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Date and Location

November 1, 2023
4:15 PM - 5:45 PM ET
B-500 Bell Hall


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Harvard Kennedy School Study Group led by Dr. Karen Donfried, Belfer Center Senior FellowDr. 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 15Time:  4:15 – 5:45 p.m.Locations: 

  • 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 4 | November 1, 2023Third debate:  The war has strengthened/weakened transatlantic ties.

  • One side will likely argue the US and Europe are more united because they are standing up to the threat from Russia together based on their shared assessment.  The other side will make the case that, as the war drags on, the transatlantic alliance is fraying, because the costs are growing and interests are diverging.
  • It could also be interesting to consider if the U.S. is less likely to criticize democratic backsliding in countries like Poland in order to avoid creating tensions with a key ally supporting Ukraine.  Turkey might be another ally to consider.

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