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GSPIA alum, Board of Visitors member appointed appointed to Pitt Board of Trustees

By: Katie Weidenboerner Deppen
07.16.19
GSPIA alum, Board of Visitors member appointed appointed to Pitt Board of Trustees GSPIA alum, Board of Visitors member appointed appointed to Pitt Board of Trustees

The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees recently named new and returning members to its ranks. Among them was Graduate School of Public and International Affairs distinguished alumna Sundaa Bridgett-Jones.

Bridgett-Jones leads the Rockefeller Foundation’s support for policy innovations to help solve pressing international development issues, including achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She has more than 20 years of experience designing and executing global initiatives and public-private partnerships. 

Between 2010 and 2012, Bridgett-Jones led the Office of Policy, Planning and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in groundbreaking advocacy on internet and religious freedoms and served as a member of the White House National Security Staff interagency committee. She previously managed C-suite affairs at the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, working on preventive diplomacy plans in South Asia. 

Bridgett-Jones launched the Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative at Princeton University to encourage talented women and men to enter public service. She has taken on lead roles with Global Kids, an organization that develops youth leaders for the global stage. She has served as a member of the GSPIA Board of Visitors since 2014 and recently agreed to serve on the board for another term. 

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Pitt Center Exploring How Governance Institutions, Markets and Technology Impact Human Well-Being To Be Housed At GSPIA

By: Kevin Zwick
10.11.19
Pitt Center Exploring How Governance Institutions, Markets and Technology Impact Human Well-Being To Be Housed At GSPIA Pitt Center Exploring How Governance Institutions, Markets and Technology Impact Human Well-Being To Be Housed At GSPIA

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh announced the launch of a research center to examine how political institutions, markets, and technology impact human well-being in the United States and around the world. The Center for Governance and Markets will build upon the existing teaching and research of faculty members Jennifer Murtazashvili, Ilia Murtazashvili and Martin B.H. Weiss

The center, housed in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, will take a global perspective on policy areas including international affairs; economic institutions and property rights; governance; and emerging technologies, such as blockchain and cryptocurrency. The center will be a hub for a global network of researchers and practitioners in the areas of governance and institutional analysis, enabling faculty to bridge the gap between theory and real-world problems through supporting fieldwork, interdisciplinary research and community engagement. 
 
“The center’s mission is to create space for scholars to explore diverse ideas and produce rigorous research on the impact of governance institutions, markets and technology on peaceful coexistence, freedom and well-being,” said center director Jennifer Murtazashvili. “That understanding cannot be gained at a distance. We’ll be engaging partners in Pittsburgh and around the world to learn from and with communities.”
 
With the support of a $4.2 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, the center will support postdoctoral and graduate student fellowships, hands-on field research, conferences, workshops and publications. At launch, center affiliates will include faculty from GSPIA, Pitt’s School of Computing and Information, School of Law and the departments of economics, political science and sociology in the University’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. The center’s associate directors are Ilia Murtazashvili, associate professor in GSPIA, and Weiss, professor in the School of Computing and Information. 

“We’re thrilled to support scholars who focus their attention on helping people realize their full potential,” said Charles Koch Foundation executive director Ryan Stowers. “Pitt’s new center provides a critical forum for analysis, reflection, and debate on issues related to rapid social and technological innovation that can be applied to improve access to opportunity for all people.”

The Foundation supports students and scholars pursuing research and expanding educational programs that help people reach their full potential.

Beyond supporting research opportunities and working with young scholars, the center will host events to highlight research themes for broader audiences. For example, a policy and political economy workshop will draw together researchers from multiple disciplines and institutions who are interested in conducting cutting-edge research on the diversity and consequences of governance institutions. The center will also host policy dialogues as well as a public speaker series on governance, markets and global affairs. 

“Our work is really about examining ways individuals and communities overcome challenges arising from our growing interconnectedness, diversity and rapid pace of social change,” said Jennifer Murtazashvili. 

About Center for Governance and Markets Leadership 

Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, Director
Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili is an award-winning scholar and teacher whose research focuses on issues of self-governance, state building and public sector reform in the developing world, with a particular focus on conflict-affected and authoritarian states. She is the author or co-author of “Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan” (Cambridge University Press, 2016); the forthcoming “Land, the State, and War: Property Rights and Political Violence in Afghanistan” (Cambridge University Press); and dozens of journal articles. Her professional experience includes serving as an adviser to the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Defense, the United Nations Development Programme, the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit and UNICEF. She also served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan. 

Ilia Murtazashvili, Associate Director
Ilia Murtazashvili is the author or co-author of four books, including “The Political Economy of the American Frontier” (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and the forthcoming “Land, the State, and War: Property Rights and Political Violence in Afghanistan” (Cambridge University Press), as well as more than 20 articles in journals such as Public Choice, Rationality and Society, the Journal of Institutional Economics, The Review of Austrian Economics, The Independent Review and World Development. His current research interests include property rights of marginalized groups, blockchain governance, the politics and economics of fracking, and governance of the global commons. 

Martin B.H. Weiss, Associate Director
Martin B.H. Weiss is a professor in the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems. His most recent research focuses on dynamic spectrum access and intelligent wireless systems. He is studying spectrum sharing and spectrum trading to better understand system-level and governance factors that support and constrain the adoption of these technologies. He has published extensively in IEEE journals, as well as interdisciplinary journals such as Telecommunications Policy. He is the co-author of two books: “International Telecommunications” (with Phyllis Bernt, Sams Publishing, 1992) and “Shaping American Telecommunications” (with Christopher Sterling and Phyllis Bernt, LEA, 2006). He has earned numerous grants from the National Science Foundation to support his work.

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GSPIA professor's research helps inform UK commission's report on countering extremism

By: Katie Weidenboerner Deppen
10.07.19
GSPIA professor's research helps inform UK commission's report on countering extremism GSPIA professor's research helps inform UK commission's report on countering extremism

The independent Commission for Countering Extremism published four peer-reviewed academic papers on Islamism and Sikh extremism, including the work of GSPIA Professor Michael Kenney. 

The papers cover the mainstreaming of Islamism in Britain, the banned al-Muhajiroun group, and changes in Sikh activism in the UK. 

Academic papers have been a key component of the UKs national conversation on extremism, and the academic research it has commissioned has helped to inform its study on extremism.

The Commission has published evidence and analysis throughout the summer, building up to the landmark report which was released today, making recommendations to the Home Secretary on extremism.

Kenneys paper, What is to be Done about al-Muhajiroun? Containing the Emigrants in a Democratic Society, is a summary of his recent book The Islamic State in Britain: Radicalization and Resilience in an Activist Network (Cambridge University Press, 2018). 

His research draws from extensive field research with activists on the streets of London, providing the first ethnographic study of a European network implicated in terrorist attacks and sending fighters to the Islamic State. It won the 2019 Best Book Award, awarded by the Political Networks Section of the American Political Science Association.

His paper explains the networks ideological struggle and the challenges facing British authorities in stopping it.  Rather than increasing police powers to combat groups like al-Muhajiroun, the government should empower local communities and former activists who reject the networks ideology.

"It explains the network's ideological struggle and adaptable activism, why people join and leave, and the challenges facing British authorities in trying to stop it," Kenney said. "The paper debunks some misunderstandings about the activist network. Hopefully, it will help policymakers and the public better understand it and radicalization into violent extremism more broadly."

Kenney said the paper highlights the policy implications of his research. It suggests that rather than increasing police powers and passing more laws to combat groups like al-Muhajiroun, the British government should instead empower local communities and former activists who reject the networks ideology. He also argues that Britain and other Western democracies can manage the risk of al-Muhajiroun and other like-minded groups without sacrificing the political rights and civil liberties that are essential to their societies.  

Sara Khan, Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism, thanked academic terrorist experts like Kenney for contributing their research to help inform the report. 

“Today I argue, we can, and must, do more – starting with a new clarity and purpose to work to counter hateful extremism. The papers on Islamism and Sikh activism bring to life the many issues we have heard through our evidence gathering and engagement," Khan said. "They include clear examples of the democratic debate we must protect but also the hateful extremism we must recognize and challenge. I am calling for a whole society response built on stronger leadership, deeper understanding and innovative interventions.” 

Kenney is GSPIAs Director of International Affairs, a scholar at the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, and an affiliate schola rat the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security. 

 

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GSPIA researchers document the impacts of abandoned wells across Pennsylvania

By:
10.02.19

Students and faculty working with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) Shale Gas Governance Center released two papers in the USAEE Working Paper Series as part of their ongoing work to understand the impact of abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania.

When wells stop producing oil or gas, most states require operators to "reclaim" them by plugging them with cement, removing equipment, and restoring land, water, and vegetation to pre-drilling conditions. But many wells drilled in past eras have not been reclaimed: they are "abandoned." Abandoned wells can leak harmful gases and liquids, provide pathways for the contamination of water at the surface and underground, fragment natural habitats, and interfere with alternative land uses. 

A recent working paper by former student Nick McClure, current student Ion G. Simonides, and GSPIA professor Jeremy Weber provides an improved understanding of the cost of reclaiming wells. The paper uses reclamation data for more than 1,200 conventional wells to find that bonding requirements for conventional wells have been far lower than actual reclamation costs. The same is true of unconventional shale wells.

PhD student Max Harleman authored a second paper which includes a Cost Benefit Analysis to determine how much money state officials should require shale gas well operators to set aside as bonds to achieve a socially desirable outcome.

A discussion of issues and policies related to abandoned wells was part of the SGGC Fall 2018 event series.

A summary of the analysis and findings is available on the GSPIA Energy and Environment blog.

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Dean Keeler to step down next summer

By: Katie Weidenboerner Deppen
07.29.19
Dean Keeler to step down next summer Dean Keeler to step down next summer

Dean John T.S. Keeler will step down, effective June 30, 2020.

During his 12-year tenure, Keeler launched the University’s Washington Center to connect the School and its students to the nation's capital. Through the center, a spring semester program on lobbying, advocacy and public diplomacy was created for students of GSPIA and the Pitt School of Law.

New programs launched during his tenure include:

 

Due to his leadership and vision, the School now ranks #2 among public universities and #10 overall for "International/Global Policy and Administration" in U.S. News Public Affairs rankings. Keeler was a strong advocate for adding the specialization to the annual rankings for Public Affairs. 

He has also established multiple international collaborations and put a new emphasis on diversity through the appointment of a community engagement coordinator.

Keeler came to Pitt in 2007 from the University of Washington-Seattle. An internationally known scholar and teacher, Keeler is widely recognized for his expertise and research in comparative public policy, public policy, European Union politics, transatlantic relations, and American foreign policy. 

He has been honored nationally and internationally, being recognized with the Chester A. Newland Presidential Citation of Merit from the American Society for Public Administration, was named the Donald C. Stone Lecturer for the American Society for Public Administration, was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and served as president of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs. Previously, he has served as chair for the European Union Studies Association and as a USAID Consultant to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine. He was also honored with the Chevalier de l'Orde des Palmes Academiques from the French Ministry of National Education, the Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite Agricole from the French Ministry of Agriculture, and the Gabriel A. Almond Award from the American Political Science Association. 

A search committee will be formed this year to identify his successor, according to the provost’s office. Keeler plans to take a sabbatical in 2020-21 and then return as a professor.

Stay tuned for opportunities to send your well wishes and to meet up to celebrate with Dean Keeler in the coming year!

 

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Introducing our new associate dean

By: Katie Weidenboerner Deppen
07.16.19
Introducing our new associate dean Introducing our new associate dean

Dr. Sabina Deitrick has been named associate dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Beginning her role earlier this month, she is the first woman to serve in this position.

Deitrick joined GSPIA nearly three decades ago. Teaching community development and regional planning, she is known for helping students to hone their passions into purposeful direction and action. For the past four years, she has served as the director of its Master of Public Administration program.

Im looking forward to serving as associate dean and following in the footsteps of Dr. Paul Nelson,Deitrick said. Its a time of great opportunity for the School, and Im ready to engage with the faculty, staff, and students of GSPIA to move its mission forward.” 

Deitricks leadership will follow that of Nelson, who served as associate dean for four years.

She is known for her research and service nationally and locally as she served on the governing board and as an officer of the Urban Affairs Association and is currently on the UAAs 50th anniversary committee. She is a member of the  City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission and on the board of the Steel Valley Authority. 

At the University of Pittsburgh, Deitrick has served as co-director of its Community Outreach Partnership Center and former director of the Urban and Regional Affairs Program at the University Center of Social and Urban Research, where she was PI or co-PI on $1.6 million in research grants in the past 10 years. She is a past recipient of the Chancellors Distinguished Public Service Award, which annually recognizes outstanding public service contributions by members of Pitts faculty.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and Master of Arts in regional science at the University of Pennsylvania, and her PhD in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

"GSPIAs great strengths are in its students, faculty and alumni all providing a wonderful environment for me to help the school continue to make important impacts in our research, teaching and service across our region and across the world," Deitrick said. 

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GSPIA Alumna at Asian Development Bank Helping To Implement Paris Agreement

By: Emma Lamberton
05.02.19
GSPIA Alumna at Asian Development Bank Helping To Implement Paris Agreement GSPIA Alumna at Asian Development Bank Helping To Implement Paris Agreement
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GSPIA Professor Joins White House Council of Economic Advisers

By: Katie Weidenboerner Deppen
04.30.19
GSPIA Professor Joins White House Council of Economic Advisers GSPIA Professor Joins White House Council of Economic Advisers

An associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs was selected to serve on the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Serving as a senior economist, Dr. Jeremy Weber will provide analysis on both domestic and international economic policy, especially those related to energy and environmental issues. Council policy recommendations and analyses are based on economic research and empirical evidence, which is used to support the president's national economic policy. The council was established by Congress with the Employment Act of 1946.

“This is an excellent opportunity to see and participate in the Federal policy process and to directly assist policy makers. The Council is a fascinating place to be and a excellent place to apply my skills and to learn from others,” Weber said. “I’m also excited about how it will enrich my teaching and research when I return to GSPIA.”

At the University of Pittsburgh, Weber is the director of GSPIA’s PhD program and its Shale Gas Governance Center. He also holds a secondary appointment with Pitt’s Department of Economics. His research focuses on energy, environment, and agricultural policy.

Weber has also served as a research economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a consultant to the World Bank before coming to GSPIA.

He will maintain his position with GSPIA while on temporary assignment to the council for the next year.

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Hacking4Humanity: Ford Institute Working Group To Help The Vulnerable in Pennsylvania

By: Emma Lamberton
01.18.19
Hacking for Humanity

 

Imagine you see a young girl in a rest stop bathroom. She has no phone and there is there's a stranger waiting for her outside. You can tell something is off, but you know approaching the girl could put both of you in danger. What do you do?

Is there an app for that?

GSPIA students are fighting human trafficking through collaboration, partnering with Pitt Cyber and the School of Computing and Information, on a two-day hackathon competition to develop technological tools to help victims and bystanders in situations where human trafficking is suspected.

Former CIA analyst, GSPIA faculty member and hackathon co-organizer Julia M. Santucci knows first-hand the prevalence of the issue.

“It’s a problem in the U.S. and right here in Pennsylvania. This issue spans local to global, which is, relevantly, GSPIA’s motto," she said.

Santucci will lead a group of GSPIA students who will act as policy advisors for the hackathon. Part of the Ford Institute for Human Security, this working group will study both policies regarding human trafficking and the real-life experiences of those in the field.

During the hackathon, GSPIA students will coach undergraduate participants to help them develop the most relevant concepts possible.

“This is a multidisciplinary effort. We are bringing together students from across Pitt to fight a social problem,” Santucci told her team." 

After the hackathon, the work group will prepare and present a report to security specialists in the Pittsburgh area.

Last year, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 562 calls in Pennsylvania reporting trafficking, identifying 518 likely victims. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are approximately 20.9 million trafficked persons world-wide, creating over $150 billion in profit for traffickers annually. 

Santucci is calling for GSPIA alumni who work on human trafficking to share their experiences with the work team, in person or through video conferencing.

Undergraduates in the Pittsburgh area are welcome to join the hackathon. Registration will open in the spring.

The hackathon will take place on March 22-23. If you're a student interested in participating, click herefor more information.

Interested alumni are encouraged to contact Julia M. Santucci via email at julia.santucci@pitt.edu

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Iran and the Middle East

By: GSPIA
01.16.19
Iran and the Middle East Iran and the Middle East
Dr. Takeyh indicated that Islamic Republic Iran is arguably the most peculiar and the least understood country in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. As the name implies the government of Iran derives its legitimacy both from the religious ideology of political Islam and a distinct for of republican democracy.

Dr. Takeyh indicated that Islamic Republic Iran is arguably the most peculiar and the least understood country in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. As the name implies the government of Iran derives its legitimacy both from the religious ideology of political Islam and a distinct for of republican democracy.

Although Iran's domestic politics is often divided between conservatives and reformists, there appears to be a consensus on several strategic issues-regional leadership ambitions, attitudes towards Israel, and nuclear policy.

  • First, Iran aspires to be a dominant player in the Persian Gulf region. However, Tehran's desire for an assertive leadership role has been complicated by three regional neighbors-Iraq, Israel, and Saudi Arabia-and an external actor-the U.S. (replacing the British hegemony in the region). It is realistic to understand that any peace settlements in Lebanon or Iraq must require a strong participation by Iran.
  • Second, Iran has historically considered the state of Israel as an illegitimate construct. As such, in the public discourse, the Iranian leaders have always made rhetorical statements describing the holocaust as a conspiracy between Zionism and Nazism, and as a legitimizing instrument for a Jewish state of Israel.
  • Third, Iran asserts that it has a legitimate right to pursue civilian nuclear technology. However, in recent years, there are growing concerns over Iran's compliance with the NPT norms of nonproliferation. Despite all the western concerns, Iranian leadership appears to be rational. If they decide to pursue nuclear weapons, that would be purely on deterrence calculations, which might preclude any intention to eliminate the state of Israel.

Speaker's Bio: Dr. Ray Takeyh is author of The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran's Approach to the World. He is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was previously a professor of national security at National War College, and National Defense University.

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