- Annual Enrollment:
- 324 new students; 770 total. (2017)
- Average GRE:
- 156 V, 151 Q, 4.5 A
- Average GPA:
- Average Age:
- % International:
- Employment Sectors:
- Private, Public, Non-profit
- Degrees Offered:
- MA, MIPP, MIS, Graduate Certificates
- $1825/credit hour (2018)
The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs is one of the world’s leading schools of international affairs. Located in the heart of Washington, DC, its mission is to educate the next generation of international leaders, conduct research that advances understanding of important global issues, and engage the policy community in the United States and around the world.
The Elliott School, offers innovative, interdisciplinary teaching programs that embed ethics, leadership and practical training throughout the curriculum. The Elliott School was the first to offer its graduate students a full set of professional skills courses focusing on practical skills that help students succeed as practitioners in their careers. The courses are designed to supplement the substantive and theoretical aspects of our academic curriculum and teach skills applicable to the professional world.
More than 800 students take advantage of one of the Elliott School’s 12 graduate programs. The school offers Master of Arts programs in global communication, international affairs, international development, international trade and investment policy, international science and technology policy, and security policy, as well as Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The Elliott School also offers an on-campus and on-line master’s degree for mid- career professionals and a dual-degree master of international studies in conjunction with its 15 international partner universities.
The Elliott School’s 23,000 alumni can be found working and serving in leadership positions around the globe.
The Elliott School’s eleven research institutes:
- Institute for African Studies
- Institute for Disaster and Fragility Resilience
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
- Institute for International Economic Policy
- Institute for International Science and Technology Policy
- Institute for Korean Studies
- Institute for Middle East Studies
- Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication
- Institute for Security and Conflict Studies
- Sigur Center for Asian Studies
- Space Policy Institute
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How has working at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) informed how you teach conflict resolution at the Elliott School of International Affairs?
At the Holocaust Museum and USIP, I worked with a diverse range of international affairs (IA) professionals to teach skills and design strategies for preventing and resolving deadly violence. A key imperative was to translate abstract academic research findings into actionable insights for practitioners working in conflict settings.
At the Elliott School, I teach graduate students and senior U.S. government officials about international conflict resolution and national security leadership. With both audiences, I emphasize that effective leadership depends on forging a shared sense of purpose through narratives that help diverse constituencies find common ground. I continue to strive to combine intellectual rigor, clarity, and pragmatism.
A challenge of working on genocide prevention and conflict resolution is that these objectives are often viewed as admirable but unrealistic, so it is difficult to marshal sustained and strategic action to achieve them. At the Holocaust Museum, I helped launch the Genocide Prevention Task Force, a high-level panel chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. The task force declared genocide prevention a “core U.S. national security interest” and presented practical policy recommendations, since adopted by the Obama and Trump administrations. With my Elliott School students, I stress the need to aim high and follow the courage of one’s convictions, even if progress is difficult and halting.
How do Elliott School students acquire the practical, ethical, and leadership skills for a changing world?
In our increasingly complex and volatile world, it is important to lead horizontally as well as hierarchically. Promoting transformational change requires the capacity to listen attentively, to communicate effectively across cultures, and to identify opportunities for constructive collaboration. Elliott School students develop these skills in the classroom through our extensive professional skills curriculum and by studying with some of the world’s most distinguished IA practitioners. Our global capstone courses offer students the chance to consult for major global organizations, analyzing and proposing solutions to pressing leadership challenges. Because most Elliott School classes meet in the evenings in Washington, DC, many of our students also work full-time or part-time and have the opportunity to put these skills into practice in their professional lives.
What makes the students, faculty, and community at George Washington University unique?
As the realtors say, “Location, location, location.” Our physical location is blocks from the White House, State Department, World Bank, and leading think tanks and nongovernmental organizations. Our students have access to unparalleled resources and opportunities to enhance their IA knowledge in an applied setting, and the Elliott School draws on the expertise of accomplished practitioners both in the classroom and in the more than 350 public events it hosts each year. Equally distinctive is our figurative location at the intersection between academia and practice. The Elliott School is a multidisciplinary institution that is home to some of the world’s most influential political scientists, economists, historians, and anthropologists, in addition to current and former policymakers with a wealth of experience in government and international institutions.
Why did you choose the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs for a graduate degree?
