When worldwide protests erupted in response to George Floyd’s killing by police, many people questioned the state of race relations and the commitment to advancing diversity at their own institutions, asking themselves: What are we doing to counter the inequities laid bare?
In response to queries from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, SAIS Dean Eliot Cohen immediately created the Crowell Committee. It is named for SAIS’ first African American senior administrator, George Crowell, the beloved associate dean of students who died in 1995.
“I ask that the committee act in his spirit,” the dean wrote to its members on July 2. And he directed that that it act quickly — by the first week of September — “to make concrete, actionable recommendations for elements we should consider specific to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at SAIS in four core areas:
Miji Bell, director of communications and media relations at SAIS, was appointed committee chair. “There have been ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives at SAIS, but the historic moment we collectively find ourselves in adds a different level of urgency to our efforts,” she says. “Dean Cohen wanted us to come at it with new eyes. The members of the committee include faculty, alumni, staff, and students. They are all amazing people — all deeply committed to creating a plan for very specific reforms, some long term, but also things we can implement immediately.”
Kendall Simmonds ’05, a senior vice president in Wells Fargo’s commercial banking division who serves on the committee, says he was eager “to share, not only my perspective as an African-American male who progressed through SAIS but also as someone who could help students bridge the transition to their professional careers.
“Dean Cohen said he believes the events happening today affect us all, and we can’t be silent, and I think it’s quite a statement when the leadership of a school initiates change because then it’s not a fleeting event but something the institution holds true to its core.”
Min Chang, who is working toward her PhD in international affairs as a student at SAIS and has spent 32 years in the business world, amplifies Simmonds’ point: “I’ve learned that if you want to change a company’s behavior, you can’t just form, say, a diversity and inclusion department. You won’t succeed unless you embed it in everything you do.”
Committee members agree that the pain of the present moment has created a unique opportunity.
“I work a lot on post-conflict countries, which is when societies tend to be most open to change,” says Dan Honig, assistant professor of International Development at SAIS. “But as someone who has spent a lot of time looking at other institutions and who gets to be part of decision-making processes, I found myself surprised at how little I’d thought about parallel issues in my own life. And I think that’s a feeling a lot of folks are having now. Focusing everyone’s attention on this issue at the same time is an amazing opportunity, so I am very hopeful for change and that our work as a committee will be part of it.”
Read more on the Crowell Committee
On July 1, Andrew Mertha, the George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies, assumed the role of vice dean for faculty affairs and international research cooperation. He succeeds Kent Calder, who has returned to his duties as Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of East Asian Studies and director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies.
Mertha, who is also director of the China Program and of SAIS China, came to SAIS in 2018. “Since his arrival at SAIS, Andy Mertha has proven himself to be an empathetic and versatile leader,” notes SAIS Dean Eliot Cohen. “His dynamism and creativity will be essential in helping to shape the transformation of our curriculum, organization, and governance structures now underway at SAIS.”
Mertha, who earned his BA and PhD from the University of Michigan, served as an assistant professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis and then spent a decade at Cornell University as a professor of government before coming to SAIS. The author of three books, Mertha speaks five languages (including Chinese and Khmer) and is a leading scholar of Chinese and Cambodian politics whose research on political institutions, foreign policy processes, and the exercise of power is widely respected and quoted in media outlets ranging from The Wall Street Journal to the International Herald Tribune to The Cambodia Daily.
He has provided public testimony for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, briefed the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and has accompanied a U.S. congressional staff delegation to Beijing, Xinjiang, and Shanghai to discuss issues of terrorism and narcotics trafficking. Among other involvements, Mertha serves as vice president of the Center for Khmer Studies.
Andrea Presbitero joined the SAIS Europe resident faculty team in September as the Vera and Stefano Zamagni Associate Professor of Economic Development. Presbitero comes to Johns Hopkins SAIS from the International Monetary Fund, where he was the senior economist of the Research Department’s Macro-Financial Division. Before joining the IMF, he was assistant professor at the Università Politecnica delle Marche. He is an applied economist whose recent work focuses on financial inclusion in Africa. His research interests cover financial intermediation, development finance, monetary policy and sovereign debt. He is also associate editor of Economia (LACEA) and the Journal of Financial Stability.
