American University Board of Trustees member Jeff Sine, SIS/BA ’76, and wife, journalist Samira Sine, wanted to create an incubator at AU to solve challenges facing politics and policy.
Through the Sines’ milestone $10 million gift, American University launched the Sine Institute of Policy & Politics, to bring experts and top scholars together with students to address difficult issues and seek common ground.
“Through this gift we wanted to empower American University to make an immediate and lasting impact at the intersection of politics and policy, increasing AU’s national and international visibility,” said the Sines.
The Sine Institute convenes leaders with diverse perspectives to explore bipartisan solutions to today's most complex challenges. Through the Institute, AU community members can hear Chicago and Miami mayors Lori Lightfoot and Francis Suarez debate the future of American cities, chef Tom Colicchio and James Beard Foundation Vice President Katherine Miller discuss the politics of food, and much more.
Establishing centers in targeted areas of study is one of the goals of AU’s strategic plan. These centers, including the Sine Institute, are designed to drive crucial research, facilitate important conversations, and support learning experiences for students.
A cornerstone of the Sine Institute, the Institute Fellows program selects six Fellows each year who work with AU faculty and students to uncover how theory can inform cross-sector solutions. Each Fellow builds a five-seminar series around an umbrella theme. Recent Fellows have included former President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, whose seminars focused on building consensus on the world stage; former National Security Advisor Lt. General H.R. McMaster, whose seminars focused on strategic competence; and Robin Hood Foundation CEO Wes Moore, whose seminars focused on the role of business, philanthropy, and government in creating economic justice.
"One of the things that I tried to do with the five seminars that we had was to bring in outside voices who had actually lived some of the experiences that we were talking about, to make certain it wasn't just voices from one side of the political spectrum," said former Sine Fellow and Washington Post Columnist Ruth Marcus.
"What we're trying to build is programs where practitioners come in and talk about their real-time, real-life experiences, " said Sine Institute Executive Director Amy K. Dacey, SPA/MA ’95.
Student Associates engage directly with the Fellows, doing research, planning seminars, and working with guest speakers. “Being a Sine Student Associate was one of the highlights of my senior year at AU....It offers a very unique opportunity to work alongside influential people in your area of interest,” said Alex Turner, SPA/BA ’20, SPA/MA ’22.
Projected growth plans for the Sine Institute are built around six programming and funding pillars: Fellows/ Distinguished Lecturer Program, Policy/Politics Events with Partners, Training and Education, Research and Polling, and Communications. Dacey hopes to expand the Institute's academic opportunities for AU students and provide a space for people of Washington, DC and beyond to collaborate on policy solutions.
Learn more about the Sine Institute at www.american.edu/sine-institute.