fbpx Great Power Competition in the International System | Harvard Kennedy School
Nicholas Burns Photo

Nicholas Burns

Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations

The global balance of power is changing dramatically.  This course focuses on the compelling transformation we are witnessing: the return of China to great power status; the changing nature of European and Russian power; the new roles that India, Brazil, South Africa and others are exercising in global politics; and, most importantly, the change in U.S. leadership under President Donald Trump’s America First agenda.  Our major objective will be to discuss and debate whether the strongest global powers can find ways to cooperate in addressing the most consequential challenges ahead in the next decade—climate change and changing energy dynamics; nuclear proliferation; regional wars; cyber threats; the scourge of pandemics; the refugee crisis; and other issues.  We will also examine competition among the great powers in the U.S.-China struggle for regional and global power; the North Korea nuclear crisis; the South and East China Sea conflicts; the Middle East wars; renewed divisions in Europe; and in the race for dominance in the new technologies of the digital age, such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and quantum computing.  We will conclude the course by investigating what the world power balance might look like in 2050 and examining the more positive economic, technological, and social trends that should give us some urgently needed hope as we think about the global future.