CFR Academic

Academic Program


CFR Academic provides a forum for the higher education community to interact with CFR fellows and other leading experts on foreign policy topics. Activities include the Academic Webinar series for college and university students and professors; Higher Education Webinar series for college and university leaders, administrators, and professors; College and University Educators Workshops; briefings for students; exhibitions and events at conferences across the country; livestreaming of CFR meetings; and sharing the vast array of CFR resources and products for teaching and learning about international relations and the role of the United States in the world.

Academic Webinars for Students

Reserved for college and university students and educators, the CFR Academic Webinar series via Zoom provides the opportunity to participate in interactive conversations with CFR fellows, Foreign Affairs authors, and other experts. Webinars take place every other week during the fall and spring semesters, and are dedicated to a wide range of international affairs and U.S. foreign policy topics. Suggested background readings are distributed prior to each webinar, and video recordings and transcripts are posted to after the fact.

View the Winter/Spring 2024 Academic Webinar schedule. Sign up for the series on the registration page. Please email questions to [email protected]. You may also subscribe to the CFR Academic podcast via iTunes.

Past Academic Webinars

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at CFR, and Rebecca Katz, professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, lead the conversation on global health security and diplomacy. FASKIANOS: Welcome to the final session of the Winter/Spring 2024 CFR Academic Series. I am Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Thank you for being with us. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website,, if you would like to share these materials with your colleagues or classmates. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Yanzhong Huang and Rebecca Katz with us to discuss global health security and diplomacy. We circulated their bios in advance, but I will give you some highlights now. Yanzhong Huang is a senior fellow for global health at CFR. He is also a professor and director of global health studies at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relationships—sorry, Relations. Dr. Huang has written extensively on China and global health, and is the founding editor of Global Health Governance: The Scholarly Journal for the New Health Security Paradigm. And he is author of—his most recent book is Toxic Politics: China’s Environmental Health Crisis and Its Challenge to the Chinese State (2020). Rebecca Katz is a professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University. She previously served as faculty in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Dr. Katz’s work primarily focuses on the domestic and global implementation of the International Health Regulations, as well as global governance of public health emergencies. And her seventh book is coming out next week, I believe on Monday, and it is entitled Outbreak Atlas (2024). So you should all look for that. Dr. Huang and Dr. Katz coauthored a Council Special Report entitled Negotiating Global Health Security: Priorities for U.S. and Global Governance of Disease, so we did circulate that in advance. And I think we will begin with Dr. Katz to talk a little bit about global health security and diplomacy, and some of the findings from your report. So over to you. KATZ: Thank you so much, and really appreciate the opportunity to speak with everybody today about global health security and diplomacy. I could note—a quick disclaimer that like many people in Washington I wear multiple hats, including one that works for the United States government, but I am speaking today only in my academic capacity and not representing anybody else. So we are—we’re living in interesting times in the global health security and diplomacy space, and just the work of global governance of disease. As we speak, negotiators are working through what is hopefully a final agreement on amendments to the International Health Regulations. And in about a week, yet another version of possible text of a proposed pandemic agreement will be circulated to member states in advance of the resumed—the INB, Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, negotiations that are now scheduled, I believe, starting the 29th of April, where they may possibly finalize substantive negotiations in advance of the World Health Assembly. It is not a surprise, though, that the negotiations themselves have stalled, and they’ve stalled primarily over issues around access and benefit sharing, and the relationship between developed and less-developed countries. There are significant remaining redlines, including related to the way that pathogens are shared or the information around pathogens is shared. It’s related to the production of medical countermeasures, access to medical countermeasures. There continues to be an evolving power dynamic at this time of call it strained geopolitical tensions. And there are some real questions about the future of multilateralism and just the global governance of the disease space in general. So while this is all sorting out, the world is also working on questions like how do we fund pandemic preparedness and response. So there are questions around the World Bank’s Pandemic Fund, and the breadth and scope. There’s the role of what is the evolving role of the more horizontal entities like the Global Fund. There is limited response funding in general and overall kinds of shrinking budgets. In the academic space, there is a really interesting space set evolving looking at predictive analysis, and some of the technologies and scholarship that’s coming out to think about how do we predict and adapt, both from surveillance and thinking about the evolution of outbreaks. There is the rise of wastewater surveillance. And as the disease threats continue to evolve, we’re also looking at these threats as part of the climate crisis, and a community that’s very keen in looking at the role of artificial intelligence and changing biothreat landscapes. So there is—there’s a lot of movement. There’s a lot of things that are going on. But at the same time, there is diminished interest of governments as competing priorities reenter the fray, and increasing challenges thinking about response capacity in an age of mis- and disinformation and eroding trust in science. So, all this is to say that the space is challenging. It’s dynamic. There is a tremendous amount of work still to be done. Which is one of the reasons that we need to be thinking about how do we use all the roles and approaches that are available to us, including enhanced efforts to focus on the role of diplomacy. I am delighted to see the launch of a Foreign Ministry Channel for Health last month, and we’re now seeing ministries of foreign affairs around the world organize—better organize to address these health challenges. So not all the challenges are easily solvable, but heartened to see this coordinated effort. We’re trying to more fully realize diplomacy for health. There are—there is a lot—there’s a lot of swirl, but why don’t I stop there and turn to my colleague Yanzhong. HUANG: Thank you, Rebecca. Thank you, Irina, and for the Council for invite me to speak at this important event. Thank you for participating. And Rebecca just talked about this progress for the ongoing negotiation over the Pandemic Accord; the need to better organize to address the challenges we are facing. When we’re speaking of the challenges, you know, we—you might have—if you read just the CFR Negotiating Global Health Security—I’m seeking to advertise that one more time—(laughs)—you know, we basically talk about all those different global health security challenges, which are real. We already in the United States experienced a major global health crisis, that officially is not over yet, but—(inaudible). All of the important threat—serious threat we are facing, you know—mind you that COVID caused more than 7 million deaths, right, more than 700 million infections. That 700 million is a clear underestimate, right, because to my knowledge, right, in China alone they have more than 1 billion people infected, right? And now WHO is talking about Disease X, you know, the name given by WHO scientists to an unknown pathogen which they believe could emerge in future, maybe. So it could be, you know, anything, right, with pandemic potential. Like, it could be Zika. It could be Nipah. You know, or it could be another coronavirus, you know, that could cause a serious international epidemic or pandemic. You know, and unfortunately, Rebecca just mentioned climate change is the major contributor to this increasing risk, right? Warmer temperatures can affect the transmission dynamics of pathogens. But the climate change alone could also cause direct loss of life and morbidity, right? The projection is that by the end of this century the millions of heat-related death could be comparable in scope to the total burden of all the infectious diseases. And we also face the threat of antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, which is one of the top global public health threats. The estimate is that bacterial AMR is directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths and contributes to 4.95 million deaths in 2019. So you combine those two and it’s, like, pretty much close to the COVID death in three years, right? And then there’s the problem of food insecurity. You know, we are facing a global food crisis. This is the largest one in modern history. We talk about nearly 350 million people around the world experiencing, you know, the most extreme form of hunger right now, right? And then—and finally, last but not least, the threats of violence and revolution, you know, that presents new risks to global health security. You know, last time the Council had an event, you know, we saw the former national security advisors participating, speaking, and weighing the—they were asked: Is there an issue that’s on your mind that’s not in the news all the time? I remember former Secretary Condoleezza Rice, you know, said that I worry that we are not paying attention to things like synthetic biology, which could have a huge impact on things like pandemics. So, all the threats call for good health governance, right, global/national level, you know, giving it, right, this—the implication. But I want to emphasize that geopolitics actually are complicating, not undermining, this prospect, right? When you talk about, certainly, right, the armed conflicts, right, worldwide, you know, they can lead to widespread displacement of populations, wide destruction of health-care infrastructure, disruption of supply chains of essential meds and medical equipment, and also increase the risk of the infectious disease outbreaks, right? And certainly, civilian population will bear the brunt of all—most of those impacts, right, that we saw, right, in Ukraine, Syria, now in the Gaza Strip. Sometimes this—that is of particular importance to global health security, the issue of lab safety, right? You know, laboratories taken over by warring parties or in areas under direct attack risk releasing the dangerous pathogens that could start an epidemic, not a pandemic, right? We all—you might recall in April last year, the WHO said, there was a high risk of biological hazard in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum after one of the warring parties seized a lab, holding measles and cholera pathogens and other hazardous materials. Rebecca talked about misinformation and disinformation. You know, the—in a way, the wars and conflicts also encourage, right, disinformation/misinformation, right? For example, the wars in Ukraine, right, they essentially reduced Russia’s incentives to participate constructively in global health governance, right? Russia, in order to justify its invasion, launched a disinformation campaign claiming the United States was secretly aiding Ukraine developing biological weapons. You know, that conspiracy theory sort of echoed, you know, by the U.S. Five Eyes and in China, right? The wars, of course, also exacerbate the other global health issues like food security, right? We know the war in Ukraine, combined with the COVID pandemic actually disrupted the supply chain, fueled inflation, and aggravated the food insecurity problem. But, I think it’s equally important when we look at the issue of how geopolitics or geopolitical tensions actually curbs the prospect of international cooperation addressing all the threats we just talked about, right? Because geopolitical tension, rivalries between nations, can hinder international cooperation and funding for global health initiatives like disease surveillance, sample sharing, vaccination campaigns, research and development of new treatments and preventive measures. Just to use my familiar area—(laughs)—the U.S.-China geopolitical competition, as an example, most certainly U.S.-China geopolitical competition is not new, right? But it is only recently that China became so-called America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge, right? You know, that sort of leads to zero-sum thinking even by the international cooperation over issues like the probe of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origins, sample sharing, supply-chain resilience. And in fact, during the beginning stage of the pandemic we saw China basically threaten to use this leading—the status of being a leader in pharmaceutical—active pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturing to sort of—like as a weapon, right? When the Xinhua News Agency said that—because the U.S. instituted travel bans on China, basically, China at that time was unhappy and said, you know, here we decided to ban our export of APIs to the U.S., so we are going to be plunged in the what they call the sea of COVID, right? So this is an example of how even the medicine could be weaponized during—as a result of geopolitical tensions. And then if you also look at how this U.S.-China geopolitical rivalry could be combined with the lack of personnel—personal exchange, right, sort of deepened by these mutual misunderstandings and misperception, you know. So, you know, now we’re seeing that even after almost the end of the pandemic, right, that the two nations still have no serious discussions over public health issues, even though we think, like, China is actually one of the biggest risk factors. But there is just not much enthusiasm in supporting, like, a serious dialogue with China on cooperating on disease surveillance, sample sharing—not to mention, like, co-development of vaccines or therapeutics. And finally, I want to add that these geopolitical factors could influence the availability and affordability of health-care services and medical supplies, particularly in developing countries or regions affected by conflict or economic sanction. That sort of leads to disparities between North and South in access to essential health care and drugs. Again, the U.S.-China geopolitical competition during the COVID, when China launched this—the so-called vaccine diplomacy or mask diplomacy, the U.S., you know, sort of viewed that as a threat; they—it launched its own mask—vaccine diplomacy. You know, this competition sort of mitigated this so-called vaccine apartheid between the developed world and developing countries; but it also meant that, you know, the vaccine diplomacy would prioritize those countries that’s viewed as strategically important, right? That, in turn, exacerbated the global disparities in access to the vaccines—(all the ?) COVID vaccines—(inaudible). So, to address these challenges, I think we need to have a global health détente with geopolitical rivals. We need to embed the health diplomacy in a multilateral instead of a bilateral framework, right, and support WHO Global Health and Peace Initiative—the GHPI—to better address the underlying diverse critical health needs in fragile, conflict-ridden settings. So, with that, I can stop there. (Laughs.) Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you both. Appreciate it. Let’s go to all of you for your questions and comments. (Gives queuing instructions.) OK, so with that, let’s go to the first question. I’m going to go to Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome to ask her question. Q: Thank you very much. I’m Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome. And I teach political science at Brooklyn College. I’m also Nigerian. And the pandemic showed a lot of the fault lines in terms of the global governance arrangements for health issues, because there were—I mean, the vaccine—the disparity in access was profound for Africans. And, you know, the lucky thing is that not as many people as could have died, died. But I’m just wondering, because we’ve had the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we had Ebola, what is the learning from that? And how come we had all these challenges with the pandemic that we went through, the COVID-19? The other thing about it—that I want to talk about is food. And then there is—I don’t think the problem is insufficiency of food in this world, but distribution equitably. So, what would it take? I mean, and there are all these really heartbreaking photos and, you know, documentaries and reports. What is it going to take to solve this problem and make things equitable so that lives are not being lost unnecessarily, and then health challenges that come from malnutrition are not generationally affecting human populations? Thank you. FASKIANOS: Who wants to go first? KATZ: I will, very briefly and inadequately, try to address the question around vaccine equity. And then—and then I will—I will punt on food security. Since that’s more of Yanzhong’s expertise. I think the point you bring up is critical. And the issues of vaccine nationalism, of vaccine inequity are what is driving current discussion, debate, the feelings around global governance of disease and the effectiveness of it at all? It is—it is the issue that prompted the beginning of a negotiation for a new—(inaudible). And it is—but the solutions are why nations are actually stalled right now. I think your question around what have we learned, well, I think what we have learned is that there’s—whenever anybody talks about future of global governance of disease, you could probably count the number of times somebody says the word “equity.” Yet, operationalizing that is extraordinarily complicated. And unfortunately, we haven’t seen it yet. And I think that you can see that with, you know, the mpox outbreaks and the number of cases that were—you said, you’re from Nigeria—the number of cases that were in Nigeria, the number of cases that have been in the DRC. And the, I think it’s fair to say, insufficient amount of medical countermeasures that have reached populations in sub-Saharan Africa, just for mpox. So, I think there is—there is certainly widespread understanding, realization that we need to fix this—we need to fix this. Because we can’t—we can’t actually talk about we’re all in this together, disease spreads, knows no borders, we all need to work together, and then have situations like you did during COVID where populations just didn’t get access to lifesaving vaccine. So but now getting to the point of trying to figure out how we solve that is exactly what is—what is causing the discord in Geneva right now. And I’m not sure there’s an easy answer for you on how it’s going to be solved. HUANG: Well, I have—(laughs)—well, I really agree with Rebecca, right? There’s no easy answer, right, to all these questions that the professor just raised, you know, that—like the vaccine aspect, right? We know many of the low-income countries, right, that the vaccine—the vaccination rate was even low—very low even by the end of the COVID pandemic. But you know, there’s, like, multiple factors that contributed to that. Certainly, vaccine nationalism is one reason. But you know, even weighing we have all these vaccines available, right, they—the COVAX did a very good job of trying to reach this segment of the population, but then there’s the other issues, right? The shipment, right? How do we make sure they ship and distribute these vaccines in a timely manner? That’s become another issue. And so, I think, well, at this moment the solution that—for the—I think the transport technology for the vaccine technology, that is important. Now, I believe that the Pandemic Accord will talk about—is talking about that in the negotiation. But in the meantime, I think we should also invest to make sure those countries, especially with the manufacturing capacity, will repeatedly sort of have that—some investing there, like their capacity to manufacture the vaccine, right, to sort of—to scale the access. You know, that could be one of the solutions. Then, speaking of the lessons we learned from the pandemic, certainly what we have, right, the—(laughs)—I think it’s fair to say we know the problems, right? The experts—the global health experts, public health experts—they know where the problems are. It’s just that, you know, many of the issues—(inaudible)—only, you know, that it can easily slow them down. For example, we know that the WHO—(inaudible)—by strengthening its capability, enforced by the International Health Regulations. But in the—(laughs)—international system, where anarchy is the rule of the game, you know, that, yeah, I think much of this improvement will be still, you know, state-centric, that—and driven by national interest, just like we saw during the pandemic. Essentially, the IHR was talking about avoiding the disruptions in trade, disruptions to people’s movement, essentially tend to be ignored, right, by the nations there. But there’s another issue, is the lack of coordination. When states tried to use to institute all the travel, you know, the trade barriers, you know, they—there was no, like, coordination, no cooperation. You know, that sort of created this little tragedy of common situation, that then everybody actually was hurt. Finally, the issue of the food insecurity. Well, this is, again, not something new, but that clearly the pandemic, right, exacerbated the problem, in part because of the—this disruption of the supply chain. But in the meantime, there’s some other issues that, you know, could exacerbate that problem. Yeah, like in particular countries like North Korea, for example, we know that in this country—what is arguably the world’s most isolated state, right—they say—the people say—suggested a situation where it’s the worst, right, it has been since the 1990s, you know. But you know, people—the North Korean government certainly could blame the international sanctions. But in the meantime, the government mismanagement, right, is also to blame. In actually still—better still in the pandemic 2020 that cut off, right, the virus supplies, and that is also to blame. You could also talk about the—(inaudible)—killed more by starvation. Is this part of the humanitarian warfare, and especially, you know, in the war setting, where the humanitarian aid is twisted into the conflict by the—(inaudible)—and warlords that seeks to control the food supply as a means of increasing their military and political power, right? So, you know, that—the deliberate use of starvation, this the term we use, kind of war by starvation, right, that’s also was exacerbating in those that conflict zones. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to the Fordham IPED. Q: Hello. I’m Genevieve Connell with Fordham Program for International Political Economy and Development. Thank you for being with us today. And my question is: During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw dissent where many people blamed China for the pandemic, which has catalyzed racial violence against people of Chinese or Asian descent in many cases. What implications do such social upheavals and demonization of a specific group have on global diplomacy and our ability to collaborate in future health response efforts? HUANG: Well, I’ll try to be—(laughs)—to be the first, whether Rebecca could weigh in. Well, this is, again, not something new, right? During the SARS epidemic, you know, that you also saw that the Chinese were sort of, like, blamed, you know, for sort of causing epidemic. You always, you know, target the certain group of people to blame. You know, you could—(inaudible)—like, historical, that could be traced—there’s a pattern there, right, that during the Bubonic Plague, for example, European Jews were blamed, right, the—for causing the pandemic, you know, that sort of to enforce to them to migrate towards Eastern Europe. You know, that certainly sort of the—poisons the atmosphere for tackling the crises, especially, like, when there’s intertwining geopolitical tensions between China and the United States. You know, that—remember that—and also, you have internal politics by the way, the Trump administration trying to find a scapegoat, right, for its mismanagement of the crisis, you know, that China become an easy one. So he sort of, like, started to talk about, you know, this is sort of a China virus, or kung flu, right, the thing that only—that sort of intoxicated the atmosphere of cooperation with China, making it even less willing to cooperate with the United States, especially on issues like the origin probe. So now, you know, we’ve seen how that—we were probably—given this sort of lack of cooperation, China, you know, really probably we are never going to find where that virus actually come from. But in the meantime, you know, also this created—sort of contributed to, like, a more divisive society in countries like the U.S. given this anti-Asian sentiment. Rebecca? KATZ: You know, I don’t have too much more to add, except that I just—it’s an interesting question. And I actually would put it back to you a bit too. That I think it’s important to separate out the challenge—I bucket the challenges slightly differently. So the challenges of the types of stigma and bias that might arise for subpopulations within our own country. And we’ve, as Yanzhong just mentioned, we’ve seen that over and over and over again. And so you think about the types of ways that that can be addressed, and people can be protected, and how we can think about, you know, it’s not really a vulnerable population, but populations at risk of inappropriate stigma. So I think there’s that question. And then there’s—I bucket into a separate issue of how the government response and dealing with other countries, and the geopolitical tensions that might arise, and how that affects the response into a different category. And that’s—and Yanzhong already kind of addressed some of those—some of those challenges along the way. But none of it—none of it is easy. And it’s often not done sufficiently. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from a written question from José David Valbuena. He’s an undergraduate student at Buffalo State University. And the question is, what are the potential risks and limitations of implementing economic structuralism to improve global health security? HUANG: Define economic structuralism. KATZ: Yeah, I was going to say, I’m not sure how to answer that because I’m not sure what your—what you want us to get at? FASKIANOS: All right. So, José, I think if you’re in a place where you can—you can join in live, or unmute yourself, why don’t you do that? And if not, then we’ll move to the next question. KATZ: Here he comes. HUANG: To use that—something like the Marxism sort of argument, the economy, right, just determines the—(laughs)—almost the upper infrastructure, or whatever. If that if that is the case, right, there, you know, they—I think, you know, a single focus on economic development certainly does not help, right, in improving public health, even though a well-developed economy, you could find the policy high correlation, right, between the, like, high level of economic development improved, right, the health-care standards and, like, the average life expectancy increased. But in the meantime, the single focus on economic development could hurt the public health and global health, you know? One of the examples is urbanization, the industrialization, like, the—could, right, the—sort of make us more likely to be exposed to those dangerous pathogens that increase the likelihood of a dangerous pathogen of jumping species to human beings, you know, then start a—potentially, right, that if it obtained that capacity for efficient human-to-human transmission, right, the potential for a pandemic. KATZ: I think I just saw a note that he’s going to reframe the question, but maybe talk about economics, just one point I would love to be able to add to maybe help frame some of the—some of that discussion with a little bit of data. When we talk about what do we need for health security—and we can talk about the threats, and Yanzhong was talking about, you know, the challenges of urbanization and globalization—(inaudible)—land, and the competing challenges of looking at economic development and—but I do want to note—so one of the things that our research team has been doing for about a decade is trying to figure out what it costs each country to be able to develop their capacity to be able to prevent, detect, and respond effectively to public health emergencies, based off of their international legal obligations and then also looking at each region in context. And it—just so everybody has a number in the back of their head, the number that we currently have is approximately $300 billion that would cost at the global scale for every nation to be able to build sufficient—and sustain—sufficient capacity for health security. That’s in addition to approximately $60 to $80 billion that’s required at a global scale for things like research and development, and supply chain, and manufacturing. So just to note, we have approximately $380 billion problem. And we are definitely not spending that right now. And if we think about it as a problem, the pandemic itself cost—well, we’re not exactly sure what it cost—but somewhere around $15 trillion dollars. So $300 billion dollars sounds like a lot, but it’s actually very little if you’re looking at your return on investment for being able to address a future pandemic. But it’s a lot in the world of public health, where there’s very little money, and there’s shrinking budgets, and there’s shrinking opportunity for nations to be able to actually invest themselves, as well as international financing. So I’m using—I’m using the question as an opportunity to just throw that out there, so folks understand. HUANG: Yeah. I forgot to throw out, again, with the pandemic example, right, that the countries that are most developed, doesn’t necessarily mean that is the most—or, the best prepared for a pandemic, right? Before the pandemic, there was Global Health Security Index, that showed the U.S. was one of the best prepared. But as it turn out, it was the worst—one of the worst hit by the pandemic. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question, raised hand from Braeden Lowe, who also wrote his question. But why don’t you ask it? And if you could identify yourself, that would be great. Q: Yes. Can you hear me? FASKIANOS: Yes. Q: Perfect. My name is Braeden Lowe. I’m a graduate student at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, studying international trade. My question is, how effective have multilateral development banks been in the development of health infrastructure in countries that need them? And could there be a greater role for them in the future, such as maybe development banks that are focused primarily on the development of medical infrastructure, and facilities, and the development of medical technologies? Thank you. HUANG: Rebecca. KATZ: Yeah. I mean, Braeden, it’s an excellent question. And I think that the history of the development banks has been mixed over—pre-pandemic and in the current situation. Let me start with—well, so, yes. The banks have been involved in developing health security capacity and including medical countermeasures—less on the medical countermeasures, more on mostly national capacity and regional capacity. And some have been more involved than others. The Asian Development Bank was really engaged for a long time. ASEAN was really the driving factor for coordination in that region. The Inter-American Development Bank has been engaged. IMF had programs. So there have been programs. And prior to the pandemic, the World Bank had something called the PEFF, the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, that they stood up both for preparedness as well as a response window. That came under a decent amount of criticism because the triggers for using that mechanism were so stringent that it basically became not helpful. And while the Bank and IMF and the regional development banks did assist throughout the pandemic, you could have a pretty lively debate on how effective they were, how fast they got into the game, where they could have done more. I think the general lesson is everybody could have done more. But where we are right now is that the G20 High-Level Independent Panel—well, the G20 appointed a high-level independent panel that was—that came up with some proposals for how to better position the world for being able to support national-level development of pandemic preparedness and response. And the recommendation was to use the World Bank as the mechanism for that. So about a year and a half ago, the World Bank—the World Bank board approved the creation of the Pandemic Fund. As I mentioned before, we have about a $300 billion problem. The first round of funds that was given out over the summer was for $337 million dollars. So we got a—$337 million dollars went out on a $300 billion problem. And there were—and that went to thirty-seven different countries where there were proposals, however, from—there were 600 proposals that were submitted. And these thirty-seven went out. So the next round is out right now. And the plan is for the Pandemic Fund to provide approximately $500 million dollars in this round. But, again, so it kind of—it depends on if you’re a glass half empty, glass half full kind of person, and whether you think that the banks are super engaged in doing all that they can, or if they’re really—if there’s a lot more that they could do. And that’s not even getting into all the other mechanisms that that they have contemplated and thought about in terms of being able to use to help countries, particularly being able to mobilize resources quickly. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. I’m going to take two—combine two written questions. The first is from Nicole Rudolph, who is an assistant professor at Adelphi University. Who is leading initiatives to integrate health security with climate resilience efforts? And then there’s a question from Izabella Smith. I don’t know her affiliation. How do you deal with the mass politicization of health safety, specifically before and after COVID-19? KATZ: Easy ones, right? (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: Yeah, very easy. (Laughs.) KATZ: Well, Yanzhong, why don’t I—why don’t I do a really quick answer, and then and then turn to you, particularly on the health and climate space. Except for, Nicole, I would say that I’m glad you’re working on this. We’ve always considered one health and climate as first principles of health security and health security threats. So they are, in our head, completely intertwined, and really need to be addressed that way. I think to Izabella’s, man, how you deal with the politics? It’s—we are in a really, really complicated environment right now. I’m a public health professional. Before the pandemic, most people did not know we existed. (Laughs.) And maybe that was OK. It was difficult because there was no money, but we were kind of quietly left to do our job. And we were most successful when people didn’t know we existed. What happened during the pandemic, particularly in the United States but also around the world, we saw the—a lot of these issues have always been political. They had never been partisan before. They became very partisan. And there was a tremendous amount of backlash against public health officials. There are—there are academic efforts underway to help and capture the—just the type of backlash that existed. The fact that there are academics who are measuring—there is categories for how many public health officials were threatened with gun violence and didn’t get support from their local law enforcement. And the fact that that number is so large, that there is a category for counting it, gives you a sense of the type of backlash that’s been experienced. I think what we’re seeing right now—I can talk to the United States—but a massive movement to roll back public health authority legislation and regulations. There are state legislatures across the country that are stripping their governors of emergency powers and putting that authority into the state legislative branches, which is basically going to make it almost impossible to take rapid action in the—in the next event. And, you know, there will be a next event. So it is—it is really difficult. We are seeing the—based on the vaccine—the increase in vaccine hesitancy, and in part due to the rise in mis- and disinformation. And now we’re seeing measles outbreaks across the country. And, you know, situations where the current public health officials are not taking scientifically based action to stop those outbreaks. So we’re—it’s rough out there. Let me just put it that way. As well—at the same time that people are quitting in droves because people did not sign up for this. So just that. HUANG: Yeah— FASKIANOS: So before—Yanzhong, before you—before you weigh in, and I’ll give you an opportunity. Rebecca, this is a group of professors and students. And so what would you advise—what’s the call to action for this group to—you know, to help, you know, push back on or help sort of make—to ensure that guardrails remain? KATZ: I don’t have any—I don’t have a great one-liner on that, right? Except there is, how do we—how do we rebuild trust in science, in public officials, in governance? There is a need to raise public literacy. And so I start there. There are a lot of folks who are working on how do we counter mis- and disinformation. I think those are two very different things. There is—you know, there’s a need to—you know, it’s everything from being able to do the policy surveillance of what’s happening in the world, to being able to—all the way towards advocacy and trying to help, you know, get programs and policies sufficiently implemented. But I think also just having kind of a strong evidence-informed voice. I wish I had a great, better answer that said, if you just pushed this button or did this thing, it would all be better. But I don’t. And I think—I think this is why a lot of people in the community are really struggling with how do we—how did we get here, and how do we fix it? FASKIANOS: Great. Yanzhong. HUANG: Well, I—just follow what Rebecca said, I think trust is, like, the key, right? You know, our colleague Tom Bollyky, his research has just already, like, demonstrated how important trust is in fighting the—dealing with a public health crisis, like COVID-19. You know, and to the question, actually, the challenge is how to build the trust, right? You can talk about maybe better transparency, better accountability. But you know, I think in a country like the U.S. which is so divided now, I think in order to rebuild that trust it’s very important for the—these different groups, like even—like, I’m talking about, you know, the two groups, they need to be able to have a dialogue, basically, need to speak with each other. There needs to be able to build consensus. But maybe I’m asking for the impossible. But the—so when we talk about politicization, I want to also add that it’s not just happened at the national level; it certainly has been—this past pandemic has shown that this also occurs at the international level. In fact, you know, I think, you know, we never have, you know, a public health event that has been so politicized as the COVID-19. You know, just to give you an example, the SARS, right, when we talk about the origins of SARS, you know, people never thought of, like, politicizing the origin probe. But it’s become a big issue during the COVID pandemic, in part because this is, like, the first time we’re seeing, like, ideology being encouraged by the pandemic response. This entire response to the pandemic is sort of framed as a competition between authoritarianism and liberal democracy, right. And also, geopolitics, like, again, right, the tensions between U.S.-China sort of also was driving, right, the global pandemic response. So I think, you know, in order to sort of—we need to start to depoliticize—(laughs)—this process of depoliticization. We need to reduce the geopolitical tensions. But in the meantime, we need to start the—sort of have—investing in those trust—or, confidence-building measures like having, like, a track-1.5 dialogue between the two countries. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to JY Zhou, please. Q: Hello. FASKIANOS: Yes. Thank you. Q: Hi. Awesome. Well, my name is Chris Nomes. I’m an intelligence analysis student at James Madison University. And my question is about threats to global health. Specifically, do we—do we face any risks, like, from our adversaries or from lone groups that want to purposely tear down global health? Are there any risks? And how do we counter those risks, if they exist? HUANG: That is Rebecca’s expertise. (Laughs.) KATZ: I got it. Maybe I got it. I mean, I think—listen, you know, when you start the question you asked about threats to global health. And immediately I start making lists of, like, oh my gosh, right, how are we going to talk about the signal—the, what, 90,000 signals that WHO received this month and the, you know, 300 that they’re investigating, and then the thirty, like, field investigations are happening in a given month, and all the—all the emerging infectious disease challenges, including, you know, H5N1 in cows in the U.S., to mpox, to, you know, again the long list of infectious disease challenges that nature throws at us every day. But your question then pivoted to talk more about the threats of deliberate biological events. And that is definitely a thing. I mean, so let’s just say that. That is a thing. That is an area of work. I will say that for about fifteen years I supported the U.S. delegation for the Biological Weapons Convention. So there are—there are people who get together often and work through trying to assess what that threat is and how it’s best addressed. There are—there are mechanisms for trying to investigate allegations of deliberate biological weapons use, and the use of the UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism. And there are now a lot of folks who are deeply concerned about how AI is changing the threat space. And so, you know, in this forum, I think the answer we can give you is, yes. It is a threat. It is a thing. And there is a world of people who work on this, including within the intelligence communities around the world, to better address that threat and then feed that into response and planning efforts. I will say, though, that in the—in the event—the challenge is if there is an actual event, the response may not be very different from a naturally occurring event, at least not initially. And putting attribution assessments aside, and any kind of political response you might have. But that that’s the other thing that is trying to be sorted out, is that, you know, if you are in the midst of a response to what looks like a naturally occurring event and suddenly there is information there or an entity claims responsibility for having released an agent, how does that change? What stakeholders now need to be involved? And also, who—how is that managed at the national, regional, and international system? So, basically, you opened a can of—a huge can of worms for me. But I think the answer is, yes, it is a—it is a thing. And it is a thing that there are—there is a community of people who think very deeply about it. HUANG: Yeah. I’ll just—you know, I think what the problem we’re dealing with, like, deliberate-caused outbreaks, right, the challenge here is that this is not like a war against, you know, terror, because we are facing—we don’t know, actually, even who actually started the attack, right, whether it’s from individuals or states, because in part of this—(inaudible)—of the biological weapons or the use of, you know, the dangerous pathogens, you’re not going to find out whether, like, something unusual is happening. And here, right, a large number of people flooded the ER rooms complaining about the same kind of acute symptoms. So the logic of, like—of deterring such an attack would be different from logic of deterring, like, a nuclear attack, right? Because we have to rely on the building of the health infrastructure, greater trained health professionals, you know, the so-called deterrence by denial, in order to sort of decentivize the potential perpetrators from giving up such an attack. FASKIANOS: (Off mic.) HUANG: Irina, you are on mute. FASKIANOS: I am muted. And how long have I been doing this? (Laughs.) We’ve had a lot of questions and written and raised hands that we could not get to. So I apologize to all of you. Rebecca, I want to give you thirty seconds to talk about your book, Outbreak Atlas. KATZ: Oh, yay! (Laughs.) Sure! I was telling folks before we started the webinar, in academia we write a lot of words, and often we write words and they’re, you know, meant for four people in the world to read. But we put a book together that is designed for hopefully addressing some of the public literacy issues that we brought up earlier. For years we had been supporting public health emergency operation centers around the world in helping provide information about kind of all the activities that happen in an outbreak response. And what we’ve done is we’ve taken that and we’ve written it for a public audience. So, it is illustrated. It has 120 different case studies. Anything you ever wanted to know about what happens in an outbreak, or every epidemiologic term that you heard your grandmother talk about that you’re, like, wait a second, is that right? So we’ve written it all out. If anybody’s interested, Outbreak Atlas. And it comes out on Monday on Amazon, and all those other places. So I’m really excited. FASKIANOS: Great. Fantastic. And, Yanzhong, is there anything you want to highlight that we’re doing at CFR in the global health space? HUANG: Well, thank you, Irina. Thank you for your patience of staying through that one-hour conversation. So, yeah, we are facing a lot of threats. We are—you know, we are aware of many of these challenges we are facing. We know the loopholes in the global health governance areas. It’s just that, I think the—(laughs)—the challenge is how to fix them; you know, don’t expect those negotiations in Geneva can you solve all the problems. The problems are going to rise up all the time in many decades to come. But if you want to learn more about this area, in addition to reading Rebecca’s Outbreak Atlas, read our—this is more CFR’s Negotiating Global Health Security. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Thank you both. So you can also follow them on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @YanzhongHuang and at @RebeccaKatz5. This is the last webinar for this semester. Good luck with your finals, and everything that comes with this lovely month of April and May. And for some of you who are graduating, you can learn about CFR paid internships for students and fellowship for professors at We’re open right now. We’re accepting applications for summer internships. And they can be virtual. So that’s always a plus. And they are paid. Please follow us at @CFR_Academic, visit,—and I’m going to really highlight; I do it every call—but our site, which provides a forum to examine why global health matters and to engage in efforts to improve health worldwide. So, if you’re interested in these issues, you can—you should go there. We hope to be a resource for you all. Again, good luck with your finals. Enjoy the summer. And we look forward to reconvening in fall 2024. So thank you, again, to Dr. Katz and Dr. Huang. (END)


Moisés Naím, distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, leads the conversation on authoritarianism. CASA: Welcome to today’s session of the Winter/Spring 2024 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Maria Casa, director of the National Program and Outreach Department at CFR. Thank you all for joining us. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be made available on our website,, if you would like to share them with your colleagues or classmates. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Moisés Naím with us for a discussion on power and authoritarianism. Moisés Naím is a distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an internationally syndicated columnist. Dr. Naím’s experience in public service includes his tenure as Venezuela’s minister of trade and industry, director of Venezuela’s central bank, and executive director of the World Bank. He has held appointments as a professor at IESA, Venezuela’s leading business school, and Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Naím is the host and producer of Efecto Naím, an Emmy-winning weekly television program on international affairs that airs throughout the Americas on Direct TV. He was the editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine for fourteen years, and is the author of many scholarly articles, and more than ten books on international economics and politics. Welcome, Dr. Naím. Thank you very much for speaking with us today. NAÍM: Thanks for inviting me. Delighted to be with you. CASA: You have been reflecting on the nature of power, authoritarianism, and autocracy for many years, and have written a series of books that focused on these themes. Could we begin with you telling us a little bit about your current thinking on the subject? NAÍM: Of course. I am as concerned, as many other people are, about the fact that democracy is in retreat and authoritarianism is moving. This is not just an opinion; this is solid data from Freedom House, which is an institution that analyzes and surveys the world in terms of its propensities towards freedom or not. And in the most recent report about the state of freedom in the world, they show that it has—global freedom has declined for the eighteenth consecutive year. So for every year in the last eighteen years, democracy was declining and authoritarian regimes, of different stripes and forms, were taking over. Political rights and civil liberties were diminished in fifty-two countries, and the fact is that the majority of the people in the world today live in authoritarian regimes, or regimes where the checks and balances that define a democracy are not functioning—fully functioning and are limited and constrained. This is a very complex, surprising world in which a lot is happening for the first time—or a lot that we believe is happening for the first time, in fact, has happened before. I have here a phrase—a couple of phrases by European thinkers in the 1930s. After the First World War and before the Second World War, they saw it coming. They did not know exactly what form would it take. But José Ortega y Gasset is a famous Spanish thinker of that time, and in 1930 he wrote a book, and one of the phrases in the book is, “we don’t know what is happening to us.” And that is exactly what is happening to us—that we don’t know what’s going on. We know that something big is going on, but we don’t know exactly how is it going to affect our jobs, our companies, our politics, our life, our society, and so on. Another politician, at the same time—an Italian this time—in the 1930s, wrote a book. Antonio Gramsci was his name. He was in jail for political reasons, and Gramsci wrote, “the old is dying and the new is yet to be born. In this interregnum, monsters are hatched.” I repeat: “The old is dying and the new is yet to be born. In this interregnum, monsters are hatched.” And we have the same feeling now, that first, yes, there is a lot that we don’t know, and that surprise us all the time, and happens for the first time. It’s almost—I wrote a column recently about that, the unprecedented planet, in which a lot of things were happening for the first time, typical in most—a well-known example of this is climate change, right? It’s creating all sorts of unprecedented situations and points of view. I have been tracking the world from this perspective, as you said, for a long time, and there are two books of mine—or three books of mine that I think do not answer all the questions, but do answer most of the important questions of our time. They are thirty years in the making. There was one in 2005, another ten years later, and another ten years. The first one is Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy (2005). And the book showed how, at the time in which everyone was globalizing and—going global it was called—very fashionable. The group that—you know, that took most advantage early on and were early adopters were criminal cartels, and they were very good at using borders as ways of leveraging their capacities, possibilities, and goals. So Illicit—the role of illicit, the role of criminalize, and governments is something that I’m sure we’ll have speak today. But looking at this, what’s happening was also that the governments were waging war on all these criminal activities, in the trafficking of people, of drugs, of narcotics, of money, of weapons, of—even human organs, and art, and everything else. And governments were losing this battle. You know, they won some skirmishes here and there with the cartels and the criminals, but all in all, they were losing. So that led me to my following book, The End of Power (2013), in which I analyzed—I started with thinking that this is a government thing only to discover that this was happening everywhere; not that power was disappearing, but yes, power was more constrained. People that had power had now more limits, more restrictions on how it can use power. And the central theme of that book was that, in the twenty-first century, power had become easier to obtain, harder to use, and easier to lose. And that is directly relevant to the subject of authoritarianism that we’re discussing here. Ten years later, I wrote a book called The Revenge of Power (2022), which is what we’re—those who have power in massive quantities, what we are doing to limit the erosion of the power, and the ways, and the sharing of power, and the distribution of power, the sources, the origins, the usages, the possibilities of power at this time. And I came up with the idea, recognizing that what the revenge of power is is that some authoritarian regimes were using the three Ps to retain government. The three Ps are populism, polarization, and post-truth. The three are very well-known characteristics, but they have acquired unprecedented potency under the new circumstances, and they define very quickly what are the new breed of authoritarian regime that appear to look like democrats, but in fact, they are undermining democracy from the inside. We have a long list of leaders that were elected, some in fair and free elections; others by just stealing the elections, but once they got in government, they started limiting, constraining, and diminishing the powers that constrain, the power of the public chief executive. So that is a context in which we are moving. And one of the themes that I would like to—hope to chat with you all has to be with what I mentioned before: the criminalized nature of the state, and how this is related to authoritarianism, and to globalization. Let me stop here and start the conversation, Maria. CASA: Oh, thank you so much for that introduction. Now let’s open it up to questions. (Gives queuing instructions.) We’ll start with a raised hand from Carl Gilmour, an undergraduate student at Stanford University. Carl? (Pause.) We’ll give Carl another second—otherwise we can come back to him. Well, let’s move on to a written question. It’s from Michael Strmiska, professor of world history at SUNY Orange in New York state, who writes, “I see a dilemma with the need to restrict communications and mis- and disinformation from extremists and authoritarians, though this would seem to mean a restriction of free speech. However, free speech is never an absolute right. What can governments do to prevent authoritarians and extremists from taking power through manipulation of the information and social media sphere? I no longer believe the argument that the solution to hate speech or other such disinformation is more speech because, with social media, lies and hate can be spread at lightning speed in great mass and force. NAÍM: Well, the question has many good answers embedded in it. It’s hard to disagree with the professor’s perspective, and his caution. We have been surprised by what’s happening in social media and how that has changed a lot in the world of politics and so on. That, we should remember, was driven by technology. It was driven by all sorts of innovations. I think his question is the question for our time: how do we protect free speech and democracy while at the same time limiting the impact of the wrongdoers, or the people that are abusing the system, or using the system for very nefarious goals. We don’t know; nobody knows. That question is at the core of the great debate of our time. All I want to stress—perhaps in addition—is that expect surprises, and it’s very likely that the surprises will come more from the world of politics and from the world of technological innovation. But we don’t know what those are. CASA: Next we’ll go to Buba Misawa, who is professor of political science at Washington and Jefferson College. Please go ahead, Buba. Q: Can you hear me? CASA: Yes. Q: OK. Professor Naím, that was a great conversation you started. But let me ask a simpler question, and I know, between you and Gramsci you can answer. Why are we attracted to this new model or this old model of authoritarianism? Is it because democracy has failed, or why? NAÍM: Another great question at the core of a lot of the debates that are going on, so thank you very much, Professor Misawa. The answer has a lot to do with the underperformance of governments and the—you know, broken expectations. The expectations of people—very justifiably—grow much faster than the capacity of the state to respond to their needs, and hopes, and ambitions, and expectations for a better life. That is happening. That was also always happening, and somehow I think the famous professor identified it, that the gap between the expectations of the voters, or the people, and the capacity of the state to deliver on that, that has always existed, but now it has been amplified with technology, and with the globalization, and with all kinds of new ways of doing things, and changing the regime. The essence of the story is that we will have to deal with the non-performance of governments, and what is happening is that we need to—I don’t think we have to relaunch everything and throw the baby with the bath water, but capitalism in the twenty-first century and democracy in the twenty-first century need adjustment. The world and assumptions that were—on which these were based are no longer with us, and we have not replaced them yet. And that’s where Gramsci is so relevant, you know. In this interregnum—he called it—a lot of very bad things can happen, but also very good things can happen. But the essence of the story is that expectations are making governments very hard to function and very—there is a need to—as I said, and I’m repeating myself—there is a need to adjust our capitalism and democracy that we have until now to the new realities. And we all know the long list of new things that are happening that need a response; climate change being, you know, very important in this story. CASA: Our next question is from Bernard Haykel, professor at Princeton University. Q: Thank you, and I hope you can hear me. Thank you, Professor Naím. I’m a great admirer of your work. NAÍM: Thank you. Q: I have two questions, so one is that you have different petrostates, both of which are authoritarian, but they deliver very different goods and services to their populations. So take, for example, the UAE or Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and Venezuela, on the other. So what accounts for that difference? And the second is that in countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, they tell you, you know, we’re a tribal society. If we had democracy we would have inefficient government, we would have chaos, we would have Islamists who would come to power, as you can see, for example, in Kuwait where they have a parliament. And so, therefore, there is an argument that authoritarianism is really the best way to contend with the global problems and with providing services to their populations. Thank you. NAÍM: Yes, yes, Professor Haykel, that’s absolutely right, and we don’t know—there is a respect for authoritarianism that is essentially grounded on the performance, and so we now give very—a lot of importance to governance and to the capacity to govern. And they are doing a good job down there in the Gulf countries, surely. But it is so specific—their set of circumstances, their origins, their history, their society, the geopolitics, their economy—is so specific to them that it’s hard to replicate elsewhere. We have not seen it. And then we don’t know how resilient these governments are like that without starting in the route of repression in, you know, the underlying assumption in this conversation. The elephant in the room, of course, is the capacity of these governments to be repressive, and then what happens. We saw, for example, the admiration for the Chinese model and its capacity to build infrastructure and to build all kinds of things. And it was presented to us as an example to follow. And remember the Beijing Olympics. It was this perfect display of organization and performance, but we—as you know now, that China has been entangled in all kinds of problems and all kinds of difficulties. So yes, we need to look at other examples, but remember the context and understand that this is a picture in a moment, but over time the sustainability of this governance is going to change. CASA: Our next question is a written one from Rodrigo Moura, who is an undergraduate student at the University of Essex. He asks: You have mentioned the three Ps that authoritarians use to gain and consolidate power and influence. What about money? How do you see the use of economic incentives by authoritarian regimes, mainly abroad, to gain influence? NAÍM: Yes, there are two themes there. One is the economic performance of a nation and a regime, and can it provide the prosperity that people need, want, and fight poverty, and fight inequality, and so on. That’s one dimension on the theme of power. The other dimension on the theme of power is one that is a very complicated one, and it has to do with money and politics, and how money can replace the will of the voters. And we are seeing that even in democratic societies in which money defines political outcomes with the negligible contribution of participation of the rest of the people. So money has many dimensions, but the two main ones are that money and politics, and the necessity to provide for a better life for as many of the people in the country as possible, and those are two challenges that a lot of governments are not meeting. CASA: Our next question—let’s take our next question from Lindsey McCormack, a graduate student at Baruch College. Lindsey? Q: Thank you. Professor Naím, I have a question—a follow-up to your piece in El País from—it was included in the background materials for this webinar. You discussed how today’s dictators don’t really have an out like maybe a generation ago that they could, you know, take a lot of money, and go somewhere and retire in luxury. (Laughs.) That was a very interesting point, and you suggested that’s a reason—a reason it can be so difficult to transition away from authoritarian regimes, that essentially their leaders are trapped in the situation of their own making. And I was wondering if you have any idea what to do about that? It wasn’t a good situation in the past where you could steal a bunch of money and go to the French Riviera, but at least it gave an out and the possibility of change. NAÍM: Yes, that’s a very thorny issue, as Ms. McCormack indicated—as she—as you mentioned. The challenge here is what do you do with dictators. And most of them cannot run the risk of not being in power because if they are not in power, they are in jail. So government is not just for service or for corruption, but also for protection. And unless you can provide an exit ramp out, it’s going to be very difficult for these people to go anywhere because no other governments would protect them as much as their own government and their own—typically their own military. So that is going to be with us for a while. An international coalition of democracies could do something, but as we know, multilateral work is as desirable as it is often ineffective—too ineffective, in fact. That’s a good question. Thank you. CASA: Our next question is written. It’s from Alfredo Toro Carnevali, professor of political science at Montclair State University. He writes: I was perplexed by the speed with which Ecuador, a relatively stable country a few years ago, was overtaken by organized criminal organizations from Mexico and Armenia, competing for access to the port in Guayaquil. How could this happen so quickly and so dramatically? What can Ecuador do? Could you comment on this? NAÍM: Yeah, it’s an incredible situation. Ecuador was one of the most stable of countries in that tough neighborhood of high political volatility and instability. And then it fell into the trap that met—so many other countries in that neighborhood are having, which is being complacent with the presence of drug cartels and criminals, and that have infiltrated the government, have infiltrated society, that have access to huge quantities of money. And we saw, you know, the globalization of organized crime because a lot of these things—for example, you saw a lot of the Mexican cartels operating in El Salvador—in Ecuador, sorry—and that is part of the answer. It was—it always existed, but never at the speed and scope that it exists now. CASA: We’ll take our next question from Björn Krondorfer, director of the Martin Springer Institute and an endowed professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University. Björn? Q: Can you hear me? CASA: Yes. Q: Yeah. I brought my question. It’s about the role of religion in authoritarian regimes. We see this with white Christian nationalism in the United States, with Putin’s embrace of Russian orthodoxy, in Orbán’s Hungary—I mean really across the world at different—in different religious traditions. What is your sense of the religious power or the religious force in relationship to political authoritarian power? NAÍM: Thank you for the question, Professor Krondorfer. The magic word in global politics or politics today, everywhere, is legitimacy, legitimacy, and legitimacy. There is a huge deficit of legitimacy in which governments are not legitimate, either because they acquired power through sham elections or because they had a coup. But the need to have legitimacy, to be respected, to be recognized as a valid regime is there. And one of the tools for legitimacy is religion, as you well said. And yes, in the same way that money in politics is a very important thorny issue, money in religion to fund and support a specific government is also a big issue for which we don’t have a lot of good answers. But yes, your point is excellent. CASA: Going back to Carl Gilmour, who is a student at Stanford University. He has written his question: Many journalists appear to perish or become confined when confronted with the consequence of publishing truth to the people that expose the abuse of power. What is your recommendation to these beacons of truth when weighing the heavy cost of careers in journalism? Do you foresee that there will be any remedy to this assault on free speech or censorship through fear and violence? NAÍM: Yeah, what a problem, right? And we know that, you know, there are governments, there are countries that have the most journalists in jail. Turkey, Mexico are horrible situations in terms of persecution and the repression of journalists. And I don’t have any answer other than admiring, recognizing, and honoring the work of these journalists who every day go out in the street, not knowing if they’re going to go back at home later in the evening. It is a global situation. We are already seeing how some of these authoritarian regimes are using them—captured journalists—are using them as exchange in deals. There is a very well-known journalist from the Wall Street Journal that has been incarcerated unjustly in Russia, and he is just one of the most visible ones, but for each one of them, there are hundreds that are being repressed everywhere. And trying to generate—the most important prescription is to continue to generate visibility and don’t let them disappear from our information ecosystem. CASA: Our next question is from an executive-in-residence at the IESE Business School, Alex Wallace. Alex? Q: Hello. Thank you for this; so interesting. I wonder if there are any examples of authoritarian regimes where the populace is actually thriving and/or the standard of living is high. I looked at the World Happiness Index, and America is pretty far down there. There’s probably one or two above it that are not democracies. I just wonder if there is any place where authoritarianism has actually not been bad for the populace. NAÍM: Well, yeah, of course, Ms. Wallace. That’s very important. What we don’t know is for how long and how sustainable, you know. Look at the sustainability of these things, and it’s not clear that they are—in the long run, they will have the same format or the same face. But yes, there are places—Hungary is an example of places where the economy is doing relatively well, but that needs support and subsidies. And at the same time, there has been some progress. And let’s not forget the progress that had been taking place in China where literally millions—hundreds of millions of people were lifted out of poverty. And that is a performance that is unrivaled in terms of success. But at the same time, as I mentioned in my answer to another question prior, is that now the highly admired system in Russia is beginning to crack. CASA: We have many, many written questions, but we would love to hear your voices, so please don’t be shy and click the raise hand icon if you would like to ask your question orally. In the meantime, we’ll take a question—a written question from Chip Pitts, who is a lecturer at Stanford University. He writes: I worked with a number of NGOs concerned about the expansion of unchecked surveillance technologies by governments and companies, surveillance capitalism. What’s your view on the trends regarding surveillance and how excesses can be corrected? NAÍM:: They are horrible. The threats regarding surveillance are horrible. And becoming more common around the world. Again, China is probably the world champion in terms of surveillance. But it’s also in Switzerland you can find it, and other European countries. Even in very well-functioning democracies you see these technologies that are being used. And, you know, there’s a violation of privacy. There is use to repress movements and organizations. And, again, the only hope we have, I think, is two. One is having a knowledge and understanding, recognizing, keeping in mind that this is happening. Don’t forget that this is going on. And the second is that, again, I think the world of technology may give us some positive surprises in terms of how to protect ourselves from this excessive, abusive, authoritarian kind of behavior in terms of surveillance. CASA: Our next raised hand is from Katie Laatikainen, who is associate professor at Adelphi University. Katie. Q: Hi. Thanks very much. I also wrote my question in the Q&A. I’m interested in what you think an international order premised upon authoritarianism would look like. For most of the post-World War II era liberalism and liberal concepts, universal human rights, rule of law sort of defined the operating system of the—operating system of international relations. Given what you’ve said about authoritarianism and the internal and domestic focus of it, what would be the elements of the operating system if there’s a shift toward authoritarianism as the operating system in international relations? Thanks so much. NAÍM: Mutual protection. What these countries that are authoritarian and beginning—we have evidence they’re working together internationally to ensure that they are protected. That they will not have some color revolution, or some invasion, or some other social political dynamic that puts them at risk. So each one of them has a dense web of international connections with likeminded governments. And we should expect more than that. But always remembering the phrase that says that countries don’t have friends, they have interests. And so the interests of these authoritarian governments are converging for now. But we don’t know if there’s going to be—what’s going to happen in reality there. CASA: Our next question is a written one. It comes from Patrick Duddy, senior advisor for global affairs at Duke University, and former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. He asks: Dr. Naím, could you cite a recent example of a situation in which the international community or local democracy advocates have been able to rollback authoritarianism and restore democracy? NAÍM: Yes, first, let me say hello to Patrick, who’s an old friend of mine. Nice to hear from you. Yes, fortunately, we have examples. I think the most recent example is Guatemala. Guatemala had a government that essentially was voted out of power. But NGOs, and civil society, and the media, and the private sector, and the church, they all got together in a fantastic way and were able, with the support of the United States, by the way—with an important role on the part of the United States. The leadership was, in Guatemala, and Guatemalan democratic politicians were so successful. And so, yes, there is hope. And there’s always opportunity that a good leader, together with a good organization and the support of the international community, can stop the decline towards the autocracy in some—and protect democracies. CASA: We’ll take our next question from Andrea Cuervo Prados, who is adjunct instructor at Dickinson State University. Andrea. Q: Hi, Mr. Naím. Thank you so much for your insights and knowledge. I also wrote my question on the chat, and it is related to Colombia. I would love to hear your thoughts about that country, about Colombia, which right now seems to be moving to an authoritarian regime, recalling some of the initial stages you know very well, Venezuela live under Chavez tenure. So what’s your view on the Colombian case? And do you believe an authoritarian regime is emerging in Colombia? Thank you. NAÍM: Yes, I am worried, and I think there is—there are good reasons to be worried about what happens in Colombia. Colombia used to be a solid democracy. Colombia showed the way on how to combat drug trafficking, how to reclaim neighborhoods that were untouchable by the police and others, because they were controlled by the drug traffickers. So there was a long list that make Colombia a country worth looking at. But then a combination of toxic polarization in which the country were—like many others, by the way—got entangled in all kinds of highly polarizing debates, behaviors, created—weakened the state in Colombia. And now they have a president that is surely frustrating the hopes of the people that voted for him. And he is displaying behaviors that are not democratic. And all, you know, in the mix of showing and trying to present himself and his policies as democracy. But they’re not. So, yes. But at the same time, perhaps the good news is that what’s remaining of democracy in Colombia, and especially in the legislative branch, can curtail and limit the advances—the antidemocratic advances that that are taking place there. But it’s worth watching and crossing fingers. CASA: Our next question is from Jose David Valbuena, an undergraduate student at Buffalo State University. He asks: How does the rise of authoritarianism in certain countries affect the global balance of power? And what implications does this have for international relations? NAÍM: Yeah. Well, the central answer there is the hegemony, and the nature of hegemony, and who has it, and how it sustains it, is a central theme. Hegemony and, you know, dominate—the idea that, for example, the superpowers, that the United States, will continue to be a hegemon, I think it’s true. It will continue to be the hegemon, probably more than anything in some areas of the military, of military affairs, of military organizations. But yet, the hegemony will be—is on—is on the plate to be debated, discussed, eventually adapted at what are the realities of geopolitics in these times. CASA: Let’s see. We’ll take our next question from Rita Kiki Edozie, who is a professor and associate dean at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Q: Thank you. And thank you, Dr. Naím. Very interesting conversation. So about a year and a half ago, you participated in a debate around the same subject, you with Julian Waller. And your thesis was, of course, the rise of authoritarianism; and Julian’s thesis was that authoritarianism would not emerge in the U.S., despite, you know, your thesis about sort of Trump’s authoritarianism. And that’s because the U.S. had institutions at the national, local, and institutional level that sort of—would mute or, sort of, soften the blow of authoritarianism. Assuming both of you are right in that, you know, both there is an authoritarianism on the rise but so is there a pushback against authoritarianism, especially in the U.S., my question to you is: Don’t you think that democratic regimes are sort of embedded with the contradictions of authoritarian thrusts and pulses as well? And that, you know, they go one in hand, and we ought to acknowledge how they sort of coexist together? Thank you. NAÍM: Yes, Professor Edozie. I think the answer to that question will hinge quite a bit on the results of the U.S. elections this year. I do believe that Mr. Donald Trump is a threat to democracy in the United States, in a variety of ways. Because democracy is not just what happens when you go to vote, as you know, but is what happens in between periods in which—the days in which you go to vote, in which you really want the checks and balances to be autonomous, independent, objective, honest, and incorruptible, and all of that. And that is not what President Trump showed us in his time in government, nor what he’s saying these days. So I think whatever generalization one wants to make at this point, it has to be centered on the consequences at home and internationally of an electoral win by Donald Trump, if that happens. CASA: Our next question is a written one. It’s from Harry Mellor, political science student at Wheaton College, who writes: I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding whether the current Russian state reaction to recent terrorist attacks may be employed or used by the Putin regime to push an anti-Islamic authoritarian view, similar to the U.S. during 9/11. Or, in relation to earlier questions, used to bolster the hegemony of Russian Orthodoxy? NAÍM: Yes. I think Putin is already doing it. Of course, he has mentioned a little bit the Muslim theme, but mostly he’s blaming Ukraine. And he’s using the attack to show that—essentially arguing, which is not true, that the attack—the terrorist attack was, you know, the doing of the Ukrainians. And, again, we live in a world in which there are millions of people that don’t know who to believe, what to believe, and where to—you know, how to think about these issues. And I think this is an example. CASA: We’ll take our next question from Susan King, dean at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Susan. Q: Hi. Just to clarify, dean emeritus. So I’m no longer sitting dean. I want to ask a question with that plays off what you’ve just said about the U.S. And you’ve talked about the importance of government. There’s been a lot written just recently about the pandemic sort of overhang, that there’s PTSD, you know, in many communities; and that, reviewing it, that many felt the ambiguity of the guidance that they got has left people really desirous of more clear answers, and some worry that will lead to authoritarianism. Do you see the COVID experience, the pandemic, as sort of a backdrop for the United States elections? NAÍM: I don’t know. That is high expectations, right? Is assuming the government agencies in the United States are infallible and knew what they were doing. And the fact of the matter is, that they were doing it for the first time, without precedents. They surprised us—the scientists surprised us when they came up with a vaccine in record time, because everybody had been saying it takes a couple of years or more to get a vaccine through the system. Well, the scientists collaborating internationally were able to do it. But what I don’t think is that one should expect governments to have that capacity of dealing with a pandemic of the global scale and doing everything effectively, or doing things in service of certain ideology or political interests. I think there was room for mistakes and an ignorance about how to deal with the situation and doing as much as possible with the information they had. And the political context. Just remember the debates and how difficult they were. And the long-term consequences of COVID, of course, there is—long-term COVID is an issue and is becoming an important issue. But there is a new pandemic which is mental health, as you know. The global—the world has seen an increased level of mental health problems. And the United States is significantly there. CASA: Our next question is a written one from Alex Beltran, an undergraduate student at University of Houston-Downtown: I would like to ask you about your thoughts regarding Mexico and its current national issues, where there is a president who attempted to eliminate several national agencies including the ones in charge of elections. In addition, the current president is very clear on letting the corruption of cartels continue. Is Mexico on its way to becoming more authoritarian? Considering they have elections soon it might be early to talk about that. But I would like to hear what your—what you understand about the subject. NAÍM: Well, I understand that, yes, it’s too—in a normal democracy, it’s too early to be—to talk about what’s going to happen, because you don’t know who’s going to win. In the case of Mexico, everybody knows now who’s going to win, because there’s going to be an election that is heavily influenced by government intervention in favor of the candidate of the government. So that’s one thing. And the government of Mexico, and in particular President López Obrador, are important examples of what I call political necrophilia. You know, necrophilia is this perversion that some human beings have, you know, a strong attachment to cadavers—that they like cadavers. Well, there is a political manifestation of that, people that are deeply, deeply attached to bad ideas, ideas that have been tried and tested in the country once and again, in different countries, with different circumstances. Ideas that always end in more corruption, more inequality, more poverty, and so on. And President—if you look at the initiatives of President López Obrador, you will see that there are all kinds of examples of political necrophilia in which he is doing things that have been tested in the past. And there are clear mistakes to do it again that he’s undertaking. CASA: Our next question comes from Michael C. Davis, professor of law and international affairs at Jindal Global University. Michael. Q: OK, can you hear me? CASA: Yes. Q: OK. I’ve just written a book on Hong Kong called Freedom Undone. And one of the things I constantly run into in talking about the book is a criticism, well, it’s pointless to talk about Hong Kong. China’s not going to listen. And so you’re just—it’s a waste of our time even to host an event on it. And so the question I have is, does—in the cases like this, where a very successful authoritarian regimes is in charge, what’s the best response when you’re told that sort of naming and shaming really doesn’t matter, you’re just going to be called anti-China for this, and they’re going to ignore it? NAÍM: Well, but the rest of the world is not. The rest of the world will clearly benefit from a group of independent, objective, reliable, trusted analysts, professors, journalists, politicians, policymakers that said that—you know, that put the light on what’s going on. As you know better than I, this—recently there was already the decision to pass the law in Hong Kong that clearly curtailed any hopes of a more democratic—to retain some of the Hong Kong’s democratic values, and behaviors, and institutions. So it’s already happened. But I think there is the possibility that you find people that understand what’s going on, and how this backsliding towards authoritarianism in Hong Kong can be—still being formed, or used to be—to inform the rest of the world how to think about China, by the way to look at how they have dealt with Hong Kong. And then the next stage of the conversation, as you know, will have to do with Taiwan. President Xi Jinping constantly repeats that there is no debate there. Taiwan is part of China. And it will become integrated with China. And that creates, of course, all kinds of anxieties because of the role of the United States in the treaty. There is a mutual protection military treaty between China and the United States, as you know. So don’t stop it. Don’t leave it there. Insist. CASA: Our next question is written one from Hunter Shields, undergraduate student at Davis and Elkins College. He writes: If social media acts as a significant factor in the spread of authoritarian government models, does it become the responsibility of nonauthoritarian governments, who may see how such systems can cause chaos, to censor or limit the exposure of authoritarian ideals? Would censoring authoritarian governments make the nonauthoritarian governments act in the same way as they—as they try to maintain the political status quo? NAÍM: Well, I don’t know that censoring is for anything that I would ever recommend. But there is no doubt that we need a regulatory system that, for example, to contain the spread of disinformation that is now happening and that he’s being, as the question said, you know, there’s a lot going on there. And it’s important that the fight is—continues, the fight against misinformation, distortion, lies, hate continues. That we will need to find ways to contain that. CASA: Our next question is a written one from Wilson Wameyo, a graduate student at the Jagiellonian University in Poland. He asked: How is the new conflict between Russia and the West emboldening authoritarian leaders in Africa and South America? NAÍM: Yeah. That is the fear. And