Presbitero received his PhD from Università Politecnica delle Marche and an MA in development economics from the University of Sussex. He will begin teaching courses at SAIS Europe in the spring, covering Corporate Finance and Macroeconomic Risk and International Finance to start.
“I am excited to be back in Italy and back to academia,” he says. “Given my research and policy experience, I am so pleased to join an organization with such a diverse faculty and student body, and such a strong emphasis on policymaking.”
Filippo Taddei, associate professor of the Practice of International Economics, will be leaving his position at SAIS Europe to become executive director in global investment research at Goldman Sachs in London. Taddei has been an essential part of the SAIS Europe faculty team over the past decade, both as a professor and as the founding academic director of the Master of Arts in Global Risk.
He came to Johns Hopkins SAIS with extensive experience as a policymaker and senior adviser, with a specific focus on labor and credit markets. From 2013 to 2017, he served as economic and labor affairs spokesperson for the ruling Partito Democratico (Democratic Party), reporting directly to the Italian prime minister. In this capacity, Taddei was one of the main architects of the Italian labor market reform in 2014–15. He earned his PhD in economics with distinction from Columbia University and his laurea cum laude from the University of Bologna.
Reflecting on his time at Johns Hopkins SAIS, Taddei observes: “I can hardly envision my future without SAIS. I learned so much from our community in the last eight years. The engagement of colleagues and the passion of students is a truly unique combination.”
John Harper, a professor based in Bologna for almost 40 years, retired from his position as the Kenneth H. Keller Professor of American Foreign Policy at the end of June. Although he is stepping down from his position as a full-time resident faculty member, he will continue to teach at SAIS Europe as an adjunct professor.
After finishing his undergraduate work at Haverford College, Harper began his graduate career at Johns Hopkins SAIS (B’76, DC’77). He learned about the school from one of his professors and mentors, Patrick McCarthy, who also joined the Johns Hopkins SAIS community soon after and was an important colleague, friend, and mentor. After earning his master’s degree, Harper enrolled in the Johns Hopkins SAIS PhD program in Washington, D.C., writing his dissertation under SAIS Emeritus Professor, David P. Calleo. In 1981, upon being awarded his degree, Harper returned to the Bologna Center as a professor. He has been an essential part of the Bologna faculty ever since.
“My career in Bologna began by chance when they fired a junior person and told me that if I finished my [SAIS] dissertation on the U.S. and the postwar reconstruction of Italy, there was a job starting in the second semester of 1980–81. And thus, as many have heard me say, ‘Ronald Reagan came in one end of Washington, and I went out the other,’” he says.
Known as a passionate teacher committed to his students, to which a generation of Bologna Center students in his American Foreign Policy courses can attest, he is also widely known at the Bologna Center for his very popular debate class on the choices faced by U.S. foreign policy experts.
In addition to the debate course and a lecture-style course on American foreign policy, Harper also created a small case study seminar in which students combined independent research, one-on-one tutoring sessions, small-group discussions, and a short paper-writing course in which students wrote nine short papers throughout the semester on historical aspects of American foreign policy.
“Anyone who knows me will tell you that the main reason I’ve stayed in Bologna so long is the local wine called Pignoletto,” he jokes.
All joking aside, Harper’s long tenure at SAIS Europe has given him the opportunity to focus on his research and earn his role as a celebrated scholar and historian. The research done for his PhD turned into his first book, America and the Reconstruction of Italy, 1945-1948 (1986, Cambridge University Press), followed over the years by three other successful publications: American Visions of Europe: Franklin D. Roosevelt, George F. Kennan, and Dean G. Acheson (1994, Cambridge University Press), American Machiavelli: Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy (2004, Cambridge University Press), and The Cold War (2011, Oxford University Press).
