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Notre Dame welcomes inaugural Global Affairs class

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - With the first day of classes beginning at Notre Dame, the university opened its brand new Keough School of Global Affairs—the first new school in a century.

Coincidentally, the school opened its doors a day after President Trump touched on just that—global affairs.

“We will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over,” said President Donald Trump.

The dean of the school says they will of course discuss foreign policy throughout their courses, but today the focus was on welcoming the new students to its new Global Affairs Masters program.

The dean says well over 300 students applied, and 38 from 21 different countries were accepted.

One traveled about 7,000 miles—all the way from Iran—to join the program.

“Everywhere, you can see inequalities, and there are smart people everywhere, but not everybody has the opportunity to use their capabilities,” said the student, Chista Keramati.

Opening up those opportunities is what inspired Chista Keramati to apply for Notre Dame’s brand new Global Affairs masters program.

A minority Sunni Muslim growing up in a mostly Shia Iran, she’s felt discrimination.

“At school, because I went to a school where my classmates were all Shi’ite Muslim, I was sometimes singled out as different than all the rest, and it was kind of difficult for me to understand why should I be different?” said Keramati.

In its brand new Keough School of Global Affairs, Notre Dame’s first new school in a century, the university plans to harness those differences to take its first class of students in a new direction.

“We want them to understand how the world works, how the economies work, how to mobilize resources, and also to understand, it’s not one size fits all. You have to be in dialogue with the people you’re serving,” said Dean Scott Appleby.

Chista tested that theory out when she traveled to Tajikistan last year.

“We were traveling to this faraway village, and in this car there was this local lady from that village sitting next to me, and she just started talking to me about her life and her problems, everything…and I realized me being a woman just like her, gives me like an opportunity to get close to other women from different places and hear their stories, and that’s really great, because…I can help them solve their problems,” she said.

The dean says he wants students to learn from each other’s stories to help achieve the school’s mission: integral human development.

“Working human rights. Working economic development and growth, an array of areas of professional work that help societies to have better education, education for women and children, better drinking water, higher standards of living, stable societies that are governed well, so it’s a small task,” said Dean Appleby.

He believes his students are up to the task.

“Notre Dame attracts students who want to change the world, want to transform it for the good, so we want to match that great Notre Dame spirit of these students,” said Dean Appleby.

The school is also working on an undergraduate program for next year.

The dean told me they’re planning to host a forum on October 4th about U.S. foreign policy to address the recent changes we’re seeing.

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