MAIS Internship Spotlight: Anne Song (´17)

This week, we caught up with Anne Song, one of our MAIS 17´ students to learn about her internship experience.

Where did you complete your MA in International Studies internship?

I interned at UN Women in Ankara, Turkey from August-December 2017.


How did the MAIS program prepare you for your internship?

MAIS taught me the research and writing skills needed to support the executive and research teams at UN Women. As I look back, each class, each paper I wrote, and all the presentations I did in MAIS prepared me for this internship. Just as important, the support I received from MAIS throughout my experience from start to finish was invaluable. With the help of MAIS staff and my advisor (Prof. Lindsay Gifford), I was able to make the most of my time at UN Women and my brief life in Turkey.

What were some of the highlights of interning at this organization?

Definitely the people. I’ve met some of the most inspiring women and men in this organization. I learned here that Turkey is hosting the largest amount of Syrian refugees, and part of the UN Women program was to support the civil society organizations working to support Syrian refugee women and children. I was able to meet several Syrian women working to make Turkey their new home, and I was able to see first hand the effects of war and displacement.  It showed me the importance of our type of education and work and inspired me to work even harder.

What did you gain from your experience?

Working for an organization like the United Nations can feel intimidating, but I realized when you’re learning something new it’s important to be kind to yourself. Also, an unpaid internship for this length of time is quite a sacrifice, especially when you’re relocating to another country. But I realized anything worth doing is going to cost you something. I honestly never thought UN Women would give me this opportunity. So just go for it!AnneSongUN2


Alumni Spotlight: Morten Tastum (BAIS ´14)

We thought it was time to catch up with one of our BAIS alumni. This week we caught up with Morten Tastum (BAIS ´14), who is currently a program coordinator and visiting fellow at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. 

MortenTastumSince graduating from USF with a Bachelor in International Studies, I have completed a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) with a focus on Global Politics and Security from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. 

A few months after graduating, I accepted a position as the program coordinator and visiting fellow for a completely new think tank under Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) called Nordic Ways. Nordic Ways is focused on bringing forth Nordic ideas and approaches to a wide array of issues covering business, industry, politics, and much more with a focus on practical application. I will assist in setting up the project for a future Nordic Program at SAIS, as well as coordinate between the Nordic country entities and the relevant US Congress caucuses.

MAIS Internship Spotlight: Jules Sombaye (´18)

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This week, we caught up with current MAIS student to learn about his recent internship experience. All MAIS students complete an internship intended to apply in-class learning to real-world situations. Jules (MAIS ’18) shares his experience below.

Who are you:

My name is Jules and I am from Yaounde, Cameroon. I am interested in global issues, more precisely, in conflict resolution and human rights advocacy in Central Africa.

During my first semester in the MAIS program, I had the opportunity to intern in the Marketing and Digital Communications Department at the World Affairs Council of Northern California. World Affairs is a non-profit organization that offers opportunities to meet with international experts, work with local nonprofits, participate in global conversations, explore international careers, and study abroad.  The organization also provides events and forums to give people the opportunity to discuss international issues with experts in the field.

How did the MAIS program prepare you for your internship?

The MAIS program provided me with invaluable critical thinking, research, and writing skills that greatly enhanced my work at the organization. The program taught me how to be detail-oriented, and how to think outside the box. Moreover, the knowledge on global issues acquired during the program helped me evolve as an intern. I was able to communicate with experts in International Studies about political, economic, and social global issues.

What were some highlights of interning at this organization?

Interning at World Affairs was my first concrete professional experience in the US. The organization is an outstanding knowledge and networking platform for students interested in international issues. In my case, having had the opportunity to discuss American foreign policy with Samantha Power, former US ambassador at the UN, was priceless. Moreover, I was lucky to hear advice from Duncan Green, the Oxfam Senior strategy adviser, on how to impact change through an organization.

What did you gain from your experience?

My experience at World Affairs helped me understand the work of a non-profit organization and the different impacts of this particular organization. Since I aspire to be an actor of change in my country, as well as the African continent, the skills and knowledge I gained are definitely important contributions to achieve this dream. Moreover, meeting experts in the field of International Studies gave me an insiders perspective and knowledge about what it means to work in the field.

Finally, I acquired some useful planning skills that have helped me manage the African Union Club at USF, an on-campus organization for which I am the president. The club aims to foster the debate African political issues at USF.


Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship: Tristan Burger(MAIS´17)


The Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship awarded me the opportunity to travel to The Hague this fall to attend a child protection conference. The 15th Annual International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) European Regional Conference brought together researchers, academics, practitioners, and experts in the field of child rights from around the globe to discuss the most pressing issues facing children today.

My capstone topic is centered on innovative approaches to preventing the recruitment of child soldiers in conflict zones. The subjects covered in this conference touched on all aspects of child rights from access to health and education, domestic abuse, and sexual and gender-based violence. The talks I attended illuminated the growing concern young people face in an increasingly digitalized and globalized world where gaining access to vulnerable groups of children is easier than ever. I was particularly interested in the role that technology plays in child abuse as my research focuses on harnessing technology to protect children. Several of the discussants remarked on the paradoxical nature of technology as it relates to child protection and proffered solutions for effective applications.

Not only did this conference allow me to view my research from new perspectives, it afforded me the opportunity to network with other leaders in this field. I received valuable insight and advice from social workers and human rights activists about my applied project. They brought up interested and insightful points that I would not have otherwise considered.

It was also a pleasure to explore The Hague, a city home to the International Criminal Court, the Peace Palace, and dozens of other human rights institutions. It was inspiring to walk around the streets and see buildings that I had learned about in my international law class last year. I highly encourage MAIS students to travel abroad to better understand the real-world application of the theories that are taught in the classroom.

It was an honor to represent USF and MAIS on this trip and I am so grateful for the experiences that this fellowship afforded!


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Global Manifestos

During the Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts that took place on November 17th-18th, 2017 at USF, the workshop Global Manifestos was held. Global Manifestos was an innovative workshop for students, faculty and the public that encouraged individuals to share their experiences and reactions to the changes in the art community wrought by globalization. Economic globalization has marginalized more people than any previous economic system and allowed Multi-National Corporations unprecedented control over affairs of state in the art community. This fact has constrained individual choices and foisted upon previously independent cultures the vagaries of the market. Whether one is discussing farmers in Chiapas, street vendors in Tunisia, or Mom-and-Pop shops in the U.S., globalization has eroded previously stable economies and laid alternative models of culture and economy to waste. This interdisciplinary creative workshop has allowed the community of USF and the Bay Area, as well as international visitors from abroad, to speak out about the fragile domains that globalization has imperiled in the art community in particular.

The Global Manifestos Workshop presented an alternative to the model of economic globalization by providing a platform for multiple and diverse articulations on globalization. The voices of artists, curators, and critics who do not operate in the United States and Europe have been considered marginal, but scholars and professionals need to rethink these norms. Thus, the focus has been to explore the developments of artists and institutions from the (former) periphery that diffuse their own innovations into a global culture and, in so doing, transform the meaning of the visual arts, social dynamics and market processes of the art world.

Discussion of African political issues: Promoting an African agenda at USF

The African Union Club at USF is a student association that brings together all USF students interested in the political, social and economic issues on the African continent. The association was officially approved as a graduate organization during the 2017 fall semester. The organization is open to all USF students, without distinction of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation. At USF, there are more than 100 different student clubs open to all students who look to develop skills, get involved and meet new people. One of the primary goals of the African Union Club is to encourage and foster intellectual debates on the social, economic and political challenges of the African continent. Following this logic, they will be launching the program “Let’s Talk Africa”. The goal of this program is to host a series of talks about contemporary political topics that make the news on the African continent. For this purpose, the club is looking for faculty members interested in sharing their opinions on these topics.
For the official launch of its activities, the African Union Club at USF is organizing a conversation on Human Rights in migration processes in Sub-Saharan Africa. This conversation is organized following the discovery of the exploitation of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in Libya in November 2017. What is the role of states in migration processes in Sub-Saharan Africa? How can losses of lives and human rights violations be avoided in these processes? These and more questions will be addressed during the conversation. 
It counts on the participation of Professor Jeffrey Paller, advisor of the association and who specializes in African politics, and Professor Lindsay Gifford, who specializes in migration and refugee questions. 
Join fellow students for this great opportunity to discuss recent events in Africa.
February 22 at 11:45 am, Conference Room 501, the University Center at USF. 

Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts | November 17 & 18

By: Melissa Vonimary Sovik, MAIS ’18

On November 17 & 18, we are organizing the Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts with the objective of bringing together emerging voices from previously marginalized countries that are poised to become an essential part of the global conversation in contemporary art and institutions today. What traditionally used to be the art capitals of the world seems to be changing alongside a major shift in the world economy. We wish to create conversation on these topics and hope that it will promote a network of engagement among arts professionals.

As a student in the 21st century, I find the topic of globalization perhaps more relevant than ever. My generation is constantly exposed to the effects of globalization, whether positive or negative. I believe it is important to get a deeper understanding of its scope and its implications; globalization touches other aspects of society as well. In order to be able to address the issues of globalization, a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon is essential.

Prior to reading John Zarobell´s book “Arts and the Global Economy”, I had little knowledge of the art industry. It had actually never crossed my mind how the industry alone contributes to billions in the world economy each year. For some countries, it often represents a larger share of its GDP than other sectors, such as tourism and transportation. Besides the jobs directly linked to the production, selling and exhibition of arts, one has to take into consideration the creating of jobs indirectly linked to the arts and creative industry, whether it is in the infrastructure, management or real estate. This opened my eyes to a whole new dimension in the art world. The little economist inside me was left impressed.

There is no doubt that the globalization is deeply interconnected with the arts. As John Zarobell writes in his book: “This is also globalization: not simply the products and lifestyles marketed by multinational corporations, but the way in which consciousness is engaged in making sense of expressions of transnational experience”.

Dhaka Art Summit 2015
Dhaka Art Summit 2015

In this symposium, nine participants will discuss the emergent character of their own artistic domains and enter into conversation with one another. We count on participants from cities like Johannesburg, Mexico City, and Hong Kong. They will be divided into three panels taking place Friday and Saturday. Following the final panel, there will be a tour of the Mission District and a performance at Incline Gallery, a local non-profit art space. Some of the topics that will be discussed include the overlapping circuits of production and consumption in the art world, the dynamic relationship between culture and political liberalization, gentrification and cultural districts, government support of or intervention in the arts, the informal economy of the arts, and global art brands.

I encourage you to attend this symposium as I believe it will lead to a deeper understanding of globalization and I have no doubt it will be highly beneficial to graduate and undergraduate students from USF.

I invite you to take a look at our webpage as well as Facebook page for more information about the event.

To register for the event:

MAIS Students Present their Research at this year’s ISA West Conference in Pasadena, CA

ISA-West, a regional division of the International Studies Association, held its annual conference in September 2017 in Pasadena, California. ISA-West brings together students, faculty, and scholars from around the region, the U.S., and the world to present their research and discuss global issues. This year, with generous assistance from the Rue W. Ziegler Scholarship Fund, two MAIS students presented their Capstone work. Jessica Tran presented her paper entitled “Increasing US militarization of the Asa-Pacific region and its impacts on regional stability from a critical security perspective”. Tristan Burger presented her research project “Small Arms: An Applied Approach to Children in Armed Conflict Prevention Initiatives”. Below, Jessica shares her experience:

After conducting preliminary research on my thesis project throughout the summer, I had the opportunity to share my work at the ISA West Annual Conference in Pasadena, California. Presenting in a panel on U.S. Foreign Policy and International Conflict, I was excited to share my thesis project and gain valuable feedback from peers and established scholars.

Not only did I receive constructive responses for my project, but I also had the opportunity to connect with many scholars whose area of expertise relate to my academic interests. I met my rockstar, J. Ann Tickner, whose tremendous work in Feminist IR and critical security studies inspired me to think more critically about the analytical approach to my project. I engaged in a lively discussion with IR Professor Sanjoy Banerjee on China’s security infrastructure; he promised we could stay in touch and provide guidance on the case study portion of my project.

Additionally, David Lake—the discussant for my panel—offered considerable support to myself and other panelists, including extending the discussion of our papers and general career advice over coffee. These interactions were truly the highlight of the trip. I enjoyed sharing and discussing IS ideas, but the immense support of the IS community in developing emerging scholars was what really blew me away. I left tremendously encouraged with not only my thesis project but also the prospects for life after MAIS.

In participating in the conference, I faced a lot of personal fears—fear of public speaking, fear of presenting my ideas to the world, and fear of rejection. I can’t say I’ve been completely cured of these insecurities, but I’m grateful for the experience to tackle it head on and come out the other side a bit more confident and determined.

Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship: Megan Clemens


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This summer I was fortunate enough to conduct my master’s thesis research near the Kimana Gate of Amboseli National Park. Amboseli is located in the southern part of Kenya, near the Tanzanian border and Mount Kilimanjaro. The Amboseli ecosystem is located in Maasailand, with many traditional Maasai communities still inhabiting the area. The Amboseli ecosystem is also part of a large migratory route that wildlife use to access corridors between Amboseli, Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Tsavo National Parks. Amboseli is quite small as a park, but the ecosystem sustains approximately 1,600 elephants while the park only holds enough resources for around 100 elephants at one time. As a result, the lands and corridors between these national parks hold so much value for both the wildlife and the local communities. As a result, community-based initiatives have been implemented to encourage and incentivize community members to adhere to conservation policies, and also offset costs from human-wildlife conflict.

My research goal was to study how community-based conservation initiatives impacted the local communities, paying specific attention to the gendered dimensions of these initiatives. My main research objective lies in the gendered impacts of community-based conservation initiatives because these initiatives tend to assume communities as one unit, rather than recognizing sub-groups within communities have different needs. More specifically, the Maasai are a patriarchal society that traditionally has many customs based on gender inequalities. So, I was curious to see— Was anyone benefitting? Did some benefit more than others? If the communities were receiving benefits did both genders benefit equally? Were there barriers limiting who could benefit? To find answers to these questions, I conducted interviews with Maasai men and women, as well as conservation NGO employees.

One of the most common benefits mentioned by the Maasai community members I interviewed were school “bursaries”. The “bursaries” are checks that help pay for local kids’ tuition for secondary school. Bursaries are funds that are created through shared park revenue policies. A portion of every park entrance fee goes into this fund. However, many times the checks or bursaries do not cover the costs of a semester for one child in secondary school. It surprised me that so many members of the Maasai communities who were receiving these bursaries considered them a benefit from the park, but also recognized that it wasn’t truly enough to cover the costs of an education. Additionally, the benefits of the school bursaries were even harder to access for girls because of the existence of female genital mutilation, child marriages, and marriage dowries. Often because of these barriers, families use the limited funds they have to send their sons to secondary school.  

My advice for students wanting to conduct fieldwork abroad is first and foremost, do it! Secondly, I would say start planning and coordinating with your advisor as soon as you can because there is a lot of logistics that go into planning your work abroad. For students who are thinking that they want to go abroad for research, but may not have an advisor— reach out to department faculty and start having those conversations. Once out in the field, enjoy your time there and take notes on everything!

Alumni Spotlight: Francesca Mateo (MAIS’ 16)

We caught up with recent MAIS graduate, Francesca Mateo (MAIS ‘16) about her work with Project PEARLS, an NGO in the Philippines that aims to alleviate children from slum communities out of poverty through education and health. Here is an excerpt from a story she wrote documenting her experience and a new initiative to create a week-long dance summit as part of an immersion trip for Filipino-American choreographers. Be sure to read the full story here.


While in the MAIS program, my classmates and I were given several case studies in which we had to access numerous ways to problem-solve. For instance, how do we increase the nutrition in this particular community? Or, how do we approach a human rights issue in a community while remaining culturally sensitive? Because MAIS taught me how to take the time to understand an issue from several different angles, I am more prepared to create my own program.

While creating Art of Us, not only did I ask what the problem was but what were the factors that played a role in it. Creating Art of Us also required a great amount of teamwork considering I worked with three organizations to create it. The MAIS program helped with this as well. On top of papers and readings, MAIS requires its students to collaborate and debate and build together. MAIS helped build my professionalism, cooperative skills, as well as leadership.