- Annual Enrollment:
Approximately 200 students, with 100 new students entering annually
- Average Class Size:
- # of Full time faculty:
- Work experience (in yrs):
- 2-5 (this is based on an average, but individuals with varying years of work experience are encouraged to apply)
- % International:
- Employment sectors:
- Government (Foreign Service, Civil Service, UN Diplomatic Missions, Ministries of Foreign Affairs), United Nations, NGO and Civil Society Organizations, Think Tanks, Private Sector and Consultancies (political risk analysis, energy finance, clean tech, intelligence and security)
- Degrees offered:
- Master of Science in Global Affairs with eight possible areas of concentration: Environment/Energy Policy, Global Gender Studies, Human Rights and International Law, International Development and Humanitarian Assistance, International Relations/Global Futures, Peacebuilding, Global Economy, Transnational Security (MS in Global Affairs students are also eligible to pursue one of our areas of specialization including Global Data Analytics, Global Risk, and the United Nations)
Master of Science in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybercrime (STEM designated program): We are living in an era defined by persistent cyber enabled malicious activity. The world is in need of more strategic thinkers and leaders to guide cybersecurity efforts for all organizations. The Master of Science in Global Security, Conflict and Cyber is a program designed to prepare students without a technology background for careers in cyber strategy, policy and cyber threat intelligence. The program is offered online or in person in NYC.
The NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs (CGA), one of the most exciting and dynamic global programs to emerge on the higher education landscape, explores the latest trends in international policy and examines critical issues in the classroom, in the field, and through public events. It is an academic center that provides the opportunity for individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities to explore together how to make our world a better and more just place. CGA embraces a world where diplomacy and global transactions occur in a 21st-century milieu comprised of state and non-state actors. CGA’s leading-edge programs, including the MS in Global Affairs, the newly launched MS in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybercrime; non-degree professional programs; and provocative public events, combine to create an environment in which everyone with an interest in global affairs can contribute and learn.
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS
The MS in Global Affairs is the flagship graduate program of the CGA. The master’s program provides students with the in-depth knowledge and contextual perspectives required for becoming successful, well-rounded professionals in the global arena.
Faculty members are skilled practitioners and scholars, including diplomats, activists, economists, former officers of the United Nations, international attorneys, leaders of organizations engaged in refugee relief and the protection of human rights, and global energy experts from whom students will acquire both nuanced analytical understanding and the methodologies to develop and implement strategic solutions that address critical global problems.
The curriculum provides purposeful career-connected learning opportunities in and out of the classroom, emphasizing applied learning involving consulting practica, internships, and skills focused learning. Students receive rigorous analytic training in qualitative and quantitative research and professional methodologies, including monitoring and evaluation, project development, applied peace-building strategies, strategic foresight, scenario development, and geopolitical risk analysis. This training aims to prepare students to identify and implement solutions for the most pressing global challenges.
The MS in Global Affairs is a 42-credit program, which includes three components: a core curriculum of four courses, a choice of eight concentrations, and either a graduate thesis or a capstone project. Students may also choose to pursue one of our three areas of specialization which include Global Data Analytics, Global Risk, and the United Nations. The core curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of global affairs. Global Field Intensives allow students to focus on topics of interest in advance of travel to locations including Tanzania, India, Rwanda, Bolivia, China, and the United Arab Emirates, among others, where briefings with practitioners in the field connect them to applied research.
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN GLOBAL SECURITY, CONFLICT, AND CYBERCRIME
It is no secret that cyber espionage, cybercrime and cyberwarfare dominate the discussions of corporate board rooms and the situation rooms of governments worldwide. In 2019, the CGA launched the new MS in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybercrime. The program is a NYU STEM designated degree integrating social science with technology to cultivate students’ ability to analyze malicious cyber enabled activities of state and non-state actors and design strategies to deter and disrupt cyber threats.
The MS in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybercrime is a 36-credit program, which includes three components: a core curriculum of six courses; a choice of elective courses; and either a graduate thesis, or a practicum as a final requirement. The core curriculum is designed to provide students who do not come from a technical background the opportunity to develop their technical aptitude while also studying critical and emerging issues at the intersection of cybercrime and geopolitics. Elective career pathways prepare students for job roles in strategic planning and policy, intelligence, and global security. The thesis track allows students to conduct original social science research on cyber. The practicum provides students an opportunity to work with organizations to help think through cyber problems and offer solutions to them. The program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Courses are taught by experienced scholar and practitioner faculty members who bring their wealth of knowledge from government and the private sector to the classroom.
Outside of the classroom students have an opportunity to compete in cyber policy competitions, lead in the organization of the NYU CSAW cyber policy competition, participate in research workshops and network with practitioners.
To receive information directly from the NYUSPS Admissions Department, click here.
How are the lessons of history linked to current events in your program?
We face unprecedented social, political, economic, and ecological challenges, and little from the past has prepared us for them. At the same time, the past lays down tracks along which institutions, like trains, run. Understanding those patterns is vital to ensure institutions don’t run into walls or ruin. The history of international relations, wars and their resolution, economic cycles of prosperity and depression, social change, and progress is at the foundation of core courses at the Center for Global Affairs (CGA)—courses on international relations, international political economy, and international law. Understanding past patterns is vital, for instance, in building scenarios for assessing possible futures in our courses on international relations and our practicums with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.
What skills are needed to help students prepare to manage crises and global risk?
Today’s students will be at the frontlines of global crises as leaders, activists, commentators, and analysts, perhaps sooner than they think. A commitment to justice, inclusiveness, peace, and planetary survival is likely why they signed up in the first place for programs like the CGA’s Master of Science in Global Affairs or in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybercrime. Commitment and conviction are important qualities, but students can acquire the skills needed for managing crises and global risk in the CGA’s highly specialized courses on, for instance, mediation, nonviolent conflict resolution, data analysis, monitoring and evaluation, energy and climate security, anti-corruption, peacebuilding, gender analysis, and more.
But crisis management is not just about applying technical skills to a specific problem. The whole point about today’s crises is that they are enormously complex and are beyond conventional technical fixes. The level of international cooperation required for solving climate, poverty, or population flow challenges calls for leaders who can build trust, generate and sustain partnerships, and engage broad and diverse publics behind common agendas. The courses at CGA and, perhaps more importantly, the opportunities we provide for internships, networking, and hands-on practical engagement through consulting practicums and capstones with a vast international community of decision-makers on global matters are all resources and access points for students seeking to hit the ground running in tackling pressing global challenges.
How is the role of technology in politics and international affairs changing?
Digital communication technology and artificial intelligence have profoundly transformed public decision-making and risk at national and international levels. These technologies have democratized and accelerated decision-making processes and enhanced the accessibility of vital information for those decisions. Simultaneously and paradoxically, they have made these processes and public decision-makers less reliable and credible because of the manipulation of information by malicious actors. This has exposed vulnerabilities in democratic public decision-making. We now understand more deeply than before the importance of truth.
The CGA’s programs are highly sensitive to these critical current challenges and equip students with alerts and capacities for critical analysis of how technology shapes and can distort the framing of current crises.
How does the Center for Global Affairs at the NYU School of Professional Studies prepare individuals to confront the significant global challenges we’ve witnessed over the past 15 months?
The pandemic and other recent events, such as the attack on the U.S. Capitol, have highlighted fundamental flaws in the international system and within individual nation-states. However, these events have also demonstrated the incredible resilience of democratic and international institutions when confronted with substantial challenges and offered important opportunities for reflection and much needed reform. At the Center for Global Affairs, we teach future leaders how to anticipate, prepare for, and respond creatively and effectively to global threats and opportunities such as these. We do this through interdisciplinary and interactive coursework and applied learning and networking activities.
During the pandemic, we significantly expanded our consulting practicum offerings. In these courses, students work for a high profile partner on a project of critical importance. Over the years, students have collaborated with the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate on terrorists’ use of social media, returning terrorist fighters, the role of technology in counterterrorism, and the rise of right-wing terrorism. They’ve worked with the Global Network on Women Peacebuilders to examine the impact of COVID-19 on women peacebuilders in Colombia, the Philippines, South Sudan, and Ukraine. They’ve partnered with the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center to investigate and propose strategic communications solutions to radicalization and recruitment into terrorism in Nigeria and Somalia, polarization and state sponsored disinformation in the Western Balkans, and racially and ethnically motivated violence in the United States. Other practicum partners now include Mastercard, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, New York City Cyber Command, the Institute for the Healing of Memories, and the International Center for Transitional Justice.
Can you tell us how you are innovating to build a better future?
Changes in social and economic activity during the pandemic generated an important pause in climate emissions and the improvement of air and water quality in certain locations. Our newly formed Energy, Climate Justice, and Sustainability Lab is at the forefront of informing the debate around a rapidly changing energy sector and climate impacts. Faculty, students, and alumni also examine and publish on a range of timely security issues—the reintegration of violent extremists, including those associated with ISIS, drug cartels’ use of social media, nuclear proliferation, climate change in the Sahel, the CIA’s use of torture—as part of our Initiative on Emerging Threats. Our Peace Research and Education Program is involved in on-the-ground post-conflict peacebuilding efforts in Colombia, Libya, and Iraq. We’ve developed an Executive Education program in Cyber Leadership to help organizations prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyberattacks. Finally, our student body is international and diverse, and we do not shy away from the hard and potentially contentious questions in global affairs. We address them head-on with mutual respect for one another in an effort to identify solutions that will move us forward.
The NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs (CGA), was launched 15 years ago to address new and emerging global challenges. CGA offers dynamic and innovative curricula that provides students with the knowledge, skills, and network to thrive in an uncertain world. Its flagship, MS in Global Affairs, was among the first programs of its kind to address global challenges through multiple perspectives and disciplines. That approach is illustrated through the degree’s eight concentrations and three specializations, which prepare students to embrace change and to be solution-oriented by considering what challenges lie on the horizon.
How has the CGA responded to COVID and thinking about a post-pandemic world?
This past year has amplified the urgency to develop the mindset of adaptive thinking and the ability to pivot quickly and effectively. The COVID-19 pandemic is creating uniquepressures on all aspects of the global system, and we areresponding accordingly. This fall, CGAis offering “A World Remade,” a new course designed to provide a deep understanding of policy options and action during COVID-19 and beyond. Itwill use our concentrations as the lens by which students examine a changing world.
What are the leadership traits needed to navigate in uncertain times?
In these uncertain times, navigating the linkages between global environmental and social challenges, and potentially viable solutions, has never been more complex. The CGA, home to world-renowned experts in the most relevant areas related to global challenges—is uniquely positioned to connect the dots between business, human rights, transnational security, sustainable development, and innovation. Through courses, public events, and initiatives, we bring together some of the top authorities to tackle pressing global issues, risks, and uncertainties. This fall, we will be building our energy, climate security, and sustainability offerings in response to the climate emergency and the need for a cleaner and more decarbonized energy transition.
At the CGA, we work together as a faculty and as a team to address racism and the ways in which we can work towards social justice. The Black Lives Matter movement highlights our responsibility as educators to take the lead—through our teaching, course offerings, and public events—to set an example for our students, alumni, and the broader community.
What is the CGA doing to help students prepare to manage crises and global risk?
In our courses, we examine how the global landscape is changing and how disruptions—both good and bad—can be managed and understood. In “Responding to Emergencies,” a course taught by Professor Christopher Ankersen, students are guided through multiple case studies and participate in a crisis simulation. Under Professor Ankeren’s leadership, we also are launching a new specialization in global risk, which will afford students the opportunity to learn about different types of riskand how to manage uncertainties successfully.
There is no better testimonial of our success than our 1,400 alumni who work around the globe, in the private sector, NGOs, governments, multilateral institutions, and think tanks, implementing what they have learned at the CGA. Our graduates are resilient and able to anticipate risk and uncertainty in a world that constantly changes
You teach graduate courses on data analysis and statistics and have done your own significant research on political psychology and behavior and on experimental research methodologies. How did you become engaged with these areas, and what is their importance to global affairs and security?
I myself completed the MS in Global Affairs at the NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs (CGA) in 2009. The experience was transformative, and as a doctoral student in political science, I became fascinated with political behavior and political psychology. I realized that most theories of politics, and of global affairs more broadly, ultimately hinge upon how individuals think and behave. Understanding a country’s policies necessitates an understanding of its citizens—their beliefs, the types of information they are, and are not, receptive to, and how they make political decisions.
Similarly, when we discuss security threats, such as terrorism, sectarian violence, cybercrime, and environmental destruction, we need to understand why individuals are deciding to engage in constructive or destructive activities. Once we possess this knowledge, we can determine how societies can change for the better.
I became convinced that gaining a basic literacy in statistics and data analysis was, above all, a means of self-empowerment in a world that increasingly relies upon data for communicating and making decisions. Graphs employed as “proof” that global temperatures are not rising can have the appearance of being scientific but often rely upon cherry-picked reference points, which are painfully obvious to those with some training in statistics.
Further, I became interested in the use and design of experiments because these often represent the most powerful means of identifying causal relationships between phenomena. A recent study in the Journal of Politics, for example, employed an experiment in Bosnia to understand how past violence there differentially affects men’s and women’s political engagement. Such studies reveal to students that, once equipped with some knowledge of research design and data analysis, so much more can be learned about global affairs.
How do you approach these topics in the classroom? How do your students use these analytic skills and methodologies in their own work as researchers and practitioners?
Returning to CGA in 2017 as a clinical assistant professor, it was an honor to develop CGA’s specialization in data analytics and to oversee courses that use specialized software to analyze real-world data. Having originally come from a qualitative background myself, I tell students that the content of my courses may be unfamiliar and, at times, intimidating—and that this is perfectly normal. With time and practice, however, students begin to see the logic, applicability, and incalculable value of these scarce skills.
My ultimate goal for students is that they apply these technical skills to the global issues they care about. I have had the distinct pleasure of seeing students produce amazing course papers and thesis projects, enter doctoral programs, and find jobs that prominently feature a data-analytic component. In this way, I believe my courses have helped to further CGA’s mission of growing more knowledgeable, and more capable, global citizens.
You came to the NYUSPS Center for Global Affairs (CGA) from a practitioner’s background, having worked globally with the United Nations, the military, and the private sector. What struck you most about the program at CGA?
What stood out to me was CGA’s truly interdisciplinary approach to global affairs. The world is a complex place, and CGA’s Master of Science in Global Affairs (MSGA) ensures that students have the most effective tools to make sense of it. Students can choose from eight concentrations, taught by experienced scholar-practitioners—International Relations Global Futures, Global Economy, Human Rights and International Law, Peacebuilding, International Development and Humanitarian Assistance, Environment/Energy Policy, Global Gender Studies, and Transnational Security. Offering an array of courses—both core and elective—means that MSGA graduates are extremely capable of looking at global conflict through a number of lenses.
In addition, the MSGA program is unique in its real-world focus. The topics discussed reflect the dynamic nature of today’s global conflicts. The courses offered are constantly being tweaked so that they remain grounded in the essential foundational concepts while addressing what’s happening in the world around us. Also, CGA affords students a truly immersive educational experience that goes well beyond the classroom walls. This includes a dizzying selection of guest speakers and public events; opportunities for internships and consultancies with organizations in the private, public, voluntary, and international sectors; and noncredit courses aimed at enriching a student’s professional development. Then, there are the many CGA global field intensives, which take place each year. These afford students the opportunity to learn about, and travel to, countries around the world. Global field intensives focus on current issues and challenges, and are led by faculty members and facilitated by academics, and government and business officials. This year, students explored India, Taiwan, Bolivia, the United Arab Emirates, and Tanzania—truly remarkable learning opportunities that allowed them to better understand the sources of, and potential solutions to, a world in conflict.
I should mention that CGA is located in the heart of a global city—New York City. It is just next to Wall Street and the Financial District and is minutes away from the United Nations, the Council for Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and the International Peace Institute.
How does the MSGA degree prepare students for life in a world of conflict?
The program’s real-world focus empowers students to look at all possibilities and to see connections, allowing them to break down artificial silos. This prepares them to be successful in jobs that combine a security approach to threats and risks, with a private sector eye for value creation. Moreover, CGA students benefit from a robust and rigorous approach to analytical skills acquisition and application. This enables them to make immediate contributions to evidence-based policy analysis and development wherever they go.
Finally, CGA has cultivated a powerful professional network that its graduates can tap into. Among its board members, adjunct faculty members, and alumni are well-placed, influential women and men who are concerned about the potential for conflict and who go out of their way to provide leadership and stewardship for the next generation.
You’ve been asked to comment on how to “stay ahead in uncertain times”. Why is this such a critical question?
The goal of any graduate program in global affairs must be to educate students on how to be effective in shaping the future in whatever occupation they choose, when that future is surrounded by uncertainty. Political realism teaches us to expect surprise: relations among states are anarchic, power competition is never ending, periods of stability are transitory. Globalization and rapid technology innovation accelerate change and further widen the range of uncertainty. The current power transition, from U.S centric to non-centric, and the absence of effective management of this transition, make the present period in IR uniquely unstable and dangerous.
Making smart strategic decisions in conditions of uncertainty is a critical source of future competitive advantage, and is a focus of the MS in Global Affairs offered by the NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs (CGA). Managing uncertainty is hard. Some organizations wait for ‘clarity’ before making big decisions, but clarity never arrives while opportunities to shape the future are forfeited. Some double down on existing strategic assumptions, but rapid change degrades these assumptions and existing strategy loses its robustness. Some conclude that all is uncertain, failing to leverage what we do know about the world, and thus make poor choices that invite unintended consequences.
So what are the attributes of organizations that succeed in an uncertain world?
They take the future seriously. They try to understand and track forces for change in their environment. They make sure the assumptions upon which strategy are based leverage the best knowledge available, and are subjected to reality checks as the world evolves in unexpected ways. Their strategies are tested against alternate, plausible futures, which minimizes surprise and helps prepare for change, both positive and negative. They are conscious of risk, but not immobilized by it, understanding that any strategy comes with downsides, and that these can be mitigated by making risk explicit and planning actions if risks materialize. Successful organizations find the right balance between knowledge and imagination. They know how to think about uncertainty, how to organize themselves to reduce surprise and manage risk. Because they see the world more clearly than others they turn uncertainty to strategic advantage.
So how exactly does CGA prepare students to excel in this world of surprise and uncertainty?
Thinking about the future permeates the MS in Global Affairs. I oversee a concentration (one of eight) called International Relations/Global Futures, which is devoted to teaching the substance and process of future international developments. My book Pivotal Countries, Alternate Futures, recently published by Oxford, synthesizes many years of teaching and consulting on the future. I also supervise an ongoing research project for the UN, involving five students per semester, on countering emerging terrorist threats. Many other professors who teach in the program also are focused on the future. Regina Joseph teaches strategic foresight and the uses of big data, conducts forecasting tournaments and policy hackathons; Mary Beth Altier leads our Transnational Security concentration, which focuses on emerging global threats; and Jennifer Trahan who heads our International Law and Human Rights concentration, ran a global conference at CGA this past semester on the future of global justice. These are just a few examples of how coping with uncertainty and surprise is woven into CGA’s curriculum and public events.
You lead the MS in Global Affairs concentration in Transnational Security. What does this concentration cover, and to what careers does it lead?
The concentration in Transnational Security runs the gamut from conventional interstate threats to sub-state threats including civil war, terrorism, insurgency, and organized crime, in addition to environmental threats including climate change; infectious disease; and food, water, and energy security. Students grapple with the implications of the Iranian nuclear agreement, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the rise of ISIS, the refugee crisis, a proliferation of failed states, intelligence reform, drug and human trafficking, homegrown radicalization, and post-conflict reconstruction. We discuss how technology and globalization alter the conduct of war and challenge norms from cyber to nonlinear warfare, to unmanned weapons, and terrorists’ use of social media, encryption, and the Dark Web.
Employers find our students possess not only the academic knowledge and analytic skills necessary to excel, but also the practical experience and connections in their field. Graduates work as intelligence analysts or officers in the military or at US government agencies (or in similar organizations in their home countries). Our alumni are employed as intelligence or political risk analysts in the private sector at organizations such as Kroll, RANE, Morgan Stanley, and AIG. Others are on the front lines of counterterrorism, monitoring and analyzing terrorist behavior on the Internet and Dark Web for companies such as Dataminir and Flashpoint. Many put their skills to use as research analysts for think tanks, NGOs, or the UN.
Many students in the MS in Global Affairs have served in the military or will return to service after graduation. How is their perspective integrated into the Transnational Security concentration?
At the NYUSPS Center for Global Affairs, I have encountered students from all branches of the military. These students have helped direct counterterrorism drone strikes in the Horn of Africa, have served on the front lines in Iraq, and have taken part in counter-insurgency operations and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The military’s perspective permeates much of the Transnational Security concentration and the presence of current or former members of the military in the classroom provides operational and strategic insight in our classroom discussions. At the same time, I find service members are enthusiastic about the opportunity to step back and critically examine larger international security and foreign policy issues apart from day-to-day operational security issues or other tasks.
One example is our course, Security Sector Governance and the Rule of Law. It examines best practices for rebuilding the military and police in post-conflict and post-democratization contexts as well as continued oversight and reform of these organizations in developed democracies. We discuss the structure of the military and the police, the role of private military companies, security sector reform and transitional justice initiatives, the reintegration of ex-combatants, countering violent extremism, and community relations (or “winning hearts and minds”). In my experience, those who have a military or law enforcement background are drawn to this course and the larger concentration because it contextualizes their experiences and provides a bridge to additional career opportunities within the military or in civilian sectors.