Mansfield Center

Montana’s greatest statesman, Senator Mike Mansfield, cautioned that maintaining democratic principles was a constant challenge. In 1963 he advised, "I would point out that the contact among peoples and among nations during the past quarter of a century has also brought with it one great negative result. It has brought an increase in human hostility. Whatever the compound of fear, lack of understanding, aggressiveness and arrogance which has produced this hostility, it is a most dangerous phenomenon.”

Fast forward to contemporary America. Not surprisingly, the Pew Research Center finds that a majority of Americans believe that the nature of political debate in the U.S. has become more negative, less respectful and less fact-based. Discussing the issues of the day has become, more so than at any other point in our lifetimes, frequently stressful, frustrating and frankly, exhausting. 

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center was founded by an Act of Congress in 1983 to foster globally minded leaders of integrity in the spirit of Mike Mansfield. Mansfield served as our nation’s longest-serving U.S. Senate majority leader and as U.S. ambassador to Japan. As an academic unit of the University of Montana, the center supports our nation in bridging divides and building leadership skills while addressing the world’s greatest challenges. Critical to our work is a global perspective and the importance of building cross-cultural communication and understanding.

Maureen and Mike Mansfield’s values, ideals, and vision for the world are supported by the center’s dialogues, seminars, exchanges and commentary, all of which are designed to create networks among U.S. and international leaders, explore the underlying issues influencing public policy and increase awareness about the nations and peoples of the world, with an emphasis on Asia. Established through an endowment from the U.S. Congress, the center has increasingly integrated issues relating to leadership, public service and key global issues into its work. The center also serves America’s fighting men and women via a nationally known Defense Critical Language and Culture Program. The center is located on the fourth floor of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.

The Mansfield Ethics and Public Affairs Program emphasizes the global nature of responsible decision making, the ethical imperatives of leadership and the analytical and related job skills necessary to influence policy on key local and global issues.

The Mansfield Center has created a sub-focus on the environment in East and Southeast Asia, where students can see the dramatic impact of climate change in a different context from Montana. Projects include creation of a unique climate change study abroad program in Vietnam, a program to bring Southeast Asian students to Montana to study the environment and a training exchange for young civil society leaders in Montana and Southeast Asia. The center has also taken the lead at UM in developing a comprehensive Vietnamese Affairs Program, one that not only links UM to the vital Association of Southeast Asian Nations region, but opens new doors to students’ study of strategic affairs, the environment and economic development.

Fully self-funded, the Mansfield Center presents a range of opportunities for donors to make an impact for UM students and for Montana. 

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