Moynihan Institute Mission

  • extend, integrate, and focus the Maxwell School's commitment to exploring the international and global concerns raised by an interdependent world of diverse cultures, economies, and political systems;
  • support interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects among teams of faculty and graduate students to work on understanding and solving critical world problems;
  • maintain a productive dialogue between the academic and policymaking communities in the process of translating theory into practice.

The Institute fulfills its mission by supporting research projects, sponsoring lecture series, providing research fellowships and internship opportunities to graduate students, publishing the products of its working groups, and organizing conferences as well as credit-bearing seminars and workshops on its core themes.

Thematic Initiatives

The programs of the Moynihan Institute focus on three themes which resonate with the life-long interests of Senator Moynihan as well as the interests of the faculty and graduate students of the Maxwell School involved in studying international and global issues. The themes exemplify the Moynihan Credo which was to:

  1. "be ahead of the curve" in identifying potential future problems that will face society,
  2. follow the facts to their logical conclusion,
  3. think "out of the box" about policy solutions to these problems given the facts, and
  4. mentor the younger generation to engage public policy around these problems and possible solutions.

Theme 1: Transnational NGOs
Globalization, migration, and democratization have unleashed a plethora of cross-national challenges and opportunities for those engaged in the development of civil society. This theme has as its focus defining what constitutes an effective civil society, understanding the challenges facing civil society organizations that work in a transnational context, integrating the various disciplinary perspectives on civil society, non-governmental organizations, and social movements, and not-for-profit organizations and determining what kinds of skills are needed to lead such endeavors. Faculty and students working on this initiative are currently engaged in project to interview the leaders of 180 transnational civil society organizations around these questions. The Institute has also spearheaded a certificate program on global civil society as well as a partnering initiative with practitioners in the field interested in developing training programs for leaders of nongovernmental organizations.

Theme 2: Transnational Mobility
This theme focuses on the causes and consequences of the transnational movement of ideas, people, capital, and information. At issue is how ideas for specific types of economic and political reform diffuse throughout the international system as well as gaining an understanding of the challenges that occur with the out-sourcing of jobs and the growing interest in trade in services. Also of interest is exploring remittances as a form of development. Among the projects and programs at the Moynihan Institute currently exploring these issues are the working group on the transnational diffusion of policy ideas; the trade, development, and political economy seminar; the remittances working group; and the immigrant incorporation workshop.

Theme 3: Transnational Human Security
This third theme centers around issues related to what has been described as human or societal security in contrast to national security. Among the current Moynihan Institute projects and programs that address these issues are the perspectives on terrorism working group, the transboundary crisis management project, the evaluating track two diplomacy program, the global policy dialogues series, and projects sponsored by the student association on terrorism and security analysis. Of concern to these faculty and students are such questions as what makes people feel secure; what makes warning effective; why are transboundary conflicts so difficult to manage; what are the tradeoffs between liberty and security; how can we deal with such a pervasive phenomenon as terrorism; when do foreigners become "like us;" and how do we deal with issues of sovereignty when there are questions of genocide, starvation, and ethnic cleansing.

Regional Centers and Programs
The Moynihan Institute is also home to five regional studies centers: the South Asia Center, Center for European Studies, the Maxwell European Union Center, the Program in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Korean Peninsula Affairs Center (KPAC). The first two are funded by the US Department of Education and the third by a grant from the European Commission. KPAC is supported by external research grants and contracts. The Institute is in the process of starting a Middle East Studies Program and an East Asian Studies Program. Members of the Institute also participate in the Africa Initiative which is housed in African-American Studies. Many of those involved in these regional centers are also part of the thematic working groups and focus their research in that particular part of the world. In effect, the regional centers and thematic programs work together within the Institute in building our understanding of the differences and similarities between cultures, economies, and political systems.

The regional centers provide the Syracuse University student body with chances to learn more about the world in which they live and will work, facilitating students gaining education, research, language, and internship experiences in these various regions. The centers also provide curriculum development grants for faculty to create new courses on regional topics and monies to hire language instructors in less familiar languages�such as Turkish and Hindi.