Series: Admissions

Our Research Centers: Weiser Diplomacy Center

March 24, 2020 0:35:10
Kaltura Video

The Weiser Diplomacy Center, housed in the Ford School, is U-M’s dynamic new hub for the study and practice of diplomacy. Learn more about this exciting opportunity for students interested in foreign affairs—ending with an interactive Q&A.


00:03 Rebecca Cohen: Good afternoon, my name is Rebecca Cohen and I'm the senior communication outreach strategist at the Ford School. I'm also an alum and so excited that you're considering to join the Ford School community. As you may have heard we'll be hosting a virtual Spring preview on April 3rd, please go to the Future40's website to sign up and listen and learn about all of the great things and opportunities we've been hosting online the last couple of weeks. You also may receive a phone call from a current student or alumni in a couple of weeks. As we get started, please feel free to use the chat box to let us know where you're calling in from and what area of international policy you're most interested in. We really wanna hear from you and we also wanna take your questions, so please use the Q and A box on the right hand side of your screen.

00:58 RC: I know several of you are interested in international policy and opportunities for global travel while in public policy school. Today we have a special panelist who will share information about the Ford School offerings and student opportunities in this area. Also on April 3rd on our virtual Spring preview, John Ciorciari, who is the faculty director of the Weiser Diplomacy Center and the International Policy Center as well as the concentration lead for International Policy, will be on the faculty panel. So again, please go to the Future '40s website and sign up for April 3rd. We'll leave lots of time for questions. So, as I mentioned, please post your questions on the right hand side of the screen. And with that, I'm going to introduce Zuzana Wiseley, Program Coordinator of the Weiser Diplomacy Center. Zuzana why don't you get us started? 

01:54 Zuzana Wiseley: Hi everybody. Thank you very much, Rebecca, for introducing me and for this opportunity. I am a big fan of the spring preview and every year that's one of my favorite events at Ford School. And I'm always excited to meet everybody. In this case I'm very excited to hear from you and hear your questions today. I am hoping to give you an overview of the Weiser Diplomacy Center and the International Policy Center, and then I would love to hear your questions. So I have been at Ford School for four years now, and I started working with the dean's office first and then I moved to the International Policy Center. The International Policy Center has been around for about 20 years now, it was started by Jan Svejnar who was a academic who almost became a Czech president. And I walked into the center at a point when the center was doing a lot of research work, running research seminars and study abroad programs.

02:54 ZW: We saw many opportunities and the room to expand the programming, and we were fortunate to receive a gift from originally Ron Weiser and his wife Eileen Weiser and start the Weiser Diplomacy Center last year in January. And I was very happy to receive this opportunity and become a coordinator of the center and be part of this. We have started with a really big bang last year and I have a little flier here, the Weiser Diplomacy Center opening series. And we had great guest invited to sport school. We welcomed down Steve Bergens, Samantha Powers, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice. So it was really truly a great opening. The two centers still don't only fill large events with VIP speakers, but we of course do a lot of other programming and we support the International Policy courses at Ford School by engaging with foreign policy practitioners and providing funding opportunities for students and training opportunities at Ford School.

04:06 ZW: The two centers are, you can imagine two sister centers closely working together, we even share a suite on the third floor at Ford School and we are both working together but then we have a certain areas of focus that each of us specialize in. International Policy Center focuses more on the research seminar and the study abroad courses, and the Weiser Diplomacy Center will focus more on bringing the policy practitioners to Ford school, creating opportunities for student training and student engagement, and then both of the centers have a large amount of funding opportunities for students which I'm happy to talk about.

04:56 RC: That's great, thanks Zuzana. I noticed that you're wearing a Ford School, a Michigan pin. What is your pin saying and where did that come from and why do you wear it? 

05:07 ZW: So I'm really excited about this. With the opening series we developed a project for our students. It was a passport program for students to bring a passport to every opening event and get it stamped, and in exchange for that they could pick up a pin with a different continent on it. So this one has Europe, but we had Africa, of course, Asia and South America, Australia. It's something that I wear with a great pride and the program was met with a lot of success. Students really enjoyed it.

05:46 RC: Great, thank you all. We have about 15 attendees right now online, don't forget to put in your chat, your name, where you're calling in from... We can see your name, where you're calling in from, and what area of international policy you're interested in. So we have folks from DC and Hartford and Ann Arbor interested in migration policy, cybersecurity policy, interested in learning more about international institutions and their impact on national and local policies around the world. So thank you, keep putting your input in here, and Zuzana may be able to speak to some of these areas as well in her comments. Zuzana, do you wanna get started just talking a little bit about some of the offerings for students, in terms of curriculum and study abroad opportunities? 

06:41 ZW: Sure. When we think about international policy education at Ford School, we usually think about our two concentrations, international policy concentrations, and they are separated into two different fields, and one of them is run by our director, John Ciorciari, and the other one is run by Professor Dean Yang. The first one is an international policy concentration and the other one is international economic development concentration. The two courses that go abroad, the study abroad courses, are... This umbrella as well. You can apply to go to these courses early in fall, and then the course is run in winter, with a... It's a combination of engaged learning, where you study for seven weeks in Ann Arbor, and then you go for two weeks abroad, for China course, for instance. For IEDP course, international economic development, you will study six or seven weeks in Ann Arbor, and then for spring break, you would go abroad.

07:52 ZW: This course, this particular course, IEDP has been around for a very long time, and has a great tradition at Ford School. There are very many alumni who have been on this course, and it's every year, just very exciting to watch, the country they have gone to and what policies they explored, what they've learned. The faculty that started this course we have started in 1999, so it's been 20 years since this course started, and it has visited many, many countries around the world. Next year, the country was elected, and it's going to be Kenya, which is really exciting. We haven't been on the continent for a while, so that's great. And this course is also specific with another particular thing, and that is, it's a student-led course. It has a student leadership body and students, with close cooperation with the faculty, have to help and design not only the logistics of the course, but also the policy study. So typically, they form 45 groups, it's about 20 people on the course, and then each group focuses on a different foreign policy, working, pretending to be part of the groups from USA or OECD, and then they go to the country, have to develop meetings with the partners from those organizations in that country, and then work on the policy, so it's an international policy-focused process, start to... Beginning to end in practice.

09:35 ZW: With the China course, China course is led by Professor Ann Lin, it also has a great history at the Ford School. Every year, 15 students get to go to China, typically to the capital Beijing, some years, it has gone also to other places. This year, for obvious reasons, the course did not go, but we are planning to run it in the future. Again, it is extremely popular, Professor Lin is a wonderful faculty, and she always has great partners in China she works with, and develops the course for students that is always challenging and exciting. Typically, most of the students who go on this course then, and that's the idea behind it, find other engagements in East Asia or in Asia that they go from this course to... Or East Asia and visit other places, and continue with their research.

10:35 RC: That's great. Keep your questions coming, we'll answer them as they come in, use the Q&A box on the right-hand side. Zuzana, are there financial supports for students who wanna take advantage of opportunities abroad, like either internships abroad or IEDP? 

10:58 ZW: Sure.

10:58 RC: Or any of the other global opportunities? 

11:00 ZW: Right. We are fortunate enough, both IPC, WDC, we have a nice array of funding available for students who are interested in international policy, whether it's human rights, migration, national security, international economic development, and we can... To start with, we offer the Weiser Diplomacy Fellowship, which we are currently in a process of reviewing applications, and we have many great applications that came in, and we're looking at it, and we'll be informing students next week, so we're very excited for the next cohort of the WDC fellows. And of course, we do provide internship opportunities for both graduate students and undergraduate students, I understand we mostly have graduate students here today, so let me just mention, for MPP students, the internship is required, so we support internships that are institutionally developed, students have gone to International Organization for Migration before, for instance, in Geneva, or we have opportunities for students who will develop their own international internship. Last year, we had a student go to embassy of Bogota in Colombia for that, for instance.

12:23 ZW: So the internship opportunities are definitely here, and we provide several opportunities for students to go abroad on the internships from WDC and IPC funding. Also, what we started doing last year were student-initiated projects. It's a very popular form of funding to students who would like to further develop their international policy experience in a professional development setting, and possibly share their research, their active participation at conferences for instance. It's a wonderful way how to use these funds. We have two cycles a year, one cycle is in fall and then another cycle starts in January for this funding. And again, we offer it to both undergrad and graduate students. For our PhD students in case we have somebody here as PhD and is coming to Ford School, we have an offering from IPC, for an IPC Research Scholar and we typically award one to three students a year who go on a research project abroad most typically and then do either economic development, human rights, foreign policy, any foreign policy. There is a special other category of funding. So I'm not done. There is a category of special competitions and conferences.

13:54 ZW: So one of those is conferences that we as WDC and IPC developed with other partners. The one that I would like to highlight is the North American Colloquium we call it NAC, N-A-C, we work with the National Autonomous University in Mexico and The Munk School of Public Affairs and Public policy in Toronto and organize a conference every year. It's going to be year three now. So first year was in Toronto and it was on NAFTA, second year was in Mexico City and that was on migration and now it's going to be here in Michigan next year, in winter 2021 and the topic is the environment, the environmental policy. Every year we send a group of students to this conference and so now it's going to be at Ford School, but still we will offer it to a group of students who can participate actively at this conference and then they share with the rest of the community. Another one, another opportunity like that came from our faculty Har De Vue, IPC is working on him or with him on traveling to Guatemala every year, he is working for with a forensic anthropology foundation over there. We had a group of five or six students going this year.

15:25 ZW: For the student initiative projects, though I wanted to mention, not only we awarded students going for conferences, individual conferences there where they went to showcase their project and actively participate in a conference, but also we award groups of students and one of those groups last year went and explored a project at the USA-Mexico border in the Brownsville, Texas and then reported to our students when they came back, so that was a great success as well. They were able to work with the local government on each side and look at all the policy questions of the migration and human rights at the border.

16:10 RC: Yeah, there's no shortage of international opportunities to engage in at the Ford School and they keep growing. So when I was there, over a decade ago, IDP was around and there were a couple of other opportunities but they seem to be multiplying every year, which is fantastic for our students. And we had a question, you mentioned the research opportunities and could you elaborate a little bit more on the research opportunities and how WDC supports them maybe through some logistics or funding putting things together on the research projects? 

16:50 ZW: Right. Most typically when Master's students invested in a particular project or a foreign policy have been working already on a project and they would like to go and participate in a conference where they would like to share their paper, we are able to support that. We also run an economic development seminar every Thursday at 4:00 and Master's students who are very interested in the particular policies can join this and share with our economists. By the way, our suite in our immediate area has a lot of economist as well, as I will talk about that maybe later, diplomat of residence and our other faculty work on the foreign policy. But economist are definitely part of the area. And so this research seminar is really popular, and that's another area that you could be visiting every Thursday if you're interested.

17:50 RC: Yeah, what strikes me too, Zuzana is that this work is so interdisciplinary, I know the faculty that work on some of these issues they may be economists or they... Susan Waltz is an expert in human rights. There's people who work on environmental issues. Can you talk a little bit about the interdisciplinary nature of the opportunities for students? 

18:13 ZW: So that's what I really like about Ford School and overall University of Michigan. Because when you literally look outside my window you will see the law school and then you will see the business school and you almost see the building of the International Institute. So very often our students either have dual degrees with any of these departments at International Institute for instance, or with center for Japanese Studies or European Eurasian Studies or they will take classes at the other departments, at the law school or at the business school and so on, and so on. Truly, if you are interested to take on more than just public policy or you are already doing that, then the immediate opportunity is right there in your backyard, you don't have to go far. Plus we cooperate with all of these departments and seminars that we run, all the funding that these departments offer, we share all of that, so we work together with the other UM partners.

19:12 ZW: And not only the UM partners, as I haven't touched on this, but we have developed over a very short year-and-a-half plus with the IPC's background, we have developed some nice partnerships with organizations in DC. We are working with American Academy of Diplomacy for instance. We have diplomats over for our opening events, but we're planning that again for fall. So when you're in Ford School in fall, you'll have an opportunity to meet with the diplomats and the senior policy practitioners, one-on-one, not only in a public event setting, but we often create just smaller sessions. The feedback from our students was, that's what they enjoy most. They like the little coffee hours, and informal chats, where the networking really works, and they can learn much more on one-on-one setting. We, of course, invite policy-makers for our Monday seminars.

20:06 ZW: Almost every week we have a policy-maker for the seminar. And it might be, again, human rights, national security or it could be international economic development, different areas of international policy. And what we have just started doing... Trying via an academic, her name is Bama Athreya. She's currently at the Open Society fund. Her course had won great success, she was running a three-day mini-course for us on the labor rights. It was a new format, we squeezed it in between lunches. So it's extracurricular, it's on top of your regular classes. If you're interested in a topic, you can come in and visit this kind of like a short course. And it was very popular. It went really, really well. We're also inviting policy-makers to run courses, who have just retired, senior diplomats who have just retired. Currently, we have Richard Boucher and Caroline Bram running a course for seven weeks in Ford School. And, again, that's a new thing that we are trying, we are inviting these partners who are policy practitioners to Ford School to run courses that we see can contribute to what already we have in the offerings.

21:40 RC: Yeah, and as I understand it, when these folks come in to the Ford School, I think you mentioned this, there's the formal courses, but then there's usually opportunities for students to engage more informally as well. Is that right? 

21:52 ZW: Right. So very often, it's a whole package. When a policy practitioner comes in, they will not only do our Monday seminar, but often, they you are training session, like policy simulation for instance. They will have office hours every afternoon, or so. They will do the informal chat or networking coffee hour with them. So it has several different aspects. Or they can come and participate in one of the classes as well. And I see this as something that we will develop more. We already have some plans for fall where we're inviting speakers who have done really well. And we had a feedback from students that they would like to see them again, so we will have those coming back in fall.

22:37 RC: That's great. There was a questions here about professional mentorship through WDC or IPC. Do any of the opportunities include professional mentorship? 

22:50 ZW: One of our senior WDC advisors is Ambassador Mel Levitsky. And he will be back in fall teaching a course on counter-terrorism. And he is very often open to mentoring. And if not him then there are other faculty. Professor Ann Lin was just mentoring a group of students who went to a competition in Washington DC. So those opportunities are there. It depends whether that faculty is teaching a course or not. But I know all our faculty have their doors open for the office hours, and are, of course, any time open to any questions. But that's a great idea, we could maybe develop more mentorship on a higher level in the future. So if somebody has any recommendations we welcome those of course.


23:44 RC: See, you all are already changing the landscape here at the Ford School, it's great. A question came up about how WDC and IPC helps students find summer internships and employment after graduation. And I know you touched on that a little bit, that there are opportunities. But how exactly do these research centers help students find these opportunities with potential employers? 

24:13 ZW: Right. So we work very closely with the Graduate Career Services Department at Ford School. It is led by Jennifer Niggemeier, and Peter Vasher is the Associate Director there. And truly Peter, and his team, Claire Davidson, are the people who will help you, walk you through the internship opportunities. And then they will take care of the options for your employment. Their office is experts at Ford School on doing that. So we often look for alumni to help us with the development of internships, and possibly with the employment as well. But I strongly recommend talking to our Graduate Career Services Center about this.

25:07 RC: Right. Yeah, and I think you also mentioned there might be funding opportunities, fellowship opportunities that your offices work closely together on? 

25:12 ZW: Right. So we typically fund six or seven internships for MPP students every year. And for undergraduate students last year, we funded about seven or eight as well, so I think there are very many opportunities and these are the... The internships I'm talking about are the ones that we already have developed partnerships with, like German Marshall Fund, or European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, or the Asia Foundation, I think in Timor Leste with somebody last year, and then there was one more in Bulgaria that we repeat every year that Press for Social Achievement, I think it's called. So those are developed, but you are absolutely more than welcome and invited, students are encouraged to find their own internships, so I can tell a little example of the undergraduate students and there were a couple of graduates last year, who, very early in a season, though, in August, you have to apply for the State Department internships.

26:27 ZW: And we did have six students total, when I count the undergrads last year, go to the State Department for an internships, and I'm not sure what is going to happen this year, but I know they were applying and there were some selected, but I don't know if this year's internships are happening or not, so I wouldn't talk to that but, definitely that's one path that student can develop by themselves and then come back to us, "This is what I found. I'm applying for your funding." The cycle usually starts in March or April and the decision comes in very quickly, it's usually on a rolling basis, depending where students go, abroad or domestic. We always do pre-departure sessions, so we like to make sure that students stay nice and safe, and then we stay in touch throughout their internships. So if they go for 12 weeks, we want to hear from them and their photos and see how they're doing and how is their internship experience going. When they come back, they usually have to submit a nice report about how did this experience benefit your professional development, and last year, we started a new thing, and that was presenting their internship reports to other peers and a donor as well, which was a great success and it was wonderful to see everybody's growth.

27:47 RC: Right. We are almost at time, we have a couple of more questions. Zuzana, do you have a few more minutes with us? 

27:52 ZW: Yes, let's go ahead and if we don't have the time, then I'm always happy to take questions, you can send me an email or call me any time.

28:01 RC: Yeah, and for those of you who need to jump off, this will be recorded so you can find it on the Future40 webpage, just a reminder that there will be current MPP students calling you and alumni calling you that are in the international field, policy field. And if you get a phone call, and you wanna talk to someone else, I'm sure that Beth and Trish can arrange that for you as well. We're trying to connect you as best as we can virtually to our student body and our alumni networks. So, Zuzana, can you maybe talk a little bit about all of the exciting things that are in store in the fall. I know there's a long list.

28:47 ZW: Yes, it's a long list of events. So I am really excited about U of M hosting the national presidential debate. And that is happening on October 15, and we are going to be part of it. The Weiser Diplomacy Center is going to organize a National Democratic Institute Symposium. What this is, is NDI, National Democratic Institute, and the CPD, Commission on Presidential Debate, are bringing in a group of foreign, not only academics, but also experts on national debates in countries around the world and we are hosting them. We're creating a wonderful program for a week full of activities that the Ford School is going to be part of, and our students will have a chance to participate on this program. So that's one very exciting thing. We're planning things already for the rest of the course, because we know how busy [chuckle] the fall can be. We have developed a new partnership currently working on a training simulation with a USA War College, and that should be coming in November and the focus is going to be on South China Sea. So, simulations are a very popular part of our offerings and this is a new thing and we have great feedback about the War College simulations, from other universities in the United States. So it's going to be exciting. And then another one is a post-election. We are going to do some... Policy, I guess. We're going to talk about...

30:30 RC: Zuzana, could you just repeat that... You cut out there for a second, can you just repeat your last sentence? 

30:36 ZW: We are going to invite the diplomats from the American Academy of Diplomacy and they're going to be talking on the foreign policy, future post-elections on different continents. So they'll be an expert from Europe, expert from Asia, expert from Africa, different continents covering the foreign policy future. We have a couple more things in the works that I don't want to reveal yet, but there'll be more events with more partners in DC, and of course, we will have our funding cycle right away in September starting for student-initiated projects, and the study abroad courses will have the applications opened right away in October as well.

31:25 ZW: There is one thing that I didn't talk about, and I really would like to offer that resource and that is the Diplomat in Residence. This time it's Lou Fintor, he has been assigned to the North West region for more than two years now, so he has another, I think year-and-a-half ahead of him, and his office is right in our suite. So every student at Ford School or the University of Michigan has this wonderful resource right at the Weiser Diplomacy Center and many students are making a great use of it. Not only to find out about the internships, but about their career in State Department. Lou is right there next door to us, he comes to the office twice a week, if you already would like to get in touch with him, he is on Facebook and I'm happy to send out his virtual office hour sign up, and he's just wonderful to talk to about everything State Department.

31:25 RC: That's a great reminder for everybody, 'cause I know that they're very interested to work with students and to provide their insights on their career and how students and their passion for diplomacy and how students can... And advice for students who wanna jump into that career. All right, so is there anything else that we haven't touched, Zuzana, that you wanna mention? 

32:47 ZW: I think we touched all of it. I mentioned some big names, public events, but just to summarize who we hosted this winter, I didn't mention Susan Rice, I didn't mention Denis McDonough, former Obama administration chief of staff, so really exciting. And then I mentioned Bama Athreya, who was teaching a course, and we had several former diplomats, Susan Elliott and Susan Doman, doing the career talks and the seminars and so on. So that's on top of everything else that we were doing this winter, we hosted some wonderful people, as well, and this is going to continue. So you will have many opportunities for a practical engagement in international policy at Ford School. And I definitely hope that this will be the place that I can meet you at in September and see all of you in person. But in the mean time, if anybody has any questions, I'm more than happy to answer. Our website is And on our website, you can also go to the International Policy website to learn more about the study of grad courses.

34:01 RC: Great, and we are placing several of these resources in the chat box, so students, if you haven't gone to our event chat, there are several of those resources that Zuzana has been mentioning throughout this webinar that can be found there. Again the recording of this and several of our other webinars are on the Future40's website, and don't forget to register for April 3rd's virtual spring preview, where John Ciorciari will be on the faculty panel there. So those of you who are interested in international policy. Just wanna thank you, Zuzana and all of our participants for your time today. We have a few additional webinars this week, our 12:00 Eastern time webinars are about our research centers this week, we have tomorrow, we have poverty solutions, Thursday CFLP with Dean Bar, and then on Friday we have a joint webinar with the Youth Policy Lab and the Education Policy Institute. We hope to see you all in the fall in Ann Arbor. Go Blue.

35:04 ZW: Thank you.