M. Taylor Fravel, the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, has been named director of the MIT Security Studies Program (SSP). Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of SSP since 2006, announced the leadership transition to the SSP community at its recent gala dinner.
Fravel takes over as director today. Posen will continue his research and teaching responsibilities at MIT. As a member of SSP, he will continue leading the Grand Strategy, Security, and Statecraft Fellows Program.
“SSP is a community of scholars dedicated to the proposition that the problem of international and internal war merits sustained study. I have every confidence that Taylor will bring an infusion of new ideas, and energy to attempt new initiatives, that come with a new leader,” says Posen.
SSP is widely recognized as a leader in its field, generating research on international security issues and training graduate students for careers in academia, government, business, and civil society organizations. The MIT Center for International Studies (CIS) provides the intellectual home and the administrative infrastructure for SSP.
Fravel is an expert on international security, with a focus on China’s foreign and security policies. He joined MIT in 2004 as assistant professor of political science and member of SSP. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Security Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, and the China Quarterly, and is a member of the board of directors for the National Committee on United States-China Relations.
Fravel’s most recent book, "Active Defense: China's Military Strategy Since 1949," was published by Princeton University Press earlier this year. It has been praised as “the first book to provide a comprehensive history of China’s military doctrine as it has evolved since the founding of the People’s Republic.”
“SSP is one of the country’s preeminent university-based programs for the study of international security,” Fravel says. “For more than 40 years, the faculty, fellows, and students of SSP have been conducting policy-relevant and rigorous research on questions of war and peace, both among states and within them. I am honored to be given this opportunity to serve as director and look forward to working with my SSP and MIT colleagues in this new role.”
Fravel is a graduate of Middlebury College and Stanford University, where he received his PhD in political science. He has been a postdoc at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, a predoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, a fellow with the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, and a visiting scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also has graduate degrees from the London School of Economics and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar.