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

Belfer Center Newsletter Fall 2021

| Fall 2021

The flags of U.S. and China flying left to right against a blue sky.

The U.S.-China Future

Competition and Collaboration With a Rising China

Whether they regard it as competitive, cooperative, or confrontational, virtually all observers agree that the U.S.-China relationship is consequential. From cyber norms and AI to military tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the global struggle to turn the tide on climate change, how Washington and Beijing manage their shared future will shape the globe for decades to come.

That’s the impetus behind a major new report series from Graham Allison and his research team that evaluates key dimensions of China’s power. On the more collaborative side of the scale, John P. Holdren, Henry Lee, Dan Schrag, and others are working with China’s top scientists on critical energy and climate issues.
Read more »

Leadership in Action

A collage of Nicholas Burns, Sasha Baker, Meredith Berger, Bonnie Jenkins on a top row and Aditi Kumar, Marcus Comiter, Caitlin Conley, Raina Davis, Jeff Fields, and Aoibheann Thinnes along the bottom.

Center Alumni Tapped to Serve

The Center is proud that more than a dozen of our community members including Bonnie Jenkins, Eric Lander, Samantha Power, Wendy Sherman, Jake Sullivan, and—pending Senate confirmation—Sasha Baker and Nick Burns have answered the call to serve in the Biden administration. And a new generation of leaders who are recent HKS graduates and Belfer alums are serving important—and in some cases, very senior—roles as well. Meredith BergerMarcus ComiterCaitlin ConleyRaina DavisJeff FieldsAditi Kumar, and Aoibhean Thinnes are helping run projects on industrial policy, AI, law enforcement, and national security.
Read more »

Dunford and NSFs

Gen. Dunford Shares Insights with Security Fellows

Each year, the Belfer Center welcomes more than a dozen U.S. military officers and civilian officials for a year of research and discussions with top military and government leaders. This year, these National Security Fellows are getting special mentoring from Belfer Center Senior Fellow and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. (ret.).
Read more »

Nick Sinai headshot next to the U.S. Digital Corps logo.

U.S. Digital Corps Expands Government Expertise

With the launch of the U.S. Digital Corps this summer, the Biden administration signaled a desire to attract early-career technologists and put their skills to work in the federal government. Nick Sinai, Senior Fellow with the Technology and Public Purpose Project and co-founder of the U.S. Digital Corps, describes the origins of the Corps.
Read more »

Tackling Climate Change

In from of the COP26 logo, people buzz about the stage on the final day of COP26. Kiara Worth.

Takeaways from COP26 

Following the high-stakes COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, we asked climate experts Laura Diaz Anadon, John P. Holdren, Henry Lee, Halla Hrund Logadóttir, and Robert Stavins for their perspectives on the conference. What were the major successes of COP26 and what steps should the international community take now?
Read more »

An image of a horse on Jeju island, Korea on the left and Robert Stavins at COP26 on the right.

Collaborating to Meet Climate Goals

Robert Stavins and his team from the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements led a side event at COP26 focusing on collaboration in meeting climate goals. The event focused on the dramatic actions underway on the island of Jeju, off the coast of South Korea. The small island is taking immediate actions to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Read more »

Arctic Initiative Presents Vital Research

Warming at three times the global average, the Arctic serves as a bellwether for the world on climate impacts and mitigation. Arctic Initiative leaders and students shared critical research and innovative ideas and insights at the 2021 Arctic Circle Assembly and at COP26. Learn more about Arctic Initiative activities at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland and at COP26 in Glasgow.

Safety & Security

Disinformation Impacts on Elections

Chris Krebs, Senior Fellow with the Cyber and Homeland Security Projects and head of the U.S. Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency during the 2020 elections, joined Joan Donavan, Research Director for Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, to discuss the dangerous mis and disinformation being spread today and how to ensure safe and secure elections in 2022.
Watch the discussion »

An Inside Look at Havana Syndrome

A victim of the mysterious neurological attacks on members of the U.S. intelligence and diplomatic communities joined the Belfer Center’s Intelligence Project to discuss the attacks, their effects, and possible solutions. Marc Polymeropoulus described the horrendous middle of night assault and his difficulties in getting treatment for what was diagnosed as a traumatic brain injury.
See event highlights and the full report »

A computer code is seen on displays in the office of Global Cyber Security Company Group-IB in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017.  AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Can U.S.-Russia Cyber Rules of the Road Work?

Amid growing U.S.-Russia tensions in the cyber domain, the Cyber Project and U.S-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism looked into a possible “rules of the road” agreement to regulate cyber actions and minimize conflict, including potential nuclear conflict.
Read the research paper »

A collage of two planes against the flags of Russia and the United States. In this image taken Tuesday, June 16, 2020, and released by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a Russian Tu-95 bomber, top, is intercepted by a U.S. F-22 Raptor fighter off the coast of Alaska. North American Aerospace Defense Command via AP

Defense Sector Influence on Policy in U.S., Russia

In both the U.S. and Russia, defense industries have a major impact on policymaking. In articles published by Russia Matters, American and Russian scholars provide insightful views about this influence. 
Read more »

Learning from the Past

The September 11th light tribute. Two bright beams of light, emanating from the former World Trade Center site, pierce the night sky over a bright New York City skyline.

9/11 Twenty Years Later: Conference Highlights Causes and Effects

9/11: Intelligence and National Security Twenty Years Later, a full-day conference hosted by the Intelligence Project, looked back at the day of the attacks 20 years ago to better understand the impacts of that day through personal stories, policy reflections, and consideration of the long-term effects on American society.
See event highlights and the full report »

Afghanistan: What Happened and What's Next?

Following U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Harvard Kennedy School discussions focused on what happened during the 20 year war, and what might come next for the troubled nation and broader region. Belfer Center participants included Ash Carter, Eric Rosenbach, Meghan O’Sullivan, Farah Pandith, Zoe Marks, Graham Allison, Kathryn Sikkink, and Stephen Walt.
Read more »

Building Bridges

FDP 10 Cover graphic on a blue background

Making Diplomacy Work Today

In this 10-year retrospective on the Future of Diplomacy Project, established and led by Nicholas Burns, several of the Project’s high-profile former fellows reflect on the geostrategic challenges ahead for statecraft and offer advice to the rising generation of diplomats. This publication also highlights the more than 350 global leaders who have visited and engaged with the community over the past decade—and the Project’s American Secretaries of State Project, which has interviewed nearly all living former U.S. Secretaries of State.
See the publication »

A collage of a satellite image of the Korean peninsula and three North Korean children.

Examining Public Diplomacy With North Korea

The North Korean nuclear threat remains one of the most persistent and complex foreign policy issues facing the United States. This paper by Center Fellow Jieun Baek looks at public diplomacy—activities intended to understand, inform, and influence the North Korean people—as an essential tool in achieving U.S. objectives on the peninsula.
Read more »

"The Scholar" a painting by Osman Hamdy Bey (1878).

Exploring the Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art 

Kuwait Foundation Scholar Sultan Al Qassemi recently led a study group on the connections between politics and art in the Arab world and what those intersections mean for the future of the Middle East. It is essential, he believes, “to consider the cultural dynamics that influence political and social spheres.
Read more »

Spotlighting Community

Charli Carpenter and Zoe Marks' headshots on an orange graphic background.

Q&A: Zoe Marks and Charli Carpenter

The impact of war and conflict on civilians is a concern shared by Professor Zoe Marks and International Security Program Fellow Charli Carpenter. We asked them how the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is affecting Afghan women and what kind of help would most likely be welcomed by women in all conflict areas.
Read more »

A group shot of the Belfer Center student fellows with Ash Carter.

Student Fellows Share Goals and Special Moments

Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) students selected as Belfer Young Leader Student Fellows for this academic year are working with faculty and research projects and taking part in Center activities to gain expertise and leadership skills. We asked those  who will graduate this spring to tell us something about themselves, their goals, and special experiences while at HKS.
Read more »

Lovita Strain headshot on a blue graphic background.

Staff Spotlight: Lovita Strain

Whether she’s examining spreadsheets, organizing an event for her town’s community center, or cruising New England’s scenic byways on her Harley Davidson, Financial Associate Lovita Strain is known for bringing a smile—and a big heart—to everything she does. 
Read more »

Hot off the Presses

A collage of four book covers.

The yellow cover of the International Security Journal's Fall 2021 issue.

International Security Journal Highlights

For the Fall 2021 issue of International Security, we highlight several articles, including: “Caught Red-Handed: How States Wield Proof to Coerce Wrongdoers” by Cullen G. Nutt and Reid B.C. Pauly; “The Subversive Trilemma: Why Cyber Operations Fall Short of Expectations” by Lennart Maschmeyer; and “Arms Control as Wedge Strategy: How Arms Limitation Deals Divide Alliances” by Timothy W. Crawford and Khang X. Vu.
Read more »

Immutable: A Blockchain Podcast

Hosted by Josh Burek, Immutable is a curiosity-centered guide to the emerging blockchain-based economy. From smart contracts to stable coins and NFTs, Immutable explores the challenges and opportunities of a new era—and the pioneers who are shaping it.
Read more »

Belfer in Brief

Syra Madad headshot

  • The Project on Managing the Atom will celebrate its 25th year with a Spring 2022 conference. Read more »
  • Senior Fellow Sue Gordon has received the International Spy Museum’s William H. Webster Distinguished Service AwardRead more »
  • Professor Linda Bilmes has been named the only U.S. member of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration.  Read more »

  • Syra Madad, Belfer Center Senior Fellow (pictured here), continues her series on COVID facts and fictions. Read more »
  • Lauren Zabierek and Camille Stewart received the CyberScoop Industry Leadership Award for their ShareTheMicInCyber social media campaigns. Read more »
  • The Belfer Center is pleased to support several student groups at Harvard Kennedy School: Armed Services CommitteeAfrica Caucus, Black Student Union, Diplomacy PIC, and Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development (W3D). Watch Belfer Center Events listings »


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Ash Carter, Director
Eric Rosenbach, Co-Director
Natalie Colbert, Executive Director

Editor: Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications
Designer/Multimedia: Benn Craig Multimedia Producer
Digital Outreach: Julie Balise, Digital Communications Manager
Josh Burek, Director of Global Communications & Strategy

The Communications Office would like to thank the following staff members for their special assistance in producing this newsletter: Natalia Angel, Daniel Bicknell, Carly DemetreMary Fulham, Susan Lynch, Matthew Parent, Amanda Sardonis, Natasha Yefimova-Trilling, and Lauren Zabierek.

All photos and graphics by Belfer Center unless otherwise noted.


For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Belfer Center Fall 2021 Newsletter. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. (Fall 2021)