CISAC scholar leads newly endowed, expanded International Policy Studies program

Starting next fall, Stanford's 25-year-old International Policy Studies (IPS) master's program will double in length and expand its interdisciplinary scope to train a new generation of graduates prepared for careers in international policy-making and advocacy.

The two-year program is named in honor of Susan Ford Dorsey, president of the Sand Hill Foundation, who has made a gift of $7.5 million, which has been matched by university funds to create a $15 million endowment. According to program Director Stephen J. Stedman, the funding will be used to better integrate the program into the university's international policy research centers, increase access to courses in the law and business schools, use more full-time faculty to teach classes and introduce a practicum that involves solving real-world problems.

Ford Dorsey's endowment fulfills one of the key priorities of Stanford's International Initiative, according to Stedman, which is to address global problems by leveraging the university's cross-disciplinary and collaborative research and teaching. Ford Dorsey and her husband, Mike, serve on volunteer committees of The Stanford Challenge, which is seeking to raise $4.3 billion in a broad effort to expand the university's role in addressing global challenges and educating the next generation of leaders.

Stedman, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), was asked to lead the program because he has experience in both academic and policy work. In 2003, Stedman served as research director of the U.N. High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan established to analyze global security threats and propose reforms to the international system. Upon completion of the panel's report, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Annan asked Stedman to stay on as a special adviser to help get support in implementing the panel's recommendations. Following the U.N. world leaders' summit in September 2005, during which more than 175 heads of state agreed upon a global security agenda developed from the panel's work, Stedman returned to the Center for International Security and Cooperation at FSI.

According to Stedman, the revamped curriculum will give students the skills to understand the complex connections between poverty, deadly infectious disease, environmental degradation, resource depletion, food insecurity, interstate conflict, civil war, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

"In a world where problems cross borders and disciplines, where threats that were previously thought to be independent are found to be interconnected, where distinctions between what is domestic policy and what is foreign policy are becoming more and more tenuous, students need training and perspective to break down disciplinary silos," Stedman says in a statement on the program's website. "They need the tools and dexterity to work across issue areas and in diverse policy arenas. They need to see connections that others miss, and be able to describe and explain those connections so that others will then see them too."

The program, which will be jointly administered by the School of Humanities and Sciences and FSI, will continue to admit about 30 students a year, with up to half coming from outside the United States. Students are required to have taken prerequisite courses in economics and statistics, and to speak a foreign language.

At a Feb. 7 dinner celebrating the newly endowed program, Gareth Evans, president of the International Crisis Group and a member of the U.N. High-Level Panel, talked about the need to "make idealism realistic" and discussed the concept of a state's "responsibility to protect" civilians as a new international norm. "In just five years, which is short in the history of ideas, a brand new historical norm" was introduced and recognized by much of the international community, he said. "This was a historic breakthrough. It should reinvigorate our belief in the art of the possible." Concerning the Ford Dorsey IPS program, Evans said, "When it comes to making idealism realistic  there really could be no better place anywhere in the world that this new master's program at Stanford."

The incoming fall cohort of IPS students will study writing and rhetoric and international economics. They will take core courses in Issues in International Policies, which introduces Stanford's policy research centers and provides analyses of current global issues, and Managing Global Complexity, which teaches concepts and theories of international relations while focusing on issues with competing policy concerns. "The goal is to understand that much of what we study today is marked by trade-offs among various goods that we seek to promote," Stedman says in the statement. "Globalization and interdependence creates opportunities for creative solutions to problems, while sometimes creating negative unintended consequences for policy solutions."

IPS students will take a "gateway" course before selecting a concentration during the second year. These specialized fields include democracy, development and the rule of law; energy, environment and natural resources; global health; global justice; international negotiation and conflict management; international political economy; and international security and cooperation. Finally, students will complete a small group practicum in which they will be required to develop solutions to current global problems.