Dear Mortara Community,
It is an honor to take over as Director of the Mortara Center for International Studies, following Abe Newman’s successful tenure.
Under Abe’s leadership, the Mortara Center continued to serve as a research hub for the School of Foreign Service (SFS) through programs that support student research and mentorship such as the Mortara Undergraduate Fellows Program (MURF) and the Walsh Exchange, along with the Mortara Faculty Fellows Program, which brings SFS faculty together to discuss and learn from each other’s work. I have been fortunate to be a Mortara Faculty Fellow for the last two years, and have seen up close how Abe was able to bring scholars and students from different backgrounds and approaches to international studies together in a way that is both productive and energizing. For me, these sessions have been a highlight of the difficult Covid-19 period, providing a regular point of connection to others studying different aspects of our shared international environment.
As we continue our gradual return to more in-person programming this fall, the Mortara building will be a lively hive of research and public engagement. We are mindful that it is a time of great uncertainty and challenge for governance at home and abroad. While the Mortara Center will continue to support research across many topics and approaches in international studies, the time seems right for a particular focus on democracy at home and abroad. With midterm elections, the January 6th Committee’s final report, and developments in the war in Ukraine looming, we will ask hard questions about the tests our democracy faces from within and how they may—or may not—affect international and global challenges.
It is also a time of sadness for the Mortara community, with the passing of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was the Michael and Virginia Mortara Endowed Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy. She was a vital presence at Georgetown and in the Mortara building. Plans are underway for a celebration of her legacy, to be held at Georgetown in the fall. We will share more details when they are available.
In the meantime, I wish everyone in the Mortara community a happy and healthy summer, and look forward to seeing many new and familiar faces when we return in the fall.
Elizabeth N. Saunders
Director, Mortara Center