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Faculty Focus

An Interesting State of Affairs

Kristin Lord, associate dean at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, is on sabbatical and is serving the Department of State after being awarded the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship.

Julie Woodford

During the past year, Kristin Lord, associate dean at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, has taken a sabbatical and is serving the Department of State after being awarded the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship. This fellowship gives her the opportunity to work as special adviser to Paula J. Dobriansky, the under-secretary of state for democracy and global affairs. Dobriansky’s office coordinates U.S. foreign relations on a variety of global issues, including democracy, human rights, and labor; environment, oceans, and science; population, refugees, and migration; women’s issues; and human trafficking.

Lord earned the fellowship through a competitive national application process. She’s in good company—previous fellowship recipients include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, and GW faculty members Henry Nau, professor of political science and international affairs; Gordon Adams, professor of the practice of international affairs; Jim Goldgeier, professor of political science; Amy Searight, Gaston Sigur Memorial assistant professor of political science and international affairs; and Hope Harrison, associate professor of history and international affairs.

Lord works on a wide range of interests including international science and technology, international health issues such as avian flu and polio, rule of law, and public diplomacy. She provides advice and develops strategies for the under secretary, coordinates projects in her portfolio, accompanies her on international trips, and writes papers, articles, and speeches. Most of Lord’s work has focused on the Middle East and Africa.

“International science and technology cooperation builds bridges between the United States and foreign societies,” Lord says. “American scientific achievements, innovation, and technologies are among the most respected elements of our society and provide an excellent foundation for positive engagement with predominantly Muslim countries.”

Trips to Egypt and Algeria culminated in the signing of a science and technology agreement with Egypt, and she traveled to Libya to promote scientific engagement with the United States between the two countries and to integrate Libya into the international community. “It has been a privilege to advance important projects like the Iraqi Virtual Science Library, initiatives that empower women scientists and engineers, and programs that help young people apply their scientific knowledge to the commercial marketplace,” Lord remarks.

“I will be able to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience back to GW,” Lord says when asked how her sabbatical will benefit GW students. “And personally, I have a much greater sense of how foreign policy is made and implemented—and the constraints our foreign policy makers face. It’s a fascinating process, and it is very rewarding to be a part of it.”

Illustrating the strong bond between GW and the State Department, she says she regularly meets people at the State Department who are GW alumni, students, former or current professors, or parents of students.

“Our strong, multidisciplinary international affairs curriculum must prepare students well for careers in diplomacy,” Lord notes. “GW alumni excel at the State Department.

“GW’s location and strong ties to the policy community give students insights about how the government works. Even as students, they have a much better feeling for how policy is made than students who don’t study in Washington. Our students have so many opportunities to interact with foreign policy makers, and this gives them a leg up as they enter the job market.”

Lord also is looking forward to the release of her book, Perils and Promise of Global Transparency: Why the Information Revolution May Not Lead to Democracy, Security, or Peace (SUNY Press, 2006), in October.

—Maureen Ryan