Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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 admissions@jhubc.it. Your input helps.

Nelson Graves

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