International Complexities: Mycal Ford ’12 discusses how he thinks about global policy – Pacific Lutheran University

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What excites you about diving into a complex puzzle, conflict or policy?
International issues, such as ethnic and territorial conflict, WMD proliferation, terrorist financing, money laundering, human trafficking, forced labor — all represent some of the most intractable and complex problem sets. Nevertheless, my interest in these international security and economic issues is fueled by my passion for public service, which is to say that I am motivated by my desire to help others —  even if that means working on incredibly sensitive topics.
Are there moments when the complexity of this work can be daunting?
Complexity always presents a significant challenge —  especially as it relates to emerging international economic and security challenges, such as international sanctions evasion and money laundering. I try to distill and ultimately reduce these enormously complex transnational issues into smaller and more manageable problem sets. In doing so, I am able to tackle them systematically, all the while maximizing impact.
How did your interdisciplinary undergraduate experience at PLU help prepare you for thinking about complex puzzles?
One of the key ways to address emerging and cross-cutting international threats is by applying an interdisciplinary approach, a method that is often taught through a liberal arts education. In borrowing from multiple branches of thought, I believe it is possible to redefine any given problem. Once a problem can be redefined, a more nuanced understanding can be achieved. Naturally, this process lends itself to discovering innovative and creative ways of thinking that prioritizes solution-making. This is a tactic I try to practice in my personal and professional life every day.
What can be some systemic barriers to centering community?
One of the barriers that comes to mind is access. Using traditional systems to connect, inform, educate or solicit feedback from the community can risk leaving out the voice, wisdom and opinions of populations in our community who do not have ready or easy access to those modes. Many traditional systems for engagement ask the community to come to decision makers. So creating systems that meet people where they’re at removes some of those barriers. This can apply to transportation, communication, technology or any area where the dominant way to gain access has not considered every part of the community.
What are a couple of ways that you work to center community in your work and practice? 
One of the ways I work to center community in my work is connecting the community directly with key decision makers and not being in the middle. Supporting direct connection helps the community build and strengthen relationships with decision makers, allows their voice to be heard unfiltered and allows organic dialogue to happen.
Read more stories from the Fall 2022 issue of ResoLute Magazine.
NW Seaport Alliance CEO John Wolfe ’87 discusses his career in maritime leadership
November 3, 2022
Saving the World with a Starship
November 3, 2022
Opening Doors to Opportunity: Andrew Whitney ’12, Director of Seed Internships
November 3, 2022
Camp Songs: PLU music majors produce free music camp for Parkland students
November 3, 2022
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