Secretary John Kerry ’66 joins Yale as Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs

The 68th secretary of state will lead the "Kerry Initiative," an interdisciplinary program that will tackle pressing global challenges through teaching, research, and international dialogue.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry will serve as Yale’s first-ever Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs. A 1966 graduate of Yale College, Kerry will return to his alma mater to oversee the Kerry Initiative, an interdisciplinary program that will tackle pressing global challenges through teaching, research, and international dialogue.

John Kerry ’66

The alumnus will leverage insights, experiences, and relationships on a global scale to oversee the Kerry Initiative, collaborating with students and faculty from across the university and deepening the Yale experience to have greater interaction with the world beyond campus. In partnership with the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, the Kerry Initiative will advance Yale’s long tradition of preparing the next generation of world leaders.

Through the initiative, Kerry will partner with scholars from across Yale, applying their shared expertise to questions of global importance: failed and failing states and the challenge of authoritarian populism; rising sectarianism and violent extremism; climate change and other environmental threats; and capacity building, global economic opportunity, and development. Drawing on experience from his long and distinguished career, Kerry will convene and lead conversations among global stakeholders, both in New Haven and overseas, to develop new approaches to solving these crucial challenges.

Teaching and research are fundamental to the Kerry Initiative. Kerry will lead a seminar open to students from across the university in the 2017-2018 academic year. He will also engage with students at the Yale Law School, School of Management, Divinity School, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the Jackson Institute. Through the Kerry Fellows Program, Yale undergraduate, graduate, and professional students will collaborate with Kerry on leading-edge research and high-profile publications for a global audience.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary Kerry, with his vast insights and experience on global affairs, to lead this exciting new program at Yale,” said President Peter Salovey. “The Kerry Initiative will allow Yale students and faculty to engage with leaders from around the world to discuss, analyze, and understand today’s most vital challenges. By bringing together scholars, practitioners, and leaders, the Kerry Initiative will elevate the discourse around these divisive issues and develop promising new ideas in public policy that are so desperately needed. Secretary Kerry has dedicated his career to public service, and here at Yale — through teaching, research, and dialogue — he will continue to inspire the next generation of national and world leaders.”

Next generation of diplomats and activists

“Yale’s been a part of my life since I first walked on campus as a teenager and heard Allard Lowenstein challenge my generation to get involved and make a difference,” said Kerry. “This is where I first raised my hand as a junior and pledged to defend the Constitution, and it’s where I first debated and struggled with issues of war and peace. Teaching, researching, convening, engaging, and collaborating with young people and together wrestling with the world’s most complex issues is an exciting chapter in the journey that began for me in New Haven.

“I’m grateful to President Salovey for his enthusiasm about what we can do together as a Yale community and how we can empower the next generation of idealists and diplomats and activists to be a part of public service and a cause bigger than themselves,”  Kerry said.

Established in 2009 with a gift from John W. ’67 and Susan G. Jackson, the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale offers interdisciplinary academic programs that inspire and prepare Yale students for global leadership and service. The institute hosts accomplished practitioners in government, business, international organizations, and the NGO community through its Senior Fellows program and the Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program.

Yale has a rich history of educating leaders for positions of responsibility around the world. Graduates include five U.S. presidents; four U.S. secretaries of state; the presidents or prime ministers of Mexico, South Korea, and Germany; numerous ambassadors; and many heads of private and non-profit enterprises that contribute to the public good, such as Human Rights Watch, Mercy Corps, Ashoka, Unite for Sight, and the Peace Corps.

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