Announcement - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Belfer Center Annual Report 2022

Mar. 13, 2023

Download the full report [PDF]

From the Director

The last few months of 2022 were a transition time for the Belfer Center community. With the sudden death of Ash Carter in October, we were shaken by his loss and his absence is felt throughout the Center. But as I write below, Ash’s legacy will live in many ways as we continue working toward our mission.

I invite you now to share my optimistic outlook as we turn the first page of the new calendar year. We demonstrated remarkable resilience as we adjusted to two challenging years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Operations have found a new normal, in-person events have resumed, and students are back on campus. Yet, this year we were also called upon by world events.

As the world witnessed the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the first unprovoked act of aggression by a major power in Europe since 1939 – the Belfer Center responded by redoubling our efforts. With remarkable speed, our faculty, fellows, and staff harnessed our expertise to remind the world what the war puts at stake:

  • Ash Carter hosted a live, remote Harvard Kennedy School Forum with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelinsky to discuss leadership in crisis
  • The Project on Managing the Atom (MTA), the Applied History Project, and the Intelligence Project convened a full-day conference discussing the implications of the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis - the single most dangerous event of the nuclear age - and its relevance for the war in Ukraine and future crises and conflict.
  • Belfer Center nuclear experts gave numerous interviews on Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine along with real-time analysis regarding the safety of nuclear power plants in Ukraine in the midst of fighting.
  • Russia Matters provided ongoing analysis of the war in Ukraine and the first-ever comprehensive effort to take stock of attacks by the Ukrainian insurgency and identify trends in the manifestation of this strategy of irregular warfare.

As we found a way to meet the moment, impactful work across dozens of other critical research areas continued.

Convening Power

The Korea Project convened the third Harvard Korean Security Summit exploring how quickly various Korea-related functional issues play out with global implications. The project also conducted major policy engagement activities through Track 1.5 discussions.

We marked the 75th anniversary of the Central Intelligence Agency with a full-day conference hosted by the Intelligence Project exploring the agency’s evolution and current activities to further the nation’s national security.

The Environment and Natural Resources Program (ENRP) once again hosted its biennial Roy Award for Environmental Partnerships. This year honored ColdHubs, an innovative Nigerian venture that provides solar-powered cold storage for small farmers, saving more than 40% of their harvest.

Once again, the Center was proud to host many high-profile leaders from government, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Deputy Asstistant to the President and Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell, along with

many international guests that included British Ambassador to the U.S. Dame Karen Pierce, former Colombian President Iván Duque, former Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, and former Costa Rican Ambassador to UN Elayne Whyte.

The Center’s convening power is also evident in the more than 150 research fellows who joined our programs and projects this year and enriched the Center with their diverse experiences and wide range of expertise. They - and our resident and non-resident senior fellows - are an invaluable part of the Center community, adding value to discussions.

Advancing Policy-Relevant Knowledge

The Avoiding Great Power War Project released a four-part report, “The Great Rivalry: China vs. the U.S. in the 21st Century,” documenting what has happened in the competition between China and the U.S. in the past twenty years in the technology, military, economic, and diplomatic arenas.

The Environment and Natural Resources Program (ENRP) published a series of papers on green Hydrogen and co-authored three policy briefs with the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program (STPP)  on offshore wind for electricity generation, carbon capture, utilization, and storage for fossil-fueled power plants and certain industrial facilities, and a modernized electricity grid.

The Cyber Project published the long-awaited 2022 National Cyber Power Index (NCPI), a follow-up to the inaugural 2020 NCPI, which updates the first-ever framework to understand and measure the cyber power of nation-states.

Several well-received books were authored this year by Belfer Center faculty and fellows, including Henry Lee and Dan Schrag’s Foundations for a Low-Carbon Energy System in China,  Juliette Kayyem’s The Devil Never Sleeps, Bruce Schneier’s A Hacker’s Mind, Lori Garver’s Escaping Gravity, and Kevin Rudd’s Avoiding War.

Preparing Future Generations of Leaders

With the ease of pandemic restrictions came the opportunity to resume experiential learning. The Middle East Initiative (MEI) took a delegation of 13 HKS students to the United Arab Emirates for “Leadership and Social Transformation in the Arab World.” The course deepened students’ understanding of the UAE’s efforts to diversify its economy, manage social transformations, and improve the quality of governance.

The Intelligence Study Group for students had record application numbers this year: more than 90 students applied for 30 spots. The highly competitive non-credit seminar saw students examine how intelligence enhances policy decision-making, where it fails, and the differences between intelligence in liberal democracies and one-party states.

We rolled out a new Africa in Focus series of events to examine the many factors driving transitions and geostrategic relations in Africa.

Additionally, the Technology and Public Purpose Project (TAPP) organized a six-session study group that focused on the origin and promise of the Chips and Science Act, led by TAPP Fellow Doug Calidas, Chief of Staff to United States Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Every research and core staff team at the Belfer Center developed an action plan for achieving progress on diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB). These plans generated significant gains, including greater diversity in the Center’s hiring practices, speaker invitations, and fellowship applications.

We saw that commitment in action this year as we placed a greater focus on DIB into our work, including hosting a Women in STEM series, a seminar on “The Past, Present, and Future of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the American Intelligence Community,” and the now annual ShareTheMicinCyber event to spotlight Black voices and talent in cybersecurity. We also co-sponsored the Women in Power conference organized by HKS student in the spring.

Secretary Carter’s Legacy

This fall, the Center was struck with the unexpected passing of our director, Secretary Ash Carter.

Ash was a member of the Belfer Center community for nearly 40 years. He joined in 1984, was named director in 1990 and then again in 2015, and he taught until his last day. The Center provided a home to build his intellectual base and collaborate with decision-makers and academics. Here, he developed his unique perspective and expertise and created solutions he applied during his government tours.

Summing up Ash Carter is impossible. His CV reads like a great American novel. A scholar-athlete was inducted into his high school Hall of Fame. He held degrees in physics and medieval history from Yale, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, and earned an Oxford doctorate in theoretical physics. Ash had every major role at the Pentagon, rising to Secretary of Defense under President Obama. On five separate occasions, he was awarded the Department of Defense’s highest civilian honor, the Medal for Distinguished Public Service. He authored 11 books.

At his core, Ash Carter was a professor. Ash took great pride in his cadre of students spanning four decades who were impacting the world. He was an extremely decent man who meant an enormous amount to many.

Ash’s story is a model of the Belfer Center demonstrating leadership with intellectual curiosity, intention, and kindness.

Unexpected news can bring heavy tasks and broken hearts, but I have steadfast confidence in the Center and our path ahead. Our community of faculty, staff, students, and fellows continually rises to challenges with resolve and expertise. So, while we feel the tremendous loss of Ash in our hallways and classrooms, our work to advance policy-relevant knowledge and train the next generation of leaders in science, technology, and international affairs continues.

Stepping in to take the helm of the Belfer Center is a privilege I do not take lightly. Natalie and I will continue to work with our community to continue building a mission-driven and diverse organization. I genuinely hope we all begin the new year with that renewed sense of value and purpose. As we mark our 50th anniversary in 2023, we will honor our past and celebrate all there is in store for the Belfer Center.

Eric Rosenbach

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Belfer Center Annual Report 2022.” Announcement, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, March 13, 2023.