fbpx Leading the National Security Enterprise | Harvard Kennedy School
Ash Carter Photo

Ash Carter

Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Belfer Professor of Technology and Global Affairs

IGA-282 analyzes primary issues in the international security arena with a focus on best practices in management and decision-making for future practitioners, senior officials, and policymakers in a variety of settings in the United States and other countries around the world. Students put themselves in the position of national security leaders and learn how to navigate complex bureaucratic, strategic, economic and transnational landscapes to formulate and execute effective policies. 

The first half of the course explores today’s five main global security challenges and discusses grand strategies to address each--the rise of China; Russia’s growing geopolitical ambitions; the balance of power in the Middle East; North Korean WMD development; and transnational terrorism. We will also consider emerging trends like the future of warfare, the shifting global balance of power, and the role of advanced technology in national security. The second half of the course offers lessons learned and best practices for leading large public institutions like the Pentagon, while considering the influence of political leadership and the media. We will also discuss key management priorities in the national security apparatus—specifically the need to effectively and appropriately spend public funds, devise strategies to attract and retain talent, and create effective command structures.  

The objective of the course is both to strengthen students’ grasp of the underlying challenges in international security and to hone the professional skills that will make them effective policymakers and practitioners in national governments, international organizations, or NGOs. Although many of the sessions will employ the U.S. national security enterprise as the starting point, the lessons and skills students will develop during the class will be broadly applicable internationally and across sectors. Students will be required to produce professional products including concise memos, briefings, and oral testimony.