A history major asks the former Slovenian minister of defense about the current state of democracy in Eastern Europe. Students lean forward in their chairs as three attorneys general from Latin America discuss transnational organized crime. A group of undergraduates welcomes to class a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives who will give feedback on their policy research topics.
Welcome to the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs.
Programming that builds leaders
During the fall 2019 semester alone, Poland’s ambassador to the United States, the secretary general of the Organization of American States and the former president of the Dominican Republic visited the Green School to lead conversations about democracy, security and foreign policy.
The high-level and prolific programming—the school produces more than 100 events annually—points back to the heart of its mission: equipping students to become the next generation of leaders.
“Our students are the future,” Green School Founding Dean John F. Stack Jr. explains. “They have this fire to succeed. They work hard to achieve their goals. We’re helping them get where they want to be. It’s our calling, our passion, to prepare these students for the work they have ahead of them.”
One way to do that is by allowing students to learn first-hand from folks in whose footsteps they want to follow, whether a guest speaker on campus or a member of the Green School’s faculty, who represent nearly 40 countries and whose ranks include a former president of Costa Rica as well as former U.S. government officials, among them a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense.
“The Green School is a shining star in the academic field,” says Volker Anding, a retired German ambassador and former German consul general in Miami.
Anding now lives permanently in Miami and regularly attends public lectures presented by the Green School. He is particularly impressed by its commitment to creating conversations in the community and prizes the school’s annual State of the World conference, which focuses on global relations and U.S. foreign policy.
Presented for the first time in 2018, the conference is organized by Green School Senior Fellow David J. Kramer, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. The event brings together some of the brightest minds on subjects of national and transnational importance, among them the heads of influential think tanks, current and former elected officials and journalists from The New York Times and The Washington Post.
“Leaders at this level have very intensive discussions during this conference,” says Anding of the event, which is open to the community. “The Green School is offering outstanding, educational and thought-provoking seminars to the public. This is very important.”
The bimonthly magazine The American Interest, which focuses on foreign policy, international affairs, global economics and military matters, has co-sponsored the conference since its inception.
Publisher Charles Davidson says the highlight for him is meeting students, many of whom attend multiple panel discussions over the two days and line up at the microphone during the question-and-answer period that concludes each session.
“We’re very impressed with the quality of the Green School students and their questions, their thoughtfulness,” Davidson says. “In a time when there is a lot of cynicism in politics and world affairs, it’s refreshing to see young people who are engaged in these matters.”
Breadth and depth
One reason students are fearlessly stepping up to the plate goes back to the education they’re receiving, an education that emphasizes finding solutions from a variety of angles.
Shlomi Dinar, associate dean of graduate studies and innovation, says the school has developed a curriculum that allows students to draw connections among diverse disciplines.
“The world is complicated,” Dinar says. “It requires us to look at it in a complex way. There are so many different aspects that explain a particular phenomenon, such as immigration or global poverty. To really understand these topics, we have to look at them from numerous perspectives.”
This dimension of the Green School struck Steven J. Green, a global entrepreneur and former U.S. ambassador to Singapore. In 2015 he, along with his wife Dorothea Green, daughter Kimberly Green and the Green Family Foundation, made a $20 million gift to the school.
“To make a political difference, to make a social difference, you have to integrate many factors of lifestyle—health, safety, governance and laws,” said Green at the time. “The School of International & Public Affairs deals with the integration of these ideas and truly creates a platform for tomorrow’s leaders.”
International relations sophomore Gabriella Roldos says the 360-degree approach is helping her become a well-rounded professional. Roldos, whose goal is to work in foreign policy, participated in a trip to Israel, Jordan and Palestine through the Green School’s first study abroad program to the region. The experience fueled her desire to study Middle Eastern foreign policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict. She’s also interested in diving into Holocaust history and the Cold War.
“The great thing about the Green School is that it offers the ability for me to study everything,” she says. “It’s made so that you can integrate all of your classes.”
Adds Pedro D. Botta, senior director of strategic initiatives at the Green School, “What makes the Green School unique is how it combines social sciences and the humanities. We embrace a holistic approach. This sets us apart from other schools across the country.”
For example, a Polish theatrical group visited campus in fall of 2019 to perform renditions of renowned poet Zbigniew Herbert’s works. The Green School Gallery also regularly hosts exhibitions featuring works that help uncover culture and history, such as an exhibit showcasing the endangered traditional arts of Afghanistan.
Success in the real world
Students have landed internships and graduates jobs within the federal government, including at the Department of State, the Department of Labor and the Agency for International Development, among others. They have also gone on to organizations such as the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch, the nonpartisan public policy think tank German Marshall Fund, the business organization Council of the Americas and the World Bank.
Green School students are also among the dozens of FIU students who annually intern in D.C. through the university’s partnership with The Washington Center, an independent non-profit that connects young people to experiential learning opportunities in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Alumnus Arthur “Danny” McGlynn MA ’98, currently the principal deputy assistant secretary for the office of intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Department of Treasury, says FIU gave him his start. McGlynn pursued a master’s degree in international relations (the department of international relations would eventually become one of several departments brought together to create the new school of international and public affairs) and has much to say about the faculty who taught him, a number of whom remain at the school all these years later.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without FIU,” he says. “I learned more during those two years than during any other time in my life. I found the program to be very rigorous and the professors to be not only top-notch, but to really care about the students. They pushed us really hard to make sure we got a grasp of the material, but also helped us think about our futures and finding a path for ourselves.”
McGlynn recalls seeking advice from his professors and meeting with them after class to discuss current events or his future, even continuing those conversations in the homes of the mentors, many of whom remain a source of support for him to this day.
Full steam ahead
The next goal for the school: to cement its position as a global leader by applying for full membership in the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (FIU has been an affiliate since the 1990s). The organization comprises the world's leading graduate schools of international affairs, among them the London School of Economics, Columbia University, Georgetown, John Hopkins, Princeton and Yale.
And that is just the start. In an era in which the need for well-educated, informed and active citizens has never been greater, the Green School plans to keep breaking ground in every way possible.