Jackson Institute is like a school, but cheaper

As the newly endowed Jackson Institute prepares to reshape Yale’s international studies and international relations programs, it will look closely at the curriculum of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs as a model.

But unlike at Princeton, Yale’s international studies major will exist within an “institute,” not a school. University President Richard Levin said this strategy of creating an institute instead of building a school allows the University to use donations — in this case, the $50 million donation from John Jackson ’67 and his wife, Susan, that created the Jackson Institute last year — as efficiently as possible.

“Setting up a school takes a much larger commitment of resources than we have available at this point,” Levin said. “Instead, we’re trying to build on the programs we already have and strengthen them with these additional resources.”

The donation will have a larger effect if used for hiring instead of to put up buildings to house a school, Levin said. Most of the gift will be used to pay the salaries of four new tenured professors and to create at least four fellowships to bring a steady stream of international professionals to Yale to give guest lectures and make themselves available to students with questions about careers that require international understanding, he added.

Starting in September 2010, the Jackson Institute will oversee the undergraduate international studies major and the graduate program in international relations, both of which will be re-evaluated and restructured in the coming months, said the Institute’s new director, Jim Levinsohn. The Institute will also provide career counseling for students considering global careers in areas other than business, such as foreign service and diplomacy, he added.

As with the current International Studies major, professors with international expertise in a variety of departments — for example, history and political science — will teach international studies classes under the direction of the Jackson Institute next year. Levin said the University has used the strategy of drawing on multiple departments to strengthen a cross-disciplinary major in the past. Cognitive science classes, for example, are taught by professors from the philosophy, psychology and linguistics departments, creating a popular major without the financial input required to create a department, Levin said.

Harvard University uses a similar technique to teach international studies: The undergraduate major consists of classes taught by history and government professors, according to the Web site for the Harvard Center for Government and International Studies.

Princeton, on the other hand, boasts the Woodrow Wilson School, which houses graduate and undergraduate programs in international studies and diplomacy. Levinsohn said Yale will look closely at the Woodrow Wilson School’s curriculum as the University reshapes its international studies and international relations programs. (A representative of the Woodrow Wilson School declined to comment.)

At Yale, Levinsohn said the Jackson Institute will seek to introduce undergraduates in every field of study to contemporary global issues. To this end, Levinsohn is currently devising a lecture course for fall 2010, which will be open to all students in Yale College and will cover four topics over the course of the term: U.S. immigration policy, HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, the role of international law in responding to genocide and United States policy in Iraq. Each segment of the course will be taught by a different visiting international diplomats and members of the foreign service.

“Some of the people coming are very renowned,” Levinsohn said, though he declined to say who he has already invited. “And while they are here they will make themselves available for conversation with students and advising.”

Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said Yale administrators brainstormed with the Jacksons for over a year to find the best way to satisfy Yale’s needs with the gift while also fulfilling the intentions of the donors. (Neither of the Jacksons returned requests for comment Monday.)

The Jacksons’ gift will fund the majority of the Institute’s functions, while the rest of its budget will come from the Macmillan Center, which currently supports the University’s international studies and international relations programs, Levinsohn said.

Comments

  • Y10

    Wait, so what will the MacMillan Center’s role be after this? Is it getting subsumed into the Jackson Institute?