Thursday, April 26, 2012

SAIS Bologna's Journal: "Power Shifts"

A Friday night filled with talk about South American female leaders, the U.S.-Iran civil nuclear proliferation pact, power cycle theory and climate change in the Artic.

Sounds like an evening in the library facing a small mountain of books?

This Friday will be a tad different than a weekend evening dedicated to the next big paper. The Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs launches its 15th edition at SAIS Bologna's Alumni Weekend tomorrow.

Members of the editorial team will join Anne Deighton of Oxford University, the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, to kick off the weekend's events and generate discussion the theme of this year’s journal -- "Power Shifts".

A decade and a half after its birth, the 2012 BC Journal has sought to carry on a tradition of showcasing authors of note.

Past contributors have included former European Commission President Romano Prodi, political economist Francis Fukuyama, European Studies expert David Calleo and former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski -- all of whom have connections to SAIS.

This year’s edition includes works from SAIS professors Karim Mezran and Charles Doran, and six articles by  SAIS Bologna students.

BCJIA's Editorial Board
The students' pieces highlight the diversity of their intellectual pursuits. The topics include Brazil's economic idiosyncrasies, Somalia’s path towards sustainable peace and President George W. Bush’s freedom agenda in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring.

Run by students, the Bologna Center Journal is testimony to the teamwork that characterizes SAIS Bologna.

The online edition of the Journal will be available on the evening of April 27. To request a hard copy of the Journal, click here.

We'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Job interviews: Thrown in the deep end

Do you have a job interview coming up?

For most of us this is a daunting challenge. How do you communicate your skills and aspirations? How to behave? How will it feel?

If you have asked yourself those questions, practice can boost your confidence and awareness of how you can contribute to the target organization. SAIS Bologna gives you the chance to do this.

To help students hone their interviewing skills, faculty and staff put them through the paces during a series of mock interviews last week. Students launched the idea and drummed up support through a multimedia campaign. During the spoof sessions, faculty and staff adopted roles ranging from a senior World Bank executive to the head of HR with a business consultancy.

Students were thrown into the deep end from the start -- and had only a few moments to prepare before facing interviewers adopting roles from development, multilateral organizations, non-profits, government and business.

What kind of scenarios did they face? Here's an example:

“You have reached the final round interview for an entry-level position on the business analysis team of a well-known management consulting firm. The meeting takes place in the office of the partner and senior consultant to the business analysis team. Since this is a final round interview, you have already proven that you possess the right qualifications for the job. It has been noted in past interviews that you are a SAIS graduate, and since the firm has had generally positive interactions with SAIS graduates, past interviewers have complimented your interdisciplinary graduate education. You have perceived, however, that there may be a bias for MBA degrees at this particular firm. An HR manager who has taken a liking to you has urged that in your final interview you should stress your high level of technical preparedness for the job.”
Frank-Alexander Raabe

At the end of the two-hour event, participants retired to Giulio’s bar to share feedback on the students' performances and a refreshment.

Now we can look forward to SAIS graduates turning the lessons from the mock interviews into successful applications.

Frank-Alexander Raabe

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bits and pieces

Got questions on economics, jobs, internships, visas, health insurance or housing? Let me take a stab at answering them.

One of SAIS’s distinguishing features is its interdisciplinary curriculum. The combination of international relations, economics and languages sets SAIS apart. You may remember a past post by Prof. Çigdem Akin explaining the importance of studying economics to succeed in international relations.

As a future "SAISer", you are required to have a basic understanding of the principles of micro- and macroeconomics. If you’ve already passed university-level exams in basic micro and macro, you can start your course work at SAIS. If you have been admitted through the SAIS Bologna Admissions Office, you will receive an email this week indicating if you've met this economics requirement.

What if you’ve not satisfied the requirement?

You have two options. You can to sign up for the Online Principles of Economics course we offer during the summer. The registration deadline is May 15, and the course runs from May 23 to August 16. This course will give you the training you’ll need to tackle the intermediate-level classes you will take at SAIS, either in pre-term or during the academic year.

The other option is to take an equivalent university-level course elsewhere. Before you enroll, we want to make sure you are learning the right stuff. Please send us a syllabus of the course for approval. To understand the key concepts you’ll need to grasp, take a look at the syllabus of the course we offer.

Remember: All incoming students have to have studied both introductory micro and macro before they can start their course work at SAIS. The pre-term courses in micro and macro are at the intermediate level.

