- Professor of International Affairs
- Ph.D., University of the Witwatersrand
- M.A. and B.A., University of New Mexico
- Download/View CV
Ambassador Dennis Jett is a founding faculty member of the Penn State School of International Affairs. While in the U.S. Foreign Service, his career spanned 28 years and three continents. His academic research interests focus on international relations, peacekeeping and U.S. foreign policy. Immediately prior to joining Penn State, he was dean of the International Center at the University of Florida for eight years.
Professor Jett’s State Department career began in 1973, when he was a political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He served as science attaché in Tel Aviv as well as a number of positions in the State Department. In 1989, he became the deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires in the U.S. Embassy in Malawi, where he assisted in the response to an influx of more than 500,000 Mozambican refugees. He was then sent to be deputy chief of mission in the U.S. Embassy in Liberia shortly before the start of the civil war in that country. For his service in Liberia during this tumultuous time, he received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award for “exceptional service, superb leadership, keen perception and adroitness in the formulation and execution of U.S. foreign policy.”
Professor Jett then became special assistant to the president and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, where he was responsible for Africa policy during the first six months of the Clinton Administration. He went on to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Mozambique (1993-1996) and Peru (1996-1999).
As ambassador to Mozambique, he helped bring about the successful conclusion of one of the world’s largest peacekeeping operations, enabling the country to hold its first democratic elections. Because of his work there, he received the American Foreign Service Association’s Christian Herter Award for dissent. He was subsequently appointed U.S. ambassador to Peru, where he managed the second largest aid program in Latin America. He also helped to open Peru’s markets to U.S. companies receiving the Charles Cobb Award for those efforts. For his efforts to help strengthen Peru’s democracy, he was subsequently awarded the Order of the Sun of Peru by the Peruvian government in 2001, as well as awards from the Lima daily newspaper La Republica and Frequencia Latina, Channel 2 television.
Professor Jett was the Diplomat in Residence at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia from 1999-2000, where he led election observation missions to Venezuela and Guatemala and conflict resolution efforts between Uganda and Sudan. Upon his retirement from the State Department in 2000, he joined the University of Florida in 2000 as dean of the International Center and a faculty member in the political science department.
Professor Jett has written four books, all published by Palgrave Macmillan: Why Peacekeeping Fails; American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats; The Iran Nuclear Agreement—Bombs and Bureaucrats and Billionaires; and Why American Foreign Policy Fails—Unsafe at Home and Despised Abroad.
Professor Jett has been interviewed on PBS, CNN, NPR, BBC, CBC and other national and international news programs on a range of international issues. Additionally, he has written more than 170 opinion pieces for major newspapers including the International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Miami Herald.
Professor Jett earned his B.A. and M.A. in economics from the University of New Mexico, and his Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand.
“American Ambassadors – A Guide for Aspiring Diplomats and Foreign Service Officers,” December 2021.
“Why Peacekeeping Fails,” second edition, June 2019.
“The Iran Nuclear Agreement - Bombs and Bureaucrats and Billionaires,” October 2017.
“American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats,” December 2014.
“Why American Foreign Policy Fails—Unsafe at Home and Despised Abroad,” May 2008.
“Why Peacekeeping Fails,” New York: St. Martin's Press, February 2000.
Recent Journal Articles and Papers
“Western Sahara’s Unlearned Lessons,” Middle East Policy, Fall 2022.
“Why Men Overwhelming Wear the UN’s Blue Helmets,” The Conversation, July 22, 2022.
“On State Reform,” Foreign Service Journal, March 2021.
“Why There Is No Military Solution to the Problems of Peacekeeping,” Journal of European, Middle Eastern and African Affairs, November 26, 2019, Volume 1, No. 2, Winter 2019.
“How Rich People Like Gordon Sondland Buy Their Way to Being U.S. Ambassadors- 4 Questions Answered,” The Conversation, November 18, 2019.
“The Future of Peacekeeping Will Resemble What It Is Now,” Passblue.com, July 16, 2019.
“Does Peacekeeping Have a Future,” Foreign Service Journal, May 2019.
“Why Peacekeeping Fails,” Middle East Policy, Volume XXVI, No. 1, Spring 2019.
“What the Iran Nuclear Deal Says About Making Foreign Policy Today,” Foreign Service Journal, October, 2017 and The Washington Diplomat, January, 2018.
School of International Affairs celebrates Class of 2023
Ambassador Jett quoted in Christian Science Monitor article about the Sudan Evacuation
New American Diplomat podcast episode: 'In Case of Democracy Break Glass' featuring Amb. Jett
Amb. Jett's new piece: Should America be the world's cop? What the experts say
Schedule F: Let’s Deprofessionalize Government and Make America Irrelevant Again by Amb. Jett
Army War College holds simulation at Penn State School of International Affairs
Amb. Jett discusses why international peacekeeping is so hard
Amb. Jett quoted in news piece 'Should big-money Dem donors really head embassies in NATO’s east?'
Amb. Jett featured on podcast, Schedule F & other threats to America's ability to govern itself
Professor Jett on why decades of recruiting women peacekeepers has had little effect
We must reflect on the ‘whys’ of terrorism by Ambassador Jett
SIA students dive into research and internships that highlight careers
SIA professor emphasizes diplomacy, career realities in Foreign Service and government
Ambassador Jett shares concerns over the diplomatic positions being subject to a pay-to-play system
A second edition of Ambassador Jett’s book has been released
Army War College Simulation prepares students for crises
Amb. Jett quoted in NPR story about Biden's choices for ambassadors
Amb. Jett publishes op-ed on Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle
Professor Dennis Jett publishes editorial on "duplicity in diplomatic game" for The Hill
Professor Jett on solutions to the crises in Mali for Foreign Policy Magazine
Professor Jett pens op-ed for USA Today questioning if America has lost its exceptionalism
Ambassador Jett: State Department is failing its staff at a critical time
Ambassador Jett for Foreign Policy: Mozambique is a Failed State. The West isn't Helping it.
Ambassador Jett writes for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle: A peace plan that's not about peace
Jett co-authors article for The Hill on Trump's recent pardons
Professor Jett discusses pay-to-play ambassadorships on The Takeaway
Professor Jett comments on Sondland ambassadorship in the Wall Street Journal
Professor Jett answers questions on ambassador selection in latest article for The Conversation
Ambassador Jett pens column for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle on Trump rhetoric
Ambassador Dennis Jett's take on Greenland situation
The Future Of UN Peacekeeping In The Middle East
Professor Jett to give series of public talks on Iran nuclear deal, Trump administration
"There are always more gifts under the trees of the wealthy than those of the middle class and the poor," writes Professor Jett in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the latest tax reform legislation
Jett: 'If Trump wants nuclear war, virtually no one can stop him'
Professor Jett examines difficulties of diplomacy for American Foreign Service Association
Professor Dennis Jett in Foreign Affairs on 'The Future of UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon'
Professor Jett: America can't be the world’s cop, but must not walk away from its responsibilities
Professor Jett: "Trump Is Far More Embarrassing to the U.S. Than the Iran Nuclear Deal"
Professor Jett weighs in on the "creeping monarchism" of the U.S. State Department
Professor and former U.S. Ambassador Jett discusses Trump's diplomat appointments with the Los Angeles Times
Professor Jett offers some satirical advice for reorganizing the State Department
Professor Jett writes that Trump's Saudi Arabia speech represents "massive shift in U.S. foreign policy"
Professor Jett writes in Washington Post that Trump's ambassador nominations are not "draining the swamp"
Professor Jett's book 'American Ambassadors' reviewed on WPSU radio
Professor Jett comments on Trump's pick for ambassador to China
What would cutting UN peacekeeping funding say about the US, asks Professor Jett
Professor Jett weighs in on U.S. missile strike against Syria in The Daily Item
Professor Jett tells Voice of America the State Department must "salvage rational" foreign policy
Professor Jett analyzes President-Elect Trump for WalletHub
Professor Jett analyzes peacekeeping in Mozambique for Foreign Affairs Magazine
Jett asks 'Will America Survive Trump?' in Huffington Post Blog
Peacekeeping in the Middle East fails to produce results, Professor Jett argues in new publication
Professor Jett looks to the future of American foreign policy under Trump
International students experience U.S politics, election
SIA Faculty to Present on Conflict Resolution at Swedish Embassy
SIA professor to speak in Philadelphia on future of American foreign policy
SIA professors called on as experts for RT America’s ‘Watching the Hawks’
Former Ambassador Jett gives his take on Trump in Daily Collegian
Professor and former U.S. Ambassador Jett comments on reaction of diplomats to Donald Trump for The Hill
Professor Jett on deciphering Trump's national security policy
Professor Jett examines Donald Trump's economic plan and income inequality
Jett writes for Reuters on the time-honored tradition of presidents rewarding big donors with ambassadorships
Former Ambassador Jett quoted in Bloomberg news piece about Peru's election
In Huffington Post, Jett calls for U.S. to take its own advice
Retired Ambassador and SIA professor Dennis Jett comments on refugee who became an ambassador
International Affairs Colloquium brings experts on global issues to Penn State
AP quotes Dennis Jett in piece about American imprisoned in Peru freed after 20 years.
U.S. Ambassador calls for PA citizens to eliminate gerrymandered districts
Former U.S. special envoy guides students as they get hands-on experience in crisis negotiation
SIA professor Dennis Jett argues the U.S. and Israel must repair damaged relationship
What does it take to be a U.S. Diplomat?
Retired ambassador explains Iran and the U.S. need to move past history and trust each other for nuclear agreement to succeed
SIA professor and retired U.S. ambassador signs letter urging Congress to support Iran nuclear deal
In the Huffington Post Jett comments on the whitewashing of racist symbols
SIA professor and retired U.S. ambassador explains why the U.S. Sponsors of Terrorism list has little to do with terrorism
SIA professor and retired Ambassador Dennis Jett warns of possible coup in Burundi
Dennis Jett receives Fulbright fellowship to teach, conduct research in Israel
Jett's experience in Peru detailed in stories of diplomatic attacks in Latin America
Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson surprises SIA class
Huffington Post Reviews "American Ambassadors" calling it an "excellent resource"
The Jewish Chronicle reviews SIA professor Dennis Jett's new book
In the New Republic, SIA professor compares the movie American Sniper to the autobiography
Listen to SIA professor Dennis Jett discuss the role of U.S. ambassadors on NPR-Pittsburgh
Daily Beast showcases SIA professor's new book about U.S. Ambassadors
SIA professor responds to Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist arguing torture report is a liberal plo
Publication quotes SIA professor on U.N. gun control treaty and the U.S. response
In the New Republic SIA professor argues that the GOP continues to let paranoia prevent legislation beneficial to the U.S.
Christian Science Monitor quotes SIA professor Dennis Jett on the role of openly gay U.S. ambassadors
SIA professor and retired U.S. ambassador pens book on why U.S. ambassadors still matter and how to get better ones
Former U.S. ambassador and School of International Affairs professor shares insights on building a career in diplomacy
Former ambassador and SIA professor points out "we never 'won' in Iraq"
State Department official visits SIA class to explain how social media is changing diplomacy