Thursday, June 30, 2011

One day at SAIS Bologna

In March our readers met Chidiogo Akunyili as she talked about her life at SAIS Bologna.

The seasons have changed, and now we introduce you to Mac Broderick, who spent the past year at SAIS Bologna and is doing a dual degree at SAIS (MA) and Wharton (MBA).

That's about all I need to say because the video speaks for itself. Enjoy.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Obama's counterterrorism adviser to speak at SAIS

U.S. President Barack Obama's counterterrorism expert, John Brennan, will speak at SAIS DC on Wednesday, June 29 at 1730 GMT.

John Brennan
Brennan's speech will be webcast live by SAIS. For information on how to hook up to the broadcast, click here.

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Brennan will outline the U.S. administration's strategy following the death of Osama bin Laden and in the light of changes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

SAIS Bologna Half a Century Ago: Back to the Future

"Here gather those who tomorrow will shape a new community among nations."

Those heady words topped the lead article in a magazine published more than four decades ago celebrating the Bologna Center's 10th birthday.

Forty-six years later, much -- and in some cases little -- has changed.

Like the city of Bologna highlighted over the decades by a leading U.S. newspaper, SAIS Bologna has retained many charms and attributes while evolving with the times.

For a glimpse into the past, check out this special edition of The Johns Hopkins Magazine from December 1964-January 1965.

The parents of some of our incoming students were barely out of diapers when the magazine was published. But if you are coming to SAIS Bologna this year or thinking of applying, take a peek at what came before.

The Bologna Center opened in February 1955 in borrowed rooms with 10 students and four (all male) professors. Within a decade it had grown to 82 students from 14 countries and 15 (still all male) faculty.

In 2011-12 we are expecting close to 200 students from more than 40 countries -- and with many women professors.

The magazine explains that SAIS DC and SAIS Bologna "grew in importance in the post-World War II period when the consolidation of new power blocs such as Western Europe, and the exigencies of the cold war and the nuclear age, demanded many more people trained in international economics, diplomacy, and the culture and history of various nations."

SAIS Bologna founder C. Grove Haines
and senior administrators
So without the cold war, is SAIS Bologna still relevant?

Consider SAIS's mission as defined in the magazine: "to prepare the best available candidates for careers in internationally-oriented areas of government, business, teaching, and research."

Something else seems not to have changed: "The Center's great contribution lies in its providing, for the European students, a radically novel academic atmosphere, and for the Americans, the chance to gain an intimate, on-the-spot, knowledge of Europe."

Students from other continents now join Europeans in seeking a U.S.-style educational experience with small classes and professors who put a premium on participation and engagement by students.

You should know that three of the contributors to the magazine carved out impressive careers. John Tuthill was U.S. ambassador to the European Communities when the publication was released and later ambassador to Brazil. Jean-Baptiste Duroselle was a leading French historian while well-known Franco-German academic and journalist Alfred Grosser taught politics at SAIS Bologna from 1955 until 1973.

Some of our readers may have seen and heard Pierre Hassner, who is pictured in the magazine article, in one of our recent blog posts. Can you say which one?

Finally, sharp-eyed SAIS Bologna alumnus Tom Tesluk (BC81/DC82) noticed that one of the most famous photographers ever, considered by many to be the father of photojournalism, snapped the pictures of the authors of the magazine articles -- Henri Cartier-Bresson.


With summer upon us, our readers, however loyal, are quite rightly cutting back their time in front of computers. Between now and mid-August, we will be running one planned post a week on Tuesdays and leave open the possibility of a post on Thursdays for bits and pieces. In July we'll highlight two award-winning pieces of work done at SAIS Bologna this past year, and we'll summarize the results of our recent survey.

If you feel we need to address an issue in the blog, be sure to send us your thoughts, either via the comment space on the blog or with an email to Your input helps.

Nelson Graves

Friday, June 24, 2011

This week's grab bag: an updated map, missing DVDs, visas, and our survey

Before we turn to some housekeeping details, I have updated the map showing where the incoming SAIS Bologna students come from.

Currently the class of 2011-12 has passports from 51 countries. Two dozen of the students have dual passports. They have declared 45 countries as nations of first nationality, plus six others as secondary nationalities.

If you click on the placemarks on the map below, you will see the name of the country plus the number of students coming from that country.

This past year we had students from 34 nations (not including dual nationalities). So there will be one third more nationalities this coming year. We have students who have enrolled from four countries that have never been represented at SAIS Bologna: Bahamas, Mongolia, Qatar and Zimbabwe.

With the ebb and flow of enrollment, these figures can change in coming weeks. But at this point we are looking at the greatest number of nationalities at SAIS Bologna since it was founded 56 years ago.

View SAIS Bologna 2011-12 class in a larger map


We have tried to make sure that all incoming SAIS Bologna students have the math DVDs that are useful for preparing for the economics courses. Eventually each incoming student should have two sets of DVDs:

- One set entitled "Interactive Pre-Calculus Course" with 4 DVD disks inside covering 52 modules;
- One set entitled "Interactive Basic Calculus for Economists Course" with 3 DVD disks inside covering 34 modules.

If you have one set but not the other, please send an email to

Please keep in mind that it takes some time to work through either set of DVDs, so if you have one but not the other, you are not out on a limb yet.

The DVDs reflect the importance of math in learning economics. Students taking the Online Math Tutorial will have a chance to prove their understanding of pre-calculus and calculus. If a student has not passed one or the other of the exams in the Online course, they will have a chance to prove their understanding during pre-term in either Washington or Bologna.

A student who does not pass the tests either during the Online course or in pre-term will have a chance during the first class of microeconomics.

Keep in mind that while each student is encouraged to pass both the pre-calculus and the calculus exams, one is not required to pass them to proceed with economics. But economics sure is easier with a solid foundation in math.


Questions about visas have tapered off. We hope that means that everyone is making progress. If not, be sure to contact us.


A total of 77 readers have completed our little survey. Thank you to those who have taken time to do so. Already it has provided us with very useful feedback and ideas on how to improve our work. As promised earlier, we will provide a summary of the feedback, along with some data on readership, in a post later this summer.

If you would like to participate in the survey but do not have the link, please send an email to, and we'll send it along to you.


There must be other things people need to know, but I've run out of issues.

Your thoughts?

Nelson Graves

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Interning in Bologna

Most SAIS Bologna students have flown the coop for the summer. Two have stayed.

Valeria Calderoni and Saurav Rana are helping Prof. Erik Jones launch a policy research institute, and getting paid to do so.

Valeria & Saurav taking a break
In a video in Tuesday's post, Prof. Jones called the research institute "probably the most important change to the functioning of the Bologna Center that we've had in our 56 years of existence." Sure sounds major.

To anyone who has worked on such an ambitious project from the outset, the range of responsibilities that Valeria and Saurav are shouldering will sound familiar: from moving furniture to analyzing a speech by the outgoing U.S. Defense secretary.

Most Bologna Center students work internships between their year in Italy and their second year in Washington. They work all over the world, as befits a graduate school of international studies. Some of our readers may recall earlier posts on internships and career services.

In the video below, Valeria and Saurav discuss their work.

Once you're through watching that video, if you have a few minutes and you want to know how some educators feel when students leave after graduation, have a peek at these images.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Getting to the core

Earlier this month we published a post with a question from the final exam in International Monetary Theory. It was an opportunity to expose incoming students to the kind of question they will be facing soon and also to the Economics requirements.

Today we turn to another set of obligations: the core requirements.

Before getting into the nitty gritty of the core requirements, a word on why. SAIS students come from very diverse academic backgrounds. This year in Bologna we had 34 nationalities, and for 2011-12, students from 45 different countries have enrolled.

To ensure that all SAIS graduates have acquired a common set of useful skills and knowledge, we require them to meet a set of requirements in Economics, languages, history and political science.

There are four core subjects:
  • American Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • Comparative National Systems
  • Evolution of the International System
  • Theories of International Relations
You can read about the core subjects here and here.

Here is chapter and verse with respect to the core requirements:

M.A. candidates must pass written examinations in two of four core areas (except students in European Studies, who take three European Studies comprehensive exams). Students are urged to pass one of these exams by the end of their first year and to pass both before beginning the second year. Students with an adequate background are encouraged to take the core examinations upon entry. During the year, students may prepare for a core examination by studying on their own, auditing or enrolling for credit in a core course. Core exams are graded with a letter grade. Only passing grades appear on the transcript. Students who fail a core exam twice are required to register for the corresponding core course for credit. After enrolling for credit, a student's result of any prior examination is eliminated from the transcript, and grading requirements for regular courses apply. Core exams are offered three times a year at the Bologna Center: first week in October and at the end of each semester. 

So you can satisfy the core requirements by taking core courses, passing core examinations without taking the course or a combination of the two.

As with Economics waiver exams, you can satisfy a course requirement by passing the exam but you will not receive credit towards the 16 courses that must be completed in order to receive the M.A. It does free you up to take other courses beside the basic Economics or core courses

Prof.Erik Jones
Note that these core requirements apply to candidates for the two-year Master of Arts in International Relations. The MAIA, MIPP and Bologna Diploma requirements are different.

All of that is so complicated that the questions on the core exam in Comparative National Systems may seem, well, comparatively simple. Here is a copy of the exam.

And here is a video of Prof. Erik Jones, who taught that course in Bologna this past Spring semester, discussing the core requirements and his course. He also explains why his office is full of boxes.

Nelson Graves

Monday, June 20, 2011


A very brief reminder that readers can participate in a survey that we hope will help us improve this blog. The survey is online and takes a few minutes to complete. Already 66 people have responded.

If you would like to participate and did not receive an email with the link to the survey, please send an email to, and we'll be happy to send you the link.

Thank you.

Nelson Graves

Friday, June 17, 2011

A DVD apology and other odds & ends

It's Friday -- time to tackle housekeeping matters. I'd rather not start with an apology but am compelled to do so.

As everyone knows, SAIS provides each incoming student with DVDs to help them brush up on mathematics. One set has four DVDs with pre-calculus learning modules, while the other has three DVDs with calculus modules. The DVDs complement the SAIS Online Math Tutorial, which is accessed through the Blackboard course website, as John Harrington, dean of Academic Affairs in Washington, explained in an email to all incoming students on May 25.

Some incoming students who applied for admission through Bologna -- all of the non-Americans except a handful -- have received the pre-calculus DVDs but not the calculus cassettes. Yesterday we sent out fresh calculus DVDs to a number of students, and we'll do the same with more on Monday when the Bologna Center reopens (it is closed on Fridays all summer, until mid-August).

A humble bow of apology
If you have received one set and not the other, then you are a victim of the DVD mix-up, which is entirely our fault. If you have not done so already, please send an email to with "Missing DVDs" in the subject line and your your mailing address in the text, stipulating which DVDs you did not receive, and we'll set things right.

If you have received no DVDs whatsoever, please wait until Tuesday, June 21 to see if they arrive. If they have not arrived by then, please send an email to explaining.

My apologies for this glitch and my thanks to all of you for your patience and understanding.

Students coming to SAIS Bologna this autumn from outside the European Union are busy getting their visas. Requirements vary greatly from one Italian diplomatic mission to another. Some consulates or embassies are very familiar with SAIS, others not.

The letters, which all of the non-U.S. incoming students from outside the EU should have received from us and which are written in Italian, are meant to reassure the diplomatic authorities on a few scores:
  • That the student has been admitted to the SAIS Bologna Center, which is recognized by the Italian government;
  • That the student will have the emergency medical insurance that is required of foreign students;
  • That SAIS Bologna is in close contact with the Foreigners Office of the Bologna police (Questura) and will help the student obtain a permesso di soggiorno if needed;
  • That SAIS Bologna has an adequate number of apartments at its disposal and that the student in question will be able to rent one of them;
The letter asks that the authorities consider the letter as a substitute for an apartment rental contract.

In most cases, this letter gives the diplomatic authorities what they need to issue a student visa. If for some reason they read the letter and still balk, please get in touch with us.

If you are a citizen of an EU member state, you do not have to obtain a student visa. (Some might take that for granted, but believe me, it was not that way in my day, when even to cross borders between any two European countries, you had to show your passport.)

We are asking readers of this blog for feedback to help us make it better. Many readers would have received the link to the survey via email. The online survey takes a few minutes to fill out and is anonymous.

If you would like to participate in the survey and have not received the link, please send an email to, with "Blog Survey" in the subject line, and we'll be happy to send the link to you.

Already 58 people have responded to the survey. There is a critical mass of opinion emerging that will help us shape this blog and tailor it to readers' needs. Thank you for your comments, suggestions and criticism.

By the way, in the summer we will share with readers a summary of the results of the survey along with some readership statistics. Transparency is our watchword.

A reminder that the deadline for registering for pre-term in Bologna is July 5. For more information, click here. Pre-term starts on August 29 and runs until September 26.

If you are interested in attending pre-term at SAIS Washington (July 25-August 23), the deadline for registering is Friday, June 24 -- one week from today. For more information, click here.

It is not recommended that students in Bologna pre-term take two economics courses or an economics course and a core course. That would end up being a whopping amount of work. Remember, these are full-term courses squeezed into 4 weeks. However, survival Italian would be an option -- and I would recommend that all students who do not know Italian learn some while they are here. It makes the experience more meaningful.

Some incoming students have asked if they can be in touch with Salvatore, our housing consultant, before he starts showing apartments on August 18. Alas, he is not available. It will be a level playing field from August 18, and he will have enough apartments so that there is no reason to panic. As we've already said, finding an apartment is just about the easiest thing of all thanks to Salvatore's help.

We've also been asked if we will be sending out paper versions of the admissions letter and other admissions materials that admitted students received. I'm afraid not -- we are trying to go almost entirely digital. (Yes, I'd love for the math DVDs to be online, and for us to have a completely digitalized application system -- dreams that may come true next year.)

If you need a paper version, we will leave it to you to print it out your end. If you need an original copy of your admissions letter or some other document in its original form, drop us a line. But even the most bureaucratic of authorities are moving away from paper, although we realize not all.

Next week we'll show you another award-winning piece of academic work and an exam that was taken by students of a popular core course.

Nelson Graves

P.S. I almost forgot. Yes, there is no quiz this week. The feedback on the survey suggests that the weekly quiz has done its part in building readership loyalty but that it's time to think of other approaches. Of course if someone wants to propose a quiz question, we would be delighted to consider it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plus ça change,...

... plus c'est la même chose.

Some of you may have noticed an article in the New York Times last week about Bologna. Entitled "36 Hours in Bologna," the special section takes the reader on a virtual tour of the city and offers a step-by-step travel plan for visiting the capital of the Emilia Romagna region.

Those of you who will be moving here to study next year will want to read the section. No need to memorize the addresses if you have a printer or can save the link.

As I trawled for last week's article, I noticed that the New York Times had run a special section on Bologna three years ago. It was as upbeat as last week's about the city and offered a very different itinerary. This, too, is worth reading.

So I was quite amused when, thumbing through a guidebook that I bought 30 years ago, I found a newspaper clipping, yellow with age, with a full-page article on Bologna from ... the New York Times.

As some readers know, I attended SAIS Bologna in that era. I had purchased the guide before arriving here, and someone had taken the trouble to send me the article -- headlined "What's Doing in Bologna" -- before my arrival. I can't quite recall who sent me the article. Is that my sister's handwriting filling in some missing words? These are the kinds of details one forgets after three decades.

Don't feel you need to read the article from 1981. But if you're as nostalgic as I am or just like history, here is a copy. My apologies for the quality of the reproduction. If you want to read it, you will have to rotate the view or else you'll put your neck out of joint.

The author's 'permesso di soggiorno'
from 1981
Despite the passage of three decades, certain things remain immutable in the New York newspaper's view of Bologna. You'll hear other visitors mention the same: arcades, gastronomy, left-leaning politics, the student population, the fact Bologna remains off the tourists' well-beaten path, tortellini in brodo, le Due Torri, Santo Stefano, Piazza Maggiore.

Some things have changed. Piazza Maggiore remains packed at almost all hours -- but it is no longer almost exclusively men discussing politics and calcio. Some hotels have collected dust while others have become fashionable.

One surprise: it seems that as the number of restaurants has grown and there is a bigger selection, in some cases meals are no more expensive today, even in unadjusted terms, than they were 30 years ago.

Of course, on my limited student budget, I was not able to dine in Bologna's restaurants in 1981-82. To be honest, it didn't spoil my year one bit.

Nelson Graves

Tomorrow: DVDs, odds & ends ahead of 2011-12

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Enthusiasm and thoughtfulness: a winning combination

Meet Christina Politi.

Christina recently graduated from SAIS Bologna and, like most Bologna Center students, will be spending the second year of her master's program at SAIS Washington starting in August.

Consider Christina's background. She was born in Athens and outside her native Greece has lived in Australia, Brussels, Tokyo and the United States. She received a B.S. from Georgetown with a GPA of 3.9 and also a Certificate in International Business Diplomacy.

In the summer of 2009, she interned in Athens for the National Center for Scientific Research “DEMOKRITOS”. She was on the Board of the Georgetown International Relations Club and was also active in the school’s Hellenic Association. She speaks Greek, English, French and Spanish, and received a fellowship from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to attend SAIS.

The range of Christina's experiences and her accomplishments speak volumes about the kind of student who decides to come to SAIS. We are looking for individuals who want to make a difference on the international stage and who are equipping themselves with the tools to do so.

Christina won one of three C. Grove Haines awards for academic excellence that were given out last month at SAIS Bologna graduation. I thought you might be interested in reading the work that won Christina the prize.

Christina Politi receives her
C. Grove Haines award from
Prof. Mark Gilbert
Before showing you the winning essay, a word of background. Christina wrote the paper in a course taught by Prof. Mark Gilbert entitled, "Europe in the Cold War". Here is a thumbnail description of the course, which is part of the European Studies concentration:

Beginning with the outcome and consequences of World War II, this course will examine the major trends and developments in the politics of Western Europe during the Cold War (1945–1991). Topics treated include the Stalinization of Eastern Europe, European integration, decolonization, the events of 1968, democratization in the Mediterranean, the transatlantic relationship and Europe’s role in the shaping of East-West relations. The course concludes with the great events of 1989-1992 in Central (and Western) Europe. The course is taught partly by illustrated lectures, partly by discussion of articles, books, original documents and films.

Christina reaches a sobering conclusion in her 14-page essay, entitled, "American Intervention in Greece 1946-64".

: "...[T]he United States had without a doubt, through passive and active involvement, a profound impact on the political, economic, and military development of Greece."

How is this relevant today?  "In fact, the roots of the current crisis [in Greece] are to be found in the immediate postwar history of the country.... Patronage and corruption have continued to plague the country, inhibiting economic growth as well as deeply needed structural reform of the socio-economic and political system."

In the words of Prof. Gilbert: "Christina Politi's essay was the work of a student who was able to research and write dispassionately on a subject she deeply cared about. I hope that future students will show the same enthusiasm and comparable thoughtfulness."

Here is Christina's paper as she submitted it to Prof. Gilbert.

