Xander de Vries

A University committee has recommended converting the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs into a new degree-offering school, the first potential new school at Yale in over 40 years.

Since the spring of 2017, the provost’s Advisory Committee on the Future of the Jackson Institute has assessed the state of the institute and compiled recommendations for its future scope and size. The 44-page report published on Wednesday — a culmination of the committee’s research — calls for “an intentionally small school, with a focused mission and close interaction among faculty, fellows, and students.”

In the email announcing the committee’s findings, Provost Benjamin Polak and University President Peter Salovey said they solicited feedback from faculty members across Yale. According to Polak, the University will decide on whether to follow the committee’s recommendation this academic year after hosting town hall meetings with faculty members next spring.

“We are in a moment when people are pulling back from interaction with the world,” Polak told the News. “This is a moment in America where we are looking inward, and nationalist thought is spreading … . [The new school] is a statement about Yale’s place in the world. It’s saying that Yale emphatically believes in the world, in doing with the world, interacting with the world and studying the world. So this is an unapologetically global statement.”

Salovey did not respond to request for comment. Director of the Jackson Institute Jim Levinsohn could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

When the Jackson Institute was first founded in 2010 with a $50 million gift from Susan Jackson and John Jackson ’67, the University had already planned to assess whether the institute should be converted into an independent professional school by 2020. According to Polak, the formation of the advisory committee was partly due to a requirement in the Institute’s founding documents. If Salovey and the Board of Trustees decide not to convert the institute to a professional school, Polak will conduct another review by 2030. In a statement to the News, the Jackson family said it is “delighted with the committee’s recommendation and its vision for the future of global affairs at Yale.”

If the advisory committee’s recommendation to establish a school of global affairs is approved, Polak said the institute will become a priority for the next capital campaign. According to the report, the new school would require $200 million, largely from external gifts, over the next three to five years.

The committee recommended that the school maintain the Jackson Institute’s current global affairs identity and small size as opposed to a broad public policy focus. If it maintained its current size, the institute could not feasibly cover all realms of public policy, a field that requires faculty with a wide array of specializations, the report argued.

Furthermore, Yale would be one of few universities with a designated school of global affairs. Harvard, Columbia, the University of Chicago and Georgetown University all have schools of public policy.

In an email to the News, history professor John Gaddis emphasized the importance of maintaining a small size for the potential new global affairs school.

“If we’re going to have a school, it should have features distinguishing it from other schools at competing universities, some long-established,” Gaddis said. “Keeping it small — and, even more important, selective — is a good way to do that, as is also the committee’s recommendation that the focus be global affairs and not the more nebulous public policy.”

The report also recommended that Yale appoint ladder faculty members who hold joint appointments at the new school and another professional or graduate school. Although 19 fellows are currently associated with the Jackson Institute, no ladder faculty hold appointments in the institute. In an interview with the News, Polak said requiring ladder faculty to hold joint appointments would encourage interdisciplinary collaboration across schools and help attract top faculty.

In an email to the News, economics professor Judy Chevalier ’89, who chaired the provost’s advisory committee, said the group solicited feedback from students and faculty members across Yale and visited similar schools across the country. Since the spring of 2017 — when the committee first convened — the advisory committee’s members have visited Brown’s Watson Institute, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Weatherhead Institute and the Fletcher School, Chevalier added.

“These are all … exemplary successful institutions, so our primary purpose was to consider what of their practices would fit at Yale,” Chevalier said.

Graduate and professional students interviewed by the News voiced excitement about the prospect of establishing a new school. Tabish Azeem GRD ’19, who is studying global affairs and is currently affiliated with the Jackson Institute, said a new professional school would enhance the graduate experience by “adding sector-specific depth in policy areas [and] increasing engagement with global issues.”

Veronica Chiu GRD’19 told the News that the new school would help “build the brand” of Yale’s global affairs program by providing more academic and professional opportunities to students.

“I hope the future school will remain focused on building a multidisciplinary academic program for professionals and continue to harness the expertise of leading practitioners, who serve as both teachers and mentors to Jackson students,” Chiu said. “I think this is a hallmark of the current program — and one of the primary reasons I chose to come here — which should be strengthened, not diminished, as Jackson moves forward.”

The youngest professional school at Yale, the School of Management, was established in 1976.

Lorenzo Arvanitis | lorenzo.arvanitis@yale.edu

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu