We live in interesting times. The purported ancient Chinese curse (an attribution of dubious merit) has certainly become manifest in the past few years, especially in the area of international economic, political and social relations.  Whether it is the global financial crisis, transnational terrorism, state collapse, climate change or threats of pandemics, we are all subject to forces and witnesses to events that originate outside our borders, but which have enormous impacts on our national policies and on our lives. These challenges blend politics, economics, religion, technology, institutions, laws and history.

It is easy to overstate the risks we face as a result of the increased international integration. While the phenomenon of “globalization” can have complex negative effects, there are often equally complex benefits.  Trade agreements linked to plant closures have also created new jobs in our export sectors. Extreme destitution in some parts of the world co-exists with millions of people exiting from poverty to join the world’s growing middle class. Autocrats exercise extreme brutality in one country while people in neighbouring states embark on the difficult transition to democracy.  The many and often frightening dangers of our modern world are frequently accompanied by more benevolent forces, and the crises we face collectively at the global level can generate the cooperative institutional arrangements we need to deal with them.

The faculty and students at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (widely known in policy and academic circles as “nip-see-ah”) have been studying this complex international system since 1966, making us by far the oldest program of this nature in Canada, and one of the oldest internationally. As a full and founding member of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, we take great pride in our interdisciplinary policy-relevant focus on all aspects of international affairs. NPSIA’s unique combination of scholars, practitioners and students bring a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary skills and interests to the analysis of international policy questions. The result is Canada’s leading program in this field.

Rather than sitting on our laurels, however, we are always striving to improve on NPSIA’s long tradition of excellence. We have just celebrated our first anniversary in our fabulous new building at Carleton University, and we are excited to have our newly revised MA program coming on stream for Fall 2013. Another new activity is this blog, which will feature the analysis and arguments of NPSIA contributors, an initiative led by our newest faculty member and occupant of the Paterson Chair in International Affairs, Professor Steve Saideman (thanks Steve).  We hope to use this medium as a vehicle for bringing our ideas to a wider audience outside of the traditional formats of peer-reviewed academic publications and policy reports.  We hope you find our posts provocative, challenging, stimulating, informative and even entertaining.  It is what we have been doing with our students for the past (almost) fifty years; we hope our efforts to do the same for you as we all seek to understand these truly very interesting times.

Dane Rowlands
The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs