Thursday, 14 November 2013

'Rivista' magazine: A glimpse into the complexities of SAIS

SAIS is a community of learners binding students, faculty, staff and alumni around the world who span decades but share common values and experiences.

Some of the complexities are captured in SAIS Europe's magazine, Rivista.

Rivista magazine
The latest edition offers a glimpse into what alumni and current students find alluring about studying at SAIS. Beyond the scholarly expertise of the faculty you will find the unique experience of living in Bologna for a year, the diversity of the students, the evolving curriculum and the commitment of its graduates to contribute to bettering the world.

Director Kenneth Keller, who will be retiring at the end of this academic year, sketches some of the changes he has overseen during his eight years in Bologna: the creation of the Bologna Institute for Policy Research, the movement of the administration of the European Studies concentration to Bologna followed by its merger with Eurasian Studies, the imminent establishment of a chair in Middle East Studies in Bologna and the recognition of the Bologna Center as SAIS Europe.

You will find articles by SAIS Europe professors on corruption in developing countries, the challenge of governing Italy and security and governance concerns in Mali and the Sahel. There are pieces on the city of Bologna, including a gelato museum, on the diversity of the student body and on a recent careers trip to NATO.

The death of SAIS graduate Elif Nazmiye Yavuz (BC03/DC04) in the attack by militants on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September is a reminder of the dangers encountered by many SAIS students, faculty and alumni as they tackle the world's challenges, as well as the sacrifices that many have to make.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Life after SAIS: One man's path to the IMF

What do SAIS students do after they finish their studies?

Many different things. Take Justin Tyson as an example.

Tyson graduated from SAIS in 1999. He then worked for the Inter-American Development Bank and later as an economist at the UK Treasury. Currently he is a senior economist with the European Department of the International Monetary Fund in Washington. Earlier this week he was back at the Bologna Center to deliver a lecture as part of SAIS Europe's seminar series and to answer some of our questions.

Q: How did you hear about SAIS and when did you attend?
Tyson: I originally heard about SAIS from a professor at Edinburgh University who, knowing of my interest in international affairs, recommended it to me. Still, after graduating from Edinburgh, I wanted to get some work experience and spent most of the next year working in Sudan with an NGO before enrolling in SAIS in 1997.
Justin Tyson (BC98/DC99)
(photo thanks to the Bologna Intitute for Policy Research)

Q: Did you go to Bologna and then Washington? If so, do you think that was a good choice for you?
Tyson: Yes, I did the first year at Bologna. I really enjoyed the sense of close community, intellectual diversity and fun that I found in SAIS Europe.

Q: When you applied to SAIS, did you know what you wanted to do after graduation? If not, when did you settle on a path?
Tyson: Well, I thought I did. When I enrolled in SAIS my idea was that after graduation I would return to work in the NGO world. However, SAIS provided me an introduction to economics, which I ended up enjoying more than I had expected to. After SAIS, I gravitated towards a career that would allow me to continue to explore this field.

Q: You've worked at the UK Treasury, the Inter-American Development Bank and the IMF. Did SAIS prepare you well for these jobs?
Tyson: I found the combination of theoretical preparation and public policy pragmatism that I got from SAIS particularly useful in the jobs I have done.

Q: This week you're speaking at SAIS Europe on "Dealing with High Debt in an Era of Low Growth". Could you summarize your work?
Tyson: Our paper takes a closer look at the historical record and key trade-offs in reducing high public debt levels in advanced economies. The bottom line: It is possible to reduce debt when growth is low, but the burden will fall mostly on the public budget, which is not easy in the best of times. Initially, this might weaken growth even further, but ultimately perseverance should pay off.

Q: Are any of your SAIS classmates also working at the IMF? Other SAISers?
Tyson: Yes – there are a few of us at the IMF.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Interested in defense and intelligence? Here's the club for you.

They have a commander-in-chief, secretary of defense and attorney-general. And they serve cookies at every meeting.

The Defense and Intelligence Club is a longstanding fixture among student organizations at SAIS Europe, no surprise given the level of interest here in global security, strategy and intelligence gathering.

"Through educational programs, social events and career panels, the D+I Club strives to be an inclusive meeting place for the open exchange of ideas among members of the SAIS community," said Meaghan Doherty, this year's D&I "commander-in-chief".

The club's first event was a screening of the film classic "La Bataille d'Alger", by Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo, followed by a discussion led by Prof. William Belding.

Later this month club members will hold a career "sit-down" session with Prof. Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University who is teaching a mini-course at the Bologna Center this autumn. They will be sure to quiz him on his service under U.S. Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan and his experience as the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the 1979-81 hostage crisis.

The D&I état-major:
Kandaswamy, Chase, Davie, Doherty, Vanella
The club currently has nearly 60 student members from various concentrations -- "Not just Strategic Studies," Doherty said. It is planning a panel featuring SAIS Europe students with experience in defense and intelligence, regular film nights, aperitivi with faculty and Skype conference calls with industry practitioners.

Joining Doherty in the club's general staff are Deputy Director Alix Davie, Secretary of Defense Jackie Chase, Attorney-General Anand Kandaswamy and General Counsel Mario Vanella.

Nelson Graves

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Tips on getting in to SAIS (and a quiz)

Do you want to maximize your chances of admission to SAIS?

We find that candidates who research their options carefully tend to submit the strongest applications. That means understanding why you want to study international relations in graduate school and what SAIS is all about.

Here are some tips:

  • Read this blog regularly. Self-promotion? Maybe. But we strive in this blog to explain admissions procedures and expectations, while conveying what goes on at SAIS. Those who read the blog regularly have a good understanding of the admissions process and the SAIS experience. You don't need a dinosaur like me to tell you how to stay in regular touch with this blog. There's an RSS feed, and it can also be emailed directly to you when we update it three times a week.

Pop quiz: Which browser has been most popular among readers of this blog since it was launched in 2010? (The winner gets a free Bologna Center tee shirt. Want to play? Send in your answer via a comment below or in an email to

  • Ask us questions. We like to speak to prospective applicants. We meet many of them during our travels and in our online information sessions. We are happy to set up phone calls (+39 051 29 17 811) or to speak via Skype (jhubc.admissions). Here are details for the next two online sessions:

- November 26 at 10 am CET (0900 GMT) - letters of recommendation
- December 12 at 4 pm CET (1500 GMT) - analytical essay

If you are interested in participating in either of the online sessions, send an email to, and we'll send you instructions for connecting.
  • Consider visiting us in Bologna or DC. We can organize ad hoc visits that include attending a class or two and meeting students and faculty. A great way to get to know SAIS Europe is to attend our annual Open Day, which this year is on Friday, December 6. To register, click here.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Prof. Gary Sick on U.S.-Iran relations: "The most promising point we've had."

"It's an historic opportunity."

That is how Prof. Gary Sick characterizes relations today between the United States and Iran.

Prof. Sick had a front-row seat when 52 U.S. diplomats were captured in Tehran and held hostage for 444 days from 1979-81. He is currently in Bologna teaching a four-part lecture series on the United States and the Gulf. He is an example of the intellectual and professional expertise that SAIS students can tap into and which helps set the SAIS experience apart.

Consider Sick's track record: He served on the National Security Council under U.S. Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the 1979-81 hostage crisis.

An adjunct professor and senior research scholar at Columbia University, Sick has worked at the Ford Foundation, is an emeritus member of the board of Human Rights Watch in New York and serves as executive director of Gulf/2000, an international online project on developments in the Gulf.

Sick, who is teaching his mini-course in Bologna for the 4th consecutive year, spoke to us about his course and U.S. relations with Iran in an interview that can be seen below.

Asked if he is more optimistic about relations between Washington and Tehran this year than last, he said, "This is the most promising point we've had between these two countries." Noting that the U.S. and Iran have many converging interests, he said: "If they can't find a way out of this, then perhaps there is no way out."

What he would say to the U.S. and Iranian presidents if he met them in an elevator? "Don't be deflected from your main purpose."

Has SAIS Europe changed since he started teaching here? "As far as I can tell, the school itself has not changed. It's a very happy place."

If you are reading this via email, you can see the video here.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Careers: Exploring the City and the world of finance

Each year SAIS Europe’s Career Services Office organizes trips that expose students to some of the myriad professional opportunities available to them after graduating.

SAIS students before their meeting at the
Royal Bank of Scotland
The treks allow SAIS students to sit down with industry practitioners at their offices to learn what it is like to work in that profession. Often the practitioners are SAIS graduates themselves. Their enthusiasm and willingness to share their time, experience and advice with current students testify to the reach and vigor of the SAIS network.

Last month 19 first- and second-year SAIS students -- 17 from Bologna and two from DC -- traveled to London for the 2013 Finance Career trek.

Students met investment professionals -- many of them SAIS alumni -- from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Citibank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Rogge Capital, Satya Capital and Fitch Ratings. Our hosts provided a range of perspectives into the world of finance.

After two days of discussion and exploration of the City, students returned to Bologna and Washington with new insight, ready to tackle the internship and job application process.

Samuel Semwangu (BC14/DC15)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The nightmare before mid-terms

Vampires, monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches and devils: SAIS Europe students took time out from studying for mid-term exams to celebrate Halloween in a 16th century palazzo in the center of Bologna.

Some revelers took up topical themes -- the capsizing of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship and climbing the corporate hierarchy, among them -- while others dressed as literary or historical characters or settled for the supernatural.

A jury of faculty and staff chose winners in five categories:
  • Most creative: Mitchell Delaney (survivor of Costa Concordia disaster)
  • Funniest: Keila Ortiz Caraballo (Big, Bad Wolf)
  • Scariest: Grace Cineas, Kathlyn Collins and Amaury Muñoz (Walking Dead)
  • Most topical: Ben West (Corporate Ladder)
  • Best group: Hank Webster and Tobias Akerlund (le Due Torri)
Here is a slideshow that captures some of the costumes and fun:

If you are reading this via email, you can view the video here.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Starting your application

Some of you will want to mark this date on your calendars: January 7, 2014.

That's the deadline for applications to SAIS for 2014-15.

Two months might seem a long way away. But it takes time to compile a strong dossier, and the best applications tend to come from students who've thought long and hard about why the want to go to graduate school and why SAIS.

Here are some suggestions on how to get started -- if you haven't already.

To start your application click here.

If you are a non-native speaker of English, you should book the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) exam as soon as possible. You want to make sure you have enough time to prepare for one these tests. 

They are not difficult, but you're best to familiarize yourself with the format to achieve the best possible scores. You might consider taking the test more than once if you're not happy with the results.

If you're unsure whether you qualify as a native English speaker, take a look at this document.

GRE or GMAT: Are they required?

U.S. applicants and non-U.S. applicants who wish to start their SAIS studies in Washington or who are open to starting at either campus must submit the results of either the GRE or the GMAT. Non-U.S. applicants who want to start in Bologna are not required to take either of these tests, but we strongly recommend that they do so.

In September we held an online information session on standardized tests with current student Jenny Lu. If you'd like to listen to it, send an email to

This is the most personal part of the application. The statement should capture your persona and personality, your reasons for wanting to study at SAIS and your future goals. Admissions Committee members enjoy reading statements, but remember that they read many of them. Think of ways in which you can make yours stand out.

Earlier this month, we discussed the statement of purpose in an online information session with current student Lauren Hartel. If you'd like to hear her tips, send us a message at

In addition, here is a post by Nora Sturm (BC13/DC14) and here's another one by Irena Peresa and Sebastian Ernst (BC12/DC13).

Here's your opportunity to give a sample of your writing and analytical skills. The Admissions Committee wants to see you tackle a topic of your choice, demonstrating sensitivity to different sides of an argument, in no more than 600 words.

Ally Carragher (BC13/DC14) wrote about an issue that interested her and was relevant to what is studied at SAIS. You can find her essay here.

We will be discussing the analytical essay during an online information session on December 12. Send us an email if you'd like to participate in the session.

You probably have a CV that you used when applying for a job or an internship. Make sure you don't leave out the experiences you've had that are relevant to SAIS.

We are often asked how long the CV should be. There's isn't a page limit, but even a senior person can capture their career in two pages or less.

You can submit almost all of your documents online
If you haven't done so already, you might want to inform your referees of your intention to apply to graduate school. The earlier you inform them, the more likely they are to submit their letters in support of your application on time. 

You should tell them why you want to apply to graduate school. You might want to share your statement of purpose with them. It will make writing the letters easier for them.

Referees can submit their letters online or via snail mail. Make sure you ask them how they wish to provide their letters before you indicate it in the application form.

The next information session on November 26 at 10 am Italian time (0900 GMT) will focus on letters of recommendation. Send us a message if you'd like to participate.

To ensure we receive your transcripts on time, you should get in touch with your undergraduate institution as soon as possible and ask them to provide your transcripts to our Admissions Office in Washington.

Transcripts that are not in English need to be translated by an official translator. You can use one of the credential evaluation services indicated in the application instructions, which you can find here.

If you have any questions, please comment on this post or write to us at

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Veteran professor adds new volume to SAIS Europe book shelf

Gianfranco Pasquino has taught at the Bologna Center for more than three decades. A former senator in the Italian parliament, he has just co-edited a book tracing the last 40 years of Italian political science. Prof. Pasquino answered some questions we had about the origins of the project and the themes.

Q: This is a huge project. How did you get the idea?
Prof. Gianfranco Pasquino
Pasquino: The idea came when it was time to celebrate my forty years of career and teaching political science at the University of Bologna. Two young collaborators of mine were willing to put together very many pieces written by capable colleagues and we produced a book of use to all those who want to know about the products and the achievements of Italian political science.

Q: How did you decide on the structure of the book?
Pasquino: We chose the most important themes explored and analyzed by Italian political scientists and asked them to ponder on the work done.

Q: What are the main themes?
Pasquino: The main themes are:
  • Institutions: parliament and government
  • Electoral systems and electoral behavior
  • Political parties: public policies
  • Democratization and democracy
  • What is political science for?

Q: Who is the book aimed at?
Pasquino: Our main targets are three wide publics: i) colleagues and students; ii) politicians and policy makers (They have a lot to learn!); iii) the mass media (The journalists, too, have a lot to learn, but most of them are not even aware of their political science ignorance!)

Q: Were you surprised by any of the themes or conclusions?
Pasquino: Yes, we were very much surprised by two "conclusions". First, Italian political scientists have produced a lot of good stuff in terms of research and European recognition. Second, unfortunately most of them seem unable to offer their achievements in ways that could attract the attention of two of our "publics": politicians and policy-makers, and journalists. Without diminishing the quality of their research and the credibility of their findings, they must improve their writing and their presentations.

Prof. Pasquino and his co-editors, Marta Regalia and Marco Valbruzzi, will present their book at la Feltrinelli Librerie in Bologna on October 29, in an event organized by the Bologna Institute for Policy Research.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Gathering in Manila

SAIS graduates go into a wide variety of careers upon graduating. Many choose multilateral organizations, which are keen to take advantage of the mix of skills SAIS students typically offer.

One of those organizations is the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Recently, Çiğdem Akin, who taught at SAIS for four years before shifting to the ADB earlier this year, organized a lunch for SAIS alumni at the development bank's headquarters in Manila.
Çiğdem Akin (front row, 2nd from right) and SAIS alumni at the ADB in Manila

Ten SAIS alumni joined Çiğdem and former adjunct Prof. Patricia Moser at the gathering. All of them hold positions at the ADB except Nathaniel Young (BC05/DC06), who is the political officer at the U.S. embassy in Manila.

The multilateral sector, including the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and International Monetary Fund, attracted 12% of SAIS's Class of 2012. The breakdown by other sectors, as outlined in this report, was private sector (47%), nonprofit (19%), public sector (18%), multilateral (12%), fellowships (2%) and further study (2%).

As the variety of career choices indicates, SAIS graduates offer a compelling mix of qualifications -- global awareness, analytical acumen, an ability to understand and apply economics, language and cultural skills -- that are well suited for tackling today's complex problems.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Ask us any question

Our recruitment cycle has started. In the past two weeks we've met prospective applicants in the Netherlands, France, Greece and our host city, Bologna.

Wondering how to get more information about SAIS if you were not at one of those sessions?

In coming weeks we will be holding in-person and online information sessions. Then, on December 6, we will open our doors to prospective applicants at our annual Open Day in Bologna.
Design by Britt Johnson (BC14/DC15),
 photo by Michael Aubrey (BC13/DC14)

Here is a list of our in-person information sessions (local time/GMT): 

- Oct 23: University of Piraeus, Greece (1400 local time/1100 GMT)
- Oct 23: Institute of International Relations, Panteion University, Athens, Greece (1800/1500 GMT)
- Oct 29: University of St. Louis, Madrid, Spain (1400/1300 GMT)
- Oct 31: University of Aberystwyth, UK (1230 GMT)
- Oct 31: AEGEE ZaraAgora Fair, Zaragoza, Spain (1400/1300 GMT)
- Nov 5: Dickinson College, Bologna campus, Italy (1230/1130 GMT)
- Nov 6: Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, Austria (time to be announced)
- Nov 13: FH Joanneum, Graz, Austria (1300/1200 GMT)
- Nov 13: Leuven, Belgium (1900/1800 GMT)
- Nov 14: Vienna, Austria (1830/1930 GMT)
- Dec 6: SAIS Europe Open Day, Bologna, Italy

In addition, we will be holding online information sessions until the deadline for applications on January 7, 2014. Here is a list of the sessions scheduled so far (local time/GMT):

- Oct 23: online session with focus on the statement of purpose (1600/1400 GMT)
- Oct 25: with University of Konstanz (1100/0900 GMT)
- Nov 4: with SIB-Utrecht, Netherlands (2000/1900 GMT)
- Nov 26: online session with focus on letters of recommendation (1000/0900 GMT)
- Dec 12: online session with focus on the analytical essay (1600/1500 GMT)

If you are interested in participating in any of these online sessions, please send an email to, indicating which session interests you, and we'll send you the instructions for connecting.

Choosing the right graduate program can be a daunting task. We know you'll have questions, and we stand ready to answer them. If we can't, we'll be sure to put you in touch with someone who can. Remember that we like queries, and your questions are important to us.

You can reach us via email at, Skype (jhubc.admissions), the telephone (+39 051 29 17 811) and in person at Via Belmeloro 11, Bologna.

Amina Abdiuahab

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

SAIS Europe's new partner: Leiden University of the Netherlands

SAIS Europe and Leiden University have reached an agreement that allows students to earn two master's degrees in two years -- expanding the Bologna Center's reach and offering new learning opportunities to international relations scholars.

The accord, signed in Leiden on October 17, is modeled on SAIS Europe's existing agreements with its three other European partners: the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, the University of Bologna and Sciences Po Lille.

Prof. Wim van den Doel (L) and Nelson Graves
signing the agreement linking Leiden and SAIS Europe
The agreements allow a student to study for a year at one of the Bologna Center's partners and a second year at SAIS Europe and earn two master's. Students who start at SAIS Europe and finish at the partner program receive a Bologna Center Diploma and a master's degree from the other university.

These agreements allow students to broaden their horizons and take advantage of complementary academic curricula. They raise Johns Hopkins SAIS's profile in the partner universities -- all of them prestigious institutions in their own right -- and highlight the Bologna Center's deep roots in its host continent. Finally, they can cut the cost of obtaining a master's at SAIS Europe by one half.

Students in the dual degree programs must be admitted separately to each institution. Students who take advantage of the dual degree agreements and who finish their studies at SAIS Europe receive the Bologna Center's Master of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA). During their year in Bologna they take six courses and write a 20,000-word thesis.

The MAIA agreements are in addition to SAIS's dual degree accords with several U.S. universities plus INSEAD, which lead to the MA in International Relations from SAIS.

The new agreement with Leiden University links SAIS Europe with the Dutch university's International Relations program, which has two MA specializations: European Union Studies and International Studies.
The aim of Leiden's one-year EU Studies programme is to explore the economic, legal and political developments of the EU since its creation, notably by looking at the internal and external developments of post-war Europe to understand current problems and issues. The interdisciplinary specialization in the one-year International Studies program is primarily concerned with the interrelationship between global, regional and national ideas and policies.

The Leiden-SAIS Europe agreement was signed by Prof. Wim van den Doel, dean of the faculty of Humanities at Leiden, and Prof. Kenneth Keller, director of SAIS Europe, who was represented in Leiden by Nelson Graves, director student recruitment and admissions.

Nelson Graves

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Look who's coming to SAIS this month

Consider some of the speakers appearing at SAIS in October:
  • India's central bank governor
  • Turkey's deputy prime minister
  • Tunisia's finance minister
  • China's ambassador to the U.S.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security adviser and SAIS senior research professor, will be joined by Madeleine Albright, Robert Gates, Stephen Hadley and Brent Scowcroft at a forum on national security set for October 22 at SAIS DC.

Here are some of the topics addressed by speakers in DC and Bologna during October:
  • the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
  • the U.S. in the Persian Gulf
  • the state of journalism in the world
  • the global politics of water
  • the crisis in the euro area
  • transatlantic trade and investment
  • African perspectives toward Chinese and U.S. engagement
  • the global revolution in natural gas
  • the 2015 elections in Burundi
  • Central Asia as an emerging multipolar system
  • the Basque country and the Atlantic basin
  • Azerbaijani monetary policy
  • Islamic law
  • Australia's energy future
When SAIS says its students have access to policymakers and experts tackling the full range of issues facing the world, it means it.

The October 22 event with Zbigniew Brzezinski is open to SAIS students, faculty, staff and invited guests. SAIS will host a live webcast of the event, which starts at 4 pm U.S. Eastern time (2000 GMT). To connect to the webcast, click here.

Here are calendars of SAIS events:
Nelson Graves

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Here are some of the questions we are hearing

As prospective candidates scout out different graduate programs, they naturally have questions about academics, student life, application procedures and potential careers.

Here are some of the questions -- all of them good ones -- that we are hearing:

Q: I am not a native English speaker but did my undergraduate degree in an English-language program. Do I need to submit the results of one of the English competency tests?

A: It depends. If your university was in an English-speaking country and you did a full undergraduate degree there, you are exempt from taking an English test as part of your application. If your university was not in an English-speaking country, you will have to submit the results of one of the tests (TOEFL, IELTS or the Cambridge English Proficiency exam).

Why the distinction? A student who studies in an English-speaking country is immersed in the language both inside and outside of the classroom; all other things being equal, the linguistic experience will be more powerful.

For more information on the English requirements at SAIS -- both for entry and for graduation -- and on the definition of a native English speaker, you can consult this guide.

Above all, applicants should keep in mind that SAIS is a "full-on" graduate program in English. The voluminous readings are in English; the papers and exams are in English, and classroom discussion is in English. It's essential that a student be very comfortable in English to benefit fully from the SAIS experience.

For some data on average TOEFL scores for this year's class, you can look at page 18 of the SAIS brochure.

Q: Do I have to take the GRE or GMAT?

A: Again, it depends. Three categories of applicants are required to take either the GRE or GMAT:
  • U.S. citizens
  • non-U.S. citizens who want to start their SAIS studies in DC
  • non-U.S. citizens who are open to starting in either DC or Bologna
Non-U.S. citizens who want to start their studies in Bologna are not required to take the GRE or the GMAT. However, we strongly recommend that applicants take one of the exams, and most of the applicants to Bologna do so.

Why do we recommend that non-U.S. citizens who want to start in Bologna take either the GRE or the GMAT? Relatively good scores can help an applicant. And if an applicants scores below the SAIS average, it could be a warning sign for both the candidate and SAIS. (For data on average scores of this year's students, consult page 18 of the brochure.)

Keep in mind that very few applications are either made or ruined by GRE or GMAT scores.

If your GRE or GMAT score is lower than you would have wanted, you can address the issue in your statement of purpose. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances you would like to mention.

Q: Will my application be handled by SAIS DC Admissions or SAIS Europe (Bologna) Admissions?

A: Yet again, it depends. If you are a U.S. citizen or if you are a non-U.S. citizen who wants to start studying in DC, your application will be handled in DC. The email address for the DC Admissions Office is

If you are a non-U.S. citizen who wants to start in Bologna, your application will be handled in Bologna. Our email is

Q: SAIS is a private program with tuition. How does one pay for it?

A: Many SAIS students receive financial aid from SAIS. Financial aid applications are due by February 15, 2014. Aid is allocated on the basis of need and merit. The stronger one's application, the better one's chances of receiving aid.

Students will typically mix a combination of sources of money to make ends meet. There can be aid from SAIS or from alternative sources, loans, savings, part-time work. One good way to learn about financing a SAIS education is to speak to current students or recent graduates from your country and to ask them about their strategy. If you'd like to speak to a SAIS Europe student or alumnus, you can send an email to

Although SAIS is a major commitment, it can open up a host of career opportunities, as our alumni will attest. Here is a document detailing the types of careers that the SAIS Class of 2012 chose.

Nelson Graves


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Why study Latin America from Europe?

Recently two senior administrators of the Latin American Studies Program (LASP) came to Bologna from Washington, DC, to meet students, faculty and staff. Below Guadalupe Paz, LASP associate director and assistant research professor, and Anne McKenzie, LASP senior academic coordinator, discuss their concentration, one of the programs available to SAIS students in both Washington and Bologna.

Q: Why are you in Bologna?
A: Approximately half of the students enrolled in the Latin American Studies Program under the Western Hemisphere Studies umbrella spend their first year of the MA at SAIS Europe in Bologna. We feel it's essential to meet with LASP students in Bologna at the start of the school year to learn more about their background and interests and to provide individually tailored academic and career counseling, both during our visit and subsequently over Skype, telephone and email.
Guadalupe Paz (2nd from right) with
LASP concentrators in Bologna

Q: Can LASP concentrators start in Bologna and finish in DC?
A: Yes, about half of each incoming LASP MA class begins their studies at SAIS Europe in Bologna. SAIS Europe offers WHS/LASP courses taught by distinguished adjunct faculty from renowned European universities and occasionally by SAIS Washington visiting faculty. By spending one year in Europe, students are exposed to the European perspectives on global issues, including those affecting Latin America. Students also benefit from sharing the SAIS Europe in Bologna experience with an internationally and professionally diverse student body while gaining more direct access to the network of European alumni.

LASP students who begin their studies in Bologna can meet their concentration requirements by taking the LASP/WHS courses offered in Bologna and completing the remaining required coursework in Washington. Students can also pursue their language studies -- Spanish and Portuguese -- in Bologna.

Q: Why a LASP concentration? Is there anything unique or unusual about LASP?
A: Offering an overall political economy focus, the program continually seeks to develop innovative approaches to the study of the Western Hemisphere in the global context. The following sample of courses illustrates the breadth and diversity of LASP:

  • Brazil and the Potential of a BRIC: A New Emerging Market Player (Roett)
  • Energy in the Americas: Conflict , Cooperation and Future Prospects (González)
  • Multilateral Development Policy Research in Association with the Inter-American Development Bank (Mazza & Paz)
  • Competing in World Markets: Latin America’s Legacy and the Emergence of New Industrial Policies (Devlin)
  • Public Opinion as a Driver for Policymakers: Analytical Tools and Illustrative Case Studies (Young)
  • Urban Economics and Urban Policy in Latin America (Freire)

SAIS/LASP is consistently recognized for its dedicated faculty and staff and the individualized attention the students receive. Through program-level fundraising efforts, LASP students benefit from a number of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities including program-funded summer internships and fellowships in Latin America, study trips to China and other countries (most recently Brazil and Costa Rica) and student activities such as Latin American film screenings with faculty commentary and Spanish/Portuguese language conversation socials.

LASP is also known for maintaining close ties with its alumni community, allowing current students and alumni themselves to effectively network for professional, academic, and other pursuits.

Q: Could you say a word about internships supported by LASP?
Anne McKenzie (R) in Bologna
A: Each SAIS academic program has its own capstone requirement. For the LASP capstone, all Latin American Studies concentrators are required to complete an academic or professional internship relevant to program course work or, alternatively, pass an oral examination at the end of the final semester. All internships completed through the WHS-LASP Summer Internship Program satisfy the capstone requirement.

Relying on the LASP alumni network, we are able to secure summer internship opportunities in Latin America across all sectors -- private, public and nonprofit. Every year, the program funds up to 25 students, and based on survey responses from the entering class, the program makes every effort to confirm internship opportunities tailored to meet our students’ interests and career goals.

Recent LASP summer internship opportunities included 10-week assignments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Moody’s in Mexico, the Inter-American Development Bank in Brazil and Peru, Itaú Asset Management in Chile, Thomson Reuters in Brazil and the Colombia-Venezuela Chamber of Commerce in Colombia, among many others over the years.

Q: What kinds of careers do LASP concentrators go into after SAIS?
A: LASP alumni have successfully pursued careers in investment banking, business consulting, government, diplomacy, international development and academia among other sectors, quite often focusing on global or regional issues beyond Latin America.

Typically, LASP graduates will initially work on issues relating to the Latin American region, in U.S. and international organizations, finance (NY, London), economic policy and research (IMF, Federal Reserve, Central Banks); international development (World Bank, IDB); renewable energy (Houston, San Francisco); management consulting; foreign policy (State Department or home Foreign Ministries).

Over time, LASP graduates tend to expand into various areas of specialization that span the globe, from energy in Saudi Arabia, to finance in Asia, to international law/human rights in Geneva, to social development in conflict regions in Africa, among many examples. LASP maintains close ties with its actively engaged alumni network around the globe, providing a valuable resource, both within and outside the U.S., for recruiting, mentoring and social networking.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Student Life: Fundraising for "A Nightmare Before Mid-terms"

SAIS students have many talents. Last week they were able to put their cooking skills on the table to raise funds for a Halloween party. Below Nicola Hil tells us more about the event, which attracted more than 80 students.

SAIS Europe's Class of 2014 kicked off October and the Fall Semester with an “International Halloween Potluck” on October 1. The event, which took full advantage of the new student lounge, was a fundraiser for the annual SAIS Halloween Party, which this year will be held on October 26 and has been dubbed, "A Nightmare Before Midterms".

The student lounge is a perfect location for this kind of event. Student cooks wrote a menu of their dishes on the whiteboard walls and laid out the food on tables rolled into a new formation to allow easy access.

The more than 20 cooks made an assortment of dishes including Spring Rolls, Filippino Pancit, Chow Mein, Chili, Guacamole and Macedonian Avjar. Among the deserts: Torta Barozzi, Coconut Pie, Tiramisu Cups, Walnut Pie and a mountain of Crêpes.

Students filled the new lounge, enjoying food and conversation after a long day of classes. The event raised 375 euros towards the Halloween Party while showcasing the cultures, cooking skills and community spirit at SAIS. The only downside was that the food disappeared within fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile, the student-run Halloween Planning Committee is hard at work on the upcoming party. The committee is organizing the venue, refreshments, entertainment, fundraising and ticket sales (which are available every weekday from 1230-1430 in the SAIS Europe lobby).

To get the whole SAIS Community involved, Vanessa Roy designed a poster on display in Giulio’s Bar that tracks progress towards the 800-euro fundraising goal. Coming fundraising events include 50/50 raffles at weekly happy hours.

Nicola Hil (BC14/DC15)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

SAIS Europe's Open Day: "Your move"

The poster for our Open Day in December features the image of a chess knight against the backdrop of a chess board and next to the words, "Your move."

The poster was the brainchild of Britt Johnson, a SAIS Europe student with experience in design who will enter the U.S. Foreign Service when she finishes her two-year master's program.

The theme of chess to illustrate Open Day occurred to Britt during a class in "Theories of International Relations" with Prof. Marco Cesa.

"The knight represents the use of force," she said. "How does one respond to the use of force? What is the alternative? These are questions that interest SAIS students."

Britt studied political science and public health as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University in the U.S. As a Pickering fellow she receives funding to prepare her to enter the U.S. State Department. While an undergraduate she worked as a graphic designer, TV news anchor and producer, and intern at the Food and Drug Administration and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health.

Britt says she chose SAIS because it offers her the chance to study in DC and also extend her horizon by coming to Bologna. "We're studying history in real time," she said, noting that SAIS Europe held a panel discussion on Syria soon after the use of chemical weapons there.

Britt, who designed the Open Day poster with my Admissions colleague, Amina Abdiuahab, said participants in the December 6 event will be able to see SAIS students engage with each other.

"They will be able to see the interaction of different cultures," said Britt, adding that SAIS Europe students share a feeling that "something needs to be done" in the world.
Britt Johnson (R) and Amina working on
the Open Day poster

"People here feel something is missing in the world. When they graduate, they will be the ones who will play a role in fixing things."

On Open Day, SAIS Europe invites prospective applicants to come meet students, faculty and staff, and to explore both the Bologna Center and the city of Bologna. We try to make sure visiting students are accommodated in student apartments.

To register for Open Day, click here.

Nelson Graves

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Student life: Clubs, new and old, cater to a wide range of interests

SAIS Europe students expand their horizons in a variety of ways: in the classroom, through the seminar series, in their interactions with each other and the city of Bologna -- and through the range of clubs they form every year. Some clubs are hardy perennials; others sprout out of the convergence of interests in a particular class. Below Student Affairs assistant Kia Guarino writes about this year's clubs.

Impact investment. Movies. Public speaking. Gender equality.

The rush to sign up
This year's SAIS Europe students have organized 30 clubs reflecting expansive interests and a shared drive for knowledge.

Virtually the entire student body flocked to the annual Club Fair earlier this month to sign up for activities that range from the tried and tested -- the Gastronomica Club, for example -- to the fresh and innovative.

"I was overwhelmed and excited by the variety of choices and the enthusiasm displayed by the students both representing and interested in these clubs," said Holly Deaton, a Conflict Management concentrator.

Simon Ilzhoefer in lederhosen
for the German Club
IDEV concentrator Nick Van Vliet has launched A Day In The Life Club, which will put students in touch with alumni who are working on relevant and exciting projects, and who will share information on their career paths.

Another career-minded club is The ERE Club, whose activities will include trips to companies such as a solar plant in Italy. The longstanding Careers in Development Club will work with counterparts in Washington, DC, and with alumni networks and Career Services to facilitate career-orientated discussions and events.

More than 85 students signed up for the Gastronomica Club. The Chinese Cultural Club promised dumpling-cooking and Chinese lessons. The WWII History Club tapped into a wellspring of interest in that period.

Club founders will now contact interested students and organize meetings, discussions and events. Clubs will then register with the Student Government Association and will be able to submit proposals for event funding throughout the year.

Kia Guarino (BC14/DC15)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Your chance(s) to learn more about SAIS

Summer is over and the weather is turning chilly. That means recruiting season is upon us.

It's when we reach out to as many prospective students as possible. How?

Over the next few months we’ll be holding information sessions both in person and online. We hope as many of you who are thinking of applying as possible will be able to attend one or more of the events.

If you cannot -- we know we cannot see all of you in person and that the online sessions may not work with your schedules -- Nelson and I are always available to speak to prospective applicants. You can reach us via email at, Skype (jhubc.admissions) or the telephone (+39 051 29 17 811).

Here is a calendar of events:.


- Oct 17: Leiden University, Netherlands (1330/1130 GMT)
- Oct 18: Sciences Po Lille, France (time to be announced)
- Oct 21: University of Bologna, Forli', Italy (1100/0900 GMT)
- Oct 22: University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy (1400/1200 GMT)
- Oct 22: Greek Foreign Affairs Youth, Athens, Greece (1900/1600 GMT)
- Oct 23: University of Piraeus, Greece (1400/1100 GMT)
- Oct 23: Institute of International Relations, Panteion University, Athens, Greece (1800/1500 GMT)
- Oct 29: University of Edinburgh, UK (time to be announced)
- Oct 29: University of St. Louis, Madrid, Spain (time to be announced)
- Oct 31: University Aberystwyth, UK (time to be announced)
- Oct 31: AEGEE ZaraAgora Fair, Zaragoza, Spain (1400/1300 GMT)
- Nov 5: Dickinson College, Bologna campus, Italy (1230/1130 GMT)
- Nov 5: Vienna, Austria (time/location to be announced)
- Nov 6: Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, Austria (time to be announced)
- Nov 13: Leuven, Belgium (time/location to be announced)
- Dec 6: SAIS Europe Open Day, Bologna, Italy


- Oct 23: online session with focus on the statement of purpose (1600/1400 GMT)
- Oct 25: with University of Konstanz (time to be announced)
- Nov 4: with SIB-Utrecht, Netherlands (2000/1900 GMT)
- Nov 26: online session with focus on letters of recommendation (1000/0900 GMT)
- Dec 12: online session with focus on the analytical essay (1600/1500 GMT)

If you are interested in participating in any of these sessions and would like more information, please send an email to, and we'll get back to you.

You know we like questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any queries you have on the program, the application procedure or SAIS in general.

Amina Abdiuahab

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Academics: "A wild, inspiring, productive semester" for a new SAIS professor

Prof. William Belding is teaching at SAIS for the first time this fall term. His course, "Weak and Failed States," attracted so many students that he will be offering two sections to accommodate all. Below Prof. Belding discusses his course and his background, including his service as a U.S. Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War and how that piqued his interest in studying state weakness.

Q: What course are you teaching?
Belding: "Weak and Failed States" -- two sections.

Q: What are the main themes? What are the readings, and what research will be conducted?
Belding: We will look at three issues: How are weak and failed states defined and measured; why have they failed, and what can be done to reverse failure, both internally and externally? A member of the faculty asked if we would be studying Italy and the United States. We will, at least when we take up the first of the three issues.
Prof. William Belding

The principal text is Acemoglu and Robinson's "Why Nations Fail," a recent work that has put this topic into the mainstream. Our research will be centered on case studies exploring the various faces and facets of weakness within regions, for example Zimbabwe and Botswana, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Cambodia.

Q: How would students find the course useful?
Belding: Though it is presented as a Conflict Management course, it is cross-listed in IDEV and has relevance to Strategic Studies. As both Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton have noted, in the decades ahead failed states pose the most lethal threats to security within developed nations. The humanitarian issues are also of great interest to many students and practitioners of international relations.

Q: How did you gain expertise in the field?
Belding: My interest began in 1967 when I went to Vietnam as a Navy SEAL. War creates an effective laboratory for studying state weakness, and the experiences I had over the next five years created a passion that has lasted my entire life. After a career practicing law but doing loads of pro bono work for NGOs in the humanitarian field, I was able to tap into this passion again by entering the international NGO world and working with war victims, primarily those injured by land mines. I worked in Cambodia, Vietnam and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  Teaching is proving to be the culmination of all the work I have done over the years.

Q: How would you describe your experience at SAIS?
Belding: This is the first course I have taught at SAIS. It is different from Yale, The New School in New York and American University in Washington primarily because of its smaller enrollment and the international mix of the students, both of which make for a rich, enjoyable experience -- at least so far. And the staff is wonderful -- particularly the librarians and IT folks. I have never seen such dedication and competence. Most impressive, though, are the students. After just one class I know it is going to be a wild, inspiring, productive semester.

Q: Is being a Vietnam veteran relevant to your teaching?
Belding: The work we did in Vietnam was critical to my being drawn to teaching, as in a small, personal sense it provides an effective way to apply the lessons we learned in past conflicts to those looming on the horizon.

I could go on for hours on the broader topic of being a vet. Of great concern is the lack of understanding most citizens have of the role the military plays in their country -- not just the United States but the U.K., Italy, Australia and elsewhere. The effect of the volunteer army has greatly altered this matrix in the U.S. by reducing the number of soldiers, sailors and Marines and erecting a firewall between citizens and those who serve. Margel Highet (Edsdirector of Student Affairs) and I are hoping to bring veterans together with the SAIS community on Veterans Day in November. We will be lucky if we can find a dozen to attend.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Student Life: "A fantastic place for students"

From mathematical formulas to candidates' platforms for student elections: the writing is on the wall.

Two and a half weeks after SAIS Europe inaugurated a new study space, students are putting it through the paces.

I snuck into the new room today and saw students at desktop computers and laptops, some with cups of espresso nearby. Some had scribbled on the walls with the erasable ink pens provided by the Bologna Center.

"It's my living room," said Gena Kosmidou, as she settled into the second week of classes.

Said Rachel Finan: "The room provides a fantastic place for students to do group work, use the computers and relax between classes."

The new room, supported by the Class of 1981, is brainstorming central at SAIS Europe.

"It's a great space for students to learn from each other," commented Britt Johnson.

"The room is the perfect blend of a professional setting that has powerful technological tools, but it's also a space where people can gather for work or play", says Derek Schlickeisen.

Want to get a feel for the room? Here's a video peek.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Applying to SAIS Europe: Standardized tests, bowls of porridge and more

Standardized tests: To take, or not to take.

That was one of the questions tackled during an online information session that Amina, current student Jenny Lu and I tackled today.

We are interested in two categories of standardized tests: English-language competency tests for non-native speakers on the one hand, and the GRE and GMAT on the other.


Non-native English speakers must submit the results of one of three competency exams as part of their application to SAIS. The three exams are the TOEFL, IELTS and the Cambridge Proficiency Exam.

For definitions of a native English speaker, you can review this document.
Nelson, Amina and Jenny during today's online information session
Note that if you are a non-native English speaker but have completed or are completing a full undergraduate program, taught in English, in a country where English is an official language, you do not have to submit the results of a competency test.

However, if your undergraduate institution is in a country where English is not an official language and you are a non-native speaker, you will have to submit the results of such a test.


All U.S. citizens applying to SAIS need to submit the results of either the GRE or GMAT. All non-U.S. citizens who want to start their studies at SAIS DC or who are open to starting in either DC or Bologna need to take either of the two tests.

Non-U.S. citizens who want to start their studies in Bologna do not have to take either the GRE or GMAT. However, we strongly recommend that candidates take one or the other. Why?
  • A relatively strong score can help one's application;
  • The results can address questions about a candidate's English and/or quantitative skills;
  • A relatively weak score can send a warning signal to both the candidate and the Admissions Committee.
Do keep in mind that the results of the GRE or the GMAT will very rarely make or break an application; they are part of a complex dossier that the Admissions Committee reads very carefully.

Here is a slide that we showed at today's session that captures the middle 50% range of scores submitted by this year's SAIS students. These ranges do not include the top 25% or the bottom 25%, and so they reflect the middle tier:

Thus, of the incoming students who took the GRE, 50% scored between 157 and 165 on the Verbal section, and between 153 and 161 on the Quantitative section.

To a certain extent, therefore, these are the average scores.

Last year we published a post on the GRE and GMAT exams that you might like to look at.

Here are some of the questions that came up during today's session:

Q: Should I submit my GRE scores if I had a strong Quantitative score and a weak Verbal score?
A: Our advice would be to take the exam again and submit those scores. If you feel that your Verbal score continues to be weak, you can address this issue in your statement of purpose.

Q: What if I took few quantitative courses in my undergraduate studies? Should I take either the GRE or GMAT?
A: If your application does not give an indication of your ability to handle quantitative work, you would be best to take either the GRE or GMAT. The Admissions Committee wants to make sure that SAIS students can handle the challenging economics courses that are required of all.

Q: Will it help my application if I already have a master's degree from elsewhere?
A: The Admissions Committee is keenly interested in the applicant's academic background. A master's degree, especially if it is relevant to what is taught at SAIS, could strengthen the candidate's hand. However, the Committee is looking for a range of skills, qualifications and experiences, and each candidate brings a different mix.

Q: How long should the letters of recommendation be?
A: Long enough to present as persuasive a case as possible as to why the candidate should study at SAIS and what the candidate would bring that is unique to SAIS. Letters that are too short beg questions; letters that are too long can strain credulity. It's a bit like Goldilocks and the bowls of porridge: not too long, not too short, just right.

Q: Would you accept three letters?
A: We ask for two letters. We would prefer two strong letters of recommendation to three weaker letters.

Q: Can a recommender submit a letter in Spanish?
A: We ask that all letters be submitted in English.

Q: How can I organize a one-on-one chat with SAIS Europe Admissions?
A: You can send an email to, call +39 051 29 17 811 or send a message through Skype via jhubc.admissions.

Q: Will you be offering an information session on the analytical essay?
A: Yes. Below is the schedule of upcoming sessions. If you are interested in participating in any of them, please send an email to, and we will send you the instructions for connecting.

- October 23 at 4 pm CET (1400 GMT) - statement of purpose
- November 26 at 10 am CET (0900 GMT) - letters of recommendation
- December 12 at 4 pm CET (1500 GMT) - analytical essay

We recorded today's information session. If you would like to view it, please send an email to, and we will send you the link.

Nelson Graves

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Academics: Meet Prof. Mahrukh Doctor

Prof. Mahrukh Doctor is an adjunct professor of International Relations and Latin American Studies who, like her faculty colleagues, helps set SAIS Europe apart. In addition to her work at the Bologna Center, she is a senior lecturer at the University of Hull and research associate at Oxford University and University College London. She has been a consultant at the World Bank. She brings academic and policy-making expertise to the Center, along with a global perspective that is a hallmark of the SAIS faculty.

Q: You last taught here in 2011-12. What have you been up to since?
Doctor: I have taught in Bologna every year since 2005. Unfortunately, last year I could not make it to Bologna due to scheduling problems. I went on exciting and interesting research/work-related trips to Australia and Mexico. I am also writing a book on business-state relations in Brazil, with special reference to the lobby for port modernisation.

Prof. Mahrukh Doctor
Q: What are you teaching this fall? Any changes in the course since you last taught it?
Doctor: I am teaching the "Survey of Modern Latin American Politics" course. It is an introduction to contemporary politics in the region. The syllabus covers a specific set of issues and countries, but each year I adjust the content and emphasis of lectures to address themes that might be particularly relevant at the time.

Q: How do you feel about returning to the SAIS Bologna Center? What in your mind distinguishes the program?
Doctor: Although I normally live in the UK and the commute to Bologna is about 8 hours each way, I am always delighted to teach here. The student body is diverse, lively and benefits from the presence of students from all around the world. The students are eager to learn and it is always fun to teach them. The programme is challenging, rigorous and also benefits from the variety of different academic traditions and approaches represented by the faculty, all congregated in a single place: the SAIS Europe/Bologna Center. I also look forward to joining my colleagues at the lunch table in the SAIS "bar".

Q: Can a student spend a year in Bologna and do the Latin America concentration? Wouldn’t it make more sense to do two years in DC?
Doctor: SAIS Europe presents a great opportunity for students with a concentration in Latin American Studies to spend their first year in Italy. The required range of course offerings are available, and they benefit from being taught by both European- and US-based faculty over the two years of their studies. Needless to say, this provides additional nuance to their understanding of the region. Moreover, Bologna-based students do not lose out on study trips or internship opportunities available to their DC classmates. Surely, it is the best of both worlds!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Student life: transitioning from Bologna to DC

Michael Aubry was a student at the Bologna Center last year and has just started his second year at SAIS DC. Here he tells us of his transition from Bologna to the U.S. capital, a shift that about one half of SAIS MA candidates make at the end of their first year of study.

Today marks the end of the third week of classes and the fourth week of my new life in the District of Columbia. We bolognesi were told how different our lives would be after our move across the Atlantic.

I can now vouch for that.

Reason: Washington is bigger. Time and space have been upended and this city reshaped as America’s Rome.

Michael Aubrey (L) with fellow Bologna Center graduates
Akhila Raman, Felix Amrhein & Brian Wenzler at SAIS DC
Urban agglomerations offer unique qualities and opportunities. This city moves fast. Transit tries to keep up – most of the time. The Washington Transit Authority may not be perfect, but it is practical in situations where cross-city transport is necessary. Many have elected to use DC’s quite successful Capital Bikeshare program to facilitate personal transportation. If you live near a bike station, Bikeshare is a helpful option. Tried and true walking, a mainstay of my Bologna life, is feasible but time-consuming.

Due to these considerations, social gatherings are less spontaneous. Advanced planning is a necessity, particularly since we are spread out across the various neighborhoods of Columbia Heights, Logan’s Circle, Shaw, NoMA and Dupont among a dozen others in DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Unfortunately, more people means more crime. I never felt unsafe in Bologna, and I don’t feel unsafe here. But being at the wrong place at the wrong time can ruin anyone’s day. Even though the best preparation does not guarantee immunity, vigilance is key. With this in mind, the SAIS shuttle is an awesome service. I am wholeheartedly taking advantage of the free transport from SAIS to (basically) my front door.

Washington offers some fantastic opportunities, including a plethora of internship possibilities. Hundreds of lectures, both organized by and independent of SAIS, are available here. I do miss Italian food greatly, but I am enjoying the culinary variety DC offers.

As we are transitioning to DC, DC is transitioning itself. Areas that were once considered no-man’s lands have been, are being or will be renewed. Washington is a vibrant, young and intrepid city. District folks are extremely motivated and eager to succeed. It is exciting to see DC develop. Integration between the bolognesi and our DC counterparts is a two way street, but it continues abreast, albeit slowly yet organically. Time will tell, but I am optimistic.

Michael Aubrey (BC13/DC14)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Bologna:SAIS Europe's host city

We may have changed our name, but Bologna remains our home.

For the 59th time, a new class is discovering Bologna's charms and traditions. The name SAIS Europe captures the breadth of our scholarship and thought leadership. But the medieval capital of the Emilia-Romagna region remains our host city.

Six decades after the Bologna Center was founded, the choice of location might seem unusual to some. But to historian and founder C. Grove Haines, cognizant of Italy's historic role in shaping our world and of Bologna's long tradition of intellectual leadership, it made sense.

A decent guidebook will provide you the basics about Bologna: home to the world's oldest continuously operating university, largest city in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, gastronomic capital, home to a Serie A football team and one of the country's most successful professional basketball squads.

It helps to be in the city to appreciate the homogeneity of its architecture, its bustling streets and markets, the green slopes of the Apennines on the southern outskirts of the city.

From time to time, we've posted videos and photos of Bologna. Below is a fresh video with glimpses of the city center, featuring a song by Gianni Morandi and Lucio Dalla, two well-known singers from Bologna.

Bologna Mayor Virginio Merola will deliver an annual welcome address to our students next week, a reminder of the Bologna Center's strong ties to its host city.

 Nelson Graves

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Student Life: New student space to meet changing needs

Wanted: a name for a new space.

Last week SAIS Europe inaugurated its new "anti-library" -- a spanking new space where students can study in groups, brainstorm while sipping coffee and scribble equations on the walls.

The brainchild of last year's class, the room meets the changing demands of today's graduate students, who often work in groups, with a tablet in one hand and a bite to eat in the other.

Modular furniture and fast computers
It also underscores the sense of community at SAIS.

Students can still find hushed silence in SAIS Europe's library. The new space, shaped during weeks of pounding and painting this summer, replaces the former dimly lit student lounge with a brighter area featuring a 55-inch flat TV in one section and tables and chairs on wheels in the other.

SAIS students no longer have to jostle for space in Giulio's bar when studying in groups. They can merely take a new set of stairs up to the study space -- which so far has no name.

Suggestions for a name are welcome.

Announcing the treasure hunt winners
Last Friday's inauguration featured a treasure hunt organized by the pre-term Italian language teachers. Students who took Italian classes in pre-term were divided into groups, each named after an Italian cheese: the Mozzarelle, Provole, Caciotte, Pecorini, Gorgonzola and Taleggi.

The teams had to explore Bologna and engage with locals in Italian to find the hidden hints. The competition ended in the new space with each group singing a song they composed on the fly -- in Italian, certamente. The winners walked away with traditional Italian food products.

The room was created in response to a request by students for a space of their own where they can meet, discuss and brainstorm.

Write to your heart's content -- on the walls. It's erasable.
Students from the class of 2013 contributed ideas and helped design the space to meet students' needs.

The administration listened and then acted. Alumni from the class of 1981 made the project financially possible. Very special thanks to them for their effort, dedication and commitment to the Bologna Center.

The new study space takes the place of the old computer lab, which no longer suited today's needs. Now students who leave their laptops at home for the day can use eight desktops with high-definition streaming. Those with laptops, tablets or smartphones can tap into SAIS Europe's wireless network.

The summer renovation also produced a new classroom that is adjacent to the new study space, as well as a fresh language lab.

Amina Abdiuahab