In addition to being a journalist, author, and political activist, Samantha Power is a Professor of Practice in Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. Though she is currently on a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. and is working as a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., she plans to return to Harvard next year. Power said she "used to feel like a phony in academic settings, because I didn't feel like a scholar." But despite her initial lack of confidence, she said she now feels she has achieved a balance between the many aspects of her career, in part because she typically spends the summer, fall, and winter months away from the university. Wherever her work takes her, she remains unchanged: "I'm just a person who starts with a question, and then actually believes that you should talk to people before you come up with the answer."
At Harvard, where in the spring of 2005, she taught a foreign policy and human rights class as well as a smaller seminar about the United Nations, she is trying "to move away from ideology." One of her main goals is to provoke her students to think about the true meanings of words they no doubt find commonplace. What, for example, is the United States? Is it Congress, or the State Department, or the Pentagon? What about the United Nations? Is it Kofi Annan, or the members of the Security Council? In addition to encouraging dialogue on such topics, she is teaching her students the means by which they might further issues of human rights, domestically and internationally. Possibly the best indication of the impact her presence has had on her students and the Harvard community as a whole is the familiarity with which her name is used on campus.