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Changing for a better future; The School of Global and Public Affairs


Dear colleagues,

This is the first time that I formally write to you in my capacity as Dean, and I do so to share some important news about our School. Let me start from the end: as of this September we will be rolling out a new name: IE School of Global and Public Affairs (GPA). You will see changes to our web sites, social media profiles, brochures and many others being implemented in the next days and weeks.

There are three fundamental reasons for this change. Each of them reveals our thinking about the future of our School, of the disciplines of global and public affairs, and of the role of higher education more generally.

1. Velocity: Technology and Change

The world is faced today with the challenge of governing rapid technological and societal change. When we look at the world we see societies changing at an ever-faster pace but international organisations, governments, corporations and individuals failing to adapt. This is a source of great concern for us as we see many being left behind and living in fear of the future. At IE we have thought extensively about how the world of tomorrow will look like and what kind of education our students should received to thrive in it. We have also thought about how our work can produce a world better governed for all and, in particular, how it can create leaders with a nuanced understanding of change and its consequences. To this effect we have now completed a review of our Bachelor and our Master in International Relations programs and made sure that we offer courses on the most important technologies of our time from Blockchain to Big Data. These courses will be available to the over 1000 students that will be enrolled in our School in the 2018-2019 academic year.

We have also launched a new applied-research institute that seeks to shed light on the impact of exponential transformation on our societies: the Center for the Governance of Change. The CGC, which now hosts over six research programs on important technologies and their consequences, is a central part of the ecosystem within which our students are embedded, and it connects IE to the world’s top minds in this field. So, if you want to learn about emerging technologies and their impact on business, society and government our School is the right place for you.

2. Complexity: The Need for Interdisciplinarity

Tackling the complex challenges we face today, be it by addressing the impact of the Bio Revolution on life expectancy and demography, or crafting an ethics for Artificial Intelligence, or redefining defence in the cyber domain, requires an interdisciplinary approach. Our School will strive to leverage insights from political science, economics and international relations to address these challenges. We will achieve this through, first, the hiring of top international faculty. We are in the process of implementing an ambitious faculty hiring plan that will see over 14 new tenure track faculty positions being filled within the next four years. The colleagues already joining us this September all come from top tier academic institutions and are doing fascinating work on the frontier of technology and public affairs. We are certain they will be great professors and mentors to our students.

Another way of increasing the disciplines housed at our school is through the expansion of our academic portfolio. In the Spring of 2018 we arrived at a collaboration agreement with IE La School to work together on the rollout of the Politics Law and Economics Bachelor. We are very excited about the possibility of deepening our partnership with the Law School and to do so on this particularly important Bachelor. Also, in September of 2019 IE School of Global and Public Affairs will welcome students to two new degrees. First, those of a new Bachelor in Economics that we have jointly developed with IE’s School of Human Sciences and Technology and which will address the latest trends in technology, analytics, behavioural sciences and sustainability. We are certain that graduates from this degree will go on to have very successful careers in business, government and multilateral organisations. Second, we will also welcome in 2019 the first cohort of our Master in International Development (MID). The MID has been jointly designed with the United Nations System Staff College and will focus heavily on the sustainable development goals. This degree will bring to IE some of the world’s greatest experts on development and technology, as well as sustainability, and it will enable us to train the next generation of leaders that will work for international institutions and, hence, help shape global governance.

3. Interdependence: The Global is Local

We live in a radically interdependent world. An innovator in Silicon Valley can fundamentally alter how news are generated and consumed around the world in a matter of weeks. The differences between domestic and global affairs are quickly blurring. We therefore need leaders capable of navigating both the local and global dimensions. Today, for example, we see the questioning of the liberal architecture and even liberal democracy itself by forces that are emerging within liberal societies. Knowledge of global affairs needs to be paired with a deep understanding of domestic politics and economics. We want to make sure our School is a place where these dimensions meet.

Interdependence also calls for a strong connection between academia and the worlds of business and policymaking. A siloed University deprives society of one of its most powerful problem-solving tools. As a school we are, therefore, committed to remaining close to the world of practice. This will be the place where the private and public sectors meet to address the great challenges of our time.

An example of this approach is the Transatlantic Relations Initiative (TRI), a project that connects IE to Harvard University’s Belfer Center on Science and International Affairs, and which brings together academics and practitioners from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss the most pressing issue on the transatlantic agenda.