30 years of designing the modern world order

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Architectural sketch of GPS

GPS has created a vibrant community of scholars, alumni and collaborators spanning the globe – see for yourself in our 30th anniversary timeline

By GPS Communications | GPS News

Dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through teaching, research and engagement, the UC San Diego School of Global Policy (GPS) has remained an international hub for crafting 21st century policy while navigating an evolving political economy.

Founded in 1986, the school has evolved, becoming increasingly relevant to public discourse by developing new degrees, embracing burgeoning areas of study, and growing our faculty and research centers. The transformation even warranted a name change to truly capture the breadth and spirit of it all. We hope you enjoy these highlights from our young history.

Endowing Excellence

Anyone familiar with academia knows just how important philanthropic support can be.  One of the most important forms it takes is the creation of endowments, which lead to the recruitment and retention of the best faculty and students to the school.  Through these types of funds, we are investing in the leaders of tomorrow today.

OrientationMost any GPS alumnus/a will tell you that their summer internship was a pivotal part of their educational experience.  Since the school’s founding, students have been encouraged to complete an internship between their first and second years, allowing them to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world.

These transformational opportunities take our students to nearly every continent across the globe and often result in a job at the end of their degree program. Thanks to the generosity of The Robinsons, early GPS students received funding to cover the cost of unpaid summer internships, a valued tradition that continues today.

Students need funding throughout the year as well. The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund was created in 1991 with a $1 million endowment to create the Sylff fellows program to support outstanding students with high potential for global leadership.

Inaugural CeremonyAnd we can’t forget the faculty.  Endowed chairs and faculty fellowships help to recruit and retain exceptional faculty and bridge funding gaps in state support. They are vital to our teaching and research mission.

The school’s first endowed chair was created in 1988, and it was quickly followed by the second chair which was established in 1990 — the Pacific Economic Cooperation Chair now held by Professor Gordon Hanson. The Lawrence and Sallye Krause Chair in Korean Studies was the school’s third endowed chair and is held by Professor Stephan Haggard.

A few additional highlighted endowed chairs include the Sokwanlok Chair in Chinese International Affairs held by Professor Barry Naughton and created through the generosity of Kwan and Marion So, and the Qualcomm Chair in Communications & Technology Policy held by Dean Peter Cowhey.  This was one of several given to campus by Qualcomm, Inc.

Educating and Recognizing the Leaders of Tomorrow

In 1989, we graduated our first class of students. Those 13 new alumni, armed with their Master of Pacific International Affairs degree would go on to set a foundation for excellence. Now 3,000 strong, our alumni network spans the globe and provides a powerful resource for the school and current students.

Robinson FellowsFor some, the transition to GPS can be challenging.  Students may have a gap in their studies, or have been out of the classroom for a number of years. In 2000, we launched our Prep(aratory) Program to ease the path of incoming students via an intensive three-week summer program. Today more than a 100 students take advantage of this now month-long program.

Also proving popular are our new degrees. In 2008, GPS introduced a consecutive BA/MIA degree program with the undergraduate International Studies Program, allowing UC San Diego students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in only five years. In 2011, we created a one-year Master of Advanced Studies in International Affairs degree. Students in this degree program are seasoned professionals with five or more years of work experience.

Our two newest degrees are a Master of Public Policy (MPP, 2016) and the Master of Chinese Economic and Political Affairs (MCEPA, 2017).  MPP students are able to apply global best practices to domestic issues, whichever country they call home. Our MCEPA students gain access to the world-class community of China scholars at UC San Diego while undertaking original research on the most important issues relating to contemporary China. 

For a full history of our transformation and evolution, check out our timeline here.

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