fbpx International Affairs and the Public Sphere | Harvard Kennedy School

HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.


Most social scientists would like to believe that their profession contributes to solving pressing global problems. Indeed, the United States and many other modern societies subsidize university-based research and teaching on the assumption that scholars will develop useful knowledge about today’s world, communicate that knowledge to their students and to the broader public, and, where appropriate, offer rigorous, well-informed advice to interested policymakers. There is today no shortage of global problems that social scientists should study in depth: ethnic and religious conflict within and between states, the challenge of economic development, terrorism, the management of a fragile world economy, climate change and other forms of environmental degradation, the origins and impact of great power rivalries, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, just to mention a few. In this complex and contentious world, one might think that academic expertise about global affairs would be a highly valued commodity. Scholars would strive to produce useful knowledge, students would flock to courses that helped them understand the world in which they will live and work, and policymakers and the broader public would be eager to hear what academic experts had to say.


Walt, Stephen. "International Affairs and the Public Sphere." Institute for Public Knowledge, July 21,2011.