The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies announced today that starting July 1 I will administer the Conflict Management Program founded by Bill Zartman and directed in recent years by Terry Hopmann, who will now have more time for research. This is the program in which I have been privileged to teach post-war reconstruction and transition for the last five years, in addition to my research, writing, consulting, training and public commentary. I am pleased to take on this additional responsibility, which will occupy the bulk of my time while I continue to try to make a difference both in how we think about international conflict and what we do about it.
Alumni and current students will wonder what my plans are for the program. I do not intend to make big changes, at least initially. SAIS Conflict Management is in my view among the very best programs in the field in the United States, if not the best, so my job is first and foremost to keep it that way, improving its performance and amplifying its impact where I can under tight resource constraints. Bill Zartman and Terry Hopmann have both agreed to continue teaching, as have other faculty, which is an enormous plus in my book. I’ll want to talk with both current students and alumni about their perceptions of market needs and intellectual requirements before moving to adjust or supplement the offerings, subject of course to resource constraints.
Negotiation has been the intellectual mainstay of the SAIS program. We will continue to support publication of the Journal of International Negotiation, run the Workshop on International Negotiation and join with others to sponsor the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum. At the same time, I’ll hope we branch out as resources allow: countering violent extremism and negotiating (or not) with terrorists are obvious areas we might want to beef up.
In my other activities, I’ll continue to do what I can to further peace, security and prosperity in the Balkans while spending more of my time on the frighteningly destabilized Middle East. That will include publication of www.peacefare.net, though I’ll hope to fulfill my ambition to get more people, including SAIS students and alums, writing for it. I’ll also look for synergies with others at SAIS and beyond to cover important conflicts in Europe (Russia/Ukraine), Asia (China, Burma, India/Pakistan), Africa (Nigeria, DRC, Mali, Mozambique) and Central America.
Today’s world is one ripe for the kinds of civilian engagement that I have long advocated. Military power will remain important in framing and enabling what the United States can do in the world, but unless we get better at the civilian side of things it will be hard to keep the world moving in a more stable and peaceful direction. I look forward to working with colleagues and students at SAIS in Washington and Bologna and alumni around the world to improve the prospects for peaceful resolution of even heartfelt and too often lucrative disputes. We owe it to the world and to ourselves.
Veritas vos liberabit,