Center for International Studies

The Center for International Studies (CIS) at MIT is dedicated to generating the knowledge, skills, and leadership needed to address an increasingly more complex international political and economic environment. CIS focuses on the critical role of international education in science and technology in the transformation and future conduct of foreign affairs and commercial diplomacy. At CIS, we are also seeking new ways that the social sciences, in conjunction with emerging technologies, can be brought to bear on public policy. The quest for this new knowledge, along with a range of unresolved problems—from regional financial crises and nuclear confrontation in Asia to widespread ethnic conflict and structural poverty—are the main forces driving MIT to increase significantly its efforts in internationally oriented research and education.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, CIS conducted two public forums to help the MIT community gain some perspective on the catastrophic events that had occurred. The first was held on September 12, and the second on September 17. CIS then assumed responsibility as lead organizer for six MIT "teach-ins" on the crisis:

These events were held under the auspices of and in conjunction with the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and were sponsored by the provost's office.

Richard J. Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science, continued as the center director and as the acting director of the MISTI Program. Associate Professor Stephen Van Evera remained in his role as associate director. Dr. William W. Keller continued to serve as CIS executive director and research director of the MIT Japan Program.

In May 2002, CIS celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. At the dinner celebration, Dean Philip Khoury announced a gift to CIS endowment of $10 million from the C. V. Starr Foundation, and Director Samuels announced a gift of $2 million from Robert Wilhelm to establish the Wilhelm Distinguished Visitor program. The following day CIS held a symposium featuring four panel discussions on salient issues of our times in which CIS—its faculty, staff, and researchers—had played important roles:

Professor Emeritus Donald L. M. Blackmer wrote a retrospective monograph, The MIT Center for International Studies: The Founding Years 1951–1969, to mark the occasion of the center's fiftieth anniversary.

The Starr and Wilhelm gifts to CIS that were announced at the anniversary will immediately enable the development of three programs.

Starr Asia Fellows Leadership Project

Within the next decade, it is likely that the aging leadership in China, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, and elsewhere will be replaced by a younger generation of leaders. It is in the national interest that new leaders in Asia establish close ties to the United States. The Starr Asia Fellows Leadership Project, run jointly by the Security Studies and MISTI programs, will permit a highly select group of future Asian military, business, and government leaders to work closely with Americans who have returned from Asia to continue their social science and technological studies at MIT. Assistant Professor Edward Steinfeld is project director.

CIS Starr Forum

Through its scholarly conferences and publications, the Center for International Studies has long helped shape academic and public discourse on critical issues of world affairs. Its work has been especially influential in the academy and the policy community. In the past, however, broad public visibility was subordinated to academic and policy-related activities. The center has recently established a systematic program of outreach in the form of CIS Forums to present research results and spirited debate to a wider national and international audience. Professor Van Evera directs the Starr Forum.

Wilhelm Visiting Fellowship in International Studies

Beginning in 2003, the Center will house each year a distinguished visitor with extensive experience in government. While in residence at CIS, the Wilhelm Visiting Fellow will write and reflect on critical issues of international affairs, engaging the academic community across the Institute.

CIS includes 160 members of the MIT faculty and staff, and visiting scholars from other institutions, many from abroad. It is organized into formal programs, working groups, and individual research projects. Programs engage in a broad range of research and training activities related to their substantive concerns. Multidisciplinary working groups bring faculty, research associates, and students together around shared interests. Faculty members and research staff also conduct their own research projects under the auspices of the center.

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MIT Security Studies Program

The MIT Security Studies Program (SSP) is a policy research and teaching component of the MIT Center for International Studies. It focuses on the security concerns of states. SSP has over 40 associates, including more than a dozen faculty members who devote essentially all of their professional attention to security issues. About half of the program's faculty members are natural scientists and engineers and half are social scientists, thus giving the program a strong interdisciplinary flavor. Forty-eight graduate students are affiliated with the program, nearly all of whom are doctoral candidates in political science. In addition, more than 20 fellows are attached to SSP, including military officers from each of the armed services who receive war college credit for time spent at MIT, scientists and engineers from several countries who work on missile defense and nuclear weapons issues, and several senior scholars and former government officials.

Program research is built around the interests of the faculty, the dissertations of the graduate students, and occasional commissioned projects. The research categories are best expressed in a listing of the program's working groups—faculty led research teams that focus on the same general topic. There are six such groups:

Each year the program sponsors four to six conferences, including a conference jointly organized with Harvard on the future of war); an annual conference on airpower topics, named after MIT graduate General Jimmy Doolittle (USAF); and another on nuclear weapons, named after Vice Admiral Levering Smith. Summaries of program conferences are widely distributed.

In addition to conference summaries, the program publishes a research journal, Breakthroughs; a seminar summary series, "SSP Seminars"; a monthly newsletter, Early Warning; and a working paper/occasional paper series. These are distributed via the Internet and a large mailing list. Several Breakthroughs articles have been reprinted by other publications and several working papers have been adopted for courses at other universities.

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MIT International Science and Technology Initiative

MISTI, the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative, creates and supports programs that promote the internationalization of education and research at MIT. MISTI/China was launched in 1994, the first of a projected series of regional programs to enhance the ability of MIT students to acquire a deeper understanding of how knowledge is created and used in other countries. It also provides opportunities for MIT researchers to develop international collaborations with scientists and technologists at outstanding foreign institutions.

The principal objective of these collaborations is to expand core resources for studying other societies on campus and to share a growing MIT base of knowledge about foreign science, technology, and industry through outreach programs in the United States. Today MISTI has three programs in Asia: China, India, and Japan; and three in Europe: Germany, Italy, and France. The mandate of all the programs is to educate MIT scientists, managers, and engineers in the language and culture of the country before placing them in "hands on" internship situations in the host country. The internship program has two primary objectives: to launch students in their careers by fostering international skills and expertise, and more broadly, to develop a cadre of internationalists—specialists in technology and management—who can strengthen interaction and communication with Japan and East Asia.

The programs also conduct meetings, symposia, and workshops and produce and disseminate research on pertinent topics. MISTI works closely with sponsors on all the above programs and produces a biannual resume book.

MIT China Program

China was the first focus of the MISTI program, offering opportunities for student internships in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Students work at public service organizations, laboratories, and multinational corporations in Greater China. The program also facilitates collaborations between MIT and outstanding Chinese universities and laboratories. Students are placed in diverse host institutions such as Tsinghua University, Fudan University, Intel Corporation, IBM, Microsoft, Roche Pharmaceuticals, General Motors, the United Nations, the World Wildlife Fund, and many others. More than 50 MIT students are now sent to Greater China on internships each year.

MIT-China Educational Technology Initiative

In 1997, MISTI sponsored a new student internship program: the MIT-China Educational Technology Initiative. The mission of MIT-CETI is to build cross-cultural understanding between Chinese and American students through the development of computer-related educational projects. Five teams of three MIT students are sent to Chinese high schools each year for six-week summer projects. Since President Clinton's visit to a CETI Internet project in China in 1998, the CETI curriculum has expanded into other technical areas such as web design, desktop editing, digital imaging, robotics, biotechnology, and e-commerce.

MIT France Program

The MIT France Program started in September 2000 as MISTI's sixth country program. Built on the MISTI model, the MIT France Program aims to bring understanding of the accomplishments and problems of contemporary France to the attention of the students and faculty of MIT. In order to build long-term networks of cooperation between MIT and France, the MIT France Program is setting in place three main components:

With recent support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MIT France Program has added a fourth component: jumpstarting new collaborative projects between MIT and France which encourage multidisciplinary approaches in education, research, and technological innovation

MIT Germany Program

In 1996, MISTI launched the MIT Germany Program. It provides internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to combine their knowledge of German language and culture with their expertise in the fields of engineering, science, and management. Sending about 40 students each year, the program has placed about 240 MIT students in German companies and research and government institutions, including BMW, Bosch, DaimlerChrysler, Infineon Technologies, Siemens, the Max Planck Institute, and the German Parliament. It has also placed about 30 visiting students from Germany in MIT labs for short-term research stays.

MIT India Program

The MIT India Program sends MIT graduate and undergraduate students to India for industry, research, and teaching internships, enabling these students to gain direct experience of Indian life, science, business, and technology. Established through a pilot project in the summer of 1998, the Program sent 38 students in its first three years to host institutions including GE's John F. Welch Technology Centre (Bangalore), Hikal Ltd. (Mumbai), ICICI Ltd. (Mumbai), Infosys Technology Ltd. (Bangalore), the Kalmadi Shamarao High School (Pune), Tata Steel & the Rotary Club of Jamshedpur (Jamshedpur), and the Telecommunications and Computer Networks Group at IIT Madras (Chennai).

MIT Italy Program

In 1998 MISTI launched the MIT Italy Program, modeled on the MIT Japan Program. It provides internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to combine their knowledge of Italian language and culture with their expertise in the fields of engineering, science, and management. The Program places students in Italian research institutions, companies, and government ministries. In the Fall of 2001, it held its first international symposium in Italy.

MIT Japan Program

The MIT Japan Program established in 1981 is the largest, most comprehensive program of its kind in the country. It routinely places MIT interns in Japanese laboratories after preparing them at MIT with two years of language and with courses on Japanese culture and history. The program currently sends 30–40 interns to Japan each year. Since its inception, the MIT Japan Program has sent more than 700 student interns to Asia. Today, more than half of those students are working with US corporations. The program also conducts workshops, symposia and meetings, bringing together US and Asian academics, government organizations, and corporations to address critical issues that arise in the areas of international science, technology, and management. Participants form networks to enhance understanding and effectiveness between the Japanese and US science, technology and business communities.

Program sponsors place these bilingual, bicultural professionals in key positions in Japan, America, and East Asia to facilitate communication and to acquire technologies and management expertise. As their companies seek new opportunities in a dynamic Asian environment, many former MIT interns play a strategic role in creating networks that aid in the development of business partnerships and joint ventures.

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The Inter-University Committee on International Migration

International migration has become a central feature of globalization in the 21st century. Refugee flows, labor migration, and human trafficking are only a few of the many aspects of migration affecting individual and national security—in both developed and developing countries. CIS chairs the Inter-University Committee on International Migration, an interdisciplinary body founded in 1974, comprising scholars from MIT, Boston University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard and Tufts Universities, and Wellesley College. Its activities include a Migration Seminar Series, specialized conferences and workshops, a working paper series, and a Visiting Fellows Program. Each year, CIS hosts a staff member of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who participates in the work of the Inter-University Committee on International Migration. In 1998 the Committee initiated the Rosemarie Rogers Working Paper Series with the publication of the study "Missed Opportunities: The Role of the International Community in the Return of the Rwandan Refugees from Eastern Zaire," by Joel Boutroue of UNHCR. A total of 13 working papers have been published in the series, and another 2 are in press.

With a grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Committee runs two year-long seminar series (at MIT and Tufts) and implements the Mellon-MIT Inter-University Program on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Forced Migration, which provides competitively awarded small grants for faculty, graduate students, and research scholars at member institutions to conduct research on this topic. Studies by Mellon-MIT grantees are published in this series, or in the Mellon Reports Series. Associate Professor Melissa Nobles and Professors Nazli Choucri and Jerome Rothenberg are on the MIT steering committee for this group. Dr. Sharon Stanton Russell is the MIT contact for the committee.

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The Inter-University Initiative on Humanitarian Studies and Field Practice

Humanitarian crises of the past decade reflect changing political dynamics. The end of the Cold War and the declining role of superpower regulation of regional and ethnic conflicts have contributed to increasing intra-state conflict and civil war. These crises are characterized by targeted attacks on civilians, mass population dislocation, widespread human rights abuses, and a high level of insecurity for responders—as evidenced in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and elsewhere. This innovative inter-university program is designed for graduate students seeking an education in the evolving and multidisciplinary field of humanitarian studies. The program allows graduate students at one of the partnering institutions (MIT, Harvard, and Tufts) to pursue a concentration in Humanitarian Studies. Professor Van Evera is the MIT contact for this program.

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Demography, Ethnicity, Security

With support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, CIS is completing a project on demography and security. Ten studies were commissioned for a workshop held at the Center in late 1998 on the political consequences of demographic changes and the security implications of state policies to change demographic variables. Two books emanating from the project were published by Berghahn Books in 2002. The first is a volume of essays co-authored by the late Professor Myron Weiner and Dr. Michael Teitelbaum (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) entitled Political Demography, Demographic Engineering. A second, containing the studies commissioned for the workshop, is entitled Demography and National Security, edited by Professor Weiner and Dr. Stanton Russell (CIS).

The Project on Race, Ethnicity and Censuses, conducted by Professor Nobles (Political Science), examines the historical development of contemporary political battles over racial census categorization in the United States and Brazil. Both countries have long histories of immigration, both voluntary and involuntary, that are reflected in the categories and uses of census data. A conference at CIS, funded by the Sloan Foundation, brought together scholars in the field. Professor Nobles' completed study, Shades of Citizenship: Race and Censuses in Modern Politics, was published in 2000 by Stanford University Press.

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Development Projects, Seminars, and Colloquia

The Joint Faculty Seminar on Political Development (JOSPOD), founded in 1964, is co-sponsored by the MIT Center for International Studies and the Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Suspended in 1999, JOSPOD recommenced in 2001-2002.

The Migration Seminar Series of the Inter-University Committee on International Migration, chaired by Dr. Stanton Russell, explores the factors affecting international population movements and their impact upon sending and receiving countries and relations among them.

The Mellon-MIT Inter-University Program on NGOs and Forced Migration conducts The Mellon Presentations series throughout the year, featuring the work of persons who have received grants from the Mellon-MIT program.

Peoples and States: Ethnic Identity and Conflict, chaired by Professor Jean Jackson (Anthropology), examines the issues of ethnic and nationalist identities in relation to the state.

The Emile Bustani Middle East Seminar, a guest lecture series organized by Dean Khoury (History and CIS), focuses on issues of peace, conflict, and democratization in the Middle East and North Africa.

Women and International Development (WID), a program jointly sponsored by CIS and the Harvard Institute for International Development, conducts seminars and workshops that address issues relating to women and international development.

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Political Economy and Technology Policy Program

In this program, the methods and perspectives of political economy are applied to controversial debates in science and technology policy. The program works closely with MIT's School of Engineering in two areas. First, CIS and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment conduct joint research on the effects of environmental regulation on economic growth, trade, and investment; on how to respond to uncertainty associated with environmental problems; and on tradeoffs between local and global environmental priorities. Second, CIS and the Technology Policy Program are launching a research and training project on emerging technologies. Public policies, business plans, and research funding often rest on expectations of the nature and implications of impending technological changes. This project seeks to improve public and private strategies through explicit analysis of the effects of technological change and associated uncertainty. Professor Kenneth Oye is the program director. Email address:

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National Adaptations to a Global Economy

Several projects and series examine national adaptations to an increasingly global economy, with attention to the economic and political implications of increasing integration of goods, technology, and capital markets.

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Responses to Security and Environmental Externalities

A second set of projects centers on how security and environmental costs external to markets might best be addressed. Debates over these issues break out into two broad positions. One line stresses potential causes of market failure, then turns to associated public policy responses. A second line stresses potential causes of regulatory failure, then turns to associated proposals for regulatory reform and/or deregulation. The research activities by CIS faculty and affiliates along these two lines are described below.

Asian Energy and Security Working Group

Michael Lynch continued his work with a team drawn from the Security Studies Program, MISTI, and the Japan Program. They are examining security externalities associated with energy and infrastructure choices and evaluating economic and military strategies for addressing these energy externalities. This group has been funded by the CIS innovation fund and by NEDO.