The Elliott School was a natural choice. Its International Development Studies (IDS) program offers the right mix of theoretical and skills courses and is an ideal launching pad for a development career.
The GW campus—nestled in the heart of Foggy Bottom—is the ideal location for aspiring international affairs professionals. Where else do you find the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, shopping at the campus Whole Foods or the President’s motorcade accompanying you on your morning walk? Washington, DC, is brimming with inspiration for young professionals committed to ending poverty. I was able to walk out of a meeting at the World Bank about education policy in Kenya into an International Education Projects class five minutes later and never stop learning and applying knowledge.
Attending the Elliott School allowed me to learn from a distinguished faculty, interact with a truly global student body, and live in a city packed with great career opportunities in my chosen field.
You created GRID during your time at the Elliott School. How did your studies influence the development of this organization?
Elliott School IDS students are trained to innovate and lead, to dare to challenge the status quo, and to think of innovative solutions.
GRID was born in my Development Economics class when, after debating the merits of two project ideas for development in East Africa, one of my classmates declared, “I guess we’ll never know.”
It got me thinking that in development, we seldom observe the counterfactual, what would have happened had we done things differently. I thought, if only we could simulate economies, as in the video game SimCity, then we could observe the impact of projects. That was the moment GRID was born. At GRID, we don’t just want to make games. We want to be the agents of change in revolutionizing how games make the practice of development effective.
Programs like the GW Business Plan Competition helped me flesh out the business model and shift the focus of GRID from capacity-building games to behavior change games that can help poor people make better decisions.
Professional skills courses are an important part of the M.A. program at the Elliott School. How did they help prepare you for your career?
The Elliott School faculty is an impressive mix of scholars and practitioners, and skills courses provide a unique opportunity for hands-on learning. Courses like Negotiation Skills and Leadership and Teamwork helped develop my soft skills; those such as Data Visualization and Analyzing International Economic Data directly enhanced my work at the World Bank. Games and Simulation for International Development and Mobile Phones for International Development have given me a strong foundation to understand the Tech4Dev sector and position GRID competitively in the industry.
The Elliott School’s IDS program gave me not only a prestigious international affairs degree, but also the skills to listen better, innovate better, and lead better.
At GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, I teach students about the connections between the theory and practice of international affairs. My courses examine international relations theory, global governance, and their application in the world. Most recently, I have been teaching about the interaction between global governance and humanitarianism—the subject of my 2011 book, Empire of Humanity.
Why is the study of international relations theory and global governance so important to understanding the international affairs field more broadly?
The study of international relations often begins with two claims—sovereignty, the idea that the state is the most important actor in world affairs, and anarchy, that there is no supranational authority that can keep the peace. For some, this means that the world is filled with conflict with no hope for sustained cooperation. For others, it means that we have to create rules of the road that enable us to achieve our mutual interests. Enter global governance, the study of how the world creates rules that can help actors achieve their interests. The study of global governance, then, is the study of the world’s ongoing experiment to find solutions to its common interests, from security to human rights to climate change to economic development. Global rule-making was always difficult, but it has become more so with globalization, intensifying interdependence, the decline of state sovereignty, and the growth of new kinds of actors. A great deal of our international relations theories are designed to understand what sorts of solutions to global problems are possible.
How do your research and teaching inform each other?
I have always found research and teaching to be mutually necessary and reinforcing. I love doing research, and part of the enjoyment—and challenge—is bringing that knowledge to the classroom. Teaching also is part of our broader mission of serving the public. Although there is always an invaluable role for research for theory’s sake, I also strongly believe that our scholarship should also have public value. Teaching, in turn, helps make sure that when we do research we are constantly keeping an eye on the public mission. Students always want to know “why should we care?” We are obligated to provide an answer. Student enthusiasm is often contagious; their interest perpetuates my own.
What makes the students, faculty, and community at GW unique?
I have been fortunate to teach at many fine universities, but GW is a special place. Because of its location, we have the opportunity to constantly interact with practitioners and with students who are very engaged in the world. I am able to bring the world into the classroom in a way I never could have imagined. Last year, for instance, I had the opportunity to co-teach a course with someone from the International Committee on the Red Cross on national security and the laws of war, and several of the students had served abroad in conflict zones; it was an amazing teaching experience. And last, but hardly least, the students here are truly amazing—smart, engaged, committed, and constantly ready to debate.