In an early history of the School of International and Public Affairs prepared in 1954 by Professor L. Gray Cowan, he writes, “A particularly noteworthy feature of the extracurricular activities of the School is the publication of the biannual Journal of International Affairs.” Several paragraphs later, after praising the journal’s unique attributes, he declares, “From its inception the quality of the contributions to the journal has constantly risen, so that today it is rapidly taking its place among the important publications of the world in the field of international affairs.”
For 70 years, the Journal of International Affairs—the oldest student-run policy journal of its kind in the United States—has served as a critical voice for SIPA students and a foremost publication for the exploration of pressing policy challenges. This issue of the journal continues this noble heritage, assembling in one volume articles from leading scholars and commentators who share their views on subjects such as the global economy, U.S. leadership in the world, the evolution of conflict, global health, threats in the physical and cyber domain, human rights, and more.
It is a volume rich in insight and sensitive to the considerable uncertainty of our present moment. While we have entered a period of greater global affluence, with it has come growing inequality within developed economies and discontent. Though we remain on an overall trajectory of improved peace, regional tensions have continued to accelerate, leading to conflicts and a refugee and immigration crisis that has tested relations even among longtime allies. Rising populism and anti-internationalist sentiment has contributed to a vote by Britain to exit the European Union and the election of Donald J. Trump in the United States. The world continues to see a move away from the bipolar world of the twentieth century, with shifting priorities developing in Asia, a rising China, and a number of traditional postwar approaches to trade and defense under consideration for possible reset.
It should also be noted that the publication of this issue of the journal comes at a significant moment in the history of SIPA as we prepare to conclude a year-long observance of the school’s seventieth anniversary. Founded in 1946 as the “School of International Affairs,” SIPA’s initial mission was to provide specialized training to a new generation of business leaders, diplomats, and government officials seeking a greater understanding of specific regions of the world and a greater awareness of the interrelations among nations. It was a time of considerable global uncertainty as well, with the United States thrust into a new leadership role after World War II and the creation of new international organizations, such as the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund, that were designed to provide a framework and mechanisms for increased economic and political stability. SIPA’s first entering class was comprised of just 20 students. Five years later, in 1951, the student body had grown to more than 100, with faculty taken from eight departments across the university.
Today, SIPA is the largest and most global public policy school in the United States, with more than 1,300 students representing over 70 countries, 70-plus full-time faculty and several hundred adjunct faculty, and an alumni network that includes more than 20,000 graduates in 155 countries. SIPA is an interdisciplinary hub of public policy research, training, and engagement, with seven degree programs, five research centers, joint degrees with six international policy schools, and active collaborations across the university in both our core fields as well as adjacent areas of research and instruction.
As we contemplate SIPA’s past, as well as its future, we could not do so without recognizing the important role the Journal of International Affairs has played—and must continue to play—in broadening the understanding of complex global challenges and their historical antecedents. We thank the editors and writers for their contributions to this special seventieth anniversary edition and for continuing the journal’s long history of excellence, relevance, and impact.
—Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs