Nicholas Burns Photo
Nicholas Burns
Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations
Office:
79 John F. Kennedy St. Littauer Bldg 374
617-496-3255
617-495-2495

Ambassador (Ret.) Nicholas Burns is the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is the founder and Faculty Chair of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair of the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship. He served as Faculty Chair of the Middle East Initiative from 2010–2018. 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.

Burns is Director of the Aspen Strategy Group, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group, and serves on the Board of Directors of Entegris, Inc. He also serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Special Olympics International, the Diplomacy Center Foundation, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, The Trilateral Commission, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Atlantic Council, America Abroad Media, the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the Boston Committee on Foreign Relations, the Gennadius Library, the NATO Cyber Center of Excellence, and Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Television Advisory Board. From 2014-2017, he was a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board at the U.S. Department of State. 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, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Order of Saint John. He is also a member of Red Sox Nation. In 2018, Burns was elected as a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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 fifteen honorary degrees, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the 2017 Ignatian Award from Boston College, 2016 New Englander of the Year from the New England Council, 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

Transparent Engagement

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School.

Outside Professional Activities For Nicholas Burns

In addition to the courses I teach, my work at the Kennedy School is focused on two major programs.  I founded the Future of Diplomacy Project in 2010 to focus our students, fellows and faculty on the importance of diplomacy in the 21st-century global environment.  I also serve as Faculty Chair of the Program on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship, which we launch at the Kennedy School in 2018. I served as Faculty Chair of the Middle East Initiative from 2009-2018.

I am active outside of the Kennedy School. From 2014-2017, I served on then Secretary of State John Kerry’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. I was an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign.  I serve on the board of Entegris, Inc. based in Massachusetts.  In addition, I am a consultant to Goldman Sachs, serve as a Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group and as Director of the Aspen Strategy Group.

I also sit on the boards of several non-profit organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, Special Olympics, the Atlantic Council and others listed on my Harvard biography.

The following is a list of speeches I have given during the past year.  I received a speaking fee for some of these, expenses only for others and no payments for others.

2018

  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Boston College
  • Radcliffe
  • New England Asset Management
  • John F. Kennedy Library
  • State Street
  • Hotchkiss
  • 20-20 Investment Association
  • Citi Bank
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • WorldBoston
  • Texas A&M University
  • Transcontinental Media G.P.
  • Fidelity
  • Bates College
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Honeywell
  • Foreign Policy 4 America
  • DLA Piper
  • Nutter McClennen & Fish
  • Naples World Affairs Council
  • Munich Security Conference
  • Barron’s
  • Waters Corporation
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Argus Media, Inc.
  • Citi Bank
  • National Electrical Contractors Association
  • Worcester Economic Club
  • New Providence Asset Management
  • Kennedy Library Forum

2017

  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Foreign Policy 4 America
  • Aspen Institute
  • Analytical, Life Science & Diagnostics Association
  • Atlantic Council
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Order of St. John
  • SEMI
  • Fidelity
  • Yale University
  • American School of Classical Studies at Athens
  • PS Business Parks
  • Santa Fe Council on International Relations
  • Credit Suisse
  • Analytical, Life Science & Diagnostics Association
  • Foreign Policy Association
  • Rafael del Piño Foundation
  • Appeal of Conscience Foundation
  • Raytheon
  • Ditchley
  • Kent Presents
  • MFS Investment Management
  • U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee
  • State Street
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • U.S. Global Leadership Coalition
  • Boston College
  • Atlantic Council
  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Pioneer Institute
  • American University of Paris
  • Salem State University
  • SkyBridge SALT LLC
  • DLA Piper
  • Congregation Kehillath Israel
  • Honeywell
  • Yale University
  • Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
  • Meridiam
  • U.S. Senate Banking Committee
  • World Jewish Congress
  • Colby College
  • U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • The German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • Citi Bank
  • National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts
  • Tufts University – Institute for Global Leadership
  • San Diego State University
  • Munich Security Conference
  • Rafael del Piño Foundation
  • Stanford University – Center for International Security and Cooperation
  • Pilgrims
  • Royalty Phama

2016

  • Foreign Service Institute
  • Occidental College McKinnon Center for Global Affairs
  • Argus Media, Inc.
  • Munich Security Conference
  • Jacksonville World Affairs Council
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • University of West Virginia
  • WL Ross & Company
  • Credit Suisse
  • The Wilson Center 
  • Comenius 
  • The Economist
  • The German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • InSTEP
  • PPI
  • General Reinsurance Corporation
  • Ditchley Conference
  • Pratham USA
  • Foreign Policy Association
  • World 50, Inc.
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • University of Washington
  • The Brookings Institution
  • YPO Philadelphia
  • Barclays
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • The Common Good
  • Off The Record
  • Schroders
  • New England Council
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • The Asia Society
  • American Institute for Contemporary German Studies – Johns Hopkins University
  • DLA Piper
  • Fidelity
  • BDT & Company, LLC
  • Aspen Institute

2015

  • Foreign Service Institute
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Occidental College McKinnon Center for Global Affairs
  • Camden Conference
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Hamilton Hall
  • Veteran Homestead
  • Big Arts Forum
  • Miami University JANUS Forum
  • "U.S.-Indo Relations,” South Asia Institute, Harvard University
  • Ambassador Christopher Stevens Memorial Lecture, University of California Hastings College of Law
  • Gatehouse Advisory Partners Ltd.
  • Boston Public Library Literary Lights Awards
  • MassBay Community College
  • The Commercial Club of Boston
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Fireside Chat, Cabot House, Harvard University
  • The New School, “Sanctions and Divestment: Economic Weapons of Political and Social Change” conference
  • Loyola University Commencement
  • Hamilton Trust
  • Aerospace Industries Association of America
  • Harvard Class of 1955 Reunion
  • Aspen Institute Conference on Extremism
  • Boston College Carroll School of Management
  • Comenius Club
  • Harvard Business School Young Presidents’ Organization Executive Education Program
  • Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program Executive Education Program
  • Aspen Ideas Festival
  • Testimonies on Iran Nuclear Deal (House Foreign Affairs Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Banking Committee)
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conference on U.S.-India Relations
  • Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute
  • University of Southern Maine
  • National War College
  • Temple Emanuel, Newton, MA
  • Boston Committee on Foreign Relations
  • Wardroom Club Veterans Group
  • Harvard Club of Cape Cod
  • Fletcher School Iran Forum
  • Barron’s
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and Oxford University – Workshop in Global Leadership
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Cobb-Vantress 2015 Distributor Conference
  • Barclays Geopolitical Risk and DC Defense Policy Forum
  • Brown University Taubman Center for Public Policy
  • Springfield Public Forum
  • Invesco Ltd.
  • G50 Annual Meeting
  • Bipartisan Policy Center conference on Strategic Health Diplomacy
  • Old Sturbridge Village
  • Wheaton College Tiffany Lecture
  • Anatolia Trustees
  • Nordic American Tanker
  • 92Y Lecture Series
  • Carnegie Mellon Unviersity
  • Credit Suisse
  • Carlyle Group
  • Foreign Policy Association
  • American School of Classical Studies Association

2014

  • The Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs, Wellesley College
  • Harvard Business School Young Presidents’ Organization Executive Education Program
  • The Foreign Policy Discussion Group
  • Chatham House – The Royal Institute for International Affairs
  • Morning Prayers, Harvard University
  • Partnership for a Secure America
  • Harvard German Conference: 50 Years of Munich Security
  • National Association of Insurance Commissioners
  • Dr. Edward W. Minnock Center for International Engagement, Bridgewater State University
  • “Meet the Scholars” Graduate Common Program, Harvard University
  • Tufts EPIIC Symposium: The Future of the Middle East and North Africa, Fletcher School
  • Harvard University’s European Conference
  • Leiden University – Campus The Hague
  • Panetta Institute for Public Policy
  • 2014 Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference
  • U.S. Dairy Export Council
  • Harvard Business School Leading a Global Business Executive Education Program
  • Boston College Carroll School of Management
  • American Council on Germany/Atlantik Brueke Conference: “Restoring Trust: the Future of the Transatlantic Relationship”
  • Atlantic Council Conference: “Toward a Europe Whole and Free”
  • The Field Club of Greenwich
  • Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program (Executive Education)
  • Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Diodati Club
  • Institutional Investor
  • Chatham House – The Royal Institute for International Affairs
  • Freedom and Solidarity Forum, Seventieth Anniversary of D-Day, Normandy, France
  • Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation
  • Center for a New American Security Annual Conference
  • Council on Foreign Relations Annual Meeting
  • American Comenius Course
  • World Affairs Council of Maine
  • Metals Service Center Institute
  • Congressman Joe Kennedy
  • Aspen Institute – Aspen Ideas Festival

Contact

Phone: 617-496-3255
Office: 79 John F. Kennedy St. Littauer Bldg 374

Faculty Expertise

Decision Making & Negotiation
International Relations & Security
Public Leadership & Management

HKS Affiliations

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy St.
Mailbox: 54
Cambridge, MA 02138