Many students need to work to make ends meet. Every year some students work on campus while others work outside of via Belmeloro. Opportunities within the SAIS Bologna building include working in the library, at the reception, as teaching or research assistants, as well as working with administrative offices.

There are internships with the CCSDD, an organization run in partnership with University of Bologna, and the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR). In coming weeks we will ask Ann Gagliardi, SAIS Bologna’s Career Counselor, to discuss opportunities available to you. For now, you can take a peek at a short interview with Ann last year.

Some students work outside of SAIS, for example as language tutors. With a student visa, one can work up to 20 hours a week. We do not recommend much more than 10 hours of work a week; otherwise, one's studies can suffer.

Students from outside the European Union need to apply for a visa to study in Italy. U.S. students are encouraged to make use of the visa service offered in Washington. Non-U.S. students will receive a visa request letter in Italian after they've paid their matriculation fee to reserve a spot in the program. There are a number of documents you will need to apply for your visa. Please consult the website of the Italian Embassy in your home country to make sure you have all the required information.

The visa application procedure is fairly straightforward. But there can be surprises. Please contact us if you encounter any difficulties.

In Italian they say, "La salute prima di tutto", or "health above all".

Non-EU citizens need to arrive in Italy with a sound health insurance plan. Regardless of your health, you need to have adequate health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay.

It is important to distinguish between Italy's emergency insurance and traditional, more comprehensive health insurance. The former provides coverage in emergencies, for example if you are taken to hospital. The latter covers non-emergencies. We recommend that students have both.

Housing matters won't eat you alive in Bologna
Finding a roof over your head in a foreign country might seem cause for an anxiety attack. Not at SAIS Bologna. We have a housing consultant who has been helping SAISers find accommodation for three decades.

The Housing Service will start on August 16. If you want to take advantage of the service, you should sign up for a housing tour after you arrive in Bologna. On the day of your tour you will be shown several apartments; if you find one you like, you can move in right away. Here is a video that shows how some of this year's students found accommodation.

Please note that housing is on a first-come-first-served basis. You should know that you are not required to make use of SAIS's housing service. If you speak some Italian, you'll see that there are real estate agents in Bologna.

Amina Abdiuahab

Thursday, April 19, 2012

SAIS in print and cyberspace

I call your attention to two publications that give a glimpse into SAIS.

The latest edition of SAIS Reports notes that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who graduated from SAIS in 1985, will be the speaker at the ceremony next month marking the end of the academic year at SAIS DC.

(For those unfamiliar with U.S. academic tradition, the ceremony celebrating a class's graduation is called "commencement". And if you haven't seen the movie The Graduate, you're in for a treat.)

Einhorn and Nasr
The publication also features an interview with outgoing SAIS Dean Jessica Einhorn, who joined SAIS in 2002 after nearly two decades in leadership roles at the World Bank.

"With a curriculum that combines regional and functional studies, SAIS is designed academically to offer what a young professional needs to learn about the world that is taking shape now," Einhorn says.

Einhorn will turn over SAIS's reins on July 1 to Vali Nasr, currently a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. To listen to Nasr's recent remarks to the SAIS community, click here.

In a reminder of SAIS's multidisciplinary curriculum, SAIS Reports writes about a new program of study called the Global Politics and Religion Initiative, underwritten by a $440,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

The second publication, Rivista, is a window into SAIS Bologna. It's geared mainly for alumni. But prospective applicants and admitted candidates will find articles on the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development and its initiatives in Bosnia and Ghana, and on the Bologna Institute for Policy Research.

It also notes that Austria's new ambassador to Athens, Melitta Schubert, is an alumna of SAIS Bologna. One of many SAIS graduates in a leading diplomatic post.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The power of diversity

SAIS Bologna students say diversity contributes in an important way to the learning experience inside and outside the classroom.

Diversity comes in many shapes and forms. Nationality can shape us in many ways and help determine our language, culture, religion, economic outlook, historical perspective -- and our hidden biases. Part of the learning experience at SAIS is to discover one's biases and to help others discover theirs.

This year candidates with passports from 55 different countries have been admitted to SAIS Bologna. They come from every inhabited continent.

This coming academic year in Bologna many of those candidates will be sharing their experiences with one another in a fruitful exchange not easily forgotten.

Here is a map showing those countries:

View SAIS Bologna admitted candidates' countries in a larger map

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

FAQs: Your questions answered

We're getting a flurry of questions from admitted candidates. It's only natural. We try our hardest to answer them.

Here are the most common queries:

Q: Will you be distributing more financial aid for 2012-13?
A: One of the most difficult aspects of assembling a new class is our inability to fully meet the financial needs of all of the students we would like to welcome. At the moment we have distributed all of the money available to us for scholarships. Later, when we know which admitted candidates will be attending SAIS, if sufficient money is returned to us we may be able to make additional grants, as we have in the past, but it is not something to count on.

Q: I have been offered aid for 2012-13. Will I receive the same amount in 2013-14?
A: There is no guarantee the same level of aid will be offered to each non-U.S. recipient in the second year. There is a pool of aid for non-U.S. students in their second year. The pool is greater in the first year than the second, in part because some special fellowships are available to non-U.S. students attending SAIS Bologna. All non-U.S. students in satisfactory academic standing are eligible to apply for aid for the second year. Awards are based mainly on performance during the first semester at the Bologna Center. Need and in some cases fellowship eligibility can also be taken into consideration. Students who perform especially well in Bologna -- whether or not they have received aid in their first year -- can present a strong case for aid in the second year. Competition for aid is lively, and we urge students to explore alternative sources for the second year as soon as possible to avoid missing deadlines which can fall one year in advance.

For more information on financial aid, click here. For potential alternative sources of funds outside SAIS's control, click here; please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and there are funds that we do not know about.

One of the alternative sources of funds for the second year for non-U.S. citizens could be the Fulbright Commission. There is no blanket authorization for the national commissions to accept applications from students who attend SAIS Bologna and who are looking for funding for a second year in Washington. Each country applies its own policies. However, a number of commissions in Europe have agreed to accept applications from students for their second year in Washington, and we would encourage those who are interested to try. Please keep us informed of your progress, and if you think that an intervention from us with your local Fulbright Commission might help establish your eligibility (not advance your candidacy), please provide us the name, email and/or telephone number of your contact person, and we will try to help . Also, keep in mind that this applies to funding for a second year in Washington. Fulbright does not offer scholarships to students studying in Bologna.

Q: I received no aid for 2012-13. Can I receive some for 2013-14?
A: Please see the answer to the preceding question. If you perform extremely well in Bologna, you're only doing yourself a favor. Give it a try.

Q: Can I defer enrollment?
A: Yes. We ask candidates who wish to defer to write to us, explaining why. You need a good reason to defer. Different people have different reasons for deferring; we will consider each case on its merits. In some cases, it is to work a job that directly enhances your subsequent experience at SAIS. A candidate who defers needs to decide by May 16 and to pay the 385-euro deferral fee to hold down the spot for the following academic year. The fee is eventually subtracted from the student's first-term tuition. If you want to defer, let us know as soon as possible.

Q: How do I get a visa to study in Italy?
A: If you are from a European Union member state, you do not need a visa. Otherwise, if you are a non-U.S. national, once you have matriculated (which requires a 385-euro payment), we will send you a letter in Italian that allows you to apply for a student visa ("Visto Tipo D" -- in English, Type D visa). You can apply at an Italian embassy or consulate in your home country. From there on, it's pretty straightforward. If you get on this early, you should not lose any sleep. But if you hit a snag, be sure to contact us.

Incoming students from the United States should be in touch with Erin Cameron ( in the SAIS DC Admissions Office about their visas.

Q: Can I work part-time in Bologna?
A: Italian regulations say full-time students with a visa can work up to 20 hours a week, or 1040 hours a year. There are some jobs at SAIS Bologna such as research and teaching assistantships, library employment and the reception. Both the Bologna Institute for Policy Research and the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development employ a certain number of interns. There can be opportunities off campus, especially if you speak some Italian.

Q: When and how do I apply for a job at the Bologna Center?
A: It's best to wait for jobs to be posted. Some departments send out vacancy announcements over the summer while others wait until pre-term or the beginning of the academic year. In many cases job openings will be sent to incoming students via email. Research and teaching assistantships are managed by professors themselves, and the processes and timing depend on the individuals. If you are interested in a teaching or research assistantship, have a look at the biographies of professors and consider whether there is someone you would like to work with. Keep in mind that there can be a good deal of competition for these posts.

Q: What if my question is not answered here? Should I dash off an email to the friendly Admissions team?
A: We love email. But could we ask a favor? That you first check out the special page for incoming students and the guidebook for incoming students. If you still don't have an answer, please do write or call us.

Also, we'll be holding an online Q&A session on April 25. If you have been admitted and you'd like to participate, please send an email to And don't forget our Open House in Bologna on May 3&4. All admitted students are welcome.

