New Course on Grand Strategy Offered at Yale

A new course offered by Yale’s International Security Studies Program aims to restore the subject of “grand strategy” to the academic agenda during a post-Cold War era that the course’s teachers contend sorely needs broad strategic thinking in international policy, corporate planning and public affairs.

“In this year-long course, we would like its participants to understand strategy in the largest possible sense, to see the whole forest and not just the individual trees, to understand the broader picture,” said Paul Kennedy, the J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History, in outlining the objectives of “Studies in Grand Srategy.”

The seminar, which is at present mainly geared to graduate students, combines an interdisciplinary approach to the subject of grand strategy, which is defined as “the calculated relation of means to large ends.” The course features an eclectic, transcultural curriculum and a structure that comprises seminars and lecture series in the classroom and a relevant summer project (with full report due in the fall).

Kennedy and John Gaddis, Yale’s Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History, were joined by Charles Hill, Distinguished Fellow at International Security Studies, and Professor, Paul Bracken of the School of Management in designing the course, and all four will teach and participate in the weekly sessions.

The first semester puts grand strategy in historical perspective, with a syllabus that covers such classical primary sources as Thucydides’ “The Peloponnesian War,” Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and case studies of the strategic policies of statesmen like Metternich, Bismark and Kissinger.

The twenty-four students in the class this spring represent a large cross-section of academic and professional backgrounds: from the history, political science and international relations departments to the Law School and School of Management. One graduate student from the African Studies program and seven undergraduates are also enrolled.

“You cannot teach at Yale for long without realizing that some of your students are likely to wind up running significant parts of this country or others-maybe even the countries themselves,” observed Gaddis.

The lecture series will provide students with an opportunity to hear visiting scholars and leaders from different sectors of the economy and government present the concept of grand strategy. Michael Sherman, Chief Strategist of the Marsh and McLennan Companies, will talk about “grand strategy in theory and practice” from a business point of view. Brigadier General Carl W. Reddel, president of the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute, will address grand strategy from the military vantage point. Tony Judt, Director of the Remarque Institute, New York University, will speak about a consideration that is a major component of strategic decision-making: strategic dilemmas and “competing values” (order vs. justice, for instance). Other scholars will touch on such topics as the social and philosophical underpinnings of strategy.

During the summer, students have to do an internship or research project concentrating on a particular strategic problem and must submit a report of 10,000 to 15,000 words describing what they did.

The focus in the fall semester will be on the here, now and future of grand strategy, factors that might affect it, such as globalization, culture and advancing technology, and ways it might be applied in such disparate realms as the environment, politics and finance. Strategy and education, ethics and leadership will also be considered during the second half of the course.

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