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When Abi Williams, F86, F87, was a student at the Fletcher School, he took part in the newly created Institute for Global Leadership’s inaugural program. Now, more than three decades later, Williams has returned to the institute after a career with the United Nations and other international organizations—this time as director.The institute, known as IGL, “combines rigorous academic training with experiential education,” said Williams. It encompasses many programs, the best known being Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC), a year-long course open to Tufts undergraduate and graduate students culminating in a student-organized symposium.
Williams took part in the first EPIIC course, on international terrorism, and will lead this year’s course, focused on the question “Is the Liberal World Order Ending?” The course’s title “underlines the point that IGL is about questioning, interrogating major issues of global importance,” said Williams, who is also a professor of the practice of international politics at the Fletcher School.
“I’m always interested in the application of ideas to solve practical problems,” Williams said in his office in IGL’s home, a wood-frame house on Packard Avenue. “I’ve worked on issues at the critical intersection of peace, security, and justice, which is something I’d like to see IGL doing.”
Williams is nothing if not a global citizen. He grew up in Sierra Leone, and as a teenager went to the Lester B. Pearson United World College in British Columbia before as an undergraduate attending Edinburgh University, where he earned a master’s degree. He then came to the Fletcher School, receiving an M.A.L.D. in 1986 and a Ph.D. in 1987.
Doctorate in hand, he taught at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Soon he was practicing what he was teaching, joining United Nations peacekeeping missions in Macedonia, Haiti, and Bosnia. Those experiences made …