Vita Matiss (PhD)
Global Approaches to Public Diplomacy
Doctorat ès Sciences Politiques (Ph.D in Political Science), University of Geneva and The Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland, 1987.
Certificat d’Études Supérieures, The Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland, 1986.
Bachelor of Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, New York, 1976.
Columbia University School of International Affairs and Russian Institute, New York, Master of International Affairs program, 1976-1977.
Harvard University, Norwich University, and The Banff School of Fine Arts.
Vita Matiss received her first degrees in the United States, and then moved to Switzerland, where she received her Ph.d (Doctorat ès Sciences Politiques) from the University of Geneva and The Graduate Institute of International Studies in 1987. In Switzerland she worked as a publication director and taught at the American University in Leysin. Shortly before Latvia regained independence, Vita Matiss was instrumental in preparing the dossier that would result in the Latvian government receiving compensation from the Swiss government for pre-war diplomatic property owned by Latvia in Geneva.
Along with independence came an invitation to create and lead a foundation funded by George Soros in Latvia. From 1992 – 1996, Vita Matiss was the Founding Executive Director of the Soros Foundation – Latvia, a leading NGO and standard bearer for reform in Latvia during the 1990’s. During her tenure as director of the Soros Foundation, education was the primary area of activity of the foundation, leading to the creation of two new institutions of higher education in Latvia: The Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and The Riga Graduate School of Law.
Her publications attest to the breadth and depth of her interests as a historian, essayist, cultural critic and independent political commentator. She is currently working on a book, slated to appear in 2015, the 150th anniversary of the Latvian revolutionaries and literary couple Rainis and Aspazija.. The book situates Rainis and Aspazija within the larger European context, therefore emphasizing Latvia’s “Europeanness” long before the EU fact.
Vita Matiss has been a trailblazer in the field of Public Diplomacy in Latvia, creating and teaching one of the first academic courses in Public Diplomacy in Latvia in 2011