82 Events

Seminar - Open to the Public

Book Launch—Spies. The Epic Intelligence War between East and West by Calder Walton

Mon., June 5, 2023 | 4:00pm - 5:15pm


Putin’s war in Ukraine, Russian election meddling, deep-cover Russian “illegal” spies in the West, disinformation, overhead spy balloons, and assassinations—subjects that all make regular news headlines. When they do so, however, those headlines frequently lack their proper, long-term, context.

To bring historical perspective to these national security issues at the frontline of contemporary geopolitics, join the Belfer Center’s Intelligence Project for the launch of Calder Walton’s book, SPIES. The Epic Intelligence War between East and West, being published on June 6.

Described by Fiona Hill as “essential reading” and a “masterclass in twentieth century and contemporary history,” and by Christopher Andrew as a “masterpiece,” SPIES explores the clandestine struggle that has been raging between Russia and Western powers for a hundred years and counting. Its conclusions, however, go further than Russia in the past: they relate to the current unfolding intelligence conflict between China and the West. Chinese intelligence has taken up the mantle of the KGB— but taken espionage to new levels.

Calder Walton will present the principal findings of his book, followed by a  Question & Answer session with incoming Intelligence Project Director incoming Project Director Mark Pascale and Intelligence Project Fellows including Beth SannerNorman T. RouleRolf Mowatt-LarssenKristin Wood, and Jeff Fields.

This virtual event will take place on June 5 at 4:00PM EST. Calder Walton’s remarks will be on the record, but the Q&A will be under Chatham House rules. It will be open to the public, but registration is required. RSVP at the link below:

Seminar - Open to the Public

Looking at the Year Ahead: Intelligence Perspectives for 2023

Wed., Dec. 7, 2022 | 1:00pm - 2:15pm


2022 has been a year of momentous geopolitical change. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic, civilian protests in Iran, and steeply rising risks around Taiwan have combined to create a sense of global danger unprecedented since end of the Cold War. What new surprises and challenges might arise in 2023, and how might continue current issues evolve in unexpected ways?

Please join the Intelligence Project on Wednesday, December 7th for a conversation with Senior Fellow Beth Sanner, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration and the President's former intelligence briefer, to examine the issues that may consume policymaker attention in 2023.

This virtual event is on the record and is open to the public. Paul Kolbe, Intelligence Project Director, will moderate this session. Registration is required. Please register at: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3rHdflMISDWMUund_ziczA

NASA imagery

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Seminar - Open to the Public

Open Source Intelligence for National Security: The Art of the Possible

Tue., Nov. 1, 2022 | 10:00am - 12:00pm


The war in Ukraine was a wake-up call for many in revealing the ability of non-state actors such as Bellingcat to glean immensely valuable security information from entirely open source data. This phenomenon is not new, but has been insufficiently explored. Many private sector firms are effectively leveraging the wealth of open source and commercially-available data to answer questions that have vast ramifications for national security. What is possible in this world of open source information, and how can governments - and specifically intelligence communities - leverage this new capability that resides outside of the government domain?

Join the Intelligence Project for a session in which we will hear from experienced private sector professionals from Altana AI, 3AI, C4ADS, Zero Trafficking, Public Democracy, and Faculty AI, each speaking to a national security-level issue they have addressed with the right open source or commercial data and the right analytical approach. The session will be led by Belfer Fellow Kristin Wood, former CIA officer and current CEO of Grist Mill Exchange, and facilitated by Intelligence Project Manager Maria Robson-Morrow. The session is online and open to the public. Registration is required.

Downed drone near Kupiansk, Ukraine

Associated Press

Seminar - Harvard Faculty, Fellows, Staff, and Students

Ukraine and the Changing Nature of Drone Warfare

Thu., Oct. 20, 2022 | 10:00am - 11:15am

Belfer Building - Bell Hall, 5th Floor

War in Ukraine has brought drone warfare to a new level and shown that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now as much a part of warfare as rifles and artillery. Russia is now using Iranian-made suicide drones to attack Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, while Ukraine has made extensive use of drones for reconnaissance and to deliver munitions on Russian armor. From commercial drones that cost a few hundred dollars to highly specialized and versatile vehicles such as the Turkish Bayrakters, drones are changing the face of combat. They are also increasingly available to non-state actors, a trend reflected by the recent arrest in Norway of a Russia citizen suspected of using drones to reconnoiter offshore gas platforms and energy infrastructure. Given the rapid development of capabilities, steadily dropping cost, and wide proliferation, it is all but certain that drones will be used in all future conflicts and will be leveraged by non-state actors.

Join the Intelligence Project for a timely discussion on drone use and drone defense with Bernard Hudson, fomer CIA Counterterrorism Center Chief, former Belfer Center Fellow, and current CEO of LookingGlass, a drone defense and software firm. The event will be moderated by Intelligence Project Director Paul Kolbe.

This hybrid event is on the record and will be open to Harvard Kennedy School faculty, students, fellows, and staff in person, and to the public over Zoom. Registration is required. Refreshments will be available for in-person attendees.

Seminar - Open to the Public

Explaining Putin: The Man Behind War in Ukraine

Wed., Sep. 21, 2022 | 2:00pm - 3:15pm


With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now in its seventh month and Russian forces in surprising retreat, the question still remains of how history, geography, and personality led to the largest conflict in Europe since 1945 – one that might be entering a more dangerous phase. How did we get here, did it have to happen, how might it be resolved, and with what consequences? 

Join us for a fascinating discussion with Philip Short, author of the recently published biography Putin, which draws on deep research to reveal the man behind the invasion of Ukraine who has dragged Russia back to a dark past. In light of the setbacks Russia has suffered in the face of stubborn Ukrainian resistance, signs of growing discontent at home, and an economy facing long term debilitation, might an alternate title be Putin - A Comeuppance Long in the Making?

Philip Short’s career has included serving as a foreign correspondent in Moscow, Beijing, and Washington, D.C., for the BBC, the Economist, and the Times of London. He is the author of definitive biographies on Mao, Pol Pot, and Francois Mitterand.

This virtual event is on the record and is open to the public. Paul Kolbe, Intelligence Project Director, will moderate this session. Registration is required. Please register at: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_01XhTi02SCKT-LriTCcLEQ.

Conference - Open to the Public

Imagining a New National Security Act for the 21st Century

Wed., May 11, 2022 | 10:00am - 3:00pm

Belfer Building - Starr Auditorium, Floor 2.5

Imagine if you woke up tomorrow to news of:

  • A massive cyber-attack that irreparably damaged financial markets and shut down critical infrastructure, or
  • A significant conventional defeat due to strategic surprise like happened at Pearl Harbor, or
  • The release of a manufactured pathogen that marks the beginning of a new global pandemic.

Please join the Intelligence and Applied History Projects at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School, for a day of thoughtful discussion about the top challenges facing the existing intelligence and national security mechanisms in the United States, and possible mitigation strategies to ensure that the U.S. has the people, structure, systems, integration, legal authority, and partnerships needed to protect national interests in the years ahead. Panelists include intelligence historians Dr. Sara Castro, Dr. Michael Warner, and Dr. James Wirtz, and former intelligence practitioners Sue Gordon and Ellen McCarthy. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will provide a keynote address. At the conference, we will showcase the winners of our essay competition: A New National Security Act for the 21st Century.

This event will take place in hybrid format under Chatham House Rules. Registration is required. Harvard community members are welcome to attend in person. Please register for the event here: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_U_wuab28R0y1NnLQtIqylg.

