The soft-spoken woman in the purple jacket doesn’t mince words. And she speaks from experience.
“International negotiation is all about what you think you can ‘sell’ back in Congress,” she tells the students in her undergraduate International Negotiation course. “Capitol Hill doesn’t do policy. They do politics.”
The professor, Chancellor Linda P. Brady, moves on to discuss game theory models in international negotiation. The Prisoner’s Dilemma Model. The Game of Chicken. Outcomes. Moves. Payoffs. Side payments.
Brady’s students, many of whom want careers in international relations, appreciate the practical, first-hand information she offers them. Brady worked in the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Defense from 1978-1985, serving in both the Carter and Reagan administrations and dealing with issues of nuclear weapons, arms control, and international logistics.
“She’s actually used this stuff in practical application in Washington, D.C.,” says Elizabeth Schultz, a junior double-majoring in International and Global Affairs and Spanish. “She speaks from personal experience and not just out of a textbook.”
In fact, Brady wrote one of the textbooks on the course reading list, “The Politics of Negotiation: America’s Dealings with Allies, Adversaries, and Friends.” The book was published by UNC Press in 1991.
She has always kept one toe in the classroom, despite her role as an academic administrator at Georgia Tech, NC State and the University of Oregon. It helps her to stay connected with the students, she says. The class meets for three hours on Wednesday mornings in the Chancellor’s Conference Room.
The course, the first Brady has taught since she came to UNCG in August 2008, has drawn upper-level undergrads from such diverse majors as diverse as political science, music and history. The syllabus introduces students to theories of negotiation and conflict resolution and focuses on four major issues – U.S./Russia arms control, our current tense relationships with Iran and North Korea, and the Middle East Peace Process.
Brady has been able to give her students access to policy advisers and dignitaries, incorporating visits by former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Aldona Wos and Andrew Parasiliti, U.S. director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Parasiliti, a former foreign policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel who did his undergraduate work at UNCG, recently shared some of the lessons he learned during his time on Capitol Hill.
“Learn how to write short; learn how to write analytically,” he told them. “There is power in a one-page memo. You want your stuff to be read.”
Brady reinforced Parasiliti’s advice, once again drawing on experience. “During the Carter administration, Harold Brown was secretary of defense. We would write five-page memos and he would read them,” she adds. “Then, under Reagan, Caspar Weinberger was secretary of defense and he made it very clear that he was not going to spend his time in the office reading memos. You adjust your style to suit the operating style of the people you are working with.”
In addition to the need for flexibility, what does Brady want her students to take from the course?
“I hope my students will learn that negotiating skills can be taught,” she says. “And that they will leave the course prepared to be active and informed participants in foreign policy debates.”
Visual: Brady and Andrew Parasiliti, U.S. director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at a class last week.