Last year, the Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) celebrated its 30th anniversary and the retirement of Sherman Teichman, the founding director of the IGL. The IGL, which encompasses several different programs, research opportunities and courses, is most known for its year-long colloquium, Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC).
EPIIC is constructed in an unconventional manner with a focus on current geopolitical issues, and it has traditionally been run by the director of the IGL. However, with Teichman’s absence, the IGL has been in transition for the past year.
Ulrich Schlie served as the interim IGL director last semester, teaching the 2016-2017 EPIIC course, but he ended up leaving before the end of last semester. Rising junior Paulina Jedrzejowski, who took EPIIC during the 2015-2016 school year, spoke to some of the confusion that took place when this occurred.
“[Schlie] left because he was not totally intertwined with the Institute, and he wanted to direct it in the way that he wanted to direct it and not [the] way that it has been run for 30 years,” Jedrzejowski said.
Jedrzejowski explained that as a result of Schlie’s abrupt departure, the bulk of the weight of the program fell on the shoulders of Associate Director Heather Barry and Program Coordinator Jacob Throwe.
“Because only two people were in charge of what in previous years had been [run by] five people, we, the people who had taken the class the year before, felt bad because we could see that these people were overworked,” Jedrzejowski said.
Manuel Muñiz, professor of the practice at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said that he was contacted in November by Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris about teaching the spring semester of EPIIC. After a series of conversations between Muñiz, Harris and the search committee, Muñiz was then brought on as the EPIIC instructor for the spring to replace Schlie.
Muñiz ended up changing the original topic of the course from the previous semester.
“I built my own syllabus for the spring term based on the coursework from the fall but shifted and narrowed down the topic to populism,” Muñiz said. “[We focused on] the rise of populism: Brexit, Trump and the erosion of the liberal order.”
Muñiz’s course was heavily supplemented by guest lecturers.
“We are constantly bringing in guest speakers because these topics are so expansive and diverse,” he said. “It is impossible to cover all of this from one perspective, so you need philosophers, anthropologists, economists, political scientists and international relations specialists. I think that is what makes the course so experimental and interdisciplinary.”
Muñiz spoke to the complexity and relevance of the reformed course topic.
“If you look out at the world, we have this puzzle,” he said. “On the one hand, we have never been so prosperous, from income per capita to GDP and literacy. And on the other hand, we have fractures emerging, and we are electing these leaders that come with an agenda to break the systems. The big question is why this is occurring.”
Throughout the semester, Muñiz and his students analyzed the growing prevalence of identity politics, the role of social media and heated debates about media and communications. They also explored how the world economic system and globalization have shaped populism, as well as the impact of technology on the American middle class.
The second half of the semester, however, looked at populism in different regions of the world.
“One of our lecturers, Juan Corvalán, came from Paris and [discussed] comparative perspectives on populism in Latin America: what happened in Argentina and Venezuela, and how can we compare this with what is happening in the United States and Europe,” he said.
In his time with the IGL, Muñiz has been struck by its uniqueness as an institution.
“It was a real discovery to find a place where these topical issues are chosen and deeply studied each year from a very interdisciplinary perspective,” he said.
Jedrzejowski said that the appointment of Muñiz as an interim professor for EPIIC improved the quality of the course in the spring.
“This year’s class said that they did not get out of it what the previous classes had gotten out of it, but the addition of Muñiz made things much better,” she said. “The EPIIC symposium ran really well, so it all worked out in the end.”
On April 20, Harris announced the appointment of Abi Williams (F ’86, F ’87) as the new director of the IGL and professor of the practice at Fletcher. An alumnus of EPIIC, Williams is currently finishing his four-year term as the first president of The Hague Institute for Global Justice.
After graduating from Fletcher in 1987, Williams maintained close ties with Tufts and the IGL, speaking at the EPIIC symposium in 2012. He began serving on the IGL advisory board that same year.
In addition, Williams said he has helped provide internship opportunities for IGL students at the different organizations where he has worked.
“I think it is very important for IGL students to complement what they are learning at Tufts,” he said. “As president of the Hague Institute for Global Justice, I established a special internship program which provided an opportunity for an IGL student to intern at the Institute.”
Williams believes that his experience working at the United Nations, in academia and at think tanks will be invaluable in his work running the IGL and its various programs and initiatives.
“One thing that I had to do with The Hague Institute was to come up with a very bold vision on areas such as conflict prevention, law and global governance, which will be very important for IGL,” Williams said. “I also think that my experience … in strategic planning will be relevant in developing and executing strategic plans for IGL.”
While no final decisions have been made regarding the topic of the course for the 2017-2018 school year, Williams emphasized the importance of addressing a topic that will engage a wide variety of students. He added that he would like to talk to students and faculty on campus before announcing the subject.
However, Williams is considering three particular subjects: another topic related to the rise of populism, international migration or the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities.
“Any of those three will engage students, engage faculty and engage Tufts,” Williams said.