Thursday, December 18, 2014

Learning outside the classroom and meeting Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome

Last week, a group of SAIS Europe students traveled to Rome to attend the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

Laura Saiki Chaves, a current MA student from Peru in the International Development concentration, made it to Rome with her classmates. Below she tells us about her experience at the Summit.

The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is one of the largest and most influential events in the field of peacemaking, attended by Laureates and students like myself interested in development and humanitarian issues.

It is an annual event that is hosted around the world to focus on issues such as nonviolence, rule of law and environmental and sustainable development.

Originally set to be hosted in Cape Town, the 2014 Summit was relocated to Rome at the last minute
in order to accommodate the XIV Dalai Lama.

Laura (fourth from right) and some of her classmates at the Summit

This was an opportunity I could not miss. Bologna is just over a two-hour train ride from Rome and together with a group of fifty classmates, I traveled to the Italian capital to attend the Summit.

Throughout the three-day conference, I was able to attend panels which featured Laureates such as Tawakkol Karman, David Trimble, Leymah Gbowee, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta and the Dalai Lama.

The main theme of the Summit this year was “Living Peace". The sessions and workshops were structured to provide us participants with more insight into the topic. Panel discussions ranged from stopping gender and sexual violence, to reconciling communities and promoting social activism.

Not only were we able to attend the panel discussions, many of us also participated in student workshops hosted by different organizations, including the Yunus Centre, the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Refugee Agency, among others.

My classmate Nicole Ahdiyyih said the highlight of the trip for her was meeting one-on-one with Laureate Shirin Ebadi: “Meeting an incredible woman like Shirin Ebadi – someone who fights tirelessly for the promotion of human rights and democracy – was most inspirational and motivating as she is an example of how one should act in serving humanity.”

Like Nicole, I was moved by the female speakers. Listening to Laureate Tawakkol Karman was absolutely inspiring.

For more information about the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, please click here.

Laura Saiki Chaves
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Adding breadth to the SAIS degree

SAIS offers a smörgåsbord of courses. 

Those who take the MA program, one of the several degrees offered at SAIS, pursue a concentration and specialize in an area of their interest. They can choose from regional or policy concentrations and, in some cases, combine the two.

SAIS offers a multi-disciplinary curriculum and students are encouraged to take courses outside of their concentrations.

Most concentrations leave room for several electives, which enable students to take courses across different disciplines.

These courses and professors have such an impact on students because they give insight into topics they may not have previously considered and illustrate that in the field of international relations, everything is related.

Below a few students talk about the courses they are taking outside of their concentrations.

Chelsea Boorman - American Foreign Policy
Though I'm an American Foreign Policy concentrator, I enrolled in Mark Gilbert's course on European Imperialism in the 20th Century. 

In taking the course I realized that without understanding colonial history, it's impossible to understand how the current global political system of states functions. 

The course has given me a new way of thinking about the world -- both in the past and in the present -- and in touching on Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, in addition to themes of conflict, strategy, and history, it's given me a new lens to approach U.S. foreign policy.

Ana Rasmussen - Energy, Resources and Environment
I decided to take Erik Jones's West European Political Economies course because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to study European politics and economics while living in Europe.
SAIS students in Florence with Professor Cavina

As the semester progressed, it became clear that issues of energy, politics, and economics are inextricably linked. This was especially apparent in the cases of oil and power generation and the impact they have on policy making in a globalized economy.

Cara Bragg - Conflict Management
I enrolled in Anna Cavina's Italian Art History & Culture class

It was wonderful to have a change of pace from the traditional SAIS coursework, and being able to witness some of the history and iconic art of the country made me feel more a part of Italy. 

Together with in-class lectures, the walking tours in Bologna and day trips to Florence and Ravenna offered an opportunity to discover some of the great treasures of these cities that I might not have found on my own. 

And to top it off, Professor Cavina invited us to her home for a true cultural experience -- an Italian feast shared among friends.

Amina Abdiuahab

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Speakers: Look who's been at SAIS this fall

Students at SAIS have access to policy-makers and world-class thinkers.

The Bologna Institute for Policy and Research (BIPR), runs the seminar series in Bologna. Student interns interview each speaker after their talk. Click here to view the "Three question interview" series and to read the report of the events.

Below is are some of the policy-makers and intellectuals who have engaged in conversation with students at SAIS in Bologna and in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with SAIS students on U.S. - China relations.

José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, discussed the future of U.S.- Latin American relations.

Souad Mekhennet, fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute and Journalist, discussed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the implications of security for the Middle East and West.

Anis Nacrour, Chargé d'Affaires, European Union Delegation, Syria, provided his expertise on Syria and the Middle East region.
Antonio Missiroli Director, European Union Institute for Security Studies (Euiss), talked about security in Europe.
Antonio Missiroli

Charles P. Ries Vice President, International, RAND Corporation; Former U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Washington D.C., U.S., discussed Transatlantic trade and investment partnership.

Alicia Garcia-Herrero Chief Economist for Emerging Markets, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), discussed China's financial reform.

Ishaq Dar, Pakistan's Finance Minister, discussed Pakistan's economic recovery and its emerging role in the region.

Thomas Christiansen Jean Monnet Professor of European Institutional Politics and Co-Director, Maastricht Centre for European Governance, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, discussed China and the European Union.

