The Schoolhouse: Remaking Education in International Affairs

February 4, 2015

America’s higher education system, and in particular, its advanced graduate training, have long been the envy of the world. Richly endowed and highly respected, universities in the United States are counted upon to generate knowledge and innovation, solve pressing problems, train future leaders, and shape national discourse. In the field of international affairs, however, there is a growing sense that something may be amiss, and that our graduate training – in particular our Ph.D. programs – may be coming up short.

At War on the Rocks, we are putting together a series called “The Schoolhouse” to explore and debate the state of advanced graduate education in international affairs. We aim to move beyond the often-repetitive and tiresome debates about the usefulness of scholarship to policy. We believe there are deeper issues at stake. What should be the mission of graduate education in international affairs, and are we successfully meeting it? If you could redesign graduate programs from the ground up, what would they look like? How would you balance the often-competing interests between students, disciplines, universities, and the wider world? Is it possible to prepare students to engage both the world of ideas and the world of action in international affairs?

[widgets_on_pages id=2]

Tomorrow we launch “The Schoolhouse” with an essay by Frank Gavin of MIT. Frank is the mastermind of this series and we thank him for the energy and effort he has put into the project. His essay will be followed by others, including one by Stephen Van Evera, another by David Betz, as well as future contributions from graduate students, policymakers, think tankers, and more. We hope others will contribute. Disagreement and debate is encouraged. Submissions are welcome at

It is no accident that we timed this for the International Studies Association (ISA) convention taking place in New Orleans in just a couple weeks. We hope to contribute to a broader conversation that will surely be taking place at the convention and within the many disciplines that contribute to the study of international affairs and security.

During the convention, Frank and I are hosting a happy hour to discuss the remaking of education in international affairs. It will be on Wednesday the 18th at Ernst Café (600 South Peters Street, New Orleans, LA 70130) from 6:15 to 8:30. Anyone at ISA or any others interested in the subjects at hand are more than welcome to join us.


Ryan Evans is the editor-in-chief of War on the Rocks.


Photo credit:

The Insider logo

Have you ever read one of our authors and thought, “Wow, that was interesting, but I want to know more?” On The Insider, our new members-only podcast, we sit down with two of our experts each week and ask them, why’d you write this? And why does it matter?