For the past eight years, Dr. Roger Coate has addressed Georgia College students with vivacity about public policy issues. As the Paul D. Coverdell professor of public policy at Georgia College and distinguished Professor Emeritus of political science and former director of the Richard L. Walker Institute of International Studies at the University of South Carolina, Coate has been enlightening students with his real-world experiences for more than three decades.
Although his research and teaching of public policy includes international relations, international organization and global governance, he draws on his experience in his former roles. He served as a senior staff consultant to the U.S. Secretary of State’s Monitoring Panel on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during the Reagan Administration, president of the International Studies Association South Region and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board of International Scientific Organizations. He also worked as a United Nations fellow at the UN Office in Geneva, American expert and appointed member of the U.N. Habitat II Secretary-General’s Advisory Panel on Housing Rights, advisor to the Bureau of International Organization Affairs and more.
“My experiences have enabled me to bring the policy world into the classroom with real-world examples,” said Coate. “Faculty who haven’t been out in the policy world, often find it difficult to convey to students how public policy processes actually work. Experience helps bring policy issues to life and reveal the complexities inherent in complex social issues that far transcend local, state and national boundaries. For example, climate change needs to be discussed not just in the context of the internal domestic debate in the U.S., but as a complex interdependent issue linked into other issues of crucial concern to Americans in a global context.”
Coate has worked with the Korean security issue in regard to North and South Korea.
“It’s interesting being able to understand how different administrations in the U.S. deal with North Korea,” he said. “Republicans have tended to prefer to go multilateral on Korea by having six-party talks because they understand the importance and pivotal role of China. Democratic administrations have tended to go more bilateral on this or have tried to negotiate with North Korea.”
On nearly every other policy issue, Republican administrations tend to be far more unilateral of bilateral and Democrats more multilateral.
His vast work with the United Nations recently landed him as chair-elect of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), a think-and-do tank. After working more than 30 years with ACUNS, he will begin serving as chair of the organization from June 2018 until June 2021.
“What I’m facing now as chair-elect of ACUNS is the most daunting, because we are worldwide,” he said. “There are so many different approaches to international cooperation and international affairs. Dealing with scholars in China, for example, is very challenging. They’re much closer to their ministry of foreign affairs.”
The key to his work with ACUNS is collaboration.
“I like that we’re able to shape our global programs,” he said. “Each year we have a major international conference in various locations where we bring in international practitioners from UN agencies around the world to interact with scholars worldwide.” This year the ACUNS Annual Meeting is in Seoul in June, next year it’s in Rome.
Coate over the years has learned to master a busy travel schedule with spending as much time as possible engaging his students face-to-face.
“Balancing a hectic schedule is just something you learn to do,” he said. “My priority is teaching, and I love engaging my students and involving them in my scholarly and service activities. One of the things I enjoy much about being the Coverdell Chair is bringing nationally and internationally renowned guests to Georgia College to engage our students and faculty and to challenge them to think creatively and constructively about ways to deal with complex, crucial policy issues.”
Coate has received countless awards and honors and has worked for dozens of world leaders.
A cravat and sash awarded to him from the Veterans Administration of the Republic of China/Taiwan and other similar mementos adorn his office. Although Coate felt honored when he was awarded these items, he said when he gets a teaching award or is recognized by his colleagues for a scholarship that means more to him than anything else.
He especially enjoys mentoring his students and stays in touch with many of them after they graduate including one, who co-authored a book with him.
“I always try, when appropriate, to provide students with opportunities to expand their horizons beyond campus,” Coate said. “Mike Mueller, president of the student body and Matt Jones, vice president, for example, are both working with me on independent research projects to present papers at an academic conference in the fall. I also enjoy mentoring my students after they leave Georgia College.”
Coate also serves as advisor to the College Republican Student Organization, the Model United Nations Organization, and to the SAE fraternity.