First HKS HarvardX Course Lets Students Advise on National Security Challenges

September 11, 2013
By James F. Smith, Belfer Center Communications

Imagine you are an aide to President Obama, making a recommendation about what he should do to confront the toughest foreign policy crises on the agenda: whether to launch military strikes against the Syrian regime; how to minimize the damage from NSA surveillance leaks; how to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
Making such hard choices has long been the core of the oversubscribed Harvard Kennedy School Course, IGA-211: “Central Challenges of American National Security, Strategy and the Press” that Graham Allison and David Sanger are teaching this fall. Harvard graduate students, playing the roles of senior White House advisers, write and then defend strategy memos on how the U.S. should act in these cases.

Now, for the first time, anyone can audit an online version of this course, called HKS211.1x. In addition, 500 successful applicants will be able to enroll and complete weekly assignments, join discussion groups, and earn a certificate of mastery if they pass. Registering to audit the course is simple; just sign up online, and watch the lectures and sample the readings. Those who want to apply for the certificate version will need to complete a competitive application process, available at 6p.m. EST Sept. 11 through Sept. 23. Classes will begin Oct.1. Both of these options are available for free through edX, the non-profit online education enterprise founded by Harvard and MIT.
Graham Allison, the founding dean of the modern Kennedy School and now director of the school’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is co-teaching the course with David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times and best-selling author. Allison and Sanger will offer videotaped lectures and will participate in the online discussions.
Few people understand Washington decision-making as well as Allison and Sanger. Allison, who served as assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton Administration, is author of Essence of Decision: "Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis," and has analyzed presidential policy choices over four decades. Sanger is author of two best-selling books, including "Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power." He was part of two New York Timesreporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes.

For more information, contact:
Michael Rutter, communications director, HarvardX:; 617-495-9028
James Smith, communications director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School:; 617.495.7831

Graham Allison, David Sanger to teach online course on national security and the press

Graham Allison, Belfer Center director (right) and David Sanger, senior fellow and adjunct lecturer taping a session for their edX course.


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