Seminar - Open to the Public

Rebooting America: A Conversation with Former Member of Congress Will Hurd

Thu., Apr. 7, 2022 | 10:00am - 11:15am

Taubman Building - Allison Dining Room, 5th Floor

*Please note the room change for in-person attendees.*

“It is getting harder to get big things done in America.  To meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, our country needs a reset.” - American Reboot

Join the Intelligence and Cyber Projects in conversation with former Congressman Will Hurd. Mr. Will Hurd is currently a managing director at Allen & Company and former member of Congress, cybersecurity executive, and undercover officer in the CIA. In his forthcoming book, American Reboot, he tackles five challenges facing the United States: the need for a principled vision from the Republican Party; what he sees as a lack of honest leadership in Washington, DC; income inequality threatening the livelihood of millions of Americans; the lack of a guarantee of continued U.S. economic and military dominance; and the immense scope of impending technological change in the next thirty years. In this candid discussion, we aim to drive at the very specific cyber and intelligence challenges our nation is facing right now, and how we can address them. The discussion will be moderated by Lauren Zabierek, Executive Director of the Cyber Project, and Paul Kolbe, Director of the Intelligence Project. This hybrid event is on the record and the virtual option is open to the public. The in-person option is open only to Harvard affiliates. Registration is required.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa

Republic of Slovenia

Seminar - Open to the Public

How Europe is Supporting Ukraine: A Conversation with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa

Wed., Apr. 6, 2022 | 10:30am - 11:30am


As Ukraine continues its resistance against Russia’s bloody invasion, bearing a terrible price in lives and destruction, the support of Europe grows more critical. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has been at the forefront of rallying Europe to the aid of Ukraine. Janša, along with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, traveled to Kyiv on March 15 to meet with President Zelensky in a concrete manifestation of support, and to highlight the crisis facing not just Ukraine, but the entire community of liberal democracies.
Please join the Intelligence Project at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs for a conversation on Ukraine with Prime Minister Jansa. The conversation will include the prime minister’s perspectives on the conflict, a read out on his meeting with President Zelensky, prospects of a negotiated settlement, and discussion of the implications for Europe, NATO and Ukraine going forward.

The webinar discussion will be moderated by Intelligence Project Director Paul Kolbe and will be under the Chatham House Rule: “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” The session is open to the public.


Adobe Stock

Conference - Open to the Public

Innovation in the Intelligence Community Conference

Fri., Mar. 4, 2022 | 9:00am - 1:15pm


US government agencies are sometimes viewed as overly bureaucratic, rigidly hierarchical, and resistant to innovation.  This series of one hour conversations will explore the US Intelligence Community's implementation of emerging space, digital, and artificial intelligence capabilities and introduce some of the IC leaders who were key to that implementation.  We will explore why these leaders felt innovation was essential; what they did to implement it; the obstacles they encountered and how they overcame them.  While the technologies they introduced might be unique to the National Security community, the challenges they faced and the techniques they used to overcome them will have more universal application.

This half-day conference is virtual and open to the public. Registration is required. To register, please go to: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_k_dCkcIvT1uEeZ1gHz8fVw.

Programming Code

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Changing Nature of Intelligence: Embracing Commercially-Sourced Intelligence for Strategic Advantage

Thu., Mar. 3, 2022 | 2:00pm - 3:00pm


With the increasing availability of commercial and open source information, valuing classified data over all other sources of information is "archaic," in the words of Cynthia Saddy, EJ Alam, and Kelli Holden, and the U.S. intelligence community needs to modernize its strategic approach to adapt to a world driven by data. Too often, conversations about the changing nature of information focus on the catch-all of open source information (OSINT), without paying sufficient attention to commercially-sourced intelligence (CSINT). In this event, hosted by the Belfer Center's Intelligence Project, Cynthia, EJ, and Kelli will draw on their years' of experience in the intelligence community to discuss the complementary roles that CSINT and classified data can play in furthering national security. This conversation will build off the panelists' new Cipher Brief article from February 9, 2022, entitled: "The Intelligence Game is Changing. Are We Ready?", which argues that the U.S. Government is at risk of losing ground to its adversaries and needs a clear data strategy.

The discussion will be moderated by Intelligence Project Program Coordinator Maria Robson Morrow. This virtual event is off the record and will be held under Chatham House Rules. Registration is required. To join, please register at: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_38JGI-cWTEyVY5O6whLHhw.