Thursday, November 15, 2012

SAIS Concentrations: Conflict Management

Today Michael Cornish tells us why he chose Conflict Management as his academic concentration. His is the second in a series of posts on concentrations at SAIS.

For me, there was only ever one choice for a concentration at SAIS – Conflict Management.

A while back I was doing an internship as the personal/research assistant to Gareth Evans, former foreign minister of Australia and president emeritus of the International Crisis Group. I asked him: "Where would you go to study conflict management and international relations?" You can already guess his reply.

It was the availability of this concentration that clinched my decision to apply to SAIS. And so here I am now in Bologna.

Michael Cornish
I hold to a personal philosophy that would be best described as "passionate pragmatism". This philosophy underscores that it is not enough to simply want to change the world for better – as much as this should also be encouraged – but that one must also acquire the knowledge, understanding and practical tools with which to effect such change.

Wishing to "maximise the good" I do in this world, and reflecting upon both my strengths and interests, I concluded that conflict management was the area in which I would try to place my lever to move the world.

I look forward to the Conflict Management practicum courses, primarily offered at SAIS DC. But coming to SAIS Bologna in my first year was an excellent decision. I have not had to compromise my academic goals taking this path; in fact, it is enriching my academic experience.

Importantly, the Bologna Conflict Symposium – a gathering of many of the world’s most prominent experts in conflict management – is held right here at the Bologna Center each June. Of even more, if abstract, importance is the chance to be immersed in not only one but two different perspectives and cultures – a real-life attempt to live and understand the ‘international’ part of the degree’s namesake.

I have a few possible internships lined up for the break between Bologna and Washington, both in the field of conflict management. Even at this early stage I have identified the top several potential employers that I wish to pursue for post-SAIS employment. Through my discussions with them, my degree at SAIS – with its strong reputation in conflict management – is considered a tremendous asset.

I think choosing the right concentration can be exceptionally important, but especially if you know what direction you want your career to head in.

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