“We’re not going to get a second chance at this”: Levinsohn outlines planning priorities for the new Jackson School of Global Affairs
Planning for Yale’s newest professional school is in progress, and the newly-appointed Dean Jim Levinsohn provided updates on faculty hires and logistical priorities for the school’s opening.
Yasmine Halmane, Photo Editor
Ahead of the planned opening of the Jackson School of Global Affairs this fall, senior administrators are focusing on hiring, developing a new degree offering and integrating programs.
The school’s opening, which was announced in January, will mark the transition from the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs to a degree-granting professional school. Jim Levinsohn, the director of the Jackson Institute since its founding in 2009, will serve as the school’s inaugural dean. Levinsohn is leading the planning for the new school, along with different planning committees for faculty recruitment, curriculum development and changes to the International Security Studies, or ISS, program.
“It’s sort of crazy right now, but it’s going great because we have a fantastic team who are dedicated and working incredibly hard,” Levinsohn said. “My primary goal is to open the best-in-class school of global affairs in the world next Fall. That means working with my colleagues to recruit faculty, Senior Fellows and staff while continuing to recruit amazing cohorts of incoming grad and undergrad students.”
There are several aspects to the transition, Levinsohn said, and a multitude of staff members are involved with preparing for the School’s opening this fall. Jackson Deputy Director Larisa Satara is overseeing many of the practical aspects of the transition, professor of political science and global affairs Kenneth Scheve is working with faculty to develop the curriculum and professor of history Arne Westad is overseeing the build-out of ISS, among others. The admissions team is also creating a new application and supporting software, while the communications office is working on “rebranding,” Levinsohn said.
Scheve is also overseeing faculty recruiting, which Levinsohn described as the highest priority at the moment. Scheve is working closely with recruiting committees composed of Jackson faculty as well as faculty from Yale’s faculty of arts and science.
“It’s a team effort,” Levinsohn said.
Jackson is in the process of identifying and recruiting new faculty whose research and teaching informs global problem-solving in areas such as economic development, regional integration, international trade and investment and education policy, Scheve said. The new School is also hoping to recruit scholars working on emerging issues including digital technologies and their impact on governance.
Faculty recruitment typically begins in the summer, Levinsohn explained, when a hiring committee begins reading publications from potential hires, and continues through the entire academic year. When an offer is extended, the goal is to complete the recruiting process by the end of the academic year. As of now, three tenured faculty are set to formally join Jackson in the fall — two who are joining from other Yale departments and one who is new to the University.
The newly recruited faculty member is Amit Khandelwal, an economics professor at Columbia University. Additionally, Westad, the director of ISS since July 1, 2021 and Yale professor of History since early 2019, will join the faculty of the new school in the fall. Scheve, who previously taught at Stanford University, joined the political science and global affairs departments at Yale in 2020, and will be the third new Jackson appointee this fall.
Khandelwal’s work focuses on international trade, with a particular emphasis on how trade liberalizations and increased international competition affect developing economies.
“Yale has become the premier institution in the world to study these issues, and I’m excited to join the large group of faculty and students dedicated to improving our understanding of this aspect of globalization,” Khandelwal said. “It is an unparalleled chance to help build a world-class school from the ground up, and I’m anxious to get started.”
As part of the Chevalier report, which was commissioned in November 2018 and guided Jackson’s transition to a professional school, all new tenured or tenure-track faculty must be appointed jointly with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences or another Yale professional school.
According to Levinsohn, Jackson is currently focused on recruiting economists and political scientists. He hopes to pivot to recruiting historians next year.
When the school opens, a new graduate curriculum will be rolled out which will offer a Master of Public Policy, or MPP, degree rather than the Master of Arts degree currently on offer. The curriculum committee is chaired by Scheve, who is working closely with Jackson faculty. including Jackson’s Director of Graduate Studies Marnix Amand, as well as student focus groups.
According to Levinsohn, there are no current plans to change the undergraduate curriculum.
ISS, which was founded in 1988 by Paul Kennedy, professor of history and global affairs at Yale, became integrated into the Jackson Institute in October 2021. The program supports faculty and student research, awards pre- and post-doctoral fellowships to visiting scholars and organizes a range of extracurricular events. Its plans to expand and build outwards are being overseen by Westad.
“We have a great group of faculty from across Yale, as well as post-doctoral fellows, visitors, and practitioners associated with ISS,” Westad explained. “We hope to do more to involve Yale students, including undergraduates, in some of our programs, such as the new Schmidt Program on artificial intelligence and emerging technologies in international affairs.”
“It’s a real privilege to be able to open a new School at Yale, and we’re not going to get a second chance at this,” Levinsohn added. “We’ve got to do a great job and I’m confident that’s exactly what’ll transpire.”
The Jackson School of Global Affairs will be the first new professional school established at Yale in more than 40 years.
Clarification, Feb. 26: A previous version of this article stated that the transition would make Jackson a much larger degree granting professional school. While the number of jointly-appointed senior faculty is increasing, the size of the student body will not.