- Annual Enrollment:
- 425 Graduate
- Average GPA:
- % International:
- Employment Sectors
- 32% Nonprofit; 30% Private; 29% Public; 5% International organizations; 3% Foreign government; 1% Self-employed
- Work Experience:
- 81% of enrolled students have prior full-time work experience
- Degrees Offered:
- MS in Development Management, MA in: Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs; Global Environmental Policy; Global Media; Intercultural and International Communication; Comparative and Regional Studies; Global Governance, Politics, and Security; International Economic Relations; Natural Resources and Sustainable Development; United States Foreign Policy and National Security; International Development; International Economics; International Peace and Conflict Resolution; International Relations (online); Social Enterprise (on campus and online), PhD in International Relations; Executive Degree: Master of International Service (on campus or online), Executive Track and International Studies Track; Dual Degrees: JD/MA; MA/MAT; MA/MBA; MA/MTS
What does the world need most? Security experts who know that understanding conflict is a step on the path to peace. Environmentalists fluent where biodiversity meets policy. Scholars who connect knowledge with practice. Practitioners across disciplines who understand that service isn’t a moment – it’s a mindset.
At the School of International Service (SIS), we believe that the world needs leaders ready to serve. Service is the foundation on which our school is built, and represents the best of what we aspire to be.Through the transformational research and teaching of our renowned faculty, SIS prepares more than 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students for global careers in government, non-profits, and business. Our students learn from more than 120 full-time faculty – leading political scientists, economists, sociologists, and experts in international development and global health – and benefit from an active international network of more than 20,000 alumni.
We are a top-10 school of international affairs, strategically based in Washington, DC. Since our founding in 1957, we have answered President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s call to prepare students of international affairs to “wage peace.” Over the intervening years, SIS has grown in stature and influence and is now a destination for students seeking to think critically, build understanding, and wage peace in our world. Our students enjoy both the benefit of a tight-knit campus community and the advantage of being in the nation’s capital. Our school, with nearly 20 degree programs, is a forum for collaboration and engagement with fellow students, with faculty, with alumni, and with the global leaders who frequently visit our campus. Our city offers unparalleled opportunities for faculty and students not only to study and research international affairs, but also to actively engage in the ongoing work of this dynamic field.
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How does your school approach the study of geopolitical conflict?
At the School of International Service (SIS), we have always relied on our greatest strength—diversity of thought and research. Our faculty of multidisciplinary experts includes political scientists, anthropologists, historians, geographers, diplomats, and practitioners. Through their translational and transformational research, they investigate the causes of conflict, identify opportunities to resolve them, and connect the global and the local.
How are you preparing students to navigate changes in the geopolitical landscape?
Because issues and challenges do not obey geopolitical borders, we provide students with strong academic foundations, practical skills, and opportunities to apply them outside the classroom. Our master’s students complete international practica on subject areas ranging from peacebuilding to cyber conflict in regions like the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Their opportunities for practice are as vast as the challenges that face our world, and they work for real-world clients in capstone experiences that jump-start their careers.
What do you consider the most important emerging areas in the study of international affairs?
The important emerging areas of study all reflect globalization and the fact that no country, however powerful, can go it alone. These areas, including climate change, national security, public health, and migration, often cut across traditional disciplines. Our response at SIS is to think and teach in similar cross-cutting ways.
The impact of climate change on global public health is a great example of the intersection of social justice, human rights, and national security. The U.S. military believes climate change is a security issue. We teach global environmental policy with the understanding that, yes, clean water and safety from damaging storms are important for public health and prosperity, but they’re also critical for security. If unaddressed, the effects of climate change, including competition for arable land and clean water, will exacerbate conflicts related to border security, the identities of nations, and social justice. Our Global Environmental Policy students translate their passions for justice, ecological well-being, and humane governance into careers addressing those concerns.
SIS students of foreign policy and security work with faculty known for their research on terrorism, cybersecurity, politics, diplomacy, and executive-legislative relations. We also have a strong history of innovation in the emerging area of intercultural communication as it relates to geopolitical conflict and cooperation. Our Master of Arts in International and Intercultural Communication prepares students for national and international leadership roles in public-cultural diplomacy initiatives, business and political negotiations, and education.
Finally, SIS, in partnership with American University’s College of Arts and Science, has staked out a leadership role in a critically important emerging area of study—antiracist policies and movements around the world. Under the visionary leadership of Professor Ibram X. Kendi, our Antiracist Research and Policy Center produces knowledge for change’s sake. Determined researchers and policy experts study racial inequality, recommend policy correctives, and engage in campaigns of change.
SIS is a unique place. We attract service-minded leaders who understand that, in today’s world, a win-lose scenario produces no true winners. Our students and alumni will always strive for the win-win that acknowledges the concerns and human dignity of all.
You are a medical anthropologist specializing in humanitarian assistance and global health who teaches international affairs. Tell us about your research and approach to teaching.
My research draws on insights from ethnographic field work and ongoing conversations with many different people in the Horn of Africa to help improve the global health policies and humanitarian interventions that affect them. My goal as an instructor at the School of International Service (SIS) is to share these experiences with my students and, therein, help them more effectively recognize, analyze, and redress health inequities, both in faraway places like the Horn of Africa and right here in Washington, DC.
How has your work with humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF and the United Nations (UN) World Food Program informed how you teach international affairs?
As an anthropologist, I consider UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations as cultural systems with discernable histories, symbols, rituals, and values. In class, we study how power operates within these organizations. We ask how power relations affect how we define a humanitarian crisis, a famine, or an epidemic, and how and by whom particular health and humanitarian interventions are designed and evaluated. To supplement scholarly and policy texts, I introduce students to aid workers, policymakers, and beneficiaries who can offer grounded insights into the importance, challenges, and inadequacies of particular foreign interventions.
How does the SIS curriculum, built around the combination of knowledge and practice, benefit students?
In my classes, I make sure that every student ends the semester with three things: scientific and programmatic proficiency, depth of historical knowledge, and the ability to critically analyze global inequities. First, I make sure students are knowledgeable about the science and policy underpinning health and humanitarian interventions. Second, I teach the history and roles of international organizations and governments in the development of laws and intervention strategies. Students exit the class understanding, for example, the history, structure, and critiques of the UN World Health Organization and how it positions itself for future global health challenges. Third, students gain critical thinking skills to evaluate how diseases or problems are prioritized and how groups of people and problems can sometimes be left behind or obscured.
SIS was founded on the promise of educating international affairs students to wage peace. How do you apply this to your work?
“Waging peace” means building relations of trust and fighting for social justice. Anthropologists have long studied the role of health in people’s social identities and the cultural sensitivity required to optimize medical care—especially in the aftermath of war or violence. Health care has important societal effects; conversely, social relations shape the outcomes and evaluations of the medical care people receive. Therefore, health and humanitarian responses can never be limited to building clinics and donating material goods but must also include explicit efforts to foster trust and reconciliation. Histories of violence make relief operations and clinical encounters between oppositional groups formidable. However, in my work, I have found that healthcare providers and aid workers, by explicitly working to undo political tensions, can build meaningful rapport across antagonistic divides. In other words, peace can begin in the clinic.