If you are eager to learn who else has been hosted at SAIS, see the links below:

- Bologna
- DC

Amina Abdiuahab

Thursday, December 4, 2014

SAIS Europe Celebrates Thanksgiving

Students, friends, and faculty members gathered last Saturday to feast, drink, and celebrate Thanksgiving.

Director Plummer kicked off the festivities with a lighthearted speech on the history of the holiday. In the United States, the President "pardons" a turkey, sparing its life and ensuring it can spend the rest of its days roaming free on a farm. 

In the spirit of this tradition, Plummer also "pardoned" a turkey; given the difficulty of managing a live animal in the auditorium, M.A. student Lindsay Cejka volunteered to play the part and dress in a turkey costume.

The school provided the oven-roasted turkeys -- a rare commodity in Bologna -- while students volunteered to supplement the feast with an assortment of mashed potatoes, vegetables, salads, casseroles, and desserts. With the Macy's Day Parade projected in the background, the scene was nothing short of a traditional American Thanksgiving.

For many students at SAIS Europe, especially those from outside of the United States, this was either their first time celebrating Thanksgiving or celebrating it away from home. 

Martina Improta, a student from Italy celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time said the experience was great. The strangest aspects of the celebration were the early eating time and mashed potatoes -- a dish not usually eaten in Italy.

Anthony Gonzalez, an M.A. student from Oklahoma, shares his thoughts below about spending the holiday away from home:

This was my first Thanksgiving away from my family. It's only natural to feel homesick, especially during the holidays. Though I'm an ocean away from my loved ones in Oklahoma, SAIS truly made me feel as if I'd never left home. Sometimes it's events like the Thanksgiving dinner that make you realize just how close you've become with your peers here in Bologna. SAIS is my international family.

The Movember competition
Following the dinner, students participating in Movember -- a month-long campaign raising awareness for men's health issues -- donned their mustaches on stage in a competition where other students voted by donating money to their favorite look.


Chelsea Boorman
SAIS Europe 2015

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Questions we heard at SAIS Europe's Open Day

Last Friday, SAIS Europe welcomed several dozen prospective students at the Open Day.

Open Day is an opportunity for students to ask questions to faculty, staff and students-- and to hear the answers in real time. We know that most of our applicants live far from Bologna. We also know they have questions, just like those who were at SAIS Europe last Friday.

With this in mind, below are some of the questions that were asked and their answers.

The first panels with faculty were called "The Academic Difference". During these sessions, Director Michel Plummer and SAIS Europe's professors were able to explain what it is that set SAIS and SAIS Europe apart.

SAIS is special because it offers a multi-disciplinary curriculum. Students take courses in international relations, economics, history and languages, which allow them to better understand global issues.

Q: SAIS emphasizes the importance of economics. I come from an economics background. What are the benefits of attending a program like SAIS for someone who has already done a lot of economics?
A: Students who have an economics background benefit from a program like SAIS because the way economics is taught at SAIS is policy-focused. Students study the theory while learning how it is applied and how it is used by policy-makers.

Q: Are the courses more theoretical or practical?
A: Most courses at SAIS mix theory with practice. Many of our professors are practitioners as well as academicians and they bring to the classroom their practical experience as well as their theoretical knowledge.

Q: Does SAIS provide only a U.S. perspective on international affairs?
A: SAIS is the only U.S. graduate program in international affairs with full-fledged campuses across three continents. Students at SAIS Europe are exposed to different perspectives on international issues. While they are in Bologna, they look at global issues from a European prism. During their second year in DC, they are able to analyze the same issues from a U.S. angle.

Q: How flexible is the curriculum?
A: Students at SAIS are able to tailor their studies around their interests and careers goals. That said, there are requirements they need to fulfill. An example of the flexibility of our curriculum is a course prof. Jones taught last year to accommodate students who were eager to learn more about European financial markets.

The  SGA is the liaison between the student body and the administration. SGA president Andrew Caruso and his teammates, Irene Forzoni, Joana Allamani, Max Beck as well as honorary member Nikhil Gupta, tackled participants' questions.

Q: How do you split the time between your concentration courses and your electives?
A: It depends on the concentration you are pursuing. Some concentrations, International Development for example, have lots of requirements, which leave little room for elective courses. However, most concentrations allow students to take a number of courses outside of their specialization.

A piece of advice: take the courses you like, while keeping requirements in mind. Most of all, take advantage of the courses that are offered only at SAIS Europe.

Q: How are classes structured? 
A: Most classes emphasize class discussion and, for many, class participation counts. There are mid-term exams half way through each course, which count towards your final grade. Some classes don't have mid-term exams, but will require you to write papers.

Students are expected to read a lot material before class so that the time in the classroom is used to discuss and expand on the readings done beforehand. This allows us to learn from one another and it is an opportunity for us to express our opinions and formulate--and re-formulate--our views.

Q: How much time do language classes take? And would you recommend one takes a language class if they are already proficient in a second language?
A: Language classes are held three times a week. Some languages require a bit more time than others. There are teaching assistants --usually classmates who are native speakers of the language-- who hold sessions to help us with our learning.

Virtually everybody takes a language class. It is included in the tuition and it only makes sense to make the most of what is offered.