Q: How do I pronounce "Bologna"?
A: The "g" is soft. If you say "Bo-lon-ya", with the accent on "lon", you're off to a good start.

Nelson Graves

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two Sisters. Two Paths

Dominique and Alyssa Mack are twin sisters. They have both attended Johns Hopkins University. And yet their paths have diverged.

Dominique is finishing her first year at SAIS in Bologna and plans to finish her master's in Washington next year.

Alyssa attended the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, finishing in 2008. She now lives in New York and is practicing law.

In the video below, they talk about the paths they have chosen and where they are headed.

If you are reading this via email, you can view the video by clicking here.

Amina Abdiuahab

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The interdisciplinary way: "It all matters"

Most SAIS Bologna students spend their second year studying at SAIS Washington. But not all.

Geoffrey Levin, a current SAIS Bologna student, will go from Bologna to the main Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore where he'll take courses in the Political Science Department while benefiting from a generous scholarship. He hopes to transition into a Ph.D program.

Earlier this month Geoffrey won first prize in a competition organized by the Atlantic Community and sponsored by NATO and the U.S. mission in Germany.
Geoffrey Levin
Geoffrey wrote an editorial for the competition entitled, “Endowing the Arab Spring Generation with the Skills to Govern”, which landed him among the five finalists. They then collaborated on a policy paper.

Geoffrey’s contributions won him the top honor, a 500-euro prize and a chance to present the paper to a conference in Berlin next month.

A native of Chicago and a 2011 graduate of Michigan State University in the United States, Geoffrey studied Hebrew and Arabic in Israel before coming to SAIS. While in Bologna he has interned at the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD), which employs a number of SAIS students each year to do research. There, Geoffrey has worked on the Arab Spring.

I spoke to Geoffrey before the spring break at SAIS Bologna.

Q: How did you get involved with this competition?
Levin: I saw some emails about it. A couple of people said this might be something you might be interested in doing. The competition has three components: the first one focuses on NATO values, the second one on partnerships after the Arab Spring and the third one on smart defense. I've been working for CCSDD all year on their Arab Spring project. Over last summer I wrote articles for an internship in Australia, a lot about the Arab Spring. It's something I've been following in my course work as well.

Q: What happened then?
Levin: A few nights before, I decided "I should probably do this." So I went into the computer lab and typed something up. The first part of it was an 800-word editorial on NATO building partnerships after the Arab Spring, bringing new regimes into the region, addressing new security challenges. I emphasized the importance of the youth in terms of forging long-term partnerships, in part because if anything, the Arab Spring showed that building relationships only with the state is very limited in its real true sense of partnership. So I talked about the importance of building stable state institutions, about getting used to both strengthening democracy and the policy and internal security apparatus. The security situation is very fragile and the state is now fragile. I found out a little while later that I was one of five finalists. This is open to anyone from any NATO country under age 35. I think there were 75, 76 people who submitted, the five of us were from from North America and Europe. Some had been doing Ph.Dstudies, one was the head of a think tank.

Q: You were named a winner before teaming up with the other four?
Levin: Two thirds of it was based on the initial editorial. Then the last third is based on the online discussion. We commentated on each other's debating, because we had some underlying similarities but there were many differences, as you would assume. The third stage was to prepare a 25,000-word policy memo that integrated the best of our suggestions. This policy memo will be presented at the Atlantic Community's conference in Berlin. The Atlantic Community organizes it but the actual competition is sponsored by both NATO and the U.S. mission to Germany.

We worked together online, a wiki-type thing, to integrate our suggestions. I tried to see what was our underlying interconnectedness. A lot of the focus was on training and state-building. I ended up writing the introduction, and I emphasized the key threat of institutional collapse. Obviously it's very important for us to build partnerships with these new democratic regimes, but for Europe the idea of a state collapse in North Africa or in Syria, and the refugees, is the biggest threat to emerge from the Arab Spring. The policy memo addressed both the threats and the opportunities with this new democratic movement. So it did emphasize partnerships with the youths in the context of training, in terms of military, the police and civil society as well. Because if you ever are going to end this process and build stable governments, you need government that is in some way or another democratically accountable to its people.

Q: To write your editorial, did you have to do research or had you done your work ahead of time?
Levin: Throughout this process, I did not know that much about NATO. I came with a very strong Middle East background, Arab Spring background, so for that I did not need to do any research.

