Jennifer M. Welsh named director of McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy

The international affairs expert and former UN official has been at McGill since 2019
Jennifer M. Welsh will take over the directorship of McGill’s Max Bell School of Public Policy in January 2025

A leading voice on the protection of civilians and Canadian foreign policy, Jennifer M. Welsh has been named the next director of McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy, following an international search. Welsh will be taking over from founding director, economist Christopher Ragan, in January 2025.

“With her extensive experience and distinguished scholarship paired with her commitment to the Max Bell School of Public Policy, Prof. Welsh has a multitude of strengths that have served the School and Faculty well,” said Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Lisa Shapiro. “Her vision both to solidify the School’s strength in the Canadian policy context and to extend its reach into a wider international policy community promises an exciting next phase in the development of the School.”

Extensive experience in international affairs

Welsh was cross-appointed in 2019 as the Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security at McGill in the Department of Political Science and the Max Bell School of Public Policy, and has served as Director of McGill’s Centre for International Peace and Security Studies. She was previously Professor and Chair in International Relations at the European University Institute and Professor in International Relations at the University of Oxford, where she co-founded the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict.

From 2013-2016, she served as Assistant Secretary General and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on the Responsibility to Protect. She currently sits as a member of the IDP Protection Expert Group, co-led by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and UNHCR.

Welsh’s research focuses on contemporary challenges in global governance, conflict management, and Canadian foreign policy, including humanitarian action, collective responses to genocide and war crimes, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and migration and displacement.

Her most recent books include The Individualization of War (2023), Civilian Protective Agency in Violent Settings (2023), and The Return of History: Conflict, Migration and Geopolitics in the 21st century (2016), which was based on her CBC Massey Lectures.

Policy work with Canadian government, United Nations

As Director of CIPSS at McGill, she has led several collaborative research projects with Canadian and international scholars, built a vibrant community of faculty and graduate students interested in global affairs and Canada’s role in the world, and co-directed a Canada-wide research network Women, Peace, and Security.

Welsh has frequently provided input on policy initiatives for the Canadian government and the United Nations, as well as for international NGOs. Her research and policy engagement have been recognized through her election as Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and as International Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She sits on the Advisory Boards of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and co-chairs the Committee on International Security of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


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