What is impressive is that students take four courses and a language course. In addition, we can audit up to two classes. Thus, each students could potentially take seven classes at the same cost. This is quite unique as in a number of other programs, students are charged for each course in addition to the tuition fee.

Q: Are there any student clubs?
A: There are several students clubs and the number keeps growing. There are academic clubs,
professional development clubs and social clubs. Some have been at SAIS for a long time(the Careers in Development club, the Defense and Intelligence club and many more), others are specific to a class. In any event, there is plenty of room to express your interests and to share them with others.

Q: Do you interact with the Bologna community?
A: We interact with the community in Bologna in a number of different ways. There are language tandems organized with the Language Department of SAIS and the University of Bologna. In addition, there is a series of movie nights, which allows us to meet students from outside of SAIS.

We meet people outside the SAIS community through sports as well.

What is more, there will be a trip to Bosnia organized by the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD), where students from SAIS and the University of Bologna will study post-conflict reconstruction.

Ann Gagliadi, career counselor, answered questions on the services available to students at SAIS. She explained that SAIS is a professional development program as well as an academic program and that much focus is given to students' professional development.

Q: How long does it take students to find employment after graduation?
A: Over 90% of SAIS graduates are in employment within six months of graduation. The Career Services Office works very closely with each student to ensure they acquire all the tools necessary to help them succeed in their job search as they prepare to leave SAIS.

It can be challenging for students to focus on job searches while they are very busy with academic work. The role of Office is to make sure students keep the focus on career development.

Q: Is there a career fair?
A: We don't have career fairs. However, throughout the year in Bologna, students are able to go on trips to several European cities where they meet alumni and learn about their professional paths. These trips help students understand what types of careers they want to pursue and how to do so.

Q: Are internships required?
A: They are not required, but they are strongly recommended. Over 75% of students work an internship in the summer between their first and second year.

Q: Do students in Bologna have access to Career Services in DC?
A: Our Offices work very closely together and students on each side of the Atlantic have access to both Offices.

Q: Would you recommend one pursues a concentration according to their interests or according to the demand in the job market?
A: SAIS offers a multi-disciplinary curriculum and our graduates can present themselves as specialists in a number of areas because they take courses across different disciplines. The advice we give to students is to take the concentration and the courses they are interested in.

Amina Abdiuahab

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Concentrations at SAIS: Middle East Studies

Photo taken in Morocco
by Nicolo' Lanciotti BC11/DC12
The Middle East Studies Program offers a comprehensive approach to the study of the region. It covers topics such as failing states, political transitions, economic development, state-to-state conflict and nuclear proliferation, as well as religions, ethnicity, and tribalism.

Middle East Studies courses take a historical and theoretical approach to study of regional issues and topics. A few courses focus on particular countries, such as Iran and Egypt, but most explore broad regional or topical questions. The geographic range spans from Morocco to Iran to Turkey to Somalia.

Students at SAIS Europe have the opportunity to learn Arabic while taking courses such as Twin Pillars of the Gulf, Political Leadership of the Middle East, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 

This semester alone, SAIS Europe has hosted lectures on the region by Anis Nacour, Chargé d'Affaires, European Union Delegation to Syria and Gary Sick, former White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.

SAIS Europe’s close proximity to the Middle East provides students with the option of learning about the region through first-hand experience. In past years, students in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict course have traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories with Professor Del Sarto. Here is a post on the trip.

This past weekend, a group of students traveled to Morocco, while plans are in the works for some students to travel to Egypt, Turkey, and Israel during Winter Break.

For further exposure to the Middle East, SAIS Europe students can participate in the Arabic Language and Food Club. The club was started by four students from various concentrations because of a large demand for more opportunities to learn about the region's culture, food, and music.

Below, Samine Joudat, an M.A. student at SAIS Europe concentrating in Middle East Studies, discusses why he chose his concentration:

The Middle East Studies program at SAIS is amazing in both breadth and rigor. I was initially an American Foreign Policy student, but was convinced to change when I saw the value of our MES program. 

The hiring of Middle East expert Vali Nasr as the Dean coupled with the ongoing events in the Middle East has made the MES program a huge focus at SAIS. 

The professors, the range of classes, the rigor of the requirements in both history and current issues, alongside SAIS's outstanding language program (where you can learn Farsi or Arabic) make the MES one of the best in the IR community.

Chelsea Boorman
SAIS Europe 2015

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Catching Up: Midterms and Life Beyond Studying

The first application deadline for Fall 2015 admission to SAIS is Saturday, November 15

On November 28, there will be an Open Day. If you are near Bologna, do consider coming to visit us. Open Day is a great way to an insight into SAIS and SAIS Europe.

Below, Chelsea Boorman, tells us what has been going on at SAIS Europe lately.

A lot has happened at SAIS Europe over the last couple of weeks.

Mid-terms are almost behind us. All of us students have been busy reviewing material and forming study groups to get through the papers and exams in economics, core and elective courses and languages.

It's nice to experience first-hand that in times of stress, the SAIS Europe community collaborates to help each other get through the tough times.

In the midst of these hectic two weeks, I realized that life is about balance; in grad school, it's about finding a balance between academics and extra-curricular activities.

In that spirit, here's a taste of what we've been doing apart from studying:

Celebrating Halloween

A group of SAIS Europe students organized a fantastic Halloween party to the theme of Dante's Inferno in Palazzo Gnudi, a former palace in Bologna dating to the 1600s. Students dressed as butchers, murderers, pieces of fruit, farm animals, local Bolognesi and pop-culture/historical figures according to Dante's circles of hell, and then competed for eternal glory in a costume contest judged by Director Michael Plummer and Professors Erik Jones and Marco Cesa. 

Photo by Maximilian Beck
Photo by Maximilian Beck
Photo by Maximilian Beck

Club Fair

Students attended the Student Government Association's Club Fair in October in hopes of honing or developing a new passion. A sampling of the clubs included: the South Asian Cultural Club, Cities & Development Group, Running and Cycling Clubs, Gastrodiplomacy, and Careers in Consulting.

Photo by Grace West

Lectures by BIPR

The Bologna Institute for Policy Research hosted some very interesting lectures in the past few weeks. These included talks by Professor David Ellwood on "Power, Modernity and Identity in Bologna: From the Cold War to Eataly" and Jane Puglierin, Program Officer for the German Council on Foreign Relations, on "NATO and the Ukranian Crisis."

Weekend Trips

We are in Italy, after all. Some SAIS students took advantage of our location and took a weekend trip to Mantua where they indulged in the fall colors, fruit markets, pumpkin ravioli, and the welcoming Italian people. Rumors are that some students are traveling to San Marino, Morocco, and Bucharest next weekend...

Photo by Anthony Gonzalez

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Admissions: Open Day at SAIS Europe and upcoming online information sessions

On November 28, SAIS Europe will open its doors to prospective students. 

During the day, visitors will meet professors, current students and staff members. It is a great opportunity to get gain insight into SAIS.

There are lots of graduate programs in international relations and choosing the right ones to apply to is not easy. Open Day helps in understanding whether SAIS is the right fit for you.

Visitors can ask questions to professors and to students. Professors will talk about the different programs available at SAIS and members of the Student Government Association (SGA) will be available to answer questions on their experience.

Visitors will be able to attend a class or two. Prof. David Unger, adjunct professor of American Foreign Policy and long time member of the New York Times Editorial Board, will teach his course on the Emergency State; Prof. Edmund Amann will teach his course on the Economics of Latin America.

In addition, there will be Q&A sessions with Career Services, Student Services and Admissions.

For those coming from neighbouring European countries, several budget airlines fly to Bologna.

Some current students have offered to host visitors. If you are interested in staying with a current student, please send an email to 

If you plan on attending, we would kindly ask you to register here so that we can be sure to have a welcome pack for everyone and we know how many people we should expect at lunch time and at the Happy Hour at the end of the day.

We understand that most of our prospective applicants live far from Bologna and may not be able to attend. For this purpose, we plan on running a post on the questions that are asked during Open Day shortly after the event.

Moreover, in coming weeks, we will hold a few online information sessions. These sessions are another great way to learn more about SAIS. To connect, you will need a computer and an internet connection.

We have changed the times of the sessions to accommodate as many people as possible in different time zones. Below are the details to connect. You should enter the virtual meeting room as a "guest".

- November 10 at noon Italian time (1100 GMT) 
  Link to connect:

- November 21 at 6 pm Italian time (1700 GMT or noon EST)
  Link to connect:

- December 5 at 6 pm Italian time (1700 GMT or noon EST)
  Link to connect:

You can reach us and get information on SAIS also via Skype (jhubc.admissions), via email or by phone +39 051 2917 849.

Amina Abdiuahab

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Concentrations at SAIS: Strategic Studies

The study of national security issues at SAIS dates back to the founding of the school in 1943. The Strategic Studies (STRAT) concentration specifically explores the relationship between politics and the many kinds of military power, but also includes work in closely related fields such as intelligence, cyber war, and leadership studies.

Students at SAIS Europe concentrating in STRAT familiarize themselves with diverse approaches to strategic thought from both Western and Asian perspectives. They gain this knowledge through panel discussions, student clubs, travel opportunities, and coursework such as Strategy and Policy, East Asian Security, Alliances and International Relations, and Thucydides on War. STRAT concentrators in Bologna have the opportunity to visit World War II sites and attend security conferences in Europe.

Olga Belogolova reporting in Congress (2013)
Olga Belogolova is a Strategic Studies concentrator at SAIS Europe. Below, she discusses why she chose Bologna and her specific field of study.

My interest in the Strategic Studies concentration at SAIS stems from my reporting background, my interaction with SAIS alumni and military personnel in Washington D.C., and my personal interest in national security.

Over the last four years, I have worked as a reporter covering energy policy and defense budget in D.C., interviewing policy makers and military officials in Congress and at the Pentagon.

As someone who was born in Ukraine and speaks Russian, I am further interested in pursuing a career of advancing U.S. security interests through an understanding of the Eurasian sphere.

Beyond this background, my time in Washington has also allowed me to meet a number of SAIS students and alumni, who have spoken enthusiastically about SAIS and specifically about the Strategic Studies program.

Spending my first year in Bologna, Italy gives me the opportunity to develop a better grasp of the transatlantic relationship, integral to U.S. national security. And, well, why not spend a year in Italy?

As someone who's lived in Washington for the last four years, I understand the value of getting away from the grind and getting some perspective (with the added benefit of living in the food capital of Italy).

Olga Belogolova
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Admissions: Writing the Analytical Essay

Most graduate programs in international affairs ask applicants to submit a statement of purpose. SAIS goes one step further and asks its applicants to additionally submit an analytical essay.

Below, I've outlined some tips on tackling this essay.

Choosing a Topic
The topic for the analytical essay is completely up to you. The only requirement is that it be related to international relations and under 600 words.

So, how do you choose a topic? Below are three options you can consider:

1. Write about what you know: Leverage your previous experiences to write on a subject you've already worked on or studied.

2. Write about what you want to know: Maybe you don't have an international relations background. In that case, you'll have to do a little more research to define a topic and an argument.
If you're completely unsure of what to write about, a good way to develop a theme is to look at SAIS' policy concentrations as "umbrellas" under which you can narrow your topic: International Economics, American Foreign Policy, Conflict Management, International Law, Strategic Studies, and Energy & the Environment.

Or, take a look at the SAIS course offerings on the Integrated Student Information System. Read the descriptions of classes that sound interesting and begin researching a specific topic.

3. Weave together options 1 and 2:

Valerie Tan, an M.A. student from the Philippines concentrating in International Development, went with option 3. In her essay, she discussed the issues faced by refugees. Understanding issues of migration and the systems in place to deal with those problems is why Valerie wanted to go to grad school, and so it was fitting for her to choose it as her essay topic. Not only was it a way for her to demonstrate her academic interest, but it was a way for her to unpack the challenges of a sector she hopes to work in after SAIS.

Having lived in many places, she has often been branded as "international" or as an expat. This identity, and her experience living in the U.S. on a student visa, also influenced her topic choice. Valerie's essay stood out to the admissions committee because it seamlessly weaved her personal connection to the topic with a high level of professionalism and analysis. Read her essay here.

Making an Argument
The admissions committee wants to see how you structure your thoughts into a coherent essay rather than what type of argument you make. Don't feel as if you have to write something profound. As applicants, you're not expected to have all the answers to the world's problems -- that's why you need a SAIS education!

Structuring your Argument
It's okay to use the first person. If you read Valerie's essay, you'll see that she used the first person POV. That's OK -- just remember to keep the framework of the essay analytical. I too brought in a personal narrative into my essay, but doing so is not necessary.

Write from the "bottom up": Many people make their strongest argument at the end of the essay, but with only 600 words to work with, bringing your main argument to the top will strengthen the analysis.

Concluding your Essay
What's the relevance of your topic? Why should the international community care? This should have been addressed at the beginning of your essay in some way, but ending with a statement on the relevance of your topic to the future of foreign affairs will give the reader something extra to think about.

Good luck!

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Concentrations at SAIS: Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE)

The Energy, Resources and Environment Program (ERE) is one of the largest and fastest growing programs at SAIS Europe.

Students in this concentration take both energy and environment courses, giving them the knowledge of the deep links between the two areas. An understanding of the "iron triangle" of energy, water and food security, the threats posed by global climate change, and possible solutions to these daunting problems, is a critical component of the ERE graduate's tool kit.

Studying ERE in Europe has its advantages. For one, students get to learn from professors with a unique set of international experiences related to energy and the environment.

Dr. Manfred Hafner, a visiting professor from the International Energy Masters program at Sciences-Po Paris with experience in energy security and technologies in Europe, Russia and the Middle East, is teaching this semester's course on Politics & Economics of International Energy.

Next semester, Dr. Kenneth Keller, former director of SAIS Europe and current senior adjunct professor of science and technology policy, will be teaching a course on Science, Technology & International Affairs.

Waleed Khoury
Students studying ERE in Bologna are well connected to the program in D.C. Waleed Khoury, a current M.A. student at SAIS, is the ERE Student Liaison in Bologna. His main role is relaying the interests of the Bologna ERE cohort to the program based in D.C., and then interfacing between the D.C. and SAIS Europe centers to facilitate a fulfillment of those interests.

According to M.A. student Brianna Lazerwitz, studying ERE in Bologna also allows students to discover new paths within the concentration.
Brianna Lazerwitz

"Before coming to SAIS, my main interests in ERE were with water-related issues. I didn't expect to discover that I'm also interested in energy and risk analysis, which I credit to the Politics & Economics of International Energy and Risk in International Political Economy courses offered in Bologna. Being here has let me explore IR and other academic interests that I can then tie into my focus in ERE in D.C., and into a career after graduation."

To learn more about the ERE concentration and its requirements, visit the program's webpage.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Careers: Making Financial Moves in London

The M.A. program at SAIS is, above all else, a professional development program.

To give its students the best advantage in a competitive job market, Career Services organizes sector-specific treks to cities across the world. At SAIS Europe, those include visits to London, Brussels and Geneva.

On these treks, students are given the opportunity to visit employer sites, hear alumni speak about their careers and gain insight into the hiring requirements of some of the program's top employers.

Last week, students traveled to London to meet with employers working in finance.

Read what Carlotta Munini, an Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) concentrator at SAIS Europe, has to say about her experience as one of the participants:

The London Finance Career Trek is one of the unique opportunities SAIS offers. Those of us with a strong passion for the financial sector had the opportunity to visit the world's leading financial institutions for two days. 