Enjoy. Feel free to send in your comments.

Nelson Graves

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekly quiz

It would not be a weekly quiz without some housekeeping first, right?

Incoming students have lots of questions. This is entirely normal. Before writing an email, please make sure that you've read the material on the web page for incoming students. There you will find the answers to many questions. And do not forget the Guidebook for Incoming Students. It tackles myriad matters: visas, health issues, finances, communications, travel and housing among them.

Many of you are experiencing the joy of applying for a visa. Alas, like tuition it is a fact of life. Please do not panic. Each of you who applied through the Bologna Admissions Office should have received a letter, in Italian, that provides Italian diplomatic authorities with some important information. The letter informs the authorities that:
  • You have been admitted to SAIS Bologna and gives them the dates of your attendance in 2011-12;
  • SAIS Bologna is recognized by the Italian state;
  • SAIS Bologna has an ample number of apartments at its disposal, and you will be able to choose from among them;
  • If you are a non-EU citizen, SAIS Bologna will make sure you have the emergency medical insurance that is required by law;
  • We request that the diplomatic authorities return the letter to you along with your visa so that you can obtain, if necessary, a permesso di soggiorno once in Bologna.
This letter has been written so that the Italian consular authorities have the information they need to issue a visa. Of course different embassies and consulates have different approaches. If you hit a brick wall, get back to us.

Enough of the logistics. On to the quiz -- which this week is for the daring only.

Earlier this week we published a post with a question from the final exam in Prof. Akin's International Monetary Theory class. Click here for the exam question.

What is the answer to the first part of the question, which asks: 

I'll give you a break: unlike during a real exam, you can ask for help on this one. The key is to provide the right answer.

This week the winner gets a SAIS Bologna tee shirt plus a free lunch at Giulio's -- with Prof. Akin.


For the answer to the quiz question, click here.

You can also see it here:


Next week:

Tuesday: What a winning paper looks like
Thursday: Getting to the core of international politics
Friday: Weekly quiz

Nelson Graves

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spending wisely

Tuition is a fact of life for those attending a private program such as SAIS. Below Bart Drakulich, who is director of Finance and Administration at the Bologna Center, provides some background and at the end some basic information on tuition payments. You can send any questions to the Business Office.

An old film actor once declared he spent his earnings “part on gambling, part on booze and part on women“ before adding: “The rest I spent foolishly.”

Bart Drakulich
While George Raft didn’t name a graduate education in international relations, presumably he would not have considered SAIS tuition a foolish expenditure. He may have meant to add it to his list but forgot.

Humor aside, the rising cost of higher education has been an important topic of debate recently. I enjoy the debate, am not a defender of the status quo and look forward to continuing the dialogue with the incoming class. In the fall I will share a presentation on the Bologna Center’s budget -- how it is structured, what our sources of funding are and how your tuition is spent. In the meantime I’d like to give a bit of context followed by a service announcement:

·        Johns Hopkins is a private, not-for-profit university. For students we are more expensive than most universities in Europe but that is because of the source of funding, not how it is used. In many countries higher education is subsidized and the costs are spread over the tax base. Citizens underwrite the costs whether or not they attend. At SAIS, students, with the help of financial support from alumni and other outside sources, fund the program. One can debate the costs and benefits of the two models. By enrolling at Johns Hopkins you have chosen the latter.

·        We believe you have made a wise choice. A graduate education is not a commodity, and one size does not fit all. By accepting admission, you have chosen to be part of a special group of students from diverse backgrounds with often similar interests and goals. You will learn in an intimate environment from world class faculty and also from each other. Your classmates will become part of your lifelong network, as friends and professional contacts.

·        Hard as it may be to believe, the cost of educating each of you will exceed tuition. This is the case for virtually all top U.S. universities. Our program is still a very artisanal, personal activity, and payroll costs make up the bulk of our budget. We rely on the generosity of alumni, foundations and governments to help cover the difference so we can maintain a quality program for a small group of students each year.

·        Financial aid can be a source of misunderstanding and debate. Students can point to a number of expenditures they feel might have better been spent on a fellowship for them. To an extent they may be missing the point. Financial aid is a high priority, but it is not the only claim on our resources. It is an instrument to further our twin goals of attracting the highest quality candidates and maintaining a diverse student body. We would love to provide unlimited aid to students but do not have the resources to do so, and a research university like Johns Hopkins has many goals and constituencies it must allocate resources for. That said, this year we were able to award more aid than any other year in our history, something we are very proud of.

Now that I have provided a bit of context, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here are a few KEY bits of information about your upcoming tuition investment:

·        Fall semester tuition is due on Friday, September 30.

·        If you received a fellowship, you will be allowed to use HALF of the fellowship amount towards fall semester tuition. The other half will be credited towards your spring semester tuition, due on Monday, February 6, 2012.

·        Instructions on paying tuition are on page 15 of our Guidebook for Incoming Students (please familiarize yourself with the information in this guidebook as it will answer many of your questions).

·        If you have questions which are not addressed in the Guidebook, please send an email to

Now that we have that out of the way, let me say I am very much looking forward to meeting all of you in a few months. I wish you all a safe and pleasant summer.

Bart Drakulich

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The IS-LM-FX Equilibria

We're going to shift tack here.

Most of our posts over the past few months have been about admissions procedures, the student body, faculty, careers and internships. What have we perhaps under-clubbed?


SAIS is fundamentally an academic experience. It prepares one for a host of careers. Students are able to tap into a formidable alumni network spread around the world. Faculty, many of them famous in their fields, are accessible and approachable. There is an enjoyable social aspect to a program that is part of a large research university -- Johns Hopkins -- but with separate, self-contained campuses just for SAIS students.

Still, the main challenge is academic. It is true that the course work ties up nicely with career opportunities including internships, making the academic experience especially relevant. But it is not networking with a scholarly gloss. Studies are front and center.

Prof. Akin
In that light, I thought it would be interesting to publish a question from the final exam that Prof. Çiğdem Akin gave to her SAIS Bologna students this spring in International Monetary Theory.

Before I give the question, keep in mind that International Monetary Theory is one of four economics courses that are required of all MA candidates. The others are Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and International Trade Theory. The Micro and Macro courses are at the intermediate level. A student can place out of intermediate Micro or Macro either by taking the corresponding course in pre-term or by passing a waiver exam. (Waiver exams are also offered in Monetary, Trade and Statistics.) One does not earn a course credit towards one's degree by placing out, but it does mean the student can take different courses. Finally, in addition to the four courses mentioned above, an MA candidate has to take two other economics courses, for a total of six, to graduate.

For more on the economics requirements, click here.

Why so much economics? Let me quote from the International Economics home page:

"The SAIS international economics program is designed to provide students with an understanding of the international economic system, enabling them to work effectively on international matters in both the private and public sectors.... These skills are an important component of modern training in international affairs."

You're dying to see the exam question? Bear with me just a bit longer.

As a reader of our blog, you likely fall into one of two categories:

- You are an incoming student. If so, this is the kind of exam question you'll be facing soon.

- You are a prospective student. Don't be turned off if the question seems hard. The whole point is that after a one-term course in International Monetary Theory, you will be able to answer the question because during the course you will have mastered:

"... the foundations of international macroeconomics, including foreign exchange markets, exchange rate regimes, balance of payments analysis, open-economy models, capital movements and other aspects of financial interdependence, policy responses to external shocks, monetary cooperation at the regional and international levels and the international monetary system."

Enough lecturing. Here is Question 1 on Prof. Akin's exam. It counted for 20 out of 100 points on the three-hour exam. Students should have spent 15-20 minutes answering the question.

Feel free to send your answers to We'd be happy to take a look at them.

Nelson Graves

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weekly Quiz

Before we dive into the weekly quiz, some housekeeping matters.

