you inform them, the more likely they are to submit their letters in support of your application on time. 

You should tell them why you want to apply to graduate school. You might want to share your statement of purpose with them. It will make writing the letters easier for them.

Referees can submit their letters online or via snail mail. Make sure you ask them how they wish to provide their letters before you indicate it in the application form.

The next information session on November 26 at 10 am Italian time (0900 GMT) will focus on letters of recommendation. Send us a message if you'd like to participate.

To ensure we receive your transcripts on time, you should get in touch with your undergraduate institution as soon as possible and ask them to provide your transcripts to our Admissions Office in Washington.

Transcripts that are not in English need to be translated by an official translator. You can use one of the credential evaluation services indicated in the application instructions, which you can find here.

If you have any questions, please comment on this post or write to us at

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Veteran professor adds new volume to SAIS Europe book shelf

Gianfranco Pasquino has taught at the Bologna Center for more than three decades. A former senator in the Italian parliament, he has just co-edited a book tracing the last 40 years of Italian political science. Prof. Pasquino answered some questions we had about the origins of the project and the themes.

Q: This is a huge project. How did you get the idea?
Prof. Gianfranco Pasquino
Pasquino: The idea came when it was time to celebrate my forty years of career and teaching political science at the University of Bologna. Two young collaborators of mine were willing to put together very many pieces written by capable colleagues and we produced a book of use to all those who want to know about the products and the achievements of Italian political science.

Q: How did you decide on the structure of the book?
Pasquino: We chose the most important themes explored and analyzed by Italian political scientists and asked them to ponder on the work done.

Q: What are the main themes?
Pasquino: The main themes are:
  • Institutions: parliament and government
  • Electoral systems and electoral behavior
  • Political parties: public policies
  • Democratization and democracy
  • What is political science for?

Q: Who is the book aimed at?
Pasquino: Our main targets are three wide publics: i) colleagues and students; ii) politicians and policy makers (They have a lot to learn!); iii) the mass media (The journalists, too, have a lot to learn, but most of them are not even aware of their political science ignorance!)

Q: Were you surprised by any of the themes or conclusions?
Pasquino: Yes, we were very much surprised by two "conclusions". First, Italian political scientists have produced a lot of good stuff in terms of research and European recognition. Second, unfortunately most of them seem unable to offer their achievements in ways that could attract the attention of two of our "publics": politicians and policy-makers, and journalists. Without diminishing the quality of their research and the credibility of their findings, they must improve their writing and their presentations.

Prof. Pasquino and his co-editors, Marta Regalia and Marco Valbruzzi, will present their book at la Feltrinelli Librerie in Bologna on October 29, in an event organized by the Bologna Institute for Policy Research.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gathering in Manila

SAIS graduates go into a wide variety of careers upon graduating. Many choose multilateral organizations, which are keen to take advantage of the mix of skills SAIS students typically offer.

One of those organizations is the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Recently, Çiğdem Akin, who taught at SAIS for four years before shifting to the ADB earlier this year, organized a lunch for SAIS alumni at the development bank's headquarters in Manila.
Çiğdem Akin (front row, 2nd from right) and SAIS alumni at the ADB in Manila

Ten SAIS alumni joined Çiğdem and former adjunct Prof. Patricia Moser at the gathering. All of them hold positions at the ADB except Nathaniel Young (BC05/DC06), who is the political officer at the U.S. embassy in Manila.

The multilateral sector, including the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and International Monetary Fund, attracted 12% of SAIS's Class of 2012. The breakdown by other sectors, as outlined in this report, was private sector (47%), nonprofit (19%), public sector (18%), multilateral (12%), fellowships (2%) and further study (2%).

As the variety of career choices indicates, SAIS graduates offer a compelling mix of qualifications -- global awareness, analytical acumen, an ability to understand and apply economics, language and cultural skills -- that are well suited for tackling today's complex problems.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ask us any question

Our recruitment cycle has started. In the past two weeks we've met prospective applicants in the Netherlands, France, Greece and our host city, Bologna.

Wondering how to get more information about SAIS if you were not at one of those sessions?