that is why so many leaders, so many democratic leaders, are saying that the outcome of the war between Russia and Ukraine, as a result of Russia’s invasion, will define the prospects for democracy around the world. If Ukraine falls, you know, loses the war, and it becomes a province of Russia, all bets are off in a variety of ways. I don’t think that will happen. But I also think that a victory of the Ukrainian forces is—at this point, is on the table. So negotiations will ensue. And let’s hope that through these negotiations one can preserve the independence of Ukraine, and also stimulates the creation of an international coalition, prodemocracy coalition, that has some tooth and can work on that in support of countries that are fighting the good fight in terms of protecting democracy. CASA: Our next question is a written one from Azzedine Layachi, professor of politics at St. John’s University: You said earlier that we need to adjust capitalism and democracy to the new reality. First, what are some of the specific dimensions of this new reality? Second, what kind of adjustments do you suggest? NAÍM: Well, it’s obvious that the economy as it now works is not aligned to the realities of climate change that we’re facing. The climate emergency requires action and requires sound economic thinking, and action, and policies. Inequality. Inequality around the world has increased in significant ways. And, again, the economy, as it now stands, is—has a peaceful coexistence with inequality that has to be shattered. And if—you know, the fight against monopolies, the concentration of power, and all that has to be very effective. The whole regulation of free speech and speech in general, and disinformation and all that, has to be aligned to democracy and to what we have as a democracy political system. So there is a list of things that can be done, but that require political will that he was going to be very hard to get. CASA: Our next question comes from Mietek Boduszynski, associate professor of politics at Pomona College. The question is: From a U.S. foreign policy perspective, can the logic of great power competition be reconciled with democracy promotion? NAÍM: It depends how the promotion is done. Remember that under the banner of democracy, you know, promotion a lot of bad governments have been maintained. I understand the question. It’s a good question in terms of how to make it possible for democracy in the United States—for the United States to be effective at democracy promotion. I think that is going to be reviewed and is going to change. And I think the way we have been thinking about foreign aid is going to be adjusted. CASA: Our next question is from Diego Abente Brun, professor of the practice and program director, Latin American and hemispheric studies at George Washington University. He asks: Why are some authoritarian Latin American leaders popular—AMLO, Bukele, Milei, and so on? How can we restore faith and trust in democracy? NAÍM: Fandom. In my book, The Revenge Of Power, I talk about the new quality that has politics. You know, you always wanted a politician have to have some sort of attractiveness, the magic, that magnetism that attracts followers. Now it’s more than that. Now it’s a fandom. And it has to do with identity politics. It has to do with how do you feel you belong to a group that is like you and you are like them. And all of that has is having immense political consequences that we have not seen before? CASA: Thank you. I don’t know if we have—maybe we have time for one more question. We’ll take it from Robin Bittick, professor of political science at Sam Houston State University in Texas. Democracy is about self-rule and majority voting. Yet, populism employs something that can be—implies something that can be democratic but can become authoritarian. What can be done to ensure democracy does not result in suicide? NAÍM: Wow. Well—(laughs)—but I understand the feeling, you know, that democracy will be underperforming in some areas that are critical for people. And, again, performance and transparency are two important conditions for all of this. Transparency, and paying attention, and participating. CASA: OK. We have many more questions. We’ve covered an enormous amount of ground. So I’d like to thank you so much, Dr. Naím, for your time with us today. And to all of you, for your questions and comments. The final Winter/Spring Academic Webinar will take place on Wednesday, April 10, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at CFR, and Rebecca Katz, professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, will lead a conversation on global health security and diplomacy. In the meantime, I encourage you to learn about CFR paid internships for students and fellowships for professors at Follow @CFR_Academic on X. And visit,, and for research and analysis on global issues. Again, thank you all for joining us today and we look forward to you tuning in on April 10. (END)

International Law

David J. Scheffer, senior fellow at CFR, leads the conversation on complex humanitarian emergencies. CASA: Welcome to today’s session of the Winter/Spring 2024 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Mar…
College and University Educators Workshop
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Higher Education Webinars

Reserved for college and university leaders, administrators, and professors, the CFR Higher Education Webinar series offers timely conversations on global issues affecting higher education, featuring CFR fellows and thought leaders. Webinars convene monthly to explore strategic challenges and share best practices for meeting them. Video recordings and transcripts are posted to after the fact. 

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Past Higher Education Webinars

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Tarek El-Ariss, James Wright professor and chair of Middle Eastern studies at Dartmouth College, and Susannah Heschel, Eli M. Black distinguished professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College, lead the conversation on navigating academic discourse on Israel and Palestine. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website,, if you’d like to share it with your colleagues. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Tarek El-Ariss and Susannah Heschel with us to talk about navigating academic discourse on Israel and Palestine. Tarek El-Ariss is the James Wright professor and chair of Middle Eastern studies at Dartmouth College. Susannah Heschel is the Eli M. Black distinguished professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College. And they teach together a class at Dartmouth called “The Arab, the Jew, and Constructions of Modernity.” So, with that, I’m going to turn the conversation over to them to talk about how they teach this class, and how they’ve worked together to address discourse on Israel and Palestine in Dartmouth, and best practices, as we all think about how to discuss these issues. So, over to both of you. Thank you for being with us. EL-ARISS: Thank you, Irina. Just to backtrack a little bit on the idea of the class, and our collaboration, I’m originally from Beirut. I’m trained in philosophy and literary studies. And I grew up during the civil war. And what we’re going through right now is extremely difficult to watch, to engage in, but this is something that we need to do. And this is something that I’ve been very interested in thinking about. And I just wrote a book on the subject, called Water on Fire: A Memoir of War, which really starts in Beirut, what was then called West Beirut, and ends in New York on 9/11, where I was actually teaching a course on the Middle East at NYU. And specifically on that day, I was teaching a course—a class on Islam. And needless to say, that these crises, these catastrophic events that happen from the region that I’m associated with, where I come, has been really fundamental to the way I think about scholarship, to the way I think about pedagogy, the way I think also about teaching and the community building that I think is really fundamental for the conversation today. So, I just wanted to kind of situate that within that context. And how do you think and deal with these questions? And how do you incorporate them? And where does the personal scholarship and the pedagogical engagement come, and so on? My work has been really dealing also with the question of the universal and the questions of the Enlightenment tradition. I mean, this is very important, and questions of modernity. Also wrote on the subject in the context of Arab modernity, in the context of what’s called the Nahda, or the nineteenth century Arab renaissance, and which is this kind of engagement with European modernity. So, this question of the universal, or the experience, of the European enlightenment tradition and how it kind of affects different parts of the world, how it allowed us to understand questions of human rights or questions of the universality is also at the core of this conversation here, and also of my intellectual training. So, this question has been really fundamental. I’ve also been interested in how a lot of these Arab intellectuals and scholars went to Europe in the beginning of the nineteenth century, and how they experienced this modernity. And that is not just simply an intellectual experience where they’re thinking about the ideas of the West and trying to translate them or reject them or accept them, but it is also an embodied experience. It’s also—I’ve been working on this question of the somatic, on the affect. And my work has also been, again, tracing this question of the universal of modernity to also think about it in the context of the digital age. And my last book is called Leaks, Hacks and Scandals. It’s on digital culture and the Arab Spring, and also digital culture that’s transforming some of our concepts of writing, political protest, community, the public sphere—all that is associated with that kind of eighteenth century that has been reverberated and had major influences across the region. So, I think I just want to kind of trace that genealogy. I think it’s important to also see where we come from and what are the things that have shaped a little bit our work, and where we have come, and then how we end up collaborating and also teaching this course that you mentioned. HESCHEL: Thank you, Irina. My name is Susannah Heschel. And, as you mentioned, I am chair of the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. And my work together with Tarek stems in part from my academic scholarship. Also, perhaps from the experiences that I had growing up. I grew up in New York City and my father was a Jewish theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel. And he was involved in the civil rights movement, in the Second Vatican Council, and the movement against the war in Vietnam. And those were important experiences for me on many levels. For one thing, the civil rights movement and Dr. King made me fall in love with the Hebrew Bible. But, it was also an example for me of how to talk to people from another community, from a completely different environment. When I saw my father and Dr. King, and their relationship, or my father’s work with Cardinal Bayet at the Second Vatican Council and so on, I learned something about how to function in this world when you’re talking about very difficult, very painful issues. My own scholarship looks at Germany. And, in fact, I’m in Hamburg, Germany right now on a research fellowship at the Maimonides Institute. And I’m interested—my first book was a study of a Jewish historian in the nineteenth century in Germany who wrote an important book on the Koran showing parallels between Judaism and the Koran. And then later, he did work on Jewish rabbinic texts and the influence on the gospels, the New Testament, and Christian origins. So, I was interested, as you see, in how Jewish studies overlaps or interacts, and creates a synergy with other kinds of fields. And that continued with a book I wrote on Nazi theologians who supported Hitler. So, the question of how does the academy respond to political crisis, to fascism in this particular case? And now I’m working on another study, on the history of Jewish scholarship on Islam. But again, about interactions. I’m in the department of religion, as well as in Jewish studies. And the work that we do together, Tarek and I, on campus, has become very important for both of us, and also for our students. We teach the class together, the Arab, the Jew, and constructions of modernity. And we have a wonderful collection of students with different kinds of backgrounds—Palestinian, Jewish, from all parts of the world. And we try to create an atmosphere in the classroom of community and engagement with one another. We want the students to see themselves as working with us to do academic investigation, discussion, analysis. So, it was in that context then, that on October 7, when I was hearing the horrible news, I got a phone call from Tarek. And his voice sounded as horrified and devastated as I felt. And we planned two forums on campus that week of faculty—open to students, faculty, everyone. And the response was overwhelming. Far more than I expected. I think what was important—we can talk more about those forums—but I just want to say that we sought to model for the campus how we speak to each other, what kind of a tone we take, even in the midst of a crisis. Four of us from Jewish studies and Middle Eastern studies, we speak with respect, of course, with dignity. But, also, in doing that, we modeled for the students. So, they asked questions that were sometimes difficult to hear. But they asked respectfully, politely. And so going on from there, we’ve established a series of dialogues. And we find that in our work together, having two professors teaching courses on difficult topics creates a much better atmosphere in the classroom. It unites students. It shows students how to talk to each other, even when they disagree, to have the dialogue taking place right there. So go ahead, Tarek. EL-ARISS: And the idea, we also have—we’ve worked—this is my seventh year at Dartmouth. So, this is really—we’ve been working a lot together also on inviting people and trying to bring different programs and departments to sponsor events, to bring authors, to bring filmmakers, so also there is—even to bring a rock band. We brought Mashrou’ Leila at some point to Dartmouth right before COVID hit. (Laughs.) And so, I’m coming to New York to see Hamed Sinno’s concert at the Met this weekend. So, this is—you also have to create a community within the classroom and outside of the classroom. And maybe Dartmouth, also the—where it is located, the size, also the resources, I mean, there are differences. Not every place has the same culture, or the same abilities, and the same—but this is our experience. And this is what we worked very, very consciously on building, is that we need to create this community that operates—that connects to culture, intellectual processes, learning, music, that brings all these bodies and different departments and programs together in an interesting way. And this is also what we teach. And we have Ezzedine Fishere, my colleague, who co-teachers, a course, with Bernie Avishai in government on the politics of Israel-Palestine. Susannah was teaching in the fall a course on 1967 with a colleague, also who works on Arabic literature, Jonathan Smolin. And the administration has been very receptive and encouraging to these kinds of models that allowed us to come up with these courses and bring different disciplinary backgrounds. Like, I come from literature and philosophy. And Susannah comes from religion, and so on. And bring these different backgrounds also that are cross disciplinary and that open up the subject matter in an interesting way. And our course, I mean, this is also where our research overlaps, is this question of the nineteenth century, which is very interesting in this part of the world—eighteenth/nineteenth century—is how Jews and Arabs deal with this question of modernity, which I think is very important. And because this is the question, also, of language, how Hebrew becomes modernized/standardized, how Arabic becomes standardized, how you rethink questions of community, questions of political institution, writing genres, but also how certain issues that deal with questions, for instance, of racism and xenophobia and antisemitism—begin to influence or affect some of these relations. And I edited an anthology on this question, where you have a lot of—called The Arab Renaissance—that we teach texts from it. And you have all these Jewish intellectuals from Beirut, from Cairo, engaging with the Dreyfus affair in 1894 to 1895. I mean, the Dreyfus affair is a huge global scandal at the end of the nineteenth century. And you have Reuters cable for the beginning—the beginning of mass communication—media. Technology that are starting. So, people in Beirut are reading what’s happening in Paris to Dreyfus as the cables are arriving. So, then you see these questions. And then you have Zola, you have this Jewish woman from Beirut, Esther Moyal, who’s writing about Zola and how Zola is defending Dreyfus in his famous article, in J’Accuse…!. So, you also have solidarity among Muslim scholars saying: Where is the French universal now? I mean, where are these human rights and equality and fraternity of the French Revolution in the face of this xenophobia, antisemitism that’s coming out of France? So, it’s also interesting to create genealogies. Like, how do we connect the genealogy from Zola, through Beirut, through Esther Moyal, to the intellectuals speaking truth to power, to Foucault, and Sartre, and Edward Said? And how do you kind of bring different narratives to the students that expand, also, our understanding of what’s happening in the Middle East, and the kind of perspective of conflict? So, I think when October 7 happened, the students were part of the community thinking about these things in multiple ways, in diverse ways, and students coming from different backgrounds. HESCHEL: Yes. I would just to add to that, that it’s important for me, as the chair of the Jewish Studies Program, that we have alliances with the different departments and programs on campus, many different ones. So, I want courses that we teach in Jewish studies, but that are cross listed in African American studies, in sociology, history, religion, and government, and so forth, women’s studies. That’s very important to me. And not only because of the alliances that we can create, and in some sense reproduce what Tarek was just talking about in the Nahda, but also because this sheds light on aspects of Jewish history, of Jewish religious thought, that we wouldn’t otherwise recognize. We see, for example, the parallels between Jews coping with European modernity and Arabs coping, in very similar ways. And also, being horrified at some of the same things. So, the construction of our identities has some parallels. There’s a way in which teaching this class also demonstrates to students that there was a very different trajectory from what one might imagine, looking back from today and all of the conflicts and terrible events and catastrophes that are going on, even at this moment. But to see that there was something else that was blossoming. It didn’t last, but it may come back. And that also is an important element here, to give our students some hope. And to show them, also, that the situations, the conflicts that we look at, are terribly complex. So, we tell the students, don’t look for a simple narrative. Try to learn to hold onto complexity, something that can’t be unraveled easily. There is no bad witch and fairy godmother, bad guy and good guy. Don’t divide the world that way. That just exacerbates the polarization that’s affecting all of us. See the complexity. And look at the future. Imagine, optimistically, what you would like to see in twenty, thirty, fifty years. How can we get there? What are the roadblocks? What do we need to do? What can you, students, do? What problems can you tackle and overcome so that we can achieve something? Too often we are so mired in the present that we don’t think about the future. And we have to offer our students that possibility and encourage them to think about a better future for themselves. EL-ARISS: And this is—pedagogically, it’s really very important, especially now. When I look at the pictures coming out of the region, I mean, I’m devastated. But how do I deal with this devastation? And how do I transform it? Do I bring it to class as is? Because I feel like I always—I also write on monsters and really kind of dark things that are happening in the world. But also my cynicism and my sometime despair—I feel like when I’m in the classroom, I also have to give hope. I can’t also just bring it as it is to the classroom. I feel like in front of them, I want to be hopeful. I want to—and I do it organically. It is not almost by design, but it is almost something—because I feel like I owe it to that generation also. And this is also kind of a question about where our personal research and what we teach, how they come together, or they might differ. And how thinking pedagogically also is very important, especially in these moments of crisis. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. I want to go to the group for questions and comments, and then we can continue the conversation. (Gives queuing instructions.) So, the first question we’re going to go to Mark Tessler. Q: This a great discussion. And I hope I can ask a question to each of the speakers to push a little bit. The end of the nineteenth century that Tarek has been talking about is really an important period. And he did a good job of describing it. But, it’s in the context of a region where there are centers and peripheries. And, I mean, I went to school in Tunisia, and I would say that’s part of the center, surprisingly. Egypt is the center, but Tunisia was not too far behind. But Palestine was the periphery. And it wasn’t totally untouched, but relatively speaking change was much less and much slower. And there’s an analysis by a number of Arab scholars, one of them was my professor a long time ago when I went to grad school, that this—I hesitate to use the word backwardness—but this relatively unchanged circumstance in Palestine, with a traditional inward-looking elite not really interested in the kinds of changes that are taking place in Egypt with the reopening of Ijtihad and so forth. And so, the argument is that that’s an important part of the story about why Palestinians fared so poorly in the context of their emerging confrontation with Zionism. And so, I cover this period a bit in my own course on Israel-Palestine. I forgot to say I’m at the University of Michigan, where I teach about the Middle East. And so, it’s interesting to think about this period and the larger implications that Dr. El-Ariss has been pointing out, very significant. But, if we kind of see what does that mean for Palestine, the story is going to be quite different. If I could ask a quick question, I’ll try to be brief, to Professor Heschel. And I read your father’s work, and glad to know a few. This is a really interesting story as well, in how the two people are struggling together to—I’ve done some writing on this myself earlier in my career—to find their way, to not lose their identity, to balance tradition, but to be of the modern world. This is not so much about Israel-Palestine, but this is an important story. But if we focus on, in particular, North Africa—and this would apply to Egypt to some extent, as well—this meant for the Jewish populations of those societies less of an alliance in the service of a joint struggle that they’re both engaging in, and more—it gets mixed up with colonialism. The Jewish elite, and to some extent, the Jewish masses becomes very European in their orientation. And so as we look to the evolution, the story isn’t quite as happy as—both of these peoples have common concerns. They’re facing them at the same time in history in response to the same stimuli from Europe. And, my goodness, the dialogue between them is enriching. And we have examples of that. But, I would say that it isn’t—and for at least the Maghreb, where there are half a million Jews—it’s not the most important part of the story. This quest for modernization in the end doesn’t build alliances with the Muslims in those countries. There are exceptions, but as a generalization. But rather, puts them if not politically—and sometimes it is political—but at least culturally on the side of the Europeans. And the divide between the indigenous Jewish population and the indigenous Muslim Arab population actually grows. So, just a few things to—food for thought. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Tarek, let’s go to you first, I think. EL-ARISS: Yeah. I mean, Mark, I think it’s a—I also need to push back against your comment. (Laughs.) But, I think it’s obviously a more complex story. I mean, a lot of the Palestinians are also studying at the Syrian Protestantn College in Beirut, a lot of Lebanese from out Lebanon are in Cairo founding Al-Ahram. So, the way you locate cultural development or Nahda, but the way you define center and periphery, I kind of—I contest this binary. And I think it’s a much more complex picture. And you have the movement across that region. I mean, you have also people who are writing in exile in France. You have people who are in Russia studying a lot of Lebanese Greek Orthodox, for instance, and Palestinians. So,  we  need to think territorially, but also in terms of that region itself as kind of engaging with these questions of modernity in interesting ways. And of course, it’s a complex relation to modernity. I mean, there is a pull. There is a rejection. There is a fascination. But if you look at it as a whole comprehensively, you see those kind of movements that we try to capture in our class. HESCHEL: So, Mark, of course I know who you are, and I know your work and admire it greatly. And far be it for me to—(laughs)—answer the questions that you yourself write about. I’d just say that of course I agree with you. And we—in our class—when we do talk about these issues, we range from everything from Jessica Marglin’s work to The Rabbi’s Cat. And I think one of the big problems we focus on is the Crémieux Decree, and that has larger resonances, in fact; the significance—the political significance of something like that, how that is to be evaluated and how something like that actually recurs throughout the course of Jewish history with often very dire consequences that you pointed out. So, thank you for the comment, and thank you for your work. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question, a written question from Alison Brysk at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She’s a professor of global governance. She appreciates your model but has had different disturbing experiences teaching contemporary poli-sci, and IR, and human rights classes on a very politicized campus. My whole agenda is universalism, context, international humanitarian law for all sides. But, about half of my students are simply locked into preexisting identities and convictions and will complain when I try to present a basic range of perspectives and evidence on roots of the conflict. Do you have any suggestions for the beleaguered public university when students experience humanistic history as hate speech? I don’t know who wants to start. HESCHEL: Go ahead, Tarek. EL-ARISS: This is something we also struggle with. I mean, this question of the universal; come back to it. That’s, of course, the critique of the universal as Eurocentric, as only covering or being framed along very specific political lines that exclude the other or that does not represent people who might come from, to come back to Mark’s term, the periphery in some way, whatever that periphery is. But again when you are thinking about conflict, how do you work outside of that framework? I mean, this is also the question. So how—we need it in order to think of a community of—we need to think of—do the critique of universality, but also take the good things, because we also have human rights. So, how are we going to talk about human rights? How are we going to talk about things that matter for everyone that we all need to care about and be mobilized if we only situate forms of identity or rights in the particular, and the particular that is defined in very specific ways? And I think there should be teachable moments like, OK, you don’t think—let’s ask the students or let’s organize teach-ins about, what do they mean by certain terms? I mean, I think we use terms and concepts really without knowing what they truly mean, or what their histories are. I mean, we are at the university. This is the place to actually engage and say what this kind of humanism or universality that is seen as Eurocentric and exclusive in many ways, then what is its history? How—did it not also influence the way people in that part—in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, different parts of the world where they also think of themselves as modern subjects and as claimants to particular rights and traditions, and so forth? So, I know