Q: Have you lived in the Middle East?
Levin: Yes, I spent four months in Israel last year learning Hebrew and Arabic, and I'll be studying Arabic in Morocco this summer on a Critical Language Scholarship.

Q: The multidisciplinary approach of SAIS helped?
Levin: International policy-making is inherently an interdisciplinary field. Some of the other finalists, who might be very, very smart, may have focused more on one aspect, and I was able, partly because of SAIS, to focus on multiple aspects, not just on the institution of NATO, not just on the Middle East, but also on the culture, the politics, the institutions, the relations -- it all matters. You can't make policy toward the Middle East without taking culture into account.

The memo required a very comprehensive approach. It wasn't just in my Middle East classes where I learned to emphasize this. I took Prof. Kuhne's class on war, conflict and state failure in sub-Saharan Africa. So the threat of state failure, the ways of countering that through institution-building and the magnitude of the threats that can emerge from that -- that's something I learned from a class that had nothing to do with the Middle East. And of course the economics component was small but very relevant.

Q: You'll be in Washington next year. What do you hope to do after that?
Levin: I will not be in Washington next year. I was awarded the Bologna Fellowship to study in Baltimore (at Johns Hopkins -- eds). They offer one to two students in Bologna the opportunity to study in the Political Science Department. So technically I'll be a visiting student in the Political Science Department. I think from there most likely I'll transition either to the Ph.D program there -- I'll be taking courses with all of the Ph.D students -- or apply elsewhere if Johns Hopkins is not the right fit.

Q: So you want to go into teaching?
Levin: Teaching, and maybe some other stuff on the side, policy, research. All of it sounds interesting to me.

Q: I take it you don't regret coming to the Bologna Center?
Levin: No. The biggest downside is the cash, but that's not going to be a problem next year.

The Bologna Center makes you think so much. I had never studied Europe before, but now I can speak pretty intelligently about it and I like to think about the issues in Europe. I know people from every region of the world. It forces you to think differently, and it gives you this interdisciplinary policy perspective which I don't think enough people in academia have. Maybe I shouldn't say that! I'll find out.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Looking back: Three graduates reflect on SAIS Bologna

Today we turn this journal over to three recent graduates of SAIS Bologna.

Astrid Haas, Patrick Flanagan and Elan Bar all serve on the Bologna Center Advisory Council, composed of leaders from Europe and the United States who help guide the institution.

Astrid attended SAIS Bologna in 2008-09 and studied the following year at SAIS DC. She is currently working as an analyst for the Food, Agribusiness and Rural Markets Project in South Sudan.

Patrick followed Astrid by one year at SAIS. He is currently a consultant with the World Bank's International Finance Corporation in Washington.

Elan Bar is a second-year student at SAIS DC. Some of our readers may recognize him as the president of the SAIS Bologna Student Government Association last year. Before coming to SAIS Bologna in 2010, he had worked as an English teacher and language consultant to several large Italian companies and institutions, including the Italian military.

I caught up with these three graduates before the Advisory Council's annual meeting in Bologna last month. In the video below, they discuss why the decided to attend SAIS Bologna and what it meant for them.

My apologies for the background noise on the tape. Some local university students were in the street outside the Bologna Center taking advantage of the fine spring day and celebrating with one of their classmates who had recently earned a university degree. In Italy, tradition has it that a graduate marches proudly through the city streets while wearing a crown of laurel leaves. Hence the English word "laureate".

If you are reading this via email, you can see the video by clicking here.

Nelson Graves

Thursday, April 5, 2012

For those who will be rejected

We'll soon be sending letters informing non-U.S. applicants to SAIS Bologna whether they've been accepted, put on the wait list or rejected.

This post is for those who will be rejected.

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it," said the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

After the initial shock of rejection, here are several possible reactions:

- They've made a mistake.
- I'm totally useless.
- OK, how can I learn from this?

Here's what one applicant recently wrote to us even before learning the Admissions Committee's decision:

"I look forward to receiving the admission's decision and have been working on correcting my mistakes and improving on what I have learned during the application process. It has been a very enriching experience!"

Some applicants will have breezed through the application process, and SAIS will open its doors wide to accept them. But will they have learned something?

My hope is that those who are rejected will take a deep breath and consider why they may have fallen short. There's nothing personal in an Admissions Committee's rejection -- it all comes down to fit.

Here are some questions: How could I have improved my application? Was my English proficiency score too low? How about my undergraduate transcript? Did my statement convey a real appetite for an international curriculum and career? Did my referees understand why I want to go to SAIS?