In coming weeks we will be holding in-person and online information sessions. Then, on December 6, we will open our doors to prospective applicants at our annual Open Day in Bologna.
Design by Britt Johnson (BC14/DC15),
 photo by Michael Aubrey (BC13/DC14)

Here is a list of our in-person information sessions (local time/GMT): 

- Oct 23: University of Piraeus, Greece (1400 local time/1100 GMT)
- Oct 23: Institute of International Relations, Panteion University, Athens, Greece (1800/1500 GMT)
- Oct 29: University of St. Louis, Madrid, Spain (1400/1300 GMT)
- Oct 31: University of Aberystwyth, UK (1230 GMT)
- Oct 31: AEGEE ZaraAgora Fair, Zaragoza, Spain (1400/1300 GMT)
- Nov 5: Dickinson College, Bologna campus, Italy (1230/1130 GMT)
- Nov 6: Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, Austria (time to be announced)
- Nov 13: FH Joanneum, Graz, Austria (1300/1200 GMT)
- Nov 13: Leuven, Belgium (1900/1800 GMT)
- Nov 14: Vienna, Austria (1830/1930 GMT)
- Dec 6: SAIS Europe Open Day, Bologna, Italy

In addition, we will be holding online information sessions until the deadline for applications on January 7, 2014. Here is a list of the sessions scheduled so far (local time/GMT):

- Oct 23: online session with focus on the statement of purpose (1600/1400 GMT)
- Oct 25: with University of Konstanz (1100/0900 GMT)
- Nov 4: with SIB-Utrecht, Netherlands (2000/1900 GMT)
- Nov 26: online session with focus on letters of recommendation (1000/0900 GMT)
- Dec 12: online session with focus on the analytical essay (1600/1500 GMT)

If you are interested in participating in any of these online sessions, please send an email to, indicating which session interests you, and we'll send you the instructions for connecting.

Choosing the right graduate program can be a daunting task. We know you'll have questions, and we stand ready to answer them. If we can't, we'll be sure to put you in touch with someone who can. Remember that we like queries, and your questions are important to us.

You can reach us via email at, Skype (jhubc.admissions), the telephone (+39 051 29 17 811) and in person at Via Belmeloro 11, Bologna.

Amina Abdiuahab

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SAIS Europe's new partner: Leiden University of the Netherlands

SAIS Europe and Leiden University have reached an agreement that allows students to earn two master's degrees in two years -- expanding the Bologna Center's reach and offering new learning opportunities to international relations scholars.

The accord, signed in Leiden on October 17, is modeled on SAIS Europe's existing agreements with its three other European partners: the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, the University of Bologna and Sciences Po Lille.

Prof. Wim van den Doel (L) and Nelson Graves
signing the agreement linking Leiden and SAIS Europe
The agreements allow a student to study for a year at one of the Bologna Center's partners and a second year at SAIS Europe and earn two master's. Students who start at SAIS Europe and finish at the partner program receive a Bologna Center Diploma and a master's degree from the other university.

These agreements allow students to broaden their horizons and take advantage of complementary academic curricula. They raise Johns Hopkins SAIS's profile in the partner universities -- all of them prestigious institutions in their own right -- and highlight the Bologna Center's deep roots in its host continent. Finally, they can cut the cost of obtaining a master's at SAIS Europe by one half.

Students in the dual degree programs must be admitted separately to each institution. Students who take advantage of the dual degree agreements and who finish their studies at SAIS Europe receive the Bologna Center's Master of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA). During their year in Bologna they take six courses and write a 20,000-word thesis.

The MAIA agreements are in addition to SAIS's dual degree accords with several U.S. universities plus INSEAD, which lead to the MA in International Relations from SAIS.

The new agreement with Leiden University links SAIS Europe with the Dutch university's International Relations program, which has two MA specializations: European Union Studies and International Studies.
The aim of Leiden's one-year EU Studies programme is to explore the economic, legal and political developments of the EU since its creation, notably by looking at the internal and external developments of post-war Europe to understand current problems and issues. The interdisciplinary specialization in the one-year International Studies program is primarily concerned with the interrelationship between global, regional and national ideas and policies.

The Leiden-SAIS Europe agreement was signed by Prof. Wim van den Doel, dean of the faculty of Humanities at Leiden, and Prof. Kenneth Keller, director of SAIS Europe, who was represented in Leiden by Nelson Graves, director student recruitment and admissions.

Nelson Graves

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Look who's coming to SAIS this month

Consider some of the speakers appearing at SAIS in October:
  • India's central bank governor
  • Turkey's deputy prime minister
  • Tunisia's finance minister
  • China's ambassador to the U.S.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security adviser and SAIS senior research professor, will be joined by Madeleine Albright, Robert Gates, Stephen Hadley and Brent Scowcroft at a forum on national security set for October 22 at SAIS DC.

Here are some of the topics addressed by speakers in DC and Bologna during October:
  • the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
  • the U.S. in the Persian Gulf
  • the state of journalism in the world
  • the global politics of water
  • the crisis in the euro area
  • transatlantic trade and investment
  • African perspectives toward Chinese and U.S. engagement
  • the global revolution in natural gas
  • the 2015 elections in Burundi
  • Central Asia as an emerging multipolar system
  • the Basque country and the Atlantic basin
  • Azerbaijani monetary policy
  • Islamic law
  • Australia's energy future
When SAIS says its students have access to policymakers and experts tackling the full range of issues facing the world, it means it.

The October 22 event with Zbigniew Brzezinski is open to SAIS students, faculty, staff and invited guests. SAIS will host a live webcast of the event, which starts at 4 pm U.S. Eastern time (2000 GMT). To connect to the webcast, click here.

Here are calendars of SAIS events:
Nelson Graves

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Here are some of the questions we are hearing

As prospective candidates scout out different graduate programs, they naturally have questions about academics, student life, application procedures and potential careers.

Here are some of the questions -- all of them good ones -- that we are hearing:

Q: I am not a native English speaker but did my undergraduate degree in an English-language program. Do I need to submit the results of one of the English competency tests?

A: It depends. If your university was in an English-speaking country and you did a full undergraduate degree there, you are exempt from taking an English test as part of your application. If your university was not in an English-speaking country, you will have to submit the results of one of the tests (TOEFL, IELTS or the Cambridge English Proficiency exam).

Why the distinction? A student who studies in an English-speaking country is immersed in the language both inside and outside of the classroom; all other things being equal, the linguistic experience will be more powerful.

For more information on the English requirements at SAIS -- both for entry and for graduation -- and on the definition of a native English speaker, you can consult this guide.

Above all, applicants should keep in mind that SAIS is a "full-on" graduate program in English. The voluminous readings are in English; the papers and exams are in English, and classroom discussion is in English. It's essential that a student be very comfortable in English to benefit fully from the SAIS experience.

For some data on average TOEFL scores for this year's class, you can look at page 18 of the SAIS brochure.

Q: Do I have to take the GRE or GMAT?

A: Again, it depends. Three categories of applicants are required to take either the GRE or GMAT:
  • U.S. citizens
  • non-U.S. citizens who want to start their SAIS studies in DC
  • non-U.S. citizens who are open to starting in either DC or Bologna
Non-U.S. citizens who want to start their studies in Bologna are not required to take the GRE or the GMAT. However, we strongly recommend that applicants take one of the exams, and most of the applicants to Bologna do so.

Why do we recommend that non-U.S. citizens who want to start in Bologna take either the GRE or the GMAT? Relatively good scores can help an applicant. And if an applicants scores below the SAIS average, it could be a warning sign for both the candidate and SAIS. (For data on average scores of this year's students, consult page 18 of the brochure.)

Keep in mind that very few applications are either made or ruined by GRE or GMAT scores.

If your GRE or GMAT score is lower than you would have wanted, you can address the issue in your statement of purpose. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances you would like to mention.

Q: Will my application be handled by SAIS DC Admissions or SAIS Europe (Bologna) Admissions?

A: Yet again, it depends. If you are a U.S. citizen or if you are a non-U.S. citizen who wants to start studying in DC, your application will be handled in DC. The email address for the DC Admissions Office is

If you are a non-U.S. citizen who wants to start in Bologna, your application will be handled in Bologna. Our email is

Q: SAIS is a private program with tuition. How does one pay for it?

A: Many SAIS students receive financial aid from SAIS. Financial aid applications are due by February 15, 2014. Aid is allocated on the basis of need and merit. The stronger one's application, the better one's chances of receiving aid.