As "temporary insiders" we were able to approach and engage with some of the SAIS alumni that hold prestigious positions in these institutions. 

The alumni were always excited to address our questions and concerns regarding their jobs, the challenges they face every day and the working opportunities within the field. Getting such straightforward and honest answers was crucial in helping us develop a more accurate idea of what working in the financial field means.

The next career trek planned for SAIS Europe students takes place in Geneva and will focus on UN agencies, trade-and environment-related organizations, think tanks and non-profits.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meet the Admissions Team

The SAIS Europe Admissions Office has hired five students to help with the recruitment and admissions process for the 2014-2015 academic year. Student assistants will be responding to prospective students' emails, reaching out through social media, and will be available during Open House events to help prospective and admitted students learn about SAIS Europe. Get to know them below: 

Chelsea Boorman
Chelsea Boorman is from Miami, FL and has a B.A. in Global Studies and Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to SAIS, Chelsea interned at the U.S. Embassies in Ottawa and Paris, and conducted research in Rwanda on post-conflict reconciliation and international law. At SAIS, she is concentrating in General International Relations and Economics. Chelsea is a dual U.S. and Jamaican citizen.

Shuja Malik
Shuja Malik is a M.A. candidate at SAIS Europe concentrating in South Asia Studies. Before coming to SAIS, Shuja was with the BBC working as Producer for the Urdu Service. He was trained as a television presenter and hosted the BBC Urdu flagship radio show, Sairbeen. Prior to this, he spent two years working as a Research Assistant with a doctoral candidate working on the decision-making process of religious political parties in Pakistan. Shuja received his M.Sc. in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad and a B.A. in Political Science & Economics from University of the Punjab.

Laura Saiki Chaves
Laura Saiki Chaves holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Although originally from Peru, Laura grew up on Saipan, the main island in the U.S. Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and has spent most of her life living in cities along the Pacific Rim. Laura is concentrating on International Development at SAIS and her interests include international trade and Latin America.

Alice Dufeu
Alice Dufeu is from France and is concentrating on Conflict Management at SAIS Europe. Before coming to SAIS, she studied Economics and Political Science at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Alice took a year to gain professional experience and interned with both a UN liaison office in D.C. and a conflict resolution NGO in Brussels. She is hoping to work in political risk analysis after getting her M.A. from SAIS.

Tchi Sogoyou-Bekeyi
Tchi Sogoyou-Bekeyi is from Togo and has a B.A. in International Studies from American University. Tchi is concentrating in International Development at SAIS with interests in education, governance, and corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to SAIS she worked for a cultural exchange international non-profit in Bethesda, MD. She enjoys reading a good book; her favorite book is Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Admissions: Tips for Writing the Statement of Purpose

Students who apply to SAIS are asked to write a statement of purpose. The statement, which has a 600-word limit, is a very important part of the application. It is a window on yourself and a chance for the Admissions Committee to learn more about you.

Below, Chelsea Boorman, a first year MA student at SAIS Europe, offers some tips to help with the writing process.

Many people find writing their statement of purpose to be the most challenging part of the SAIS application – and rightly so! 

It’s one of the most important pieces of one's dossier that gives the Admissions Committee insight into your personality and motivations.

With the memory of writing my personal statement still fresh in my mind, here’s some advice to get you going:

Be memorable. The obvious point here is finding a “hook” that will grab the reader. Try to think of a
“hook” that the Committee has never heard before. Reflect on the moment or experience that influenced you to apply to SAIS, and write about it in your statement. I opened my statement combining my experiences in Rwanda with a State Department internship in Canada.

Be personal. The statement of purpose is where you can breathe life into your application. I re-read my statement before writing this post and realized that most of it focused on personal experiences that weren’t on my resume.

Be professional. Don’t be afraid to be personal IF you can remain professional in your writing. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution. SAIS is ultimately a professional development program.

Tell the Committee “why” SAIS. What specific aspects of the program (curriculum, professors, location, seminars, career development, etc.) are important to you? If you really want to impress the Committee, think of a reason that’s not advertised on the website.

Finish strong. There’s always a heavy emphasis on grabbing the reader at the very beginning, yet it’s equally important to end your statement leaving the reader with a (positive) lasting impression.

The easiest thing to do is to reflect on your past experiences and connect them to your future goals.

Writing a statement of purpose for this program is tricky because every applicant has an impressive background, but taking the time to reflect on what makes your experiences unique will help you stand out from the crowd.

Good luck!

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SAIS: One campus with a global presence

Earlier this week, SAIS Europe welcomed Dean Vali Nasr who travelled to Bologna to meet with students, faculty and staff. Below, Chelsea Boorman, a first year MA student at SAIS Europe, tells us what she came away with.
Chelsea Boorman

Dean Vali Nasr’s visit to Bologna on Monday showed that, though we students are oceans apart, SAIS is truly one campus with a global presence.

Speaking in front of this year’s class, Nasr shared his goals for the future of SAIS across its three campuses in D.C., Bologna, and Nanjing.

As a new SAISer myself, navigating the waters of adjusting to grad school, hearing his ideas left me optimistic and even more excited to be a part of this global program.

Studying in Bologna for the first year provides a distinctive experience by exposing students to contrasting European and U.S. perspectives on global issues.

