Announcing the Reappointment of Watson Director Edward S. Steinfeld

December 7, 2020

Dear Members of the Watson Institute Community,

It is with great pleasure that we write to announce the reappointment of Edward S. Steinfeld as the Howard R. Swearer Director of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Since his initial appointment in 2015, Ed has led the Institute with great esteem, achieving increasing levels of accomplishment and impact. Through his continued vision, direction and stewardship, the Watson Institute will advance its mission at a time when its work is so sorely needed, and contribute to creating more just, peaceful and prosperous societies locally and globally through exceptional teaching, research and engagement.

We are enthusiastic about the future given the substantial progress that Ed Steinfeld, together with his impressive team at Watson, has accomplished over the last five years. Ed has championed Watson’s expansion, driven by the knowledge that to address pressing societal matters requires academic excellence, distinguished scholarship and scale. During his first term as director, the faculty has increased significantly, five new endowed chairs have been created, and there have been several centers and initiatives launched or expanded. The Senior Fellows program has attracted practitioners with expertise in politics, policy, media and diplomacy to teach and conduct workshops and study sessions, which has been highly valuable for students and faculty alike. Further, the postdoctoral fellow program remains unparalleled, attracting exceptional early career scholars to Brown.

Ed has emphasized enhancing the student experience, attending to curricular excellence at all levels. This has included launching a new undergraduate concentration, International and Public Affairs, that reflects Watson’s emphasis on studying the most pressing issues of our time through global comparisons, whether at the level of the city, region, nation, or international system. This same attention is being devoted to strengthening the MPA program, integrating it more deeply with the Watson Institute’s core mission and faculty, expanding offerings in experiential learning, and bolstering financial support to ensure that these outstanding students are able to enter public service without undue financial obstacles. He has also been working with colleagues on a reformulation of the highly successful Graduate Program in Development, one involving closer collaboration with global partners in teaching and research, and the delivery of a more globally-focused educational experience for Brown PhD students.

Ed has been deliberate in building and expanding campus collaborations across the disciplines, including with the School of Public Health, Africana Studies, BAI, CSREA, CSSJ and more. Through these partnerships, and guided by a commitment to showcase a wide range of perspectives and points of view, Ed and his colleagues have created exceptional, thoughtful and relevant programming, which has sustained through the pandemic.

Perhaps the most visible accomplishment during his initial term as director is the construction and completion of Stephen Robert Hall. This bright, contemporary new facility has accommodated essential growth, supported teaching, learning, research and programming, and has offered a distinctive space on campus that facilitates the free and open exchange of ideas that we value at Brown.  

Finally, to ensure the Watson Institute’s enduring significance and vitality, Ed has worked closely with the Board of Overseers, building relationships with many alumni and supporters, and attracting important philanthropy, all of which are essential as we move forward in his next term as director.

The Watson Institute is central to Brown’s strategic mission and aspirations, and we are grateful for all that the Institute has achieved over the last five years, and for the leadership role that Ed Steinfeld has played as a colleague, partner and friend. He has been instrumental in cultivating a cohesive and inclusive community at Watson, and raising the Institute’s profile, visibility and influence in the world.

Many thanks to all who have partnered in this work. We look forward to continuing our efforts in the months and years to come.


Christina H. Paxson, President           Richard M. Locke, Provost