R. Nicholas Burns

The Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Office Address
Littauer-374
Mailing Address
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Mailbox 54
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Contact
Phone: 617-496-3255
Fax: 617-495-8963
Email: Nicholas_Burns@hks.harvard.edu
Assistant
Alison Hillegeist (617-495-2495)
R. Nicholas Burns

Profile

Nicholas Burns is  Sultan of Oman Professor of the Practice of International Relations  at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair for the Programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia. He serves on the Board of Directors of the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is a Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

He is Director of the Aspen Strategy Group, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group, and serves on the Board of Directors of Entegris, Inc.  He writes a biweekly column on foreign affairs for the Boston Globe.

Burns serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Special Olympics, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Atlantic Council, American Media Abroad, the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and the Gennadius Library.  He is Vice Chairman of the American Ditchley Foundation and serves on the Panel of Senior Advisors at Chatham House: the Royal Institute of International Affairs.  He is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Trilateral Commission, the Order of Saint John, and Red Sox Nation.

Professor Burns served in the United States government for twenty-seven years.  As a career Foreign Service Officer, he was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008; the State Department’s third-ranking official when he led negotiations on the U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement; a long-term military assistance agreement with Israel; and was the lead U.S. negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program. He was U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2001–2005), Ambassador to Greece (1997–2001) and State Department Spokesman (1995–1997).  He worked for five years (1990–1995) on the National Security Council at the White House where he was Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs and Special Assistant to President Clinton and Director for Soviet Affairs in the Administration of President George H.W. Bush. Burns also served in the American Consulate General in Jerusalem (1985–1987) where he coordinated U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and before that, at the American embassies in Egypt (1983-1985) and Mauritania (1980 as an intern).

Professor Burns has received twelve honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Johns Hopkins University, the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award and the Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University. He has a BA in History from Boston College (1978), an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1980), and earned the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (1977). He was a visiting Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in summer 2008.

Courses

Fall

  • IGA-116 Great Power Competition in the International System

Not Offered

  • IGA-110 Modern Diplomacy: Peace and War in the 21st Century

Spring

  • IGA-109 Great Negotiators, Effective Diplomacy, and Intractable Negotiations

Media Expertise

R. Nicholas Burns welcomes media inquiries on the following subjects:

Additional experts may be found by clicking on each subject listed. You may contact faculty directly or if you need assistance contact the Communications Office at 617-495-1115.

Research

For a complete list of faculty citations from 2001 - present, please visit the Harvard Kennedy School Research Report Online.

Selected Publication Citations:

  • Commentary
    • Burns, Nicholas. "A Balancing Act for Iran End Game." Boston Globe, October 24, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "Shutdown Diminishes US as a Global Power." Boston Globe, October 9, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "Diplomacy to the Rescue in Syria?" Boston Globe, September 12, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "An Opportunity for Breakthrough Diplomacy." Boston Globe, September 25, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "A Modern Founding Father." Boston Globe, August 28, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "Obama Has an Opening with Iran." Boston Globe, August 15, 2013.
    • Burns, R. Nicholas. "John Kerry’s Six-Month Report Card." Boston Globe, August 1, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "JFK's Wisdom for Graduates." Boston Globe, May 12, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "Challenges, both Here and Abroad." Boston Globe, April 25, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "After the Boston Marathon Bomb Attacks: What We've Learned." Boston Globe, April 18, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "End War, but Don’t Abandon Afghanistan." Boston Globe, April 11, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "Mr. Xi Goes to Moscow." Boston Globe, March 29, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "Syria is Melting Away." Boston Globe, March 18, 2013.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "Military's Limits Show Need for America's Neglected Weapon." Boston Globe, February 28, 2103.
    • Burns, Nicholas. "How the US Should Handle Iran." Boston Globe, February 14, 2013.
  • Edited Volumes
    • Burns, R. Nicholas, and Jonathan Price, eds. The Arab Revolutions and American Policy. Aspen Strategy Group, 2013.
  • Magazine and Newspaper Articles
    • Burns, Nicholas. "US-Russia Chemical Weapons Deal on Syria: 3 Questions with Ambassador Nicholas Burns." GlobalPost. September 16, 2013.