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MIT security seminar turns 20

An MIT program based in Washington, D.C., that once hosted Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as a lecturer on Russia and whose overall aim is to enhance critical thinking about politics, economics and foreign policy among rising military and policy community leaders, celebrated its 20th anniversary at a gala in the capital on Monday, Sept. 12.

Founded in 1986 by Suzanne Berger, the Raphael Dorman-Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science, Seminar XXI has sought since its beginning to introduce selected fellows to high-level scholars and analysts in the national security policy community.

About 1,200 military officers, government and NGO officials and executives have completed the seminar. Graduates include Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commanding general of the multinational forces in Iraq; Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joel R. Whitehead, a leader in cleanup efforts following Hurricane Katrina; Andrew S. Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Claudia Kennedy, the U.S Army's first female lieutenant general. Fellows have also included executives from the Mercy Corps and the Congressional Hunger Center.

Seminar XXI fellows receive a very MIT message about international relations: There is more than one way of thinking about the same facts.

The program explores key policy issues related to areas and problems affecting American interests in the world. Fellows meet at monthly seminars in Washington -- six Monday evenings and three weekend retreats -- that feature leading academics and national policymakers.

MIT faculty involved with Seminar XXI include political science Professors Barry Posen, Richard Samuels and Stephen Van Evera, who is also faculty director of the Center for International Studies, and political science Associate Professors Kenneth Oye, Edward Steinfeld, Chappel Lawson and Roger Petersen.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 14, 2005 (download PDF).

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