The Georgetown University School of Foreign Service will host four former diplomats and politicians this semester as the inaugural class of Centennial Fellows.
Former Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser S. Judeh; former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Anne C. Richard (SFS ’82); former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma and former Guatemalan magistrate Claudia Escobar will partake in panels and discussions, lend their expertise in classes and interact with Georgetown students.
The fellows will also work directly with SFS students selected as Junior Fellows. The groups of fellows will work together to organize a larger event, potentially a lecture or panel discussion, for the entire Georgetown community.
Richard said she was honored to enter this role at her alma mater and was amused at the prospect of working alongside Judeh, with whom she previously crossed paths as a student and professional.
“We ended up at conferences alongside each other, and I worked with his staff, and he was also very close to my bosses, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry,” Richard said. “So it’s funny that we were both at Georgetown as undergrads in the 1980s, and now we’re both back as Centennial Fellows.”
Executive Director of the SFS Centennial Will Layman said the fellows will contribute diversity and expertise to Georgetown.
“The program is bringing important global practitioners to SFS and Georgetown, inviting them to bring their expertise to the campus and bringing them into contact with students and professors,” Layman wrote in an email to The Hoya. “You can see in this first group of fellows great range in geography, strategic issues and method of engagement, and their passion to interacting with students and the community at large is unmistakable.”
According to Layman and SFS Senior Associate Dean Anthony Arend, the fellows were first nominated by SFS faculty, then reviewed by an Advisory committee of undergraduate and graduate student and faculty representatives. SFS Dean Joel Hellman ultimately selected the final group of fellows.
Layman also said that the Centennial Fellows Program would bolster dialogue on important international issues, further cementing Georgetown as a leading institution.
“The Hilltop has always been a place where the big conversations can take place about the critical global issues,” Layman wrote. “The Centennial Fellows Program brings important voices to campus, amplifying Georgetown’s position as a leader in America’s most important international city.”
The SFS also launched the Junior Centennial Fellows Program in conjunction with the Centennial Fellows, allowing undergraduate and graduate students in the SFS to work on research and events with the fellows.
Arend said the program reflected the ideals upon which the SFS was founded.
“Appropriately enough, as the school celebrates its Centennial, it provides us an opportunity to reimagine how the school should adapt in preparing people for this new world,” Arend said. “In many respects it is the same question that Edmund A. Walsh was proposed in 1919 when the school was being created.”
Arend said that the Centennial Fellows program represents an opportunity to further students’ learning and comprehension of the complex world that lies beyond Georgetown.
“One thing we wish to do in the Centennial is to once again look at the world, a very changing and tumultuous world, and say ‘How can we best prepare people for this uncertain world?’” Arend said. “One way that we do it is bringing in distinguished practitioners of international affairs and provide them opportunities to interact with students, faculty and staff.”
With this in mind, Arend said the fellows’ different trajectories contributes to a larger picture of international affairs and politics.
“Someone like Nasser Judeh had to deal with the whole gamut of foreign affairs issues. Someone like Anne Richard dealing with migration, population and refugees as a focus is also a really critical part of international affairs — especially today,” Arend said. “Claudia Escobar is someone who is dealing with important human rights issues and questions of governance and corruptions, and Ambassador Richard Verma brings not only an understanding of the foreign policy process, but also the understanding of the domestic process whereby foreign policy is made in the US.”
Clare Ogden, program administrator of the Centennial Fellows Program, echoed Arend’s views on the importance of the fellows in helping the school reimagine education on foreign affairs.
“When SFS was founded in 1919, its goal was to address an uncertain, changing world. Today, the world is no less tumultuous and uncertain,” Ogden wrote in an email to The Hoya. “What the Centennial Program hopes to do is bring thinkers and practitioners to help the school re-imagine how Georgetown can best address a changing world and better prepare students and scholars to confront it.”