McCain Institute connects ASU to Washington, D.C.

ASU is introducing new opportunities for students and faculty to become more involved in national and foreign policy through a Washington, D.C.–based institute to be completed by early 2013.

The McCain Institute for International Leadership will have a location on the Tempe campus and is initially being funded by a $9 million gift from Sen. John McCain's McCain Institute Foundation.

The Institute will connect ASU to policymakers in Washington D.C., offering opportunities to students such as internships, fellowships and a "Washington Semester".

The University will further be connected to policymaking through ASU's Decision Theater as well as the Sedona Forum, an international gathering to discuss global issues in Sedona, Ariz.

McCain Institute Executive Director Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said the institute would give ASU a greater national presence.

"ASU is such a big place, (the McCain Institute) is one more way to stitch it together around a common set of ideas," Volker said. "An area (ASU) had not yet connected to is in national-level policymaking, in particular foreign policy."

Volker said the main purposes of the institute would be to develop future leaders nationally and internationally, research government policymaking and create forums to discuss policymaking and solutions to global issues.

He said one of the issues he would like to address through the institute is the U.S. border shared with Mexico.

Volker said he would like to partner with other independent institutions along the border to research border issues.

"We can do fundamental data collection on what's happening on both sides of the border and present it to policymakers so that they can make decisions about how we overcome problems," Volker said. "We tend to, in Washington, focus on the hot-button controversial issues. There's so much more to the border than that."

He said although the institution was created by McCain, a conservative Republican, it would be a non-partisan effort driven to seek solutions rather than a political end.

University Vice President James O'Brien said the addition of the McCain Institute to ASU will create an academic presence in Washington it hasn't had in the past.

"The McCain Institute in Washington D.C. provides a unique opportunity to have a platform in Washington that our faculty and students can use and connect to," O'Brien said.

O'Brien said ASU's overall goal is to become more globally involved.

"We hope we attract more (international students) and have more connections globally," O'Brien said. “If we're attracting international participants to our fellows program in D.C., if our faculty and students are there engaging in work, there's more of an opportunity to engage in the world (and) to work with people from other countries."

ASU President Michael Crow said in a May 24 news release that the ASU community is grateful for McCain's support of the institute.

“(The institute) will be guided by the values that have animated the career of Senator McCain: a commitment to sustaining America’s global leadership role; promoting freedom, democracy and human rights; as well as maintaining a strong, smart national defense," Crow said.


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