SAIS Europe, at the time called the Bologna Center, used to be the hub for European Studies. Over time, the Center has diversified its curriculum and now represents every policy area as well as concentrations in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.

This broadening of the curriculum is important, according to Nasr, because it allows students to integrate academically once at the D.C. campus.

Dean Vali Nasr
Whether by bringing European scholars and practitioners to campus, or through our coursework and discussions with students from all over the world, it is easy to see how studying in Bologna teaches us to think about world affairs in a new way. Combining this unique knowledge with the experience in D.C. sets SAISers apart in the job market – a top priority for us all.

Nasr opened the floor to questions about foreign affairs, which ended up focusing on the Middle East given his expertise. Students from the U.S., Pakistan, Serbia, and the U.K. focused not only on the role of the U.S. in the region, but also of Russia, China, Jordan, and Lebanon.

This showed to me what SAIS is all about: training future leaders to address global problems from multiple perspectives. And where better to do that than at an American graduate institution in an international setting?

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Latin American Studies: Follow your Track

At SAIS, about 60 students are LASP concentrators --LASP is SAIS jargon for Latin American Studies Program – and, of the first-year concentrators, about half of them spend the first year at SAIS Europe.

The program is known for its dedicated faculty and staff and the individualized attention the students receive. What is more, it maintains close ties with its alumni community and provides a platform for current students and alumni to network for professional and academic development.

Today, Anne McKenzie, the program's professional development coordinator, tells us what's new with LASP.

Anne McKenzie (middle) in DC with SAIS Europe LASP concentrators
We have implemented a new system of ‘tracks’ to allow students to combine functional interests with the LASP concentration. In addition to selecting a track, concentrators complete a foundation course, pass a LASP history exam and participate in a capstone internship in addition to becoming proficient in Spanish and/or Portuguese.

This new framework--five academic tracks--provides a more specialized structure to better match individual interests. What’s more, the tracks offer greater flexibility to incorporate a relevant non-LASP course as part of the program.

Starting this year, students will be able to choose from the following tracks:

(1)   Latin American Political Economy
(2)   Emerging Markets/International Finance
(3)   Energy, Resources & Environment
(4)   International Development Policy & Institutions
(5)   Foreign/Public Policy & Security Challenges

On September 25, DC-based LASP Sr. Associate Professor Francisco E. González will hold a lecture for students in Bologna.  This will introduce Bologna students to DC LASP faculty early in the academic year.

Both Guadalupe Paz, associate director and assistant research professor, and I are based in DC, but each year we travel to Bologna to meet with LASP current and prospective concentrators. This year, we will return to SAIS Europe in early October; the goal is to introduce students to the many academic and extracurricular activities offered through the concentration as well as to open lines of communication between the two campuses.

Highlights of these many offerings are included in the SAIS Latin American Studies Academic Year Recap 2013-2014, which you can read here.

Anne McKenzie

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Get a head start on your application

If you are thinking about going to graduate school, you might consider getting started with your application now.

Candidates interested in attending SAIS Europe have three deadlines to choose from.

No matter which deadline you decide to go for, be sure you give yourself enough time to file your application.

Putting together a strong dossier can take time, and the best applications tend to come from students who've spent time thinking about why they want to go to graduate school and why SAIS.

The online application is available here.

The deadlines for application to SAIS Europe are:

NOVEMBER 1, 2014 - Deadline to apply to start in Spring 2015 (January 2015)

NOVEMBER 15, 2014 - Early application deadline to start in Fall 2015 (August-September 2015)

JANUARY 7, 2015 - Regular application deadline to start in Fall 2015 (August-September 2015)

SAIS Europe accepts applications to the Spring semester. Interested candidates should submit a complete dossier by November 1. We promise to notify candidates by November 30.

For the first time this year, SAIS has an early application deadline. Candidates who complete the application and provide the required documents by November 15 will learn about the outcome of their application by December 30. The early enrollment deadline is available at both SAIS Europe and SAIS DC.

The advantage of applying early is that you learn early on whether or not you have been admitted to SAIS. What is more, an official letter of admission might facilitate your search for external funds.

Early applicants will receive notification on admission by the end of December. News on financial aid applications will be available in mid-March 2015.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at

Amina Abdiuahab

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Empowering women in rural Thailand--and seeking your vote

Nicola Hil studied at SAIS Europe in 2013-14. Like most students, she spent the summer between her first and second year of studies working an internship.

Nicola worked for a social enterprise and helped design a project to empower women artisans in rural Thailand. The project has been selected as one of the 10 finalists and will be competing for a grant application to Project Inspire.

To learn more about the project and to vote online click here.

In graduate school, students both welcome the institution of summer vacation and agonize over the terror of finding that elusive summer internship. I was seeking a summer position that would challenge me, allow me to think creatively, and meld my interests in international trade with my passion for community development and female empowerment.

I had the fantastic idea to contact my old friends Mark and Alana, co-founders of the social venture Trade Monkey. When I asked them for internship ideas in South East Asia, Mark said, “Well why don’t you come work for us?”
Nicola (left) and her colleague Alana releasing a lantern to channel good luck at the beginning of her internship

It was such an obvious good fit. But, while I knew Trade Monkey would be an interesting and fun place to work before I arrived, I had no idea how completely I would embrace their business model and how deeply I would love the work. What most appeals to me about Trade Monkey is how it embodies the best of the private and the nonprofit sectors, falling somewhere in between the two in this new space we call “social enterprise.”

