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Interim Director Message: Summer 2022

October 3, 2022

Interim Director Danny Hoffman outside Thomson Hall, Aug. 2022. Photo by Dennis Wise
Interim Director Danny Hoffman outside Thomson Hall, Aug. 2022. Photo by Dennis Wise

Dear Members of the Jackson School Community,

It seems appropriate to write you during the first full week of autumn quarter classes in this almost-fully-back-in-person academic year. For many Jackson School faculty, staff and students in Thomson Hall, the most startling thing about this time is its familiarity. Once again, our classrooms are packed, our colleagues are back in their offices, people clog the stairwell every hour and there is a long wait at our only elevator. We have been here before. But, of course, everything is different.

This is true for the Jackson School as a whole. Hopefully you have seen the exciting news that this academic year brings with it the relaunch of our Ph.D. program and revisions to many of our M.A. programs. Our new Global and Regional Studies undergraduate major, launched last year, continues to grow. We have added a new faculty member, Danya Al-Saleh, who will teach her first course in autumn on the role of universities in climate justice. Five of our centers received prestigious U.S. Department of Education Title VI federal grants this summer, amounting to $10.6 million over four years to support teaching, research and public programming around their respective world regions and languages. Each of these contributes to the enduring, familiar excellence of our program. And each brings change.

This year you can expect more of the engaged public scholarship that has long been a Jackson School hallmark. Our program is built on the idea that unfolding events around the world cannot be understood out of context. We need to know diverse cultures, languages, histories, political and economic traditions in order to make sense of, and intervene in, new global challenges. We do that with world-class faculty and student research, with public-facing programming, and with award winning teaching. Nothing about the basic formula that makes the Jackson School special has changed. And yet with new students, new colleagues, new world-shaping events, and new ways of creating in-person and virtual community, nothing that we do this year will be quite like we’ve done it before.

Those of you who know the Jackson School will recognize novel permutations of some pillars of our School. This year we will offer undergraduate Task Forces on human rights in the Puget Sound region and international cybersecurity; courses ranging from Environmental Justice to The Origins of Modern Japan; a seminar-style Public Writing course on democracy and capitalism and a large lecture on ethical traditions and a meaningful life. We are in the planning stages of public events on the nuclear dynamics of the war in Ukraine and the triangular U.S.-China-Taiwan relationship. Please continue to check our calendar. There is phenomenal breadth to what we do in the Jackson School. The particular courses we offer and the public scholarship we promote change with the times. The importance of what we do does not.

One of the enduring and ever-changing rituals we will undertake this year will be to select the next director for the School. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Jackson School’s interim director this year. I am thoroughly enjoying learning more about this unique and important institution. I have no doubt that our next director will continue the School’s tradition of excellence in intellectual and educational leadership. And I look forward to the unique capabilities and innovations that person will bring to the Jackson School in the years to come.

Danny Hoffman
Interim Director of the Jackson School of International Studies
Bartley-Dobb Professor for the Study and Prevention of Violence