Washington University’s McDonnell International Scholars see American politics up close

To better understand American politics, culture, history and government, a group of 18 recent graduates from Asia’s top research universities are visiting Washington, D.C., March 22-25, as part of their graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis. These graduate students are participants in Washington University’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

It is the group’s first visit to the nation’s capital.

Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and James V. Wertsch, the university’s Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences and director of the Academy, are traveling with the scholars.

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy, which was launched in October 2005, brings together recent graduates from 16 premier research universities across Asia to pursue advanced academic work at Washington University in St. Louis. This first group of scholars began their individual graduate studies at Washington University last fall.

With an eventual goal of partnering with 35 universities worldwide, the Academy recently expanded to 20 institutions, including two in Israel and two in Turkey.

The scholars are provided not only rigorous graduate instruction in fields of their choice, but also a thorough cultural, political and social education designed to prepare them as leaders knowledgeable about the United States, other countries and critical international issues.

As part of that mission, the students will visit with numerous dignitaries in Washington, D.C., including Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution; Raymond L. Orbach, undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy; Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Mo.; Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo.; Alphonso Jackson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Minxin Pei, director of the China Program in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Jon Sawyer, director of the Pulitzer Center on Conflict Reporting at the World Security Institute.

The Academy seeks to strengthen ties between top research universities across the world to promote connectedness and social responsibility in addressing global challenges, such as energy and the environment, infectious diseases, and economic and social development. Scholars are chosen for their potential to become future leaders in society, government, academics and business.

Once selected for this highly competitive program, each scholar is matched with a distinguished member of the Washington University faculty who serves as a mentor for the scholar and also as an “ambassador” to the university partner from which the scholar has graduated. The ambassador assists the McDonnell Scholar in academic and professional life and travels annually with the scholar to the partner university to build relationships between the two institutions.

Two faculty mentor-ambassadors — Pratim Biswas, Washington University’s Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor of Environmental Engineering Science, and Himadri B. Pakrasi, the George William and Irene Koechig Freiberg Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences — are also in D.C. with the scholars.

For a list of scholars and their home institutions, see attached or visit http://mcdonnell.wustl.edu.

The McDonnell Academy Scholars receive funding for full tuition at Washington University, living expenses and travel to and from their home countries. Most of the scholars reside in two fully equipped and furnished apartment buildings near campus.

Funding is provided through a sustaining endowment gift from John F. McDonnell, vice chairman of the Washington University Board of Trustees and retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corporation, additional endowment pledges, and 11 multinational corporate and foundation sponsors. Sponsoring corporations also offer internships and on-site educational opportunities for the Academy’s Corporate Fellows.