Trade Monkey creates opportunity for meaningful change by connecting consumers to amazing products while supporting stable incomes and sustainable growth in local communities. We firmly believe this is the way business should and will be run in the future, and it is exciting to be a part of it as Trade Monkey grows.

I’ve spent the summer helping Trade Monkey design their social impact program with the goal of directly reinvesting into our producer communities. It is challenging me in a good way and allowing me to flex my creative muscles as I think up ways to generate and measure social impact. 

One of my favorite assignments was spending a few days up in rural Phrao District with our Chief Product Officer Alexa visiting our partner Warm Heart, a nonprofit that supports the local community with schooling for children, medical services, and micro enterprise programs. 
Nicola and her colleague Alexa visiting artisans at Warm Heart
I spent three days in beautiful scenery, breathing fresh air, and talking with local women in the community about the handicraft work they do. I learned about the significant challenges local female artisans face, the struggle to secure jobs during the dry season, and the back-breaking agricultural work of the rainy season. 

My courses in international human rights and economics were particularly useful during my internship and as I was preparing the Project Inspire grant application. 

Prior to the summer I co-wrote a policy paper on Thailand for International Trade Theory, which focused on Thailand's trade policies and economy. Though somewhat dependent on capital equipment like sewing machines, Trade Monkey's artisans depend most on their own labor and need business skills training to expand their businesses. Understanding the distinction between capital and labor intensive goods helped me in determining how best to support our artisans in scaling up. 

Overall, my courses at SAIS have improved my ability to reason through complex problems and develop coherent, persuasive arguments. That power of persuasion was crucial when preparing our grant application.

Nicola Hil (BC14/DC15)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Careers: The third country experience

Most students at SAIS work an internship in the summer between their first and second year of study. Students find internships with the help of theCareer Services and the different academic programs.

In May, we published a post where we asked students about their summer plans. Today, Kathryn Knowles, associate director of the European and Eurasian Studies Program, tell us more about the opportunities available to SAIS students.

Brussels, Bucharest, or Bologna? Madrid, Milan or Moscow? London, Luxembourg, Warsaw or Zagreb? 

Where would you like to spend next summer? These are just a few of the options for summer in internships secured by the SAIS European and Eurasian Studies Program.

The unique SAIS model of providing a trans-Atlantic education means that students have the opportunity to study international relations first from a European perspective in Bologna and then from an American one in Washington D.C. One of the goals of the SAIS European and Eurasian Studies Program in particular is to provide a “third country experience” during the summer between the first and second years of the program, allowing concentrators to experience living and working in their region of study.

SAIS interns at a happy hour in Brussels
This year the program secured 50  internship positions across the region in policy research, public affairs consulting, international business development, financial and macroeconomic analysis, political movements and more. Opportunities are specifically designed for SAIS students and offer a content-rich experience with senior-level mentors.

Applications are open to SAIS MA, MAIA and MIPP candidates of all years and concentrations on all SAIS campuses. Priority is given to first-year students although graduating students interested in working in the region are also considered since summer “exit-internships” are often a way to get a foot on the vieux continent. All recruiting is done through the SAISworks system and employers make the final selections.

Kathryn Knowles

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer School in Montenegro: an excellent forum to exchange ideas

Marko Grujicic will be studying at SAIS Europe in 2014-15. Earlier this month, he attended a summer program organized by Justin Frosini, professor at SAIS and director of the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD), and his colleagues at the University of Belgrade. Below he tells us about his experience.

The Summer School was the perfect chance for me to gain additional insights into Europe. 

Every year since 2003, the CCSDD and the University of Belgrade’s Faculty of Law have collaborated on the “European Union and Legal Reform Summer School” in Igalo, Montenegro. This year, it was held from 13 – 18th July, and hosted 29 fellows from all over Europe.

Marko (third from right in the back row) with the Summer School's organizers and classmates
We dealt with the legal, political and economic issues relating to the EU. More precisely, during lectures and roundtable discussions with professors and fellow participants, we learned more about the consequences of the EU’s enlargement towards the Western Balkans, as well as the experience of different European countries hoping to join the EU.

We observed in detail the current crisis in Ukraine; analyzed potential consequences of the referendum in Scotland; examined the role of constitutional courts in the process of transition towards democracy; looked at the role of the Venice Commission in Tunisia; and discussed the common market under the current economic crisis.

Attending the Summer School helped me look at topics that I will cover in my SAIS studies from a different perspective.

The perfect balance between an academic and social environment made the experience special and distinct from other similar events. We were given the opportunity to visit cultural sites in Montenegro (Podgorica, Tivat, Kotor, Budva), Croatia (Dubrovnik) and Bosnia (Trebinje), while continuing to be intellectually engaged.

Moreover, the fellow participants added to the value of the experience. They were brilliant conversation partners. The diversity of ideas and experiences made the program an excellent forum to exchange thoughts and views.

The icing on the cake was the opportunity we were offered to publish an article covering the topics analyzed during the week.

Marko Grujicic (SAIS EUROPE 2014-15)