Matthew Schlosser Q&A
Printed in the 2016 CEAS Annual Report
Matthew Schlosser was the first graduate of our CEAS M.A. program, back in fall of 2014. He took the track of the program designed for military Foreign Affairs Officers (FAOs). We checked in with him to see what he’s been doing since graduation.
What are you doing now? I am temporarily assigned (for one year) to be the intelligence liaison officer for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
What does that involve? My primary duty is to provide daily briefings to the Assistant Secretary and her staff, but I also chase down the answers to questions that arise during the briefings, task the various intelligence agencies to research and produce new reports based on calendar items in her intermediate future, and find and schedule guest briefers with more thorough knowledge than mine on topics of special interest.
How did your time at KU prepare you for this position? CEAS did a phenomenal job of preparing me for this high stress, but incredibly rewarding, job and I see the benefits in my daily work. In particular, I find that a regional studies background equips me to apply a plausibility test to information coming in from the field. While I don't withhold dubious reports, CEAS prepared me to caveat them appropriately.
Which classes have you found the most useful? The two summer classes I did with Dr. Greene (one on China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, one on Japanese development aid to Southeast Asia) have turned out to be the most useful to me in sorting through mountains of information every morning and deciding what is important enough to occupy the Assistant Secretary’s time, but really, all ten courses, taken as a whole, have been indispensable to me for understanding Asian values, priorities, and processes.
What were you doing before you came to KU? Immediately prior to coming to KU, I spent a year in Japan, completing internships in the embassy and at various military headquarters, as well as taking more language classes (I studied Japanese 50 hours a week for 15 months before going) and traveling throughout Japan, as well as making trips to Korea, Taiwan, and China. It's hard to say whether it would be better to complete that in-country training before or after graduate studies. My experiences in Northeast Asia allowed me to bring something extra to the classroom, but I learned much at KU that would have enabled me to get more out of my travels.
What would you tell someone else considering the CEAS M.A. program? Go for it! Everyone assumes that all of the quality Asian Studies programs must be on the West Coast or at Ivy League schools, but nothing could be further from the truth. CEAS's multidisciplinary approach served me very well with instruction from a mix of sociologists, archaeologists, historians, political scientists, and even an art historian, many of them natives of the countries they cover. The nearby Nelson-Atkins museum has one of the three best collections of Chinese artifacts outside of China and visiting it was the highlight of my foray into ancient China. In addition to the quality of the program, I really liked the location. Lawrence is a great place to live, with a small-town feel and low cost of living, but right along the interstate and just half an hour outside of Kansas City. That's having your cake and eating it, too! And if you're a basketball fan…