Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Spring 2023 Study Groups

Spring 2023 Practitioner-Led Study Groups

These not-for-credit study groups provide an opportunity for students to delve deeply into topics and apply theory and research to real world challenges. Enrollment in each group is limited to 25 students. 


National Security, Innovation, and the Congress
Arun Seraphin

The Study Group will explore the role that Congress and policymaking can play in creating an environment to support innovation in our national security science and technology enterprise. The Group will discuss the opportunities and challenges of implementing innovative technologies and practices into the complex defense establishment and understand how policymakers can work to create a legal framework, regulations, culture, and financial resources that can support or inhibit innovation. The Group will explore the processes by which Congress crafts legislation, provides funding, and performs oversight activities over the Pentagon. The Group will also provide insights and information on the complementary roles of the legislative branch, executive branch, and the private sector in shaping the policy and innovation environment. Each meeting will consist of presentations by Dr. Seraphin on national security innovation policy issues, along with occasional guest lectures from experts from Washington, DC, and focused discussions related to policy problems and potential solutions to those problems. Students will be expected to read short read-ahead materials for each class, and actively participate in group discussions on class topics.

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How We Work – Now and In the Future – an Exploration of Workplace Culture, Practices, Policies, and the Future of Work
Suzi LeVine

Meeting dates are Tuesdays, 2/28, 3/14, 3/21, 4/11, 4/25. Each session will meet from 11am - 12:50pm.
Registration closes on February 19

You are likely to be at work at least ¼ of your life – either as an employee or a manager. Most university students considering jobs or internships are primarily thinking about where to work and what occupation(s) to pursue. Few are thinking about HOW we work - now and into the future. And even fewer are thinking about their impact on HOW we work. This seminar features an array of great thinkers and do-ers - including government, academic and business leaders - and is designed to help you be more intentional and impactful in the workplaces you choose and the future workplaces you lead. In this wide-ranging study group on the present and future of work, we will explore workplace culture and DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion), dig into modern apprenticeship, discuss ideas to address challenges in the current social safety net, hear about the practical role of labor, and explore the potential impact of AI, robotics and machine learning on humans in the workplace.

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Cyber Threat Landscape and Protecting the United States Against Cyberattacks of Significant Consequence
Jim Langevin

Meeting dates are Wednesdays, 2/15, 3/1, 3/15, 4/5, 4/19. Each session will meet from 2-3:30pm.
Registration closes on February 5

While the cyber threat landscape is dynamic and ever-changing, many of the challenges we face in cyberspace are not new, nor can they be solved through technical means alone. Making cyberspace more secure for Americans also requires policy solutions that develop new partnerships, establish appropriate incentives, and enact long-needed structural reforms that collectively enable a more comprehensive and coordinated national cybersecurity effort. Equally essential is the development of a robust and skilled cybersecurity workforce to enact the cybersecurity solutions that the country needs.

This course will take place over five sessions of ninety minutes. Each session will feature remarks, either from myself or from one of the cyber policy leaders who have been invited to guest lecture one of our sessions. However, this study group places a priority on discussion, and students can expect that at least half of each class will be dedicated to open conversation on the concepts covered during the lecture and in any suggested readings.

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Humanitarian Considerations in Immigration Systems: Status Quo and Imagined Future
Leon Rodriguez

Meeting dates are Thursdays, 2/9, 2/23, 3/9, 4/6, 4/20. Each session will meet from 4-5:30pm.
Registration closes on February 6

While employment-based or family-based immigration also spark debate, the greatest controversies surround immigration programs focused on those in needed, such as currently undocumented residents of the U.S., asylum seekers, applicants for refugee status, victims of war and natural disaster, and/or those seeking to escape poverty and political chaos. Recent estimates by humanitarian organizations place the number of displaced persons throughout the world at eighty million, while the refugee admission policies of those countries willing to accept refugees sit at the tiniest fractions of that number. In the meantime, global climate change promises to bring global displacement to unprecedented and unimaginable levels.

The need for fresh and imaginative solutions to address these challenges could not be more urgent. In the group’s final sessions, we will work together to imagine a viable future immigration system that prioritizes universal principles of humanitarianism and equity and the plan an effective advocacy strategy to turn some of those ideas into policy. As the foundation to this exercise, the study group will explore the current state of U.S. and foreign immigration bureaucracies, focusing in particular on the political drivers of U.S. immigration policy, including the unseen forces that preserve what many across the political spectrum view as a dysfunctional status quo.

To ensure that the study groups hears a variety of perspectives, I plan to have two prominent guest speakers who I will announce as we draw closer to the start of our study sessions. Seeking to have informed and energetic discussions, several days prior to each study group session I provide brief readings, including crucial immigration policy documents from the Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, as well as factual scenarios for discussion.

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