It's entirely possible that failure in this instance will propel a candidate to success. Some applicants who are rejected reapply and are admitted. Others shift their sights to something more appropriate.

Some readers may remember a post we published last year on failure. We noted these colossal "failures":

- Abraham Lincoln lost in his first try for the Illinois legislature, lost in his first attempt to be nominated for Congress, lost in the senatorial elections of 1854 and 1858.
- Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and did not read until he was seven.
- Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime.

I'm a big believer in providing feedback to candidates who fall short. It's part of the process of learning. If you receive a rejection letter, feel free to contact me after April 16. We can set up a time to chat so I can provide feedback.

The vanquished can teach us as much as the winners. Victory and defeat can both nurture wisdom.

This unknown author knew as much: "Take risks:  if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise."

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A prism on SAIS Bologna

A new book on Libya offers a window on intellectual life at SAIS Bologna.

The book, Libia: Fine o rinascita di una nazione? (Libya: End or rebirth of a nation?), was co-authored by Prof. Karim Mezran, who teaches Middle East Studies at SAIS.

Alice Alunni, who attended SAIS Bologna in 2008-09 and graduated from SAIS in 2010, wrote a chapter of the book and moderated the unveiling of the volume at a recent event in Bologna.

The book launch was part of a series organized by the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR), the research division of Johns Hopkins University in Bologna.

Varvelli, Alunni and Cremonesi
This confluence of research and writing on a current topic, teaching, teamwork and outreach is part of SAIS's mission and consistent with the mix of theory and practice that prepares students for challenges in the work place.

The book on Libya was a joint effort by SAIS professors, researchers and professors from Italian universities. It is one of the first in Italian that provides an analytical perspective on the oil-rich North African country. SAIS alumna Saskia Van Genugten, who is writing her Ph.D thesis on Libya, contributed a chapter on ties linking Libya, France and the United Kingdom.

I talked with Alice after the book launch, which was attended by co-author Arturo Varvelli of the IPSI research institute and Lorenzo Cremonesi of leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Since graduating from SAIS, Alice has worked at the International Labor Organization and at the Center for American Studies headed by Prof. Mezran. (You may remember our chat with Prof. Mezran at the outset of the Arab Spring). She is currently a junior associate fellow at SAIS Bologna.

Q: In a few words, what is the book about?
Alunni: The book analyzes the main social, political and economic aspects of the history of the country from the Ottoman domination till the present. Therefore, it allows the reader to understand the driving forces of current events.

Q: I understand you wrote a chapter of the book. What’s your chapter about?
Alunni: It’s about the relationship between Qaddafi's Libya and Middle Eastern and African countries. In particular, it analyzes the switch from pan-Arabism to pan-Africanism in Qaddafi's foreign policy and the socio-economic and political drivers that determined this process.

Q: Who would read the book?
Alunni: Anyone interested in learning more about what brought Libya to the situation it is in today. Many historical, social, political as well as economic factors have materialized into today’s events. The lack of a Libyan national identity, for instance, is discussed in the book, and this can help understand the centrifugal forces at work in Libya in 2012.

Q: What role has SAIS played?
Alunni: I finished my studies at SAIS a couple of years ago. Through SAIS I was able to nurture my interest for North Africa. And BIPR gives me the opportunity to carry out the research.

Q: What will your next work be?
Alunni: I’m finishing an article for the BC Journal of International Affairs. The topic this year is power shifts, and I’m co-authoring the article on power shifts in the North African region with Prof. Mezran. I’m also working with him on the case study on Libya for a project conducted by the Clingendael Institute and directed by SAIS Prof. William Zartman called “Negotiations in Transition”, which focuses on the role of negotiations among local actors during the Arab Spring.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SAIS Bologna: "a transformative process"

Tom Tesluk is chairman of the Bologna Center Advisory Council, comprised of U.S. and European leaders who provide operating advice and financial support to the institution.

A 1981 graduate of SAIS Bologna, Tom decided to attend the program to expand his horizons and challenge his assumptions by studying with students and faculty from other countries.

"It is still changing my life," Tom says in the video interview below, calling SAIS Bologna a "transformative process."

His motivations remain valid for many of the 190-odd students who attend the Center three decades after Tom did.

I spoke to Tom last week when he was in Bologna for the Advisory Council's annual meeting. Tom currently is CEO of Sequent Consulting LLC and provides management and international business development advice to European and U.S. clients.

If you are reading this via email, you can see the video here.

Nelson Graves