New School News

As the World Turns: The First Decade of the Graduate Program in International Affairs

On his International Field Program trip to Brazil, student Neal Hicks leads young people in a media workshop. Photo credit: Emma Saloranta.

When The New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs was launched in fall 2001, the world was on the brink of cataclysmic transformation. In the first month of classes, students witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and, in the years that followed, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the global financial collapse, an unprecedented rash of natural disasters in Southeast Asia, Haiti, and Japan, and the democratic revolutions of the Arab Spring. Perhaps no academic program was better suited to take on the events of the past decade than the Graduate Program in International Affairs.

We set out to fill what was then a vacuum in international affairs education,, said program founder and director Michael Cohen. Which is why from the start, the Graduate Program in International Affairs has distinguished itself by bridging theory and practice.,

To combine intensive political science study with on-the-ground development training, Cohen assembled a faculty drawn from the highest levels of international governance. Current teaching faculty include former members of the United Nations Development Programme, the World Policy Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the World Bank. Cohen and his fellow professors used their existing relationships with world leaders to give students rare access to visiting heads of state, including Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Krichner, Union of South American Nations’ (UNASUR) N√©stor Krichner, and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa.

Students responded to the program’s educational approach, and quickly. Since 2001, we’ve grown from 50 to 400 students, and graduated close to 800 students from more than 60 countries,, said Cohen. Today we have graduates working in all of the leading official international organizations and non-governmental organizations.,

Along with impressive growth and job placement, the past decade also gave rise to International Affairs’ International Field Program (IFP), a novel approach to study abroad. Nearly twice as long as standard graduate foreign study experiences, IFP links students with foreign governments and global NGOs for over eight weeks of hands-on experience with international development work. The 2012 program offers experiences in Argentina, Kosovo, Hong Kong, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, and Uganda. To date, IFP has sent more than 570 students abroad; click here to view a video about how one student’s entire course of study was altered by her IFP experience.

In true New School fashion International Affairs continues to transform. A merger with the university’s politics and management graduate courses last year created the program’s new home, the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy. The new school encourages cross-disciplinary study, for instance, international affairs students may now enroll in urban politics classes, and management students can apply to the IFP.

It’s this breadth of viewpoints that distinguish the Graduate Program in International Affairs for first-year student Haley Ball. My favorite part about the program is how many different perspectives the students and the teachers bring to the table,, says Ball. The thoughtful discussions and wide-ranging expertise are what make me confident we’re a group that can make a difference.”

To learn more about the Graduate Program in International Affairs, and World in Transition,, its tenth-anniversary series of lectures and panels, visit www.newschool.edu/internationalaffairs.

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