In 2005, Harper became the first faculty and academic liaison for SAIS Europe, helping to manage the academic affairs of the school, a position he held on several occasions over the years. He is also the first Kenneth H. Keller Professor, created in 2014 to honor the former SAIS Europe director and current SAIS Europe Advisory Council member.
Back in the early 1980s, when introducing Harper to the SAIS community, an article in the SAIS Europe publication Rivista observed, “For the time being, Harper has at least one more year in Bologna.” That one more year turned into four decades!
To honor Harper’s legacy at the Bologna Center, contributions can be directed to the “J. Harper and D. Calleo Fellowship Fund” at SAIS Europe. Click here to make a gift or contact the SAIS Europe development team for more information.
Kent Calder’s book Super Continent: The Logic of Eurasian Integration, has been selected as one of the best books of the year in the category of politics by Financial Times. Calder is vice dean for faculty affairs and international research cooperation and director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at SAIS.
In the book, he examines the factors that have resulted in Europe and China growing closer, such as the global financial crisis of 2008, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, technological improvements, and the political-economic transformation of Europe, Russia, and Southeast Asia.
Super Continent is the sequel to Calder’s 2012 book, The New Continentalism: Energy and Twenty-First-Century Eurasian Geopolitics, which highlighted the transformation of Asia due to economic growth, rising energy demand, and the erosion of long-standing geopolitical divisions. Super Continent is now available in Japanese and will soon appear in Chinese, Korean, and Mongolian.
Jonas Nahm, assistant professor of Energy, Resources and Environment, is among 36 early-career faculty members at the Johns Hopkins University who were named 2020 Johns Hopkins Catalyst Awards recipients. The Catalyst Award is accompanied by a $75,000 grant for research, mentoring opportunities, and institutional recognition.
Nahm will utilize the award grant to examine how clean energy industrial sectors in two countries with export-led economies, China and Germany, became part of critical political coalitions in support of decarbonization, and why green growth coalitions in the United Kingdom and United States’ consumption-led economies are less influential politically.
Nahm says he is pleased and grateful that the grant will enable him to conduct two years of field research for this research project, adding “the main goal of the project is to better understand how countries have been able to mobilize broad political coalitions in support of climate policy.”
Nahm joins six other Johns Hopkins SAIS faculty members who have been named Catalyst Awards recipients since the award was established in 2015.
Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Global Food and Ethics, was recently awarded a $25,000 COVID-19 Launchpad Grant created by the Alliance for a Healthier World, Johns Hopkins’ signature initiative that integrates universitywide expertise and diverse perspectives to unlock groundbreaking knowledge in addressing unresolved global health equity challenges.
To develop the winning proposal “Assessing Food Security Status Among Urban and Rural Vulnerable Groups in Sri Lanka During COVID-19,” Fanzo collaborated with Andrew Thorne-Lyman, associate scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Quinn Marshall, a third-year doctoral student in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School.
Fanzo will oversee a project examining how the Sri Lankan government’s COVID-19 policies will impact the accessibility of affordable, quality food for vulnerable groups within the country. Over the next six-plus months, Marshall will collect data in Sri Lanka and work with Fanzo and Thorne-Lyman to analyze and prepare it for publication in early 2021.
Joining Fanzo as COVID-19 Launchpad Grant recipients are Johns Hopkins SAIS colleagues Jonas Nahm, assistant professor of Energy, Resources, and Environment; Johannes Urpelainen, director and Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment; and Jeremy Shiffman, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Global Health Policy.
Nahm and Urpelainen collaborated with Scot Miller, assistant professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, to develop the winning grant proposal “Climate Impact Assessment of the Post-Pandemic Stimulus.” Over the next few months, they plan to track global stimulus spending to better understand how these funds are spent, assess how investments correlate with the avoided emissions, and create a website this summer that will compare each country’s stimulus packages.
Shiffman collaborated with Yusra Shawar of the Bloomberg School of Public Health to develop the winning proposal “National Prioritization of Vulnerable Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multi-Country Policy Tracker.”
Assistant Professor of International Economics Ritam Chaurey was awarded the Entrepreneurship for Development internal grant worth $450,000 funded by infoDev, a multitrust fund at the World Bank that supports entrepreneurs in developing economies.
The grant will be used to fund a joint project with Yunfan Gu, Gaurav Nayyar, and Siddharth Sharma from the World Bank that will examine the determinants of — and barriers to — adoption of an energy-efficient technology by Bangladeshi leather goods and footwear producers. Chaurey will also collaborate with Eric Verhoogen from Columbia University to conduct research.
Senior Research Professor in International Relations Daniel S. Markey’s forthcoming book, China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia, has been included in British historian Peter Frankopan’s top 10 list of historical reads.
China’s Western Horizon analyzes the evolving political, economic, and security links between China, Eurasia, and the Middle East. Within the book, Markey calls for the U.S. to act locally to compete with China globally.
Markey’s first book, No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad, examined the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
Arrigo Levi, the Italian journalist, writer, and teacher, died in Rome on Aug. 24, 2020. He was 94. In addition to his outstanding career in politics and the media, he was also a cherished friend of SAIS Europe and a visiting faculty member during the 1967–68 academic year.
Born in Modena in 1926, Levi and his family, as Jews, escaped the persecution of the racial laws by immigrating to Argentina in 1942. There, he began working as a journalist and after the war returned to Modena, completed his studies, and pursued a lifetime career as a journalist. Levi served as the Russian correspondent for Corriere della Sera and subsequently for Il Giorno. In 1966, he moved to RAI (Radiotelevisione italiana). There, as the TV nightly news anchor, his face and voice became well-known across Italy. Returning to print journalism in 1968, Levi became a correspondent and then managing director of the Turin newspaper La Stampa. In 1988, he was appointed chief editor of Corriere della Sera.
Levi came to SAIS Europe at a tumultuous time, as SAIS students (like university students throughout the U.S. and in Europe) engaged in peaceful protests and a hunger strike against the war in Vietnam. His years as a news correspondent in Moscow greatly influenced the international politics courses he taught, including Patterns of Crisis - Stalin’s Model.
SAIS Europe Alumni Robert Leonardi (B’68, ’69) and his wife, Raffaella Nanetti (B’68, ’69), have fond memories of Arrigo in class and at the Bologna Center Café. The couple shared the following: “He was an educator who did not define himself as such (he did not like to be called Professor), but he was a great one. He was witty, insightful, brilliant, and caring.” In particular, Leonardi remembers one episode dating back to the spring of 1968. “It was after the students’ ‘hunger strike’ outside the center against the escalation in the Vietnam War. One morning when I had just come into the bar and was ordering my cappuccino, I heard somebody call, ‘Leonardi!’ I turned around and saw Levi sitting drinking his cappuccino. Levi simply said, ‘Leonardi, avevi ragione tu.’ Johnson had just announced that he was not running for reelection.”
Among Levi’s numerous awards and honorary degrees was one in 2004 from IULM University that reads: “Arrigo Levi has contributed to the best Italian journalism of investigation and civil spirit linked to major issues of international politics, and we also owe a very frequent activity of connection between the information system, political subjects at the highest levels of representativeness, and scholars made in qualified forums for debate and research aimed at improving the internationalization of our country. His writing has recently touched on important themes of reflection on the human condition: age, memory, and spiritual research.”
Over the years, Levi maintained his relationship with SAIS and returned to the Bologna Center a number of times. In his long-standing role as the councilor for external relations at the Quirinale, first with Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and then with Giorgio Napolitano, he coordinated high-level visits at the Bologna Center.
In an interview with Business Insider (Aug. 23), Anne Applebaum, senior fellow of International Affairs, spoke about the rise of authoritarianism and the dangerous power of conspiracy theories, “which can be weaponized in order to undermine faith in democratic institutions, the media, and politicians.
“I hate to say this — and I hope I’m wrong — but I am afraid that if Trump loses in November, the groups who want civil war or race war will take to the streets,” said Applebaum, who is the author of several books about totalitarianism in Eastern Europe. She adds, “People who spend a lot of time on extremist websites have been told that Biden and Harris represent an evil, dangerous left, that they will destroy the country; some of them will want to take to the streets and prevent them from coming to power.” Read More
In the wake of a draconian national security law imposed by China following months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, a growing number of residents are leaving to live and work in other countries, according to a Radio Free Asia report on Aug. 24.
Ho-Fung Hung, the Henry M. and Elizabeth P. Wiesenfeld Professor in Political Economy, noted that the ruling Chinese Communist Party has likely already factored in the exodus into its plans.
“The whole idea was that they wanted to keep Hong Kong but not its people. They can repopulate it because Hong Kong still has value for them as an offshore financial center,” Hung is quoted as saying. “But it won’t do them much good because the rest of the world is already treating Hong Kong like the rest of China, legally speaking, so they are shooting themselves in the foot.” Read More
Domestic support is fading for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to an Aug. 26 article in Arab News, which notes that the self-styled strongman is losing support among young voters.
Lisel Hintz, assistant professor of International Relations and European Studies, believes frustration is growing among voters over perceived corruption and waste during the years of AKP rule.
“The massive disparity between a president who lives in a 1,000-plus room palace and the average citizen who has seen the price of produce quintuple breeds resentment. This is fueled by the view that Syrians offered temporary protection are a threat to citizens’ economic and cultural status quo,” she is quoted as saying. Read More
Writing in Project Syndicate, Anne Krueger, senior research professor of International Economics, notes that though massive government spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic seems justified, U.S. policymakers will have to address the mounting public debt once the immediate crisis has passed.
“The public should know that a dangerously high debt-to-GDP ratio will need to be addressed. … Otherwise, the nexus of high inflation and slow growth that accompanies financial repression could choke off the recovery,” writes Krueger. Read More
Instability has reined in Mali in recent years since Islamist rebels took advantage of existing disarray to gain control of the country’s north. Though the rebels lost control after French forces intervened, armed forces continue to terrorize civilians, and the violence has spread across the borders into Burkina Faso and Niger, according to an article in The New York Times, which reported on an Aug. 18 coup, staged after weeks of destabilizing protests.
More than 10,000 West Africans have died, over 1 million have fled their homes, and military forces from West Africa and France have suffered many losses in recent years, the article reported.
“That is the major concern here,” noted Chiedo Nwankwor, lecturer and director of SAIS Women Lead, in the article. “These various jihadist movements in Africa do not bode well for any Western government.” Read More
Marta Giagheddu, who teaches macroeconomics at SAIS, is passionate about using the tools of her discipline to do good in the world.
So when the Italian native — who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics at Bocconi University in Milan, and then a PhD at the Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden — started looking for an academic job, SAIS seemed the perfect fit.
“Because I am interested in public policy, it is a great privilege to teach here,” says Giagheddu, who joined the SAIS faculty as assistant professor of International Economics in fall 2018. “I am constantly amazed by my students and their huge awareness of the world and its challenges.”
One of those challenges hit SAIS in the middle of the spring semester, when Giagheddu was teaching her class for the third time.
“COVID-19 forced us online overnight,” she says, “and it was a shock for everyone, but our focus as a faculty was to minimize uncertainty for our students, for whom this has been incredibly stressful.” Giagheddu used tools that allowed her to demonstrate equations on a virtual whiteboard, launched an online discussion forum, and started doing online live sessions as well as bilateral meetings with students, which she conducts on Zoom during regular office hours.
“Online classes offer students more flexibility,” she says, “but I do miss reading their faces and better understanding whether I need to repeat or explain something in a different way.”
Because SAIS students are eager to tackle policy issues, they can be understandably frustrated that learning macroeconomic tools is, at least in the beginning, necessarily abstract, Giagheddu says. “But by the end of the course, they are ready to take this powerful tool set and apply it to real-world circumstances, and that, for me, is deeply gratifying.” Joan Katherine Cramer