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Leaders in Graduate Education

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Megan Bowman, Director, MAAIS Program
University of Washington, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies


“I love everything about this program,” says Megan Bowman, director of the Master of Arts in Applied International Studies (MAAIS) program at the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. “We are teaching people how to think about complex problems in international affairs, and they are integrating what they learn with their own experience.”

The MAAIS program’s tight-knit community includes each year’s cohort of 20 to 25 mid-career professionals, who come from Seattle, across the U.S., and around the globe. “They spend a lot of time together exchanging ideas, learning from each other’s diverse professional perspectives, and working in teams,” says Bowman.

While most of the Jackson School’s MA programs take two years to complete, the MAAIS program requires 10 months of study—or up to two years part time. It is designed for students who have been working for at least five years since college and are looking for their next challenge. Some students seek to advance in their current field with a master’s degree, while others are working toward a career transition. Some enter the program knowing what they would like to do next, and some want to explore a range of opportunities in areas such as government, business, philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, and military service.

“We are teaching people how to think about complex problems in international affairs, and they are integrating what they learn with their own experience.” –Megan Bowman, Director, MAAIS Program, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

MAAIS students benefit from the Jackson School’s location in Seattle, a thriving center of technology and innovation. The area is home to Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a large community of globally oriented nonprofit organizations. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard also have a strong presence in the area.

“We hope our students will take full advantage of the opportunity to network while they are here,” says Bowman, whose own background includes more than 25 years of experience in public policy and international relations. She helped build a local nonprofit start-up into a global business network with impact across Africa. At Microsoft, she managed government, industry association, and political affairs at the federal level and coordinated global public policy positions in areas such as online privacy and data protection. She has also worked for a global public affairs consulting firm and in Washington, D.C., managing foreign policy, trade, and development for various members of Congress.

“Here on the West Coast, we see the world differently,” says Bowman. “We have a unique blend of pioneers, innovators, and rebels. The MAAIS program draws on that perspective and takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the international affairs landscape.”

MAAIS students can explore how their expertise connects with other areas and see how different approaches come together for solving problems. “The program offers the opportunity to design a curriculum that makes sense to you,” says Bowman.

Students select courses taught by world-class professors from a wide range of disciplines and by leading practitioners. Each student also completes an Applied Research Client Project and participates in an international Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise.

“It’s important to have graduates who are thinking in open and relevant ways,” says Bowman. “It gives me hope to think about the contributions of our alumni such as Majd Baniodeh, MAAIS ’16, senior global responsibility specialist at Starbucks, who leads U.S. implementation of the company’s effort to hire 10,000 refugees globally.”

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