Director's Message

“With the Watson Institute transition to a School of International and Public Affairs, we will have an opportunity to shine a light on Brown’s excellence in international and public affairs, consider areas where we will grow, and amplify our voice in the policy world.”

Wendy J. Schiller Alison S. Ressler Professor of Political Science and Howard R. Swearer Interim Director of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
 
Wendy Schiller

The Institute’s core faculty of anthropologists, economists, historians, political scientists, sociologists and other specialists work in an interdisciplinary fashion with colleagues from across Brown’s campus and from across the world. The Institute collaborates with a wide variety of organizations, including the multilateral agencies, national and local governments, and non-governmental organizations worldwide to seek solutions to today’s most urgent policy challenges.

The Institute today is a hub of vibrant intellectual activity. Our work combines a focus on three main thematic areas — development, security, and governance — with rich empirical knowledge generated by our regional programs on Brazil, China, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia and the United States. All of our work — our research, our teaching, and our public engagement — is comparative and interdisciplinary in nature.

Watson in recent years has experienced extraordinary growth. We have expanded the faculty by attracting exceptional scholars from across a number of fields. The Institute today is home to a thriving undergraduate concentration, International and Public Affairs, as well as a highly rigorous and intensive 12-month Master of Public Affairs program. At the PhD level, the Watson Institute’s Graduate Program in Development provides training and research funding to Brown University doctoral students focused on issues of development in the Global South and beyond. And, the Watson Institute Postdoctoral Fellows program attracts extraordinary early career scholars from across the social science disciplines and from around the world. 

Building on this robust growth, in Spring 2024, the University faculty and governing corporation approved the creation of a School of International and Public Affairs effective July 1, 2025 to expand and strengthen research and teaching on the world’s most pressing economic, political, social and policy issues. In recognition of former Director Ed Steinfeld’s contributions to the Watson Institute and his role in developing the proposal to create a new school, he will hold the honorary title of Founding Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs. 

We live in challenging times, ones that make the mission of the Watson Institute all the more urgent. I invite you to join our community, participate in our research and learning, and together with us help contribute to a more just and peaceful world.

Edward Steinfeld Founding Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs
 
Ed Steinfeld

An international search for the school’s Inaugural Dean will commence immediately. As Interim Director of the Watson Institute, I will partner with Brown’s academic leaders on the planning process to formalize academic programs and operating structures for the new school while the search for the school’s inaugural dean is conducted. 

We live in challenging times. Our mission is to expand our community, our educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, and increase our research productivity. Together we will contribute to a more just and peaceful world.

Wendy J. Schiller

Alison S. Ressler Professor of Political Science 

Howard R. Swearer Interim Director of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for
International and Public Affairs