This event has passed

Date and Location

October 25, 2023
4:15 PM - 5:45 PM ET
B-500 Bell Hall


HKS events calendar icon

​Harvard Kennedy School Study Group led by Dr. Karen Donfried, Belfer Center Senior Fellow
Dr. Karen Donfried served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2021-2023, a tenure marked by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.  She also served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council in 2013 and 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea, and as National Intelligence Officer for Europe on the National Intelligence Council in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from 2011-2013.  Between these assignments in the Obama and Biden Administrations, she was president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, headquartered in DC with seven offices across Europe.

Dates:  Every Wednesday from October 11-November 15

Time:  4:15 – 5:45 p.m.


  • October 11: NYE C (Taubman building, 5th Floor)
  • October 18, October 25, November 1, November 8: BELL HALL (Belfer building, 5th Floor)
  • November 15: R-G-21 NEUSTADT, (Rubenstein building, ground floor)

Eligibility requirements: Harvard graduate and post-graduate students, who can attend all sessions.  We will seek to accommodate several undergraduates.  Applicants with a strong interest in foreign affairs are encouraged to apply.  No specific experience or first-hand knowledge of the issues is required.

  • Apply online through this link by 12pm on October 2, 2023. Late applications will not be considered.

Over the course of six sessions, a study group, led by Dr. Karen Donfried, will examine key foreign policy debates flowing from Russia’s war against Ukraine.  The objective is to provide a deeper understanding of the geopolitics of the war in Ukraine and the implications for U.S. interests. 

Assuming a study group of 30 students, two teams of three students per team will debate each of the five topics. Students will be asked to develop their key arguments and then the two teams for each topic will participate in a live debate, with the rest of the study group serving as the audience.  Each debate will be followed by an in-depth discussion of the relevant issues.  Students will be asked to represent and actively argue views that they may not espouse.  All participants need to share an understanding that the objective is not only to explore all elements of a particular issue around which there is legitimate debate, but also to model how to have a respectful exchange of informed, diverse views and how to disagree about policy matters in a civil and professional manner.

Some minimal reading – about 20 pages – will be required before each session for all participants.  Students responsible for a debate are expected to do their own research and preparation in addition to the assigned reading.  No debate experience is necessary. 


Session 3 | October 25, 2023
Second debate:  The war in Ukraine is/is not distracting the United States from the much larger challenge China poses in Asia specifically and to the U.S.-led world order generally.

  • Debate should consider not only if US efforts in Ukraine distract from and compete with the challenge posed by China, but also on the relationship between Russia and China.  Is there a tension between US support for Ukraine and Taiwan?  Is the US pushing Russia into China’s arms?

Speakers and Presenters

​Dr. Karen Donfried, Belfer Center Senior Fellow and former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs


Additional Organizers

​Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship