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First cohort of undergraduate students complete the Kissinger Seminar at Johns Hopkins University

May 1, 2019

The Kissinger Seminar on American Grand Strategy, a new initiative by the center, is designed to link SAIS with the undergraduate International Studies major at the Johns Hopkins University’s campus in Baltimore, Homewood. Taught by Professor Hal Brands and Professor Francis J. Gavin, it exposes exceptional undergraduate students to the study of grand strategy and the history of U.S. foreign policy; it includes, in addition to regular classroom sessions in Baltimore, meetings with policy practitioners at the SAIS campus in Washington, D.C.
The seminar is rooted in applied history—the study of the past as a way of better understanding the challenges and opportunities of the present and future. It is also interdisciplinary, drawing on international relations theory and contemporary policy studies.
The course began with a discussion of the nature of grand strategy, and of how history and international relations theory can help us understand that subject. The bulk of the course explored critical moments, themes, and people in the history of American grand strategy, from Washington’s Farewell Address to the statecraft of Donald Trump. Throughout the semester, the course focused on connecting scholarship and decision-making—on using history and theory to better address the issues that preoccupy policymakers today.
Near the end of the semester, students applied their knowledge by presenting detailed policy briefs on an aspect of current American grand strategy. These presentations were pitched to seminar professors and Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels, who evaluated the presentations and hosted a dinner for the students to mark the inaugural undergraduate cohort.