I am so pleased to join Dean Levinsohn; Chip Goodyear, who is here on behalf of the trustees; members of the Yale Jackson School faculty; and the broader university community in marking this milestone.
I especially want to recognize John and Susan Jackson for their visionary support of the school we dedicate today.
John and Susan, it is so gratifying to see and celebrate with you both as we embark on this new frontier.
Just over a decade ago, during my service as Yale’s provost, Rick Levin and Linda Lorimer were working with the Jacksons on what would become the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
I was delighted to join that effort.
And now, it is especially meaningful that we have expanded the Jackson Institute into a school of global affairs at a pivotal time.
Discord around the world is stronger than ever.
Our society faces troubling and deepening divisions.
And we are seeing alarming polarization in our nation and across the globe.
That same polarization inhibits our ability to work collectively to address the world’s pressing issues.
So, it seems that we face mounting crises—crises that point to the fragility of life and the vulnerability of our social and political structures.
And they point to a need for engagement on the global stage even as some seek to retreat from it.
Today, I would like to discuss with you how institutions of higher learning are responding to this need.
And more particularly how we, at Yale, are modeling the collaborative spirit necessary to repair our world through the school we dedicate today.
As a social psychologist, I know that in times of crisis, we are predisposed to insularity and self-protection.
And it can become, too, a response of governments.
Indeed, a significant number of Americans support a diminished role on the world stage for the United States.
Nearly half say we should focus more on domestic problems and less on problems overseas.
Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, existential threats from climate change, and humanitarian catastrophes around the world, Americans tend to focus on domestic issues.
We can see the menace of pressing global challenges, but they are felt by most Americans peripherally because of geographical distance or the time it can take until disasters fully materialize.
Of course, our willingness to counter great, global challenges must not be determined by our proximity to them.
Instead, it behooves us to regard our international engagement as both a moral imperative and a worthy investment.
As we have witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of humanity hinges on our capacity to collaborate.
No country is safe if a virus spreads in another part of the world.
Conflict, illness, and misinformation transcend borders, and so must our response to them.
Rising to our global leadership responsibility is in harmony, not at odds, with our own interests.
At Yale, we know the transformative power of working with people and institutions across the globe.
The Jackson School of Global Affairs reflects Yale’s commitment to engage with the global challenges of the day and to do so in a way that diminishes silos that can stunt discovery.
It provides an alternative to the centuries-old organization of schools into academic departments; instead, the new school is organized around challenges it will address.
The Jackson School pushes back against the human predisposition toward insulating and isolating in times of crisis.
And it is Jackson’s environment of integrated study—its insistence on remaining intimate in size, yet impressively broad in scope—that will both raise Yale’s profile as a center for international scholarship and allow us to fulfill our responsibility as a great global university of consequence.
At Jackson, as you know, we bring together faculty members and practitioners from disciplines spanning the arts and sciences and a range of professional schools.
Faculty members have joint appointments elsewhere at the university.
Insights from history, politics, economics, data science, law, and other fields are all brought to bear on global challenges.
Preeminent professors are joined by world leaders in Jackson’s classrooms.
These scholars and practitioners from around the globe enrich the theories they teach with the experiences they’ve lived.
Students can learn from great faculty members whose research addresses many of the most challenging issues facing the world today—and underscores the importance of investigating the historical context of current geopolitical conflicts.
They then can learn from leaders like Ambassador Anne Patterson, one of this nation’s most accomplished diplomats and a recent Senior Fellow at Jackson.
Formerly the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs under President Obama, she served, among other distinguished posts, as US ambassador to Columbia, Pakistan, and to Egypt during critical periods in each region.
Learning from distinguished faculty members and practitioners can have a profound effect on students and on the world.
Let me give you an example.
Daniel José Oliveira came to Yale from Brazil in 2013.
The youngest of eleven siblings, he grew up in a modest family in São Paulo’s countryside.
His parents worked as an office porter and a domestic servant.
Daniel won a scholarship to study economics at a Brazilian university and worked to secure a job at an investment bank.
Despite his success, Daniel felt like he wanted to make a more profound impact than he could by working in banking.
So, he left his job, moved to Jordan to volunteer, assisting Iraqi and Syrian refugees, and later applied to Yale Jackson, where he received a scholarship to study.
Daniel came to Yale with an aspiration to reform Brazilian politics.
During his time at Jackson, he enrolled in courses with General Stanley McChrystal and former president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo.
After Daniel graduated from Yale, he returned to Brazil, where he helped to establish a consulting firm in public education.
In 2018, he ran for office on a platform of anti-corruption and education reform, both issues about which he is passionate.
He campaigned relentlessly across São Paulo and was elected as deputy for São Paulo state. He became one of the youngest representatives to serve on the legislature.
Today, Daniel represents the most populated state in Brazil as a member of São Paulo’s legislature.
Of course, he also represents the boundless potential of a Jackson education.
As most of you know, a defining feature of a Jackson education is that virtually every graduate student takes courses at Yale’s other professional schools.
This structure is rooted in the recognition that the complexities of our time require perspectives from multiple disciplines: that we can harness the knowledge born of multidisciplinary ideas both to broaden our own understanding and to better our shared world.
So, by transcending boundaries, the Jackson School equips its students with the intellectual foundation for evidence-based policymaking.
Yet it also imparts an example for collaboration for its graduates to emulate as they go on to write international law, direct global institutions, shape economic and climate policies, lead militaries, and much more.
So, as the school produces leaders who will tackle global challenges with the wisdom they’ve gained and the courage to learn from others in the lifelong pursuit of knowledge, Yale’s newest school exemplifies some of our most enduring ideals.
And I suspect it will, therefore, swiftly prove to be as critical to the world as it already is to Yale today.
I would like to conclude by offering my deepest appreciation to the faculty and staff who contributed their time, energy, and expertise to establishing Yale’s first new professional school since 1976—and to the alumni and friends who made it possible for us to launch it with their generous support.
Thank you for your commitment to this school and to Yale.