It is with great pride that I introduce this special issue of Orbis, “Catalysts for Change: Emerging Voices in World Affairs.” The opportunity for Metropolitan State University of Denver’s faculty and students to showcase their innovative scholarly work is a significant moment for our university community. Equally important is the value that these authors have added to the ongoing conversations within the realm of world affairs.
As the president of MSU Denver, I am delighted to see so many familiar names in this issue. As a scholar and educator who has spent many years researching and engaging in national security and foreign affairs, I am impressed by the contributions made in these pages. It takes passion, care, and effort to address the important themes covered here, in conversation with geopolitics. The contributors provide an informed and embodied cross-disciplinary perspective. This point of view, undoubtedly, will enrich the dialogue among foreign affairs scholars and practitioners.
The authors engage deeply with relevant topics and how they are being debated inside and outside the classroom. We begin with Sheila M. Rucki’s examination of the theoretical tools that students might leverage to understand more clearly how populism gains traction and what this means for international relations.
Robert R. Preuhs tackles the delicate issues of how disparate racial and ethnic perspectives should be brought into conversations to create a more diverse and thoughtful foreign policy community. Jeremiah J. Castle and Kyla K. Stepp continue this inspection of the intersection of culture and foreign policy by unpacking religion’s influence on how executive power is leveraged in foreign policy decisions.
Matt Wicks, Samantha Hitchcock, and José Flores, three MSU Denver students, articulate how their collegiate debate experience allowed them to articulate how the transatlantic partnership might be deployed to strengthen relations between Washington and Brussels while simultaneously holding China accountable for the Uyghur genocide. Roberto Forns-Broggi continues this focus on experiential learning by outlining the cross-disciplinary ways that students can engage inside and outside of the classroom to gain a more consequential connection with natural resources and the environment.
This issue ends with two articles highlighting how policymaking can be girded better by thoughtful attentiveness to our various lived experiences. Adriana Nieto and Matthew S. Makley call for the perspectives of diverse communities, deeply connected to the Colorado River, to be brought into conversations about water rights. Runing Zhang and David Boarassa wrap up this issue by outlining how including general sustainability concepts in the classroom can enhance educational policies and practices.
In closing, I am impressed by the thoughtfulness and effort that MSU Denver’s faculty and students devoted to their research. Whether inside or outside of the classroom, our campus community demonstrates a passion for engaging in the critical foreign affairs debates of our day as they prepare the next generation to tackle the complex challenges that lie ahead.