Long-time NPSIA professor named director of acclaimed international affairs school

Prof. Dane Rowlands became the new director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) on July 1. (James Park Photo)

For Prof. Dane Rowlands, working with Carleton’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs is like being at a buffet.

But now he’s the head chef, ultimately deciding what will be offered. On July 1, Rowlands began his five-year appointment as the new director of NPSIA.

“One of the nice things about being at NPSIA is it’s an interdisciplinary environment,” says Rowlands. “It’s like a buffet. There’s a number of interesting policy issues that you can look at and have people there who are experts on it.”

An economist by trade, Rowlands took over the role of director from Prof. Fen Hampson, an international security and foreign policy expert.

Rowlands has been with NPSIA since 1994, as a professor and associate director, and brings an extensive academic background in development and international finance to the table.

In fact, Rowlands has never really left the world of academia. His interest in economics started at the age of 16, when he began questioning the welfare of the world.

“Economics is the foundation to questions about why people are well off and not well off,” says Rowlands. “How can you improve the conditions that people face in their lives?”

After earning his undergraduate degree in economics at Carleton, Rowlands completed his master’s and PhD in economics at the University of Toronto.

With three degrees in his pocket, Rowlands says he made the “unconscious” career transition into academia. He joined NPSIA in 1994 and never left.

“It’s not like my appetite for research and economics had been satisfied,” says Rowlands. “It seems natural that you keep going until it’s no longer interesting for you, and that’s what happened.”

During his time at Carleton, Rowlands has taken sabbaticals and traveled to developing countries, where he trains government officials. He says his training trip to Kyrgyzstan at the end of August will probably be his last for a while, as he prepares for his first school year leading NPSIA.

Rowlands says the transition into the role of director will be “business as usual,” considering his active involvement in the school over the past 18 years. He plans to continue developing NPSIA’s curriculum while encouraging new initiatives.

First, he would like to continue working closely with regional studies programs at Carleton, which will push NPSIA students to gain command of a third or fourth languages while studying a specific region of the world.

However, with new initiatives comes the need for more research funds. Rowlands says he will work to ensure students and professors have access to grants, despite the current challenges accessing money for research.

“What we’re looking to do is keep establishing the program, running it at a high level and increase our research profile,” he says.

Finally, Rowlands hopes to encourage studies from a policy platform, as opposed to a theoretical one. For instance, NPSIA students concentrating in economics will look at applied policy-type questions instead of purely mathematical problems.

But one of the biggest challenges that lie ahead for Rowlands is competition. International affairs programs are popping up across the country and NPSIA is not the only school in the game anymore. He says encouraging innovation while maintaining the school’s strengths in conflict and security, development and international economics are key to maintaining NPSIA’s reputation.

“We have to recognize we have competition now and that means we can’t do everything. We have to focus on what we do best,” he says. “I’ve got big shoes to fill in terms of trying to keep Carleton in a high profile position.”


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