As Founding Dean Steps Down, Keough Charts Its Progress

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

Keough School of Global Affairs dean R. Scott Appleby in conversation with his hands folded across his chest. R. Scott Appleby. Photo by Matt Cashore ’94

The Keough School of Global Affairs marks its 10th anniversary this spring. Its 65 faculty members represent 20 disciplines in a common enterprise of education, research and policy formation geared toward integral human development. Almost 200 students from 80 countries and regions have earned master’s degrees from the school, which now offers a multidisciplinary undergraduate major in global affairs and a doctoral program. Graduate students have done hands-on fieldwork in more than 50 countries through Keough.

The school is comprised of nine centers and institutes: the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion; the Kellogg Institute for International Studies; the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies; the Klau Institute for Civil and Human Rights; the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies; the McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business; the Nanovic Institute for European Studies; and the Pulte Institute for Global Development.

Keough’s founding dean, R. Scott Appleby ’78, will step down this summer. What follows are edited excerpts of his remarks during a conversation with Kerry Temple ’74, former editor of Notre Dame Magazine.

The initial motivation for the Keough School was a recognition that Notre Dame could not continue to be a great university in the 21st century if it didn’t go global in a serious way.

We already had a very robust international study-abroad program for our undergraduates. And, of course, we had the connection with the Congregation of Holy Cross and, more broadly, the Catholic Church that gave Notre Dame a particular advantage internationally, being part of the oldest transnational network of institutions in the world — and one of the most extensive geographically.

That said, we hadn’t thought about [global engagement] in a systematic way that tied it very rigorously to our academic profile. So the idea was, how is Notre Dame going to address this challenge of bringing scholarship on a global level to our faculty, staff and students here, and having a presence around the world that is informed by our academic mission and by our areas of academic expertise?

When the [planning] committee met, it was pretty intense. We met for at least a year. What would the emphasis be? How would we meet Notre Dame’s distinctive profile? What would the curriculum look like? What kind of faculty do we need? How do we think about the Catholic connection, not just theoretically or theologically, but institutionally or structurally?

I was in my 14th year as director of the Kroc Institute. And I was ready to step down from Kroc and go back into the faculty. I had absolutely no thought about my further involvement in this idea other than being available to it in some generic way.

We knew we had some expertise on campus. We had at the time five or six institutes that had some kind of international focus. These were a bit scattered around the University, physically and intellectually. They weren’t at all working together, certainly not systematically. We were all doing our own thing for the most part.

So the puzzle was, how do we make something from these promising, well- endowed, generally well-run institutes? How do you transform that into something catalytic for a new, real, global academic initiative and get them working together?

I was literally stunned when I was in my regular monthly meeting with the provost, Tom Burish ’72, and he says, “We’re going to have a school and you’re going to be the dean.” I kind of laughed. I said, “You’re kidding.”

Like the other institute directors, I had been skeptical. I mean, our little paradise of being pretty much on our own was coming to an end. We had a sweet life. Suddenly the first thing was, we’re going to lose our sovereignty.

The directors of each institute are still [tasked] to create the best research, practice, policy unit in their area. That’s their job. And they’ll do that by collaborating fully in thinking with the school. These two things cannot be separated.

This was the moment when these different units — which already had political scientists, economists, historians, musicologists, anthropologists, social scientists, theologians — [came] together so their own missions got enriched.

I just went to a faculty panel, to give you an example of this thing really blossoming in a cool way.

There’s this brilliant, young Pakistani woman, who works on water and governance in South Asia, and how the farmers and engineers are managing water crises between India and Pakistan. Her talk touches on the British empire and the colonial presences in Pakistan and India, and the West coming in and bringing their engineers. It is a complicated story, and in that room today were 45 faculty from the Keough School. You had in that room a guy from Ghana who is a world expert on water — doesn’t work in Pakistan, but he’s a hydrologist, and he’s fantastic. You had a political economist who works in Ecuador and a South African who has questions about international labor.

And she was just loving it. It’s a different kind of dynamic when you’re multidisciplinary.

Another demand on our people is to answer, what difference does this make beyond the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake? Which is a good in itself, of course. But how does the applied nature of the Keough School make your scholarship more relevant beyond the circle of 25 or 30 specialists who are going to read your journal article and discuss it? What is the bridge to the larger world? How does it affect policy and practice?

The reason I used to pound my fist for years here is that we say we’re going to change the world, apply scholarship and service to the common good. Notre Dame has a mission, and we achieve it by graduating fantastic people in all walks of life. But you don’t make substantive political or structural change in anything if you’re not reforming either practices or policies.

Policies are the instruments of change through government, through corporations, through NGOs — any major organization has policies. Policies are the instruments by which progress is made. We never had a policy school or institute [at Notre Dame] until this school was founded.

You can’t be a policy school and just study water or just study government or climate change or refugee problems. You need all nine units to be working together. And so the school is structured to bring these different expertises together to see problems in their complex whole and to address the human person as a whole person with these various dimensions to the person.

We had a great example recently of what a policy school should have. Denis McDonough had been [President Barack] Obama’s deputy national security advisor and then White House chief of staff. He was a fantastic teacher, and he helped us think about policy questions, and he worked with our faculty to draw out the policy implications and even have them frame their questions around concrete things.

We have a Washington, D.C., office in the Keough School, with a building that opened in 2018. And what we have now is a gathering space and a platform for our scholars to interact with people in Washington. And it’s not just domestic politicians. Washington is a global capital, with all the embassies there. So, we’ve taken a quantum leap. We are just about now beginning to hit our stride as a policy school.

We have a strategic plan with four areas so that now, after 10 years of growth, we can say we have real expertise in the environment, in sustainability and environmental justice. We have expertise in poverty and equality, marginalization. We have expertise in violence and peace, and we have expertise in democracy, governance, institutions and human rights. And they track very well with the University’s strategic framework.

A big milestone since I’ve been dean is that we got approval for a standalone undergraduate major in global affairs. That was a big deal. We chose “global affairs” rather than international affairs or international relations because “international” is still a kind of Cold War paradigm. “Global” is more comprehensive. The scope is global. You are not talking just about nations.

Then, we chose to call it a development school in recognition that we’re all interrelated and wealthier nations have a responsibility for developing nations. And that the development of peoples must be integral and human: It must be rooted in the human dignity of every person on Earth simply by virtue of their being children of God. No state can give you that dignity, and no state can take it away.

In 1967, in a [papal] encyclical, the term “integral human development” was used for the first time. And every pope since then has invoked it as part of Catholic social teaching. It’s the development of the whole person, of every person. It can’t just be economic or technical development. We are not just producers and consumers of goods. We’re also members of a family, of a faith, of a culture with its own particular history. All of that is what goes into making a human person and the dignity of the human person.

We decided early on that we would say that the mission of this school is to improve human development. Our goal is to create conditions of living and flourishing and prospering. That means you’re not just bringing in the social sciences or lawyers or engineers. You also have to have room for the humanities.

So that means that this school, these institutes, all address the obstacles to human flourishing, to human dignity. We’re all working to promote conditions that are commensurate with human dignity: poverty reduction, resolution of war, mitigation of violence, democracy and governance, civil and human rights. We care about the poor and the vulnerable and the marginalized particularly.

The students love it because they love the interdisciplinary nature, they love the policy. The ones who come here are particularly idealistic in the best sense. They want to change the world.