Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We have a new name: SAIS Europe

Would SAIS Bologna by any other name educate as well?

SAIS Dean Vali Nasr has announced that 58 years after it was founded, the SAIS Bologna Center will now be called SAIS Europe.

"This will emphasize the campus' standing as a European center of intellectual excellence and SAIS's global standing," Nasr said in a note to alumni.

The Bologna Center was founded in 1955 by SAIS Prof. C. Grove Haines, a diplomatic historian with a love of Italy and a desire to build an American graduate school where students from Europe and the United States could learn from each other how to rebuild Europe after the devastation of World War Two.

Why Bologna? Italy played a central role in post-war Europe and in the construction of the European Union. The forces that shaped the continent were at play in Italy's politics, economy, foreign policy and society, and Bologna, home of Europe's oldest university and much respected by Haines, provided rich intellectual soil. 

With changes to Europe and the global landscape over the years, SAIS Bologna's curriculum, scholarship and student body have changed considerably. At the outset the focus was primarily on transatlantic relations, the Cold War and European nation states; now the courses, research and student body reflect a broader mission in a globalized economy where the program's more than 7,000 alumni play leading roles.

The name "SAIS Europe" better captures the Bologna-based institution's leadership position, Nasr said.

"The scope of the excellent teaching and research housed in Bologna goes well beyond the borders of Italy," he said. "Our thought leadership encompasses all of Europe and provides critical context for the continent's evolving international role."

In a separate note to faculty and staff, Nasr said the new name would convey the unique regional and global footprint that SAIS -- the only U.S. graduate school in international relations with campuses on three continents -- has built in the past seven decades.

"It will also better convey the value of research and teaching at the Bologna Center to audiences in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and highlight the true global nature of SAIS’s education and thought leadership," Nasr said.

The change in name comes shortly after Johns Hopkins University, SAIS's parent institution, overhauled the logos of the university and its many units.

Change can sometimes be difficult. When I was a student at SAIS in the early 1980s, we referred to the Bologna Center and, separately, to SAIS -- the Washington campus. Later, to the chagrin of some alumni who were emotionally attached to the name "Bologna Center", the campuses became SAIS Bologna and SAIS DC. They were joined in 1986 by the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China.

Now, the new name SAIS Europe underscores the Bologna Center's continued relevance, its success in extending its reach and the important role it plays in setting the greater SAIS apart.

Nelson Graves

No comments: