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

First HKS HarvardX Course Lets Students Advise on Syria, NSA Leaks, and Iran

| September 4, 2013

Graham Allison, David Sanger to teach online course on national security and the press

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Imagine you are an aide to President Obama, making a recommendation about what he should do to confront the toughest foreign policy crises on the agenda: whether to launch military strikes against the Syrian regime; how to minimize the damage from NSA surveillance leaks; how to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Making such hard choices has long been the core of the oversubscribed Harvard Kennedy School Course, IGA-211: “Central Challenges of American National Security, Strategy and the Press” that Graham Allison and David Sanger are teaching this fall. Harvard graduate students, playing the roles of senior White House advisers, write and then defend strategy memos on how the U.S. should act in these cases.

Now, for the first time, anyone can audit an online version of this course, called HKS211.1x. In addition, 500 successful applicants will be able to enroll and complete weekly assignments, join discussion groups, and earn a certificate of mastery if they pass. Both of these options are available for free through edX, the non-profit online education enterprise founded by Harvard and MIT.

Allison, the founding dean of the modern Kennedy School and now director of the school’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is co-teaching the course with David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times and best-selling author. Allison and Sanger will offer videotaped lectures and will participate in the online discussions.

Visit here to learn more about the Allison/Sanger course.

Watch this introductory video about the course from its co-instructors.

Registration is open now for those who want to audit the course. Registration will be open from Sept. 11 through Sept. 20 to apply for the 500 spaces in the Harvard Online certificate course. Classes will begin Oct.1.

To register to audit the course, click here.

Registering to audit the course is simple; just sign up online, and watch the lectures and sample the readings. Those who want to apply for the 500 spaces for the certificate version will need to complete a competitive application process, available on Sept. 11.

Few people understand Washington decision-making as well as Allison and Sanger. Allison, who served as assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton Administration, is author of Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, and has analyzed presidential policy choices over four decades. Sanger is author of two best-selling books, including Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power. He was part of two New York Times reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes.

For more information, contact:

Michael Rutter, communications director, HarvardX:; 617-495-9028

James Smith, communications director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School:; 617.495.7831

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Smith, James F.. “First HKS HarvardX Course Lets Students Advise on Syria, NSA Leaks, and Iran.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, September 4, 2013.

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