International Aid and Chinese Coal Combustion Projects

Two teams drawn from the Departments of Political Science, Urban Studies and Planning, and Chemical Engineering and the Technology and Policy Program are examining local and international responses to Chinese coal combustion. These CIS joint projects with Tsinghua University, Taiyuan University of Technology, Tokyo University, and the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) have been supported by the Center for Global Partnership, the Alliance for Global Sustainability, NEDO, and ABB.

Uncertainty and Environmental Decisionmaking

CIS research affiliates James Foster and former NRC Policy Division director Lawrence McCray have been leading working groups on regulatory adaptation and on the credible assessment of scientific and technical information. Faculty members Assistant Professor Brandice Canes-Wrone, Dr. Joanne Kauffman, Professor Oye, Professor Sapolsky, and Professor Emeritus Eugene Skolnikoff have been participants in conferences and workshops. These activities have been supported by the Consortium on Environmental Initiatives.

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Outreach to the Washington Policy Community

The Center for International Studies operates three programs that focus on training and public policy-making. These are addressed to the military and intelligence communities, the State Department and Foreign Service, and to senior congressional staff.

Seminar XXI is an educational program for senior military officers, government officials, and executives in nongovernmental organizations in the national security policy community. The program provides future leaders of that community with the analytic skills needed to understand other countries and foreign relations generally. Fellows learn to recognize the assumptions that underlie assessments of foreign societies presented to them as policymakers, and to explore policy issues critical to American interests through a variety of lenses. At each session, eminent speakers present alternative perspectives from which to understand a given country or problem. The fundamental criterion for choosing fellows is that they be expected to reach top posts in business, military, or government within the next three to five years. The program, now in its sixteenth year, has about 800 alumni/ae. Professor Robert Art of Brandeis University, a senior associate of the MIT Security Studies Program, directs Seminar XXI. Email address:

Through the Kalker Seminars on American Foreign Policy, American diplomatic trainees of varying rank participate in a series of workshops dealing with critical issues in global affairs. The series brings together distinguished faculty from American and foreign institutions along with high-level State Department and other government officials. Each month diplomatic trainees focus on an in-depth discussion of major issues and American strategies appropriate to a turbulent contemporary global environment. Seminars are held at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute near Washington, DC.

The annual Congressional Senior Staff Seminar provides intensive briefings on a selected issue in science and technology policy for senior members of congressional staff.

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Program on Human Rights and Justice

CIS and MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning have recently established an interdisciplinary program for teaching, research, and application in human rights. It aims to play a leadership role in advancing the study of—and action on—issues of human rights and justice, especially as they relate to science, technology, and the global economy. Over the past year, the MIT Program on Human Rights and Justice has engaged in diverse activities such as conferences, seminars, and student internships. The Program on Human Rights and Justice is the first in the United States with a specific focus on these issues, and its research activities are designed to increase significantly during the coming years. Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal is program director. Email address:

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Crosscutting Working Groups

In addition to these formal programs, CIS research is conducted via crosscutting projects typically organized as working groups. Because many pressing international issues do not fit neatly within a functionally or regionally defined category, these working groups link CIS programs to one another, to other groups within MIT, and to many outside institutions. Several of these groups are structured to link the efforts of social science professionals with those of engineers and natural scientists on problems of academic and policy significance. Active CIS working groups include:

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Workshops, Lectures, and Seminar Series

The Center for International Studies hosts a variety of workshops, lectures, and seminar series, many of which are open to the Boston area academic community and the public. A list of CIS lectures and seminars follows:

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Grant Programs

The Center for International Studies administers a variety of fellowships for social science doctoral students at MIT. Three are administered directly by the Center for International Studies:

In addition to these, CIS serves as the point of contact for three national competitions:

During academic year 2001-2002, CIS provided substantial support for approximately 20 graduate students from several departments through these fellowship programs, in addition to the internships provided via MISTI and MIT Japan for undergraduates.

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Several new CIS publications were produced in 2001-2002. Innovation and Crisis: Asian Innovation after the Millennium, edited by Dr. Keller and Professor Samuels, was published by Cambridge University Press. Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, edited by Pavel Podvig, was published by MIT Press. Professor Samuels also completed the manuscript for Machiavelli's Children: Leaders and Their Legacies in Italy and Japan, forthcoming from Cornell University Press.

In addition to the publications of the Security Studies, Japan, and MISTI programs, the center publishes a bi-annual newsletter, Precis, and several working paper series. These include CIS Working Papers, the Rosemarie Rogers Working Paper Series (formerly the Migration Working Paper Series), the MacArthur Transnational Security Working Papers, and the Mellon-MIT Program Working Paper Series.

Professor Thomas J. Christensen published three articles on China's security relations in China Leadership Monitor and the chapter on China in Strategic Asia, 2001–02, edited by Richard Ellings and Aaron Friedberg.

Professor Karen R. Polenske authored and coauthored a number of studies of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and air-pollution reduction in China. These papers were published as articles in Journal of Contemporary China and Energy Policy, and in Framing the Pacific in the 21st Century: Coexistence and Friction, edited by Daizaburo Yui and Yasuo Endo. She also contributed chapters on regional economic development strategy to Entrepreneurship, Firm Growth, and Regional Development in the New Economic Geography, Essays in Honor of Benjamin H. Stevens, edited by Michael Lahr and Ronald E. Miller, and Input-Output Analysis: Frontiers and Extensions, Essays in Honor of Ronald E. Miller, edited by Erik Dietzenbacher and Michael Lahr.

Professor Posen published articles on defense against terrorism in International Security and The National Interest. He also a contributed a chapter on "Urban Operations: Tactical Realities and Strategic Ambiguities" to Soldiers in Cities: Military Operations on Urban Terrain,edited by Michael C. Desch.

Dr. Sharon Stanton Russell's Demography and National Security, coedited with Myron Weiner, was published by Berghahn Books.

Professor Sapolsky's article "The Defense Industry's New Cycle," coauthored with Eugene Gholz, was published in Regulation. He also coauthored the article "Weighing the Navy," published in Defense Analysis.

Dr. Serenella Sferza contributed a chapter on the French Socialist Party to The Future of Parties, edited by R. Gunther, J. Linz, and R. Montero.

Professor Judith Tendler reflected on a research agenda for social policy in Social Policy in a Development Context, edited by Thandika Mkandawire.

Professor Van Evera coauthored "Weighing the Navy," published in Defense Analysis, and contributed the op-ed column "U.S. Should Only Target bin Laden's Gang" to Newsday.

Principal Research Scientist Cindy Williams published "U.S. Federal Spending Choices after September 11" in Breakthroughs and "Defense Policy for the 21st Century" in Eagle Rules: Foreign Policy and American Primacy in the 21st Century, edited by Robert J. Lieber.

Professor Elizabeth A. Wood published "The Trial of Lenin: Legitimating the Revolution through Political Theater, 1920–1923" in The Russian Review and "The Trial of the New Woman: Citizens in Training in the New Soviet Republic" in Gender & History.

Professor David M. Woodruff contributed a chapter on barter and currency in the Russian economy to La transition monétaire russe: avatars de la monnaie, crises de la finance (1990–2000), edited by S. Brana, M. Mesnard, and Y. Zlotowski.


Several new administrative assistants were welcomed in 2001-2002, including Tisha Gomes, Magdalena Rieb, and Dee Siddalls. In addition, CIS's executive director, Dr. William Keller, was promoted to the rank of principal research scientist. CIS draws personnel from the MIT faculty and student body, and our personnel policies reflect MIT's commitment to affirmative action goals.

Richard J. Samuels, Director and Ford International Professor of Political Science
William W. Keller, Executive Director and Principal Research Scientist

More information about the Center for International Studies can be found on the web at


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