Yale celebrates new Jackson School at ‘unique moment’ in history
Hundreds of Yale affiliates gathered in Woolsey Hall on Saturday for a day-long program to celebrate the opening of the new Jackson School of Global Affairs, Yale’s first new professional school in more than four decades.
The school — which opened its doors on July 1 and welcomed its first cohort of graduate students this fall — trains and equips new generations of leaders to devise thoughtful, evidence-based solutions for challenging global problems. Before becoming a stand-alone professional school, it was known as the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
“At Yale, we know the transformative power of working with people and institutions across the globe,” Yale President Peter Salovey said in his remarks. “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.”
Jackson’s model of integrated study — intimate in size yet broad in scope — will both raise Yale’s profile as a center for international scholarship, the president said, and enable it to fulfill its responsibility as “a great global leader of consequence.”
The day’s events also included a keynote address by author and journalist Fareed Zakaria ’86, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” and panel discussions with retired U.S. ambassadors and Yale scholars. The celebration culminated with an official dedication ceremony with remarks from Salovey; professor and inaugural Jackson School Dean Jim Levinsohn; and Charles Goodyear IV ’80 B.S./M.B.A. of Yale’s board of trustees.
In Zakaria’s address, “The Old Order Changeth, Yielding Place to New,” (a line drawn from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “The Passing of Arthur”) he reflected on the “unique moment in human history” that we are living in.
He observed that a series of massive changes — from the emergence of a global economic system to waves of liberalization and then democratization in countries across the world — have defined our era. And the information revolution that has created a more open world has also meant that “we’re moving faster and more dynamically than at any time before.”
The world has transitioned away from domination by one central superpower — the United States — Zakaria argued, and now “the entire international order is changing.”
The “daunting project” ahead for the next generation of leaders — Jackson School students among them — he said, is to find new ways to maintain ties between nations beyond economic cooperation, and to create “an alliance of free people” who will push back against aggression and threats to this new order, such as Russian President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a watershed moment for the international community,” he said. “The future is what we make.”
He closed by invoking the final stanza of Tennyson’s “Ulysses”:
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
The day began with a panel discussion among high-level diplomats. “The Ambassadors: America’s Diplomats on the Front Lines” featured retired U.S. ambassadors Anne W. Patterson, Ryan Crocker, and Robert Ford, and was moderated by author and diplomatic correspondent Paul Richter, who in 2019 published a book of the same title.
Richter opened the discussion by sharing why in his book he chose to profile the three senior diplomats, all of whom have taught at the Jackson School. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, while Richter was writing about foreign policy for the Los Angeles Times, he noticed that a small group of experienced ambassadors were often called into action when there was a crisis in the Middle East — the “best people for the worst places,” he quipped.
During the discussion, the ambassadors shared experiences from their service in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and offered candid thoughts on recent events, such as the Biden administration’s pivot of policy attention to Asia and away from the Middle East, for example. They also gave personal accounts of the sometimes tense business within presidential administrations of shaping U.S. foreign policy.
Captioned video recordings of the conversation and other major weekend events are available at the Jackson School website.
A second panel discussion on threats to democracy featured an interdisciplinary lineup of Jackson School professors, including economist Penny Goldberg, historian Arne Westad, and political scientist Ian Shapiro. Levinsohn, an economist, moderated.
In a wide-ranging discussion, panelists explored the many sources of political polarization in the U.S., from weak political parties and economic inequality to manufacturing job loss, competition from China, and trade protectionism.
The U.S. “has systemically failed to think of policies” that would help low and middle-income people who have lost jobs as a result of changes in technology, Shapiro argued.
The professors also addressed threats to democracy abroad, including the war in Ukraine. Westad predicted a swift end to the Putin regime, and cautioned against failing to reintegrate Russia into the international community in the aftermath of the war, as happened after the Soviet Union collapsed.
The day concluded with a formal dedication ceremony, featuring remarks by Salovey, Levinsohn, and Goodyear.
A highlight of the ceremony was a screening of a special two-minute video produced for the event. (Watch the video).
The ceremony also included a reading of “Casting a Frontier,” an original poem by Bryce Morales ’23 commissioned in honor of the dedication. Morales read the poem, which was written in calligraphy, bound in a handmade book, and presented to John W. Jackson ’67 and Susan G. Jackson, after whom the school is named.
In his remarks, Levinsohn reflected on the meaning of the word “dedication,” sharing examples of Jackson students and alumni whose work has made the world a better place, and he thanked the Jacksons for their support.
“The school with your name on it is going to change lives,” he said. “It already has.”