President's Letter

A new school at Yale

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

The Yale Alumni Magazine publishes a letter from President Peter Salovey ’86PhD in every issue. In this letter, the president introduces the Yale Jackson School. View full image

I am so proud to share that the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs will open in the fall of 2022, as planned. This is an exciting step for the university coming at a pivotal time. The school provides us an opportunity to strengthen our ability to contribute multidisciplinary ideas that can help end conflicts and heal individuals and communities and to educate leaders who will tackle global challenges with wisdom and courage.

I have spoken many times about my vision for a more unified Yale—about bringing together the great breadth and depth of Yale’s strengths to study and address the problems of the day, so that our university is best positioned to offer solutions to them. Several years ago, I announced academic priorities to build on those aspirations, including teaching students the value of empirical research and of using data to ask important questions, so that they can bring their knowledge and skills to serve all sectors of society.

So, in 2019, when the Yale Board of Trustees voted to transform the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs into a school, pending additional fundraising, it was heartening to think of the ways the school and its graduates would contribute to the world. Of course, we could not have predicted how much our lives would change in just a few years. Devastated by the pandemic, our society faces troubling and escalating divisions. We are seeing alarming political polarization across the globe. It seems that we face mounting crises—crises that point to the fragility of life and the vulnerabilities of our social and political structures.

The world has a pressing need for leadership in international affairs. The Yale Jackson School will respond to that need by bringing together faculty members and practitioners from disciplines spanning the arts and sciences and a broad range of professions to provide the intellectual foundation for evidence-based policy-making. One of the school’s defining features is that each faculty member will have a joint appointment elsewhere at the university. This structure will foster collaboration across schools and disciplines at a time when bridging divides is urgently needed. And just as its faculty will have the expertise and experience to study our most complex challenges, the Yale Jackson School will also educate generations of leaders, preparing them to help resolve pressing global dilemmas—in areas like climate change, migration, conflict, health, and inequality.

The Yale Jackson School needs a leader who understands these aims and is equipped to realize them. James A. Levinsohn, the inaugural dean of the school as of July 1, 2022, will be an excellent steward. A renowned scholar in international economics, industrial organization, economic development, and applied econometrics, Professor Levinsohn came to Yale in 2010 as the first director of the Jackson Institute, the school’s predecessor. Under his guidance, the institute has grown considerably since it was established with a transformational gift from John W. and Susan G. Jackson. The institute has launched several initiatives that bring to Yale new scholarship and teaching on international affairs, including the global affairs major in Yale College, the Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy, the Kerry Initiative, and the International Leadership Center. Several Yale programs have also joined the Jackson community over the past decade, such as the Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program, the Leitner Program on Effective Democratic Governance, the Global Health Studies Program, and International Security Studies.

Professor Levinsohn’s own research contributions reflect the Yale Jackson School’s focus on multidisciplinary scholarship. His work has intersected with public health, economics, environmental science, and other fields. His substantial research, teaching, and leadership experiences give him a visionary understanding of the possibilities of a school like ours in a time of great uncertainty around the globe.
I am deeply grateful to the faculty and staff who are contributing their time, energy, and expertise to establishing the Yale Jackson School and to the alumni and friends who made it possible for us to reach our fundraising target for launching it. Members of the Yale community share a deep conviction in the power of education and scholarship to help us navigate today’s challenges. Our investment in the Yale Jackson School embodies our belief that the pursuit of knowledge and understanding can lead us to a better future.

With my warmest wishes,

Peter Salovey ’86PhD
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology

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