You are here

Facing global uncertainty

A trustee's gift establishes global risk, migration, and security studies as new focus areas at SAIS Europe
Posted July 25, 2016

This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of SAIS Magazine

James Anderson, Cert (SAIS '81) — a Johns Hopkins University trustee, SAIS Europe alumnus, and SAIS Europe advisory council member — believes the best way to shape a better world is to invest in SAIS' education and the student experience, fostering the type of multicultural and multidisciplinary training he received as a student. His recent $7.5 million gift, the most generous in the history of SAIS Europe, is providing the support needed to launch innovative programming in the areas of global risk, migration, and security studies. This support will fund new faculty positions and ensure student diversity.

The Vera and Stefano Zamagni Professorship

Anderson's gift benefits the new Master of Arts in Global Risk (MAGR) through the establishment of a new professorship in the field of development economics and the creation of a Leadership Colloquium on Systemic Risk, which will attract experts from the field. Anderson has named the professorship after two of SAIS Europe's most senior and beloved faculty members, Vera and Stefano Zamagni.

Under the direction of SAIS Europe Fellow Filippo Taddei, the MAGR is a 13-month, cohort-based degree program. Building upon SAIS' strengths in multidisciplinary analysis, the MAGR introduces students to theoretical concepts, tools, and frameworks from the social sciences that will allow them to undertake sophisticated global risk analysis. The MAGR prepares students to answer the most pressing questions facing the world today, such as how political developments can move markets, how financial insecurity can lead to new opportunities, how new social movements can destabilize or revitalize societies, and how environmental policies affect regional stability.

Cohort-based classes, traditional training in quantitative methods, and practical application are the cornerstones of the new degree. The program culminates with a professional practicum or original thesis.

Taddei is enthusiastic about the quality and international diversity of the inaugural 2016-17 MAGR class, noting that "risk and uncertainty are unavoidable components of decision-making. This degree offers a unique opportunity to acquire both the theoretical framework and the practical tools for international careers in the management of uncertainty. The MAGR draws on all the strengths of Johns Hopkins SAIS, including its research-active faculty, outstanding career services, and international network."

Addressing the Current Crisis

One of the most pressing issues in Europe today is the migration crisis and its associated humanitarian and security considerations. Migration carries both risks and opportunities, requiring serious, objective, and dispassionate analysis. For a number of years, SAIS Europe has offered a migration and security course taught by Soren Jessen-Petersen, whose long diplomatic career includes appointments as special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Kosovo, Under Secretary-General of UNMIK; chairman of the European Union Stability Pact’s Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative; and Assistant UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Jessen-Petersen's course, a related thematic seminar series, and other migration-related initiatives will now be supported by the Anderson gift, guaranteeing the continuity and growth of Johns Hopkins SAIS' expertise in this area.

The initiative includes establishment of the Anderson Adjunct Professor of Migration and Security Studies and the allocation of additional resources to expand the school's research activity in this area.

Driving Innovation

"The ability to attract new talent — both faculty and students — requires us to constantly renew our offerings, making sure that our degrees and curriculum are anticipating the trends in the study of international affairs. James Anderson is a driver behind this innovation, helping to keep SAIS at the forefront in the field," says Michael G. Plummer, Dipl (SAIS '82), SAIS Europe director and ENI Professor in International Economics. "We are grateful to James for his vision and are optimistic that with MAGR and other new programming at SAIS Europe we can rise to the challenge he has set forth with his generous contribution."