All of you who will be attending SAIS Bologna in 2011-12 should have received your JHED by now. Please contact us if you have not. If you have not yet activated your email account, please do so as soon as possible.

Your calculus DVDs are in the mail and should reach you soon. 

Also, all incoming students who applied through the Bologna Admissions Office should have received their original admission and visa letters. If you have not, you know where to find us. 

And now, on to the quiz:

At last week's SAIS Bologna graduation ceremony, three students received awards for academic excellence. Who are the awards named after? 

The first person to reply correctly gets a SAIS Bologna tee shirt. The answer on Monday.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It is a beginning

The academic year ended a week ago. Most of the students have gone. A handful are still around waiting to get on a plane to return home for a short while before starting to work an internship somewhere around the world. Earlier this week we showed you moments of the Commencement ceremony. Today, we want to share the speech Matthew Carroll (U.S. BC11) delivered at the ceremony. Enjoy! 

I was walking to school, feeling good, as you do with a fresh haircut and a cone of frosty gelato on a hot day. Like so many countless times before, I strolled beneath the shade of Bologna's porticoes breathing deep the millennium of wisdom trapped beneath their frescoed hoods. I would soon see my fellow students in the library. All their smiles, although begrudged by last minute term papers, would glimmer none the less. My mind whisked me back those earliest of our days here: the joyous confusion, the endless introductions, the excitement of learning new things among new friends. We scrambled to get up to speed in economics, but only if it left enough time for aperitivos under the balmy August sun. Ample celebration; convivial beginnings; good times indeed. 

And so, as the cioccolato and nocciole waltzed their creamy pas de dieux across my taste buds and the church bells rung their charming peal, I was reminded of something the first time I stood here that we should never lose sight of: we live in ghastly and terrifying world. 

Over the horizon, a foaming sea churns, poised to engulf our coasts in determined angry swirls; roaring wild fires, perfect storms and a sinister tag team of torrential flooding and global desiccation threaten to hurl our civilization back to the time before tool making - all this rage of nature educed and unleashed by collective shortsightedness. 

The global economic machine rattles on, but the teeth of its gears have rusted to brittle nubs like those of some woebegone child's long forgotten music box, playing a more pallid and disharmonious dirge with every cycle of its crank. And the vexed, swelling and increasingly armed hordes of the jobless will no longer be lulled its tune. 

And in terms of security, don't be fooled by the recent spate of justice. There still are many who wake up in the morning, put on their bathrobes and, before brushing their teeth glare at their reflection in the mirror and say: There can be no peace. Although we've extinguished the pilot light, the embers of transnational terrorism smolder on. 

Perhaps the only speck of contrast visible in the dark days ahead will be all the white knuckles, clinging to hysteria as we spiral downward toward perdition. 

Perhaps not. Because then again, there's you. 

This summer you will travel to all corners of this Earth. In the developing world, you will pitch in your sweat to wrest the weak from the muzzle of poverty. In your homelands, you will channel your intellect into the public sector so that your people will know greater freedom tomorrow. You will bolster the clout international organizations, working to transform tenuous peace into permanent order. You will learn mysterious tongues that will allow you to build bridges of trade, culture and friendship across disparate civilizations. Your ingenuity in energy may one day liberate us form the bondage of smog. By applying your hard work and talent to the private sector, you will indeed call forth the phoenix of commerce from its ashy bay. And this all of you will do for free. 

So my appeal? Arm yourself with the skills and sagaciousness of this first year, and charge into the gloom; beat back to the rising sea, extinguish the inferno, build concord anew. And see to it that the villains have a very, very bad day, indeed. Classmates, this is a commencement gathering. It is a beginning. A time not for reflection, but for projection. And so hence forth, project your luminescence unto the world. You are the heroes. You are the light, BC Class of 2011. You are remarkable in so many ways. It’s an honor to learn alongside you. Thank you. 


Amina Abdiuahab