Views from the Top: Admiral Mike Mullen (left), chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with Belfer Center Director Graham Allison at a Center reception with students following Mullen's presentation at the JFK Jr. Forum.
Photo by Martha Stewart
From the Director
Author: Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
JFK's inaugural challenge has inspired the people who make up Harvard Kennedy School since the School's founding. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of that inauguration, it is appropriate to pause and consider the hard questions that he put to us on January 20, 1961.
Perhaps we should consider how those who heard JFK’s 1961 call met the challenges they inherited from the “Greatest Generation.”
With the opportunities and the resources that constitute the Belfer Center, what are we doing for the security and freedom of our country and the world?
One contribution is clear: nowhere at Harvard University is the spirit of military service stronger than among the fellows and students associated with the Belfer Center. From 25 National Security Fellows (many of them colonels) to an even larger number of serving officers and recent veterans, our extended family includes more combat veterans, in fact, than in anyone’s recent memory.
It was with special satisfaction that we welcomed Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen to the Kennedy School in November— and applauded Harvard President Drew Faust’s declaration of intent to invite the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps back on campus after the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation. A change long past due, but nevertheless hugely welcome.
We also hope that other contributions from the Center are making our world safer. Decades of work to build better relations with the former Soviet Union and the Russian government are documented on the front page of this newsletter. We are especially proud of the three new U.S.Russia partnerships on nuclear security and energy that take forward this tradition, led by the Center’s William H. Tobey, Kevin Ryan, Matthew Bunn, and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen.
We also have extended our reach in trying to understand and improve the exercise of American power in the world. Joe Nye’s new book, The Future of Power, advances our thinking. Calestous Juma has made headlines around the world with his bold new book, The New Harvest, suggesting Africa can feed itself in a generation. And the new Belfer Center blog, called Power & Policy, gives us a new channel for online analysis of issues of power, driven by our team of scholars and specialists.
Belfer Center researchers are ranging far across the world to increase our impact on issues that matter. Monica Duffy Toft, who has earned wide recognition for her work assessing religion in conflicts around the world, is awaiting publication of her new book, God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics. Dick Rosecrance, an adjunct professor and senior fellow in the International Security Program, is strengthening links between the Kennedy School and scholars in China.
On issues of energy and environment, we watched Belfer Center board member Rob Stavins help shape the debate at the U.N. climate change review conference in Cancun, and Henry Lee’s research team produced a series of highimpact studies on our energy and transportation systems. We congratulate Henry for his wellearned promotion to senior lecturer in the Kennedy School (see a Spotlight feature on Henry in this publication).
President Kennedy’s challenge sets a demanding standard that demands not only intent but impact. Halfway through this academic year, we are acutely aware of the gulf between our aspirations and our achievements.
Still, I hope that the members and supporters of the Center will take some satisfaction in the many ways that the people of the Belfer Center are doing good work for their country and their world.
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
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