Pardee Students Return From DC Trip

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Graduate students and faculty from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University took a spring trip to Washington D.C. to visit think tanks, non-governmental-organizations, government departments and meet with high-level policy makers and practitioners of international affairs.

In addition to stops at the U.S. Department of State, Pentagon and World Bank, the MA candidates also had the opportunity to meet a number of Boston Univeristy and Pardee School alumni working in the Washington D.C. area.

Students were joined on the trip by Pardee School Professors Amb. Robert Loftis, Professor of the Practice of International Relations, and John D. Woodward Jr.Professor of the Practice of International Relations.

Woodward noted the trip provided students the rare chance to speak with top government officials and foreign policy experts.

“The field trip gave Pardee students unique access to leading policymakers and practitioners in the fields of national security, foreign affairs, domestic politics, and international finance,” Woodward said.

The trip started March 7, 2016 with a visit to the U.S. Department of State where students met with Demien Smith, Chief of Staff to Ambassador Kristie Kenney.

Andrew VanNostrand, a second-year MA candidate in International Relations and Religion, said the time the group spent at the Department of State provided context to lessons learned in the classroom at the Pardee School.

“Aspects of our time in the state department and senate building gave us valuable context for the nuances of policy issues that we often write on in our classes,” VanNostrand said. “It added a perspective that is difficult to get from being in the classroom.”

VanNostrand said in addition to the time the group spent at the Department of State, the reception held at the Boston University Washington D.C. office where students connected with Boston University and Pardee School Alumni was a highlight of the trip.

“The alumni we heard from were excellent people to meet that seemed genuinely interested in helping us make contacts in Washington,” VanNostrand said.

Students toured the Pentagon, and met with two Boston University alumni currently working there — Carl Woog, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Communication, and Stephanie Dreyer, Director for Digital Media and Strategy for the Department of Defense. 

Rachel Paiste, a second-year MA candidate in International Relations and Religion, said the time at the Pentagon among other stops on the trip focused on current events, which provided perspective on foreign policy issues students discuss in their classes.

“I think the EU delegation, the Pentagon and the World Bank were the most focused on current events, while some of the events were more focused on tips for entering the highly-competitive job market in Washington,” Paiste said. “Still, the speakers at all our stops are very much part of the policy-making we study, and it was interesting to see the faces behind some of the decisions we study at Pardee.”

On the final day of the trip, students had the chance to hear from Susana Moreira, Oil and Gas Specialist — Energy and Extractives Global Practice at the World Bank, and Mike Bruni, Director of Talent Acquisition at the SC3 Corporation.

Other stops on the trip included the EU Delegation, the U.S. Capitol, the RAND Corporation and a dinner meeting with Ambassador George Moose, Vice Chairman of the Board for the United States Institute of Peace and retired Foreign Service Officer Judith Kaufmann.

Jocelyn Spottiswoode, an MA candidate in International Relations and Communication, said as an international student the trip helped her understand how different agencies function within the U.S. government.

“I got the most out of listening to people who work either in the government currently, or with agencies that work with the government,” Spottiswoode said. “It was interesting to hear the specifics of how their role functions within the great cogs of the DC machine.”

This is the inaugural year for the Washington D.C. trip by Pardee School graduate students in what is expected to be an annual trip. The goal of the Spring Break visit to Washington is to enable Pardee School students to get a better sense of career and practice options available to those pursuing high education in global affairs.