A Conversation with Anne-Marie Slaughter
Last week Anne-Marie Slaughter announced she will be leaving the Woodrow Wilson School to serve as President of the New America Foundation, a D.C. based non-partisan think tank. Professor Slaughter was the first woman to hold the position of Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School from 2002 – 2009. In 2009 she took leave from the School for two years to serve as the first woman to hold the position of Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, working directly under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Professor Slaughter has been an asset to the Wilson School community, acting as the Field I: International Affairs advisor and leading the WWS 501 course, Politics and Public Policy, required of all MPAs. In a letter she wrote to the WWS community, Slaughter said:
“But it is time for me to move one step closer to putting ideas into action…I will always be grateful to President Shirley Tilghman for bringing me to Princeton and to all of you for weaving together a community of mind and spirit that I have been proud to be part of. I will miss you all, but will not be far away.”
We sat down with Slaughter prior to her announcement to hear what she considers to be the most distinct qualities of the Wilson School. We’ve greatly valued her contributions to WWS and wish her the greatest success during this transition.
I’m Anne-Marie Slaughter and I had the pleasure of being the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School from 2002 until 2009, and in 2009 I was the Director of Policy Planning for Hillary Clinton. So the Policy Planning Office is essentially the Secretary of State’s private think tank. We had somewhere between thirty and forty academics, foreign service officers, and people who come in and out of government and we covered the world. We did everything that the Secretary of State was interested in and a lot of things we were interested in and thought she should be interested in. So it was an incredible experience to see everything from the top of the State Department.
It was also a great lesson in how to work in a bureaucracy. One of the things you learn when you come to the Woodrow Wilson School is exactly you could have the best idea in the world but if you can’t get it through the bureaucracy it’s not going anywhere. So having been in Washington I now bring some of my battle scars from getting policies through into the classroom and it definitely deepens my teaching.
The Woodrow Wilson School is a very special place. It has a very distinct culture. One of the things that is very characteristic of the school is everybody knows everyone else. And teaching Woodrow Wilson School students, it’s not just teaching the individuals, it’s really coming to know a class and watching the different groups of students get to know each other, the students in my small section (I teach seventeen students in a small section every week), watching them bond, watching them do group presentations. So I think it’s a combination of the incredible experiences that Woodrow Wilson School student bring to the classroom from their previous lives and the weaving of a Woodrow Wilson community.