Students will typically mix a combination of sources of money to make ends meet. There can be aid from SAIS or from alternative sources, loans, savings, part-time work. One good way to learn about financing a SAIS education is to speak to current students or recent graduates from your country and to ask them about their strategy. If you'd like to speak to a SAIS Europe student or alumnus, you can send an email to

Although SAIS is a major commitment, it can open up a host of career opportunities, as our alumni will attest. Here is a document detailing the types of careers that the SAIS Class of 2012 chose.

Nelson Graves


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why study Latin America from Europe?

Recently two senior administrators of the Latin American Studies Program (LASP) came to Bologna from Washington, DC, to meet students, faculty and staff. Below Guadalupe Paz, LASP associate director and assistant research professor, and Anne McKenzie, LASP senior academic coordinator, discuss their concentration, one of the programs available to SAIS students in both Washington and Bologna.

Q: Why are you in Bologna?
A: Approximately half of the students enrolled in the Latin American Studies Program under the Western Hemisphere Studies umbrella spend their first year of the MA at SAIS Europe in Bologna. We feel it's essential to meet with LASP students in Bologna at the start of the school year to learn more about their background and interests and to provide individually tailored academic and career counseling, both during our visit and subsequently over Skype, telephone and email.
Guadalupe Paz (2nd from right) with
LASP concentrators in Bologna

Q: Can LASP concentrators start in Bologna and finish in DC?
A: Yes, about half of each incoming LASP MA class begins their studies at SAIS Europe in Bologna. SAIS Europe offers WHS/LASP courses taught by distinguished adjunct faculty from renowned European universities and occasionally by SAIS Washington visiting faculty. By spending one year in Europe, students are exposed to the European perspectives on global issues, including those affecting Latin America. Students also benefit from sharing the SAIS Europe in Bologna experience with an internationally and professionally diverse student body while gaining more direct access to the network of European alumni.

LASP students who begin their studies in Bologna can meet their concentration requirements by taking the LASP/WHS courses offered in Bologna and completing the remaining required coursework in Washington. Students can also pursue their language studies -- Spanish and Portuguese -- in Bologna.

Q: Why a LASP concentration? Is there anything unique or unusual about LASP?
A: Offering an overall political economy focus, the program continually seeks to develop innovative approaches to the study of the Western Hemisphere in the global context. The following sample of courses illustrates the breadth and diversity of LASP:

  • Brazil and the Potential of a BRIC: A New Emerging Market Player (Roett)
  • Energy in the Americas: Conflict , Cooperation and Future Prospects (González)
  • Multilateral Development Policy Research in Association with the Inter-American Development Bank (Mazza & Paz)
  • Competing in World Markets: Latin America’s Legacy and the Emergence of New Industrial Policies (Devlin)
  • Public Opinion as a Driver for Policymakers: Analytical Tools and Illustrative Case Studies (Young)
  • Urban Economics and Urban Policy in Latin America (Freire)

SAIS/LASP is consistently recognized for its dedicated faculty and staff and the individualized attention the students receive. Through program-level fundraising efforts, LASP students benefit from a number of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities including program-funded summer internships and fellowships in Latin America, study trips to China and other countries (most recently Brazil and Costa Rica) and student activities such as Latin American film screenings with faculty commentary and Spanish/Portuguese language conversation socials.

LASP is also known for maintaining close ties with its alumni community, allowing current students and alumni themselves to effectively network for professional, academic, and other pursuits.

Q: Could you say a word about internships supported by LASP?
Anne McKenzie (R) in Bologna
A: Each SAIS academic program has its own capstone requirement. For the LASP capstone, all Latin American Studies concentrators are required to complete an academic or professional internship relevant to program course work or, alternatively, pass an oral examination at the end of the final semester. All internships completed through the WHS-LASP Summer Internship Program satisfy the capstone requirement.

Relying on the LASP alumni network, we are able to secure summer internship opportunities in Latin America across all sectors -- private, public and nonprofit. Every year, the program funds up to 25 students, and based on survey responses from the entering class, the program makes every effort to confirm internship opportunities tailored to meet our students’ interests and career goals.

Recent LASP summer internship opportunities included 10-week assignments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Moody’s in Mexico, the Inter-American Development Bank in Brazil and Peru, Itaú Asset Management in Chile, Thomson Reuters in Brazil and the Colombia-Venezuela Chamber of Commerce in Colombia, among many others over the years.

Q: What kinds of careers do LASP concentrators go into after SAIS?
A: LASP alumni have successfully pursued careers in investment banking, business consulting, government, diplomacy, international development and academia among other sectors, quite often focusing on global or regional issues beyond Latin America.

Typically, LASP graduates will initially work on issues relating to the Latin American region, in U.S. and international organizations, finance (NY, London), economic policy and research (IMF, Federal Reserve, Central Banks); international development (World Bank, IDB); renewable energy (Houston, San Francisco); management consulting; foreign policy (State Department or home Foreign Ministries).

Over time, LASP graduates tend to expand into various areas of specialization that span the globe, from energy in Saudi Arabia, to finance in Asia, to international law/human rights in Geneva, to social development in conflict regions in Africa, among many examples. LASP maintains close ties with its actively engaged alumni network around the globe, providing a valuable resource, both within and outside the U.S., for recruiting, mentoring and social networking.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Student Life: Fundraising for "A Nightmare Before Mid-terms"

SAIS students have many talents. Last week they were able to put their cooking skills on the table to raise funds for a Halloween party. Below Nicola Hil tells us more about the event, which attracted more than 80 students.

SAIS Europe's Class of 2014 kicked off October and the Fall Semester with an “International Halloween Potluck” on October 1. The event, which took full advantage of the new student lounge, was a fundraiser for the annual SAIS Halloween Party, which this year will be held on October 26 and has been dubbed, "A Nightmare Before Midterms".

The student lounge is a perfect location for this kind of event. Student cooks wrote a menu of their dishes on the whiteboard walls and laid out the food on tables rolled into a new formation to allow easy access.

The more than 20 cooks made an assortment of dishes including Spring Rolls, Filippino Pancit, Chow Mein, Chili, Guacamole and Macedonian Avjar. Among the deserts: Torta Barozzi, Coconut Pie, Tiramisu Cups, Walnut Pie and a mountain of Crêpes.

Students filled the new lounge, enjoying food and conversation after a long day of classes. The event raised 375 euros towards the Halloween Party while showcasing the cultures, cooking skills and community spirit at SAIS. The only downside was that the food disappeared within fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile, the student-run Halloween Planning Committee is hard at work on the upcoming party. The committee is organizing the venue, refreshments, entertainment, fundraising and ticket sales (which are available every weekday from 1230-1430 in the SAIS Europe lobby).

To get the whole SAIS Community involved, Vanessa Roy designed a poster on display in Giulio’s Bar that tracks progress towards the 800-euro fundraising goal. Coming fundraising events include 50/50 raffles at weekly happy hours.

Nicola Hil (BC14/DC15)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SAIS Europe's Open Day: "Your move"

The poster for our Open Day in December features the image of a chess knight against the backdrop of a chess board and next to the words, "Your move."

The poster was the brainchild of Britt Johnson, a SAIS Europe student with experience in design who will enter the U.S. Foreign Service when she finishes her two-year master's program.

The theme of chess to illustrate Open Day occurred to Britt during a class in "Theories of International Relations" with Prof. Marco Cesa.

"The knight represents the use of force," she said. "How does one respond to the use of force? What is the alternative? These are questions that interest SAIS students."

Britt studied political science and public health as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University in the U.S. As a Pickering fellow she receives funding to prepare her to enter the U.S. State Department. While an undergraduate she worked as a graphic designer, TV news anchor and producer, and intern at the Food and Drug Administration and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health.

Britt says she chose SAIS because it offers her the chance to study in DC and also extend her horizon by coming to Bologna. "We're studying history in real time," she said, noting that SAIS Europe held a panel discussion on Syria soon after the use of chemical weapons there.

Britt, who designed the Open Day poster with my Admissions colleague, Amina Abdiuahab, said participants in the December 6 event will be able to see SAIS students engage with each other.

"They will be able to see the interaction of different cultures," said Britt, adding that SAIS Europe students share a feeling that "something needs to be done" in the world.
Britt Johnson (R) and Amina working on
the Open Day poster

"People here feel something is missing in the world. When they graduate, they will be the ones who will play a role in fixing things."

On Open Day, SAIS Europe invites prospective applicants to come meet students, faculty and staff, and to explore both the Bologna Center and the city of Bologna. We try to make sure visiting students are accommodated in student apartments.

To register for Open Day, click here.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Student life: Clubs, new and old, cater to a wide range of interests

SAIS Europe students expand their horizons in a variety of ways: in the classroom, through the seminar series, in their interactions with each other and the city of Bologna -- and through the range of clubs they form every year. Some clubs are hardy perennials; others sprout out of the convergence of interests in a particular class. Below Student Affairs assistant Kia Guarino writes about this year's clubs.

Impact investment. Movies. Public speaking. Gender equality.

The rush to sign up
This year's SAIS Europe students have organized 30 clubs reflecting expansive interests and a shared drive for knowledge.

Virtually the entire student body flocked to the annual Club Fair earlier this month to sign up for activities that range from the tried and tested -- the Gastronomica Club, for example -- to the fresh and innovative.

"I was overwhelmed and excited by the variety of choices and the enthusiasm displayed by the students both representing and interested in these clubs," said Holly Deaton, a Conflict Management concentrator.

Simon Ilzhoefer in lederhosen
for the German Club
IDEV concentrator Nick Van Vliet has launched A Day In The Life Club, which will put students in touch with alumni who are working on relevant and exciting projects, and who will share information on their career paths.

Another career-minded club is The ERE Club, whose activities will include trips to companies such as a solar plant in Italy. The longstanding Careers in Development Club will work with counterparts in Washington, DC, and with alumni networks and Career Services to facilitate career-orientated discussions and events.

More than 85 students signed up for the Gastronomica Club. The Chinese Cultural Club promised dumpling-cooking and Chinese lessons. The WWII History Club tapped into a wellspring of interest in that period.

Club founders will now contact interested students and organize meetings, discussions and events. Clubs will then register with the Student Government Association and will be able to submit proposals for event funding throughout the year.

Kia Guarino (BC14/DC15)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Your chance(s) to learn more about SAIS

Summer is over and the weather is turning chilly. That means recruiting season is upon us.

It's when we reach out to as many prospective students as possible. How?

Over the next few months we’ll be holding information sessions both in person and online. We hope as many of you who are thinking of applying as possible will be able to attend one or more of the events.

If you cannot -- we know we cannot see all of you in person and that the online sessions may not work with your schedules -- Nelson and I are always available to speak to prospective applicants. You can reach us via email at, Skype (jhubc.admissions) or the telephone (+39 051 29 17 811).

Here is a calendar of events:.


- Oct 17: Leiden University, Netherlands (1330/1130 GMT)
- Oct 18: Sciences Po Lille, France (time to be announced)
- Oct 21: University of Bologna, Forli', Italy (1100/0900 GMT)
- Oct 22: University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy (1400/1200 GMT)
- Oct 22: Greek Foreign Affairs Youth, Athens, Greece (1900/1600 GMT)
- Oct 23: University of Piraeus, Greece (1400/1100 GMT)
- Oct 23: Institute of International Relations, Panteion University, Athens, Greece (1800/1500 GMT)
- Oct 29: University of Edinburgh, UK (time to be announced)
- Oct 29: University of St. Louis, Madrid, Spain (time to be announced)
- Oct 31: University Aberystwyth, UK (time to be announced)
- Oct 31: AEGEE ZaraAgora Fair, Zaragoza, Spain (1400/1300 GMT)
- Nov 5: Dickinson College, Bologna campus, Italy (1230/1130 GMT)
- Nov 5: Vienna, Austria (time/location to be announced)
- Nov 6: Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, Austria (time to be announced)
- Nov 13: Leuven, Belgium (time/location to be announced)
- Dec 6: SAIS Europe Open Day, Bologna, Italy


- Oct 23: online session with focus on the statement of purpose (1600/1400 GMT)
- Oct 25: with University of Konstanz (time to be announced)
- Nov 4: with SIB-Utrecht, Netherlands (2000/1900 GMT)
- Nov 26: online session with focus on letters of recommendation (1000/0900 GMT)
- Dec 12: online session with focus on the analytical essay (1600/1500 GMT)

If you are interested in participating in any of these sessions and would like more information, please send an email to, and we'll get back to you.

You know we like questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any queries you have on the program, the application procedure or SAIS in general.

Amina Abdiuahab

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Academics: "A wild, inspiring, productive semester" for a new SAIS professor

Prof. William Belding is teaching at SAIS for the first time this fall term. His course, "Weak and Failed States," attracted so many students that he will be offering two sections to accommodate all. Below Prof. Belding discusses his course and his background, including his service as a U.S. Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War and how that piqued his interest in studying state weakness.

Q: What course are you teaching?
Belding: "Weak and Failed States" -- two sections.

Q: What are the main themes? What are the readings, and what research will be conducted?
Belding: We will look at three issues: How are weak and failed states defined and measured; why have they failed, and what can be done to reverse failure, both internally and externally? A member of the faculty asked if we would be studying Italy and the United States. We will, at least when we take up the first of the three issues.
Prof. William Belding

The principal text is Acemoglu and Robinson's "Why Nations Fail," a recent work that has put this topic into the mainstream. Our research will be centered on case studies exploring the various faces and facets of weakness within regions, for example Zimbabwe and Botswana, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Cambodia.

Q: How would students find the course useful?
Belding: Though it is presented as a Conflict Management course, it is cross-listed in IDEV and has relevance to Strategic Studies. As both Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton have noted, in the decades ahead failed states pose the most lethal threats to security within developed nations. The humanitarian issues are also of great interest to many students and practitioners of international relations.

Q: How did you gain expertise in the field?
Belding: My interest began in 1967 when I went to Vietnam as a Navy SEAL. War creates an effective laboratory for studying state weakness, and the experiences I had over the next five years created a passion that has lasted my entire life. After a career practicing law but doing loads of pro bono work for NGOs in the humanitarian field, I was able to tap into this passion again by entering the international NGO world and working with war victims, primarily those injured by land mines. I worked in Cambodia, Vietnam and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  Teaching is proving to be the culmination of all the work I have done over the years.

Q: How would you describe your experience at SAIS?
Belding: This is the first course I have taught at SAIS. It is different from Yale, The New School in New York and American University in Washington primarily because of its smaller enrollment and the international mix of the students, both of which make for a rich, enjoyable experience -- at least so far. And the staff is wonderful -- particularly the librarians and IT folks. I have never seen such dedication and competence. Most impressive, though, are the students. After just one class I know it is going to be a wild, inspiring, productive semester.

Q: Is being a Vietnam veteran relevant to your teaching?
Belding: The work we did in Vietnam was critical to my being drawn to teaching, as in a small, personal sense it provides an effective way to apply the lessons we learned in past conflicts to those looming on the horizon.

I could go on for hours on the broader topic of being a vet. Of great concern is the lack of understanding most citizens have of the role the military plays in their country -- not just the United States but the U.K., Italy, Australia and elsewhere. The effect of the volunteer army has greatly altered this matrix in the U.S. by reducing the number of soldiers, sailors and Marines and erecting a firewall between citizens and those who serve. Margel Highet (Edsdirector of Student Affairs) and I are hoping to bring veterans together with the SAIS community on Veterans Day in November. We will be lucky if we can find a dozen to attend.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Student Life: "A fantastic place for students"

From mathematical formulas to candidates' platforms for student elections: the writing is on the wall.

Two and a half weeks after SAIS Europe inaugurated a new study space, students are putting it through the paces.

I snuck into the new room today and saw students at desktop computers and laptops, some with cups of espresso nearby. Some had scribbled on the walls with the erasable ink pens provided by the Bologna Center.

"It's my living room," said Gena Kosmidou, as she settled into the second week of classes.

Said Rachel Finan: "The room provides a fantastic place for students to do group work, use the computers and relax between classes."

The new room, supported by the Class of 1981, is brainstorming central at SAIS Europe.

"It's a great space for students to learn from each other," commented Britt Johnson.

"The room is the perfect blend of a professional setting that has powerful technological tools, but it's also a space where people can gather for work or play", says Derek Schlickeisen.

Want to get a feel for the room? Here's a video peek.