56 Events

A reverse-glass painting of the international trade concession in Canton circa 1805.

Public Domain

Seminar - Open to the Public

Virtuous Emulations of Liberty: American Diplomatic Culture After the American Revolution

Thu., Mar. 30, 2023 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Note New Date

Speaker: Katrina Ponti, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

As the United States emerged as an independent state after the Revolution, it faced the world with a State Department staffed by five clerks and initially led by an absentee Thomas Jefferson. How did the nation secure its place in global affairs with such a small bureaucracy? What was the diplomacy of a democracy supposed to look like?

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar:

French commandos enter Japanese-occupied Indochina, 1945

Public Domain

Seminar - Open to the Public

Free France, Colonial Reform, and the Genesis of Cold War Counterinsurgency, 1941–1954

Mon., Mar. 13, 2023 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Speaker: Nate Grau, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

This seminar traces the evolution of France's Cold War counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine from the Second World War to France's 1954 defeat in Indochina. Grau reveals the underappreciated roles of civilian colonial reformers in this process, tracing a network of "Free French" policymakers circulating from Algeria to the French wars in Madagascar (1947–1948) and Indochina (1945–1954). In each of these revolutionary independence struggles, reformist plans to encourage economic growth and develop local state capacity became tools of counterinsurgent repression that only escalated inter-communal cycles of violence.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar: https://harvard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAud-qurjkpE9LULcdi7fEzEUmflmTOWvYC

Sign along a road in Argentina, October 6, 2006.

Flickr CC/Tjeerd Wiersma

Seminar - Open to the Public

Inherited Sovereignty: 'Uti Possidetis Juris' and the Falklands/Malvinas Dispute

Thu., Feb. 16, 2023 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Speaker:  Paula O'Donnell, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

This seminar traces the origins of Argentine juridical thought concerning the perennial dispute with Great Britain over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands. Looking at legal scholarship of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, O'Donnell shows that the war of 1982 can be partially attributed to local understandings of "territorial integrity" which hinge upon the legal principle known as "uti possidetis juris of 1810." This international law doctrine provides the basis for the enduring maxim that still resonates with many Argentines today: that Argentina "inherited" the archipelago from Spain.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar: https://harvard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwsfuivqzIiH93snkXsZZCknA2eD5aVcSIM

Former Gate of National Chengchi University in Nanjing, 28 December 2011.

Wikimedia CC/猫猫的日记本

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Party School: The Kuomintang's Central Political Institute and the Transformation of Chinese Foreign Policy

Thu., Feb. 9, 2023 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Speaker: Anatol Klass, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

This presentation follows the careers of a group of Chinese foreign policy experts who were chosen as college students in the 1930s to receive specialized training at the ruling Nationalist Party's civil service school. The speaker traces this cohort from the shared experience of an experimental educational program meant to instill the expertise necessary for modern diplomacy, through its bifurcation after the 1949 revolution. Almost half of the Kuomintang-trained experts stayed in Mainland China to work for the foreign policy apparatus of the new communist state while the other half followed Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan and continued to work for the Republic of China. 

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar:

A picture of Cuba with the text "Cuban Missile Crisis at 60"

Bennett Craig

Conference - Open to the Public

Cuban Missile Crisis at 60: Lessons of the Past and Relevance for the Present

Fri., Oct. 14, 2022 | 8:30am - 5:00pm

Barker Center - Thompson Room

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 continues to stand as the single most dangerous event of the nuclear age, when the world came closer than ever before or since to the prospect of nuclear annihilation. Scholars and analysts continue to revisit the CMC to learn its lessons in order to avoid nuclear dangers in the future. A number of recent accounts have shed new light on the various aspects of and incidents within the CMC, providing us with a better understanding of the dynamics of the crisis. As the world marks 60 years since those fateful events, the risk of nuclear conflagration is once again on the rise. Russia, a major nuclear power, is waging a war against Ukraine, a state supported by the United States and NATO, a nuclear-armed alliance. What were the most dangerous moments of the CMC? What contributed to and what ameliorated the risks of a nuclear conflagration? What can we learn from the CMC that is pertinent for preventing a conventional war in Ukraine from crossing the nuclear threshold? MTA brings together historians and political scientists to discuss the state of the art of history and politics of the Cuban Missile Crisis and gauge its relevance for the war in Ukraine and for future crises and conflicts. 

In-person Registration (Click Here)        Zoom Registration (Click Here)


Yalta Summit in February 1945 with Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. (seen from left to right), 9 February 1945.

Public Domain/Army Signal Corps

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Washington War: The U.S. Army and the Politics of American Grand Strategy During World War II

Thu., Oct. 13, 2022 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Speaker: Grant Golub, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

This presentation traces how the War Department shifted from the fringes to the center of U.S. government power during World War II and examines how it sought to influence U.S. politics and grand strategy through its attempts to gain leverage over its bureaucratic rivals and compete to achieve its preferred policy outcomes.  

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar:

Imperial Federation Map of the World Showing the Extent of the British Empire in 1886.

Dennis Sylvester Hurd

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Primacy of Geopolitics: Globalization and the British World Order, c. 1830 to 1932

Thu., June 9, 2022 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Speaker: Graeme Thompson, Associate, Applied History Project

What is the relationship between globalization and world order? Though some international relations theories credit economic interdependence with promoting geopolitical stability, modern imperial history suggests that the causal arrow points in the other direction — that processes of globalization depend, in large part, upon favorable, and often fleeting, geopolitical conditions. Surveying the history of Britain's "liberal empire," this seminar charts the rise and fall of 19th century globalization and its dynamic connection to the shifting balance of imperial power.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar:

Book cover for Number One Realist

Oxford University Press

Seminar - Open to the Public

Nathaniel L. Moir — Number One Realist: Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare

Mon., June 6, 2022 | 2:00pm - 3:15pm


As the United States reflects on its infamous history of “forever wars” and searches for lessons to avoid similar entanglements in the future, join the Belfer Center’s Applied History Project for an open session of our Applied History Working Group. Its members—distinguished historians and public servants—study the past to illuminate the most pressing challenges we face today.

Günter Mittag (middle), member of the Politburo and Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED, deputy chairman of the State Council of the GDR, had a conversation in Bonn with the Bavarian Prime Minister and Chairman of the CSU, Franz Josef Strauss (left). The head of the Permanent Representation of the GDR in the FRG, Amb. Ewald Moldt, took part, 1 April 1987.

Wikimedia CC/Peter Koard

Seminar - Open to the Public

Franz Josef Strauss' "Grand Design": The Many Paths to German Reunification, European Unity, and Ostpolitik in the Age of Détente

Thu., May 12, 2022 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Speaker: Lukas Paul Schmelter, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

The late 1960s marked a watershed in the history of West German foreign policy, as larger geopolitical forces reshaped the Cold War and West Germany's role in it. Amongst the politicians responding to these changes was Franz Josef Strauss, whose ideas presented a clear alternative to the course of Ostpolitik pursued by Bonn from 1969. This seminar will explore Strauss' strategic framework in the context of the domestic and international circumstances of the mid to late 1960s, and in doing so, address fundamental questions of post-war German foreign policy that remain relevant to the present day.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar:

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.