Deans Celebrate Annual Meeting in Paris

Deans Celebrate Annual Meeting in Paris

On January 9-10, 2020, 57 representatives from 47 schools in 15 countries gathered in Paris for the annual APSIA deans/directors meeting, hosted by the Paris School of International Affairs. The interactive meeting included discussions of innovation, bridging the hard and social sciences, and workforce skills for the future, as well as a conversation with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

On Thursday, January 9, APSIA members gathered for their portion of the event. During introductions, it became clear that a number of deans would mark Paris as their final APSIA meeting. Everyone wished them well in their retirement.

Carmen Iezzi Mezzera, APSIA’s Executive Director, provided an overview of APSIA’s work in 2019. She described programming in eight areas: deans/directors; admissions; alumni relations; career services/employer relations; communications; development; diversity; and public outreach. APSIA continued its Diversity Forum series to reach multicultural young professionals from the US. It also sponsored a networking reception for 300+ students, alumni, and employers in Washington DC; organized recruitment events in Atlanta, New York, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, DC, and online; and launched a series of training workshops across the United States to build a network of Public and International Service Advisors.

Carmen encouraged everyone to join APSIA in Hawaii at its March 27 reception during the 2020 International Studies Association meeting.

Next, Merit Janow, Dean of the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, facilitated a conversation about APSIA and the Global Debate about International Affairs. Members specifically focused on the accelerated movement of people and data, as well as challenges to the established international system. Participants talked about their use of case studies, problem-solving exercises, and experiential learning enable students to make effective decisions no matter how the world changes.

Then, Danny Quah, Dean of the National University of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, asked members to consider how we explain the value of our schools. Members agreed that our community shares a commitment to, and a desire to contribute to, the common, global good. They agreed that our schools have an emphasis on the application of education to the professional world. They agreed that our community strives to understand the multiple perspectives and systems influencing the world. Finally, members agreed that - to effectively contribute to a complex, interconnected world - our students and our alumni apply a toolbox of skills and knowledge across a range of disciplines.


After the member meeting, everyone enjoyed a dinner and discussion with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at Hôtel de Matignon, his official residence. They were joined by representatives of APSIA affiliates and guests.

Friday, January 10 opened with a conversation between Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, and Laura Bloomberg, Dean of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. They considered the critical skills for the workforce of the future, including teamwork, empathy, and data analysis. Ms. Ramos shared some of the OECD’s data on workforce needs, as well as their Global Competency Framework.  Participants also engaged Ms. Ramos in an extensive discussion about involving women, especially young women, in different fields.

Afterwards, Peter Cowhey, Dean of the University of California, San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy moderated a session on ways to bridge the social and hard sciences. Helga Nowotny, Professor Emerita of Social Studies of Science at ETH Zurich and Former President of the European Research Council, began by outlining what science can offer to the world, such as “organized skepticism” and a long-term view to help navigate uncertainty. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, offered three lessons from his career. His experience suggests you need to create ecosystems through which people can understand other fields. Teach people to talk to each other, so they can relay “the journey, not just the results.”

Finally, Manuel Muñiz, Dean of the IE University School of Global and Public Affairs, looked at how APSIA schools need to react to the velocity and conditions of technological and social change. Schools described some of the steps they have already taken. Common themes included adding courses, hiring faculty, engaging practitioners, designing certificate programs, and investing in research.

In conclusion, Enrico Letta, President of APSIA and Dean of the Paris School, called on APSIA to consider how best to address and navigate our changing external and internal landscapes. He talked about ways for APSIA to adapt and thanked everyone for their investment and involvement in the Association.