To compete and thrive in the 21st century, democracies, and the United States in particular, must develop new national security and economic strategies that address the geopolitics of information. In the 20th century, market capitalist democracies geared infrastructure, energy, trade, and even social policy to protect and advance that era’s key source of power—manufacturing. In this century, democracies must better account for information geopolitics across all dimensions of domestic policy and national strategy.
Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook is a German and American national and the founding Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), which examines the challenges to negotiation and statecraft in the 21st century. In January 2018, she was named Executive Director of the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship. From 2011-2017, she served as the Executive Director of the India and South Asia Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at HKS, a program which ended formal activities in 2018. Her areas of expertise include EU-US relations – including trade and security policy – and digital public policy in urban and national contexts.
In her current role, she examines negotiation practice, international conflict mitigation and the impact of technology and communication on diplomatic and non-governmental actors and spearheads the Project's Metro Diplomacy Initiative, looking at the international role of cities. In this capacity, she has advised foreign ministries and international organizations across the globe on questions of digital strategy and institutional reform and has served as an expert panelist including at the Aspen Institute, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Mercator Foundation, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the European Forum Alpbach, and at international academic conferences from Bahrain to Toronto.
She served on the management team of the European Policy Centre in Brussels, where she was the Deputy Editor of its public policy journal, Challenge Europe and the think tank’s Communications Director, before joining Roland Berger Strategy Consultants as Senior Journalist and consultant in 2005. There, she worked on public policy issues (demographic change, urban competitiveness, green energy) and advised both the consultancy’s Chinese and French offices on branding and communication strategies. In 2009 she served in the second Bloomberg mayoral administration, where she implemented an online program for New York City's 1.8 million limited-English-proficiency migrants to access essential public services. She began her public service career as a legislative adviser at the European Parliament and later the UK House of Commons.
Formerly an international broadcast journalist, she had a ten-year career in international journalism during which she covered global affairs, most notably EU politics, business and economics in the aftermath of September 11th, working as a producer and writer for CNN-International based in Atlanta and London.
She provides expert commentary in English, German and French on transatlantic relations, German and US foreign and security policy, radicalization and immigration policy and on inequality and urban development for news outlets including NPR, BBC, Al Jazeera, Deutschlandfunk, ABC radio, Wall Street Journal radio and on German television, radio and print publications, including in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Internationale Politik, The European, Die Welt, Die Presse (Austria) and on ARD and PHOENIX and writes regularly for Atlantic Monthly's Quartz.
Cathryn holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she was a Hauser Fellow in Nonprofit Management and recipient of the Donald K. Price award for academic excellence and community service. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics, where she received a Masters Degree in European Studies and of Brown University, where she completed her undergraduate degree with honors in International Relations and French Civilization.
Cathryn was named a 2017 Eisenhower Fellow for her leadership on urban issues in international relations. She is an elected member of the HKS Alumni Board of Directors, where she is serving a second consecutive four-year term and was named a Truman National Security Fellow in 2011. For five years she has taught at the Albright Institute at Wellesley College and in 2014 was named a Munich Young Leader for the Munich Security Conference. From 2012-2018, she served on the Advisory Council of Georgetown University's BMW Center for German and European Studies. In 2016 she was named to the Brussels-based Board of the European Committee on Leadership in Science, Innovation and Cultural Diplomacy (EL-CSID), a project which concluded in 2019.Last Updated: Jul 25, 2019, 5:04pm
2017 Eisenhower Fellow