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Autumn 2023: Director’s Message

October 10, 2023

Dear Members of the Jackson School Community,

As we prepared for the publication of this newsletter, we learned of the Oct. 7 death of recent Jackson School Ph.D. graduate Dr. Hayim Katsman who was reportedly killed in his home during the violence in Israel on Saturday, October 7, 2023. Our thoughts are with the Katsman family. The Jackson School community was honored to learn from and with Dr. Katsman during his time with the Jackson School.  We are all grateful for his friendship and scholarship.

We do interesting things in the Jackson School. I was reminded of this during Dawg Daze, the University of Washington’s annual kick-off to the new academic year. Over a week, departments around campus host student-centered programming and information sessions. Dawg Daze is an opportunity for students to start the new year by imagining a path for themselves through the UW and into the careers that will follow. For Jackson School faculty and staff, it is an opportunity to reflect on what we offer this campus and our community as we reconvene after the summer. Our Office of Academic Services devised a program this year around two key events: A spotlight on the field of space policy and security, and careers in the United Nations.

Jackson School faculty member Saadia Pekkanen, one of the nation’s leading experts on the intersection of space diplomacy and security, led the first. She took a diverse group of UW undergraduates to the campus planetarium, the perfect setting for a discussion of how space presents more than a technical challenge for building rockets and satellites. The new space race generates novel challenges in governance and previously unimagined possibilities for conflict and cooperation across nations. Saadia challenged students to think through the various ways that technological innovations in the out-of-this-world depths of space are embedded in very real-world national political interests, local concerns and conflicted regional histories. For me, it was an excellent reminder that the Jackson School is unique on the UW campus for the way we ask students to consider how revolutionary technical advances are always embedded in diverse political systems, spoken of in multiple languages, and intertwined differently in all the world’s many cultures.

Our second event featured Kevin Cassidy, currently the Director and Representative to the Bretton Woods, Multilateral Organizations for the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for the United States. In Dawg Daze advertising we posed the question “United Nations, Anyone?” and promised students the chance to find out what life inside the UN is really like. An extraordinary number took us up on the invitation. They came with a genuine interest in how the world’s truly global institution works day-by-day. Sitting in the audience was a wonderful antidote to the all-too-common misconception that students today are too disinterested or too idealistic to concern themselves with the nuances of policy making and governance. What I saw instead was something that my colleagues see across all their classes: Students eager to make change, and savvy enough to realize they won’t do it without hard work and hard-won expertise.

Every year, the start of the academic year brings an avalanche of meetings, emails, and confusion as we sort out schedules and relearn how to be on campus after the summer break. But it also offers the opportunity to remind ourselves that in the Jackson School, we do interesting things. We learn from interesting people, we debate interesting ideas, and we face interesting challenges. And it isn’t limited to Dawg Daze. We will keep at it all year, and we would be thrilled to have you join us.

I hope to see you on campus this year whether in our classes, public events or other outreach activities. Thank you for your interest and continuing support.

Danny Hoffman
Stanley D. Golub Endowed Chair in International Studies
Director, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington