By Dominique Scarlett, Journalism
The School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) has joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, adding another exceptional program to the college. SPIA offers a masters of arts in global policy, with concentrations in international environmental policy, international trade and commerce, or international Security and foreign policy.
“A lot of students want to save the world,” Capt. James Settele said, “Well, this is a masters program that leads to an opportunity to work at a job where you get to be impactful.” Settele is the director of SPIA and has served over 27 years on active duty within the U.S. Navy.
SPIA is in its fourth year at the University of Maine and admitted their first class in the fall of 2010. The current enrollment is 28 students, the largest class in the program’s history. The program attracts students from around the world, with many international students enrolling from countries like Mozambique, India, Algeria, China and Kenya.
The program encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary studies both on and off campus, which allows them to broaden their understanding of public policy in a changing world. Students take core courses, which give them the skills needed to address issues with global policy, the environment, trade and commerce. Students are also required to complete an international internship and are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars.
“The first question we ask them when they walk in the door is ‘Where do you want to be in two years when you graduate?” Settele said, “‘Do you want to be working for an NGO [non-governmental organization] in Africa? Okay, let’s figure out how to get you there.”
Students submit proposals and receive department approval to attend the conferences and seminars, which focus on a number of important issues ranging from the sociology of development to the sustainable future. These events have taken SPIA students across the globe. This semester students will travel to a number of international conferences, including ones in Japan, Chile and Mozambique.
Graduates of the program have found work at non-profit, governmental and non-governmental organizations in a range of different fields. A recent SPIA graduate, Kate Kirby, released a feature-length documentary “Quinoa Soup” on Sept. 21 in Minsky Recital Hall at UMaine.
The documentary examines the rising popularity of Quinoa, a grain-like crop, within the western world and the resulting rise in costs for the edible seed. This increase has led to an inability for many farmers in Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile to afford the grain, which is a dietary staple. The documentary is Kirby’s first film, which was developed and funded through SPIA.
For more information about the School of Policy and International Affairs or to learn more about current student work and research, visit the School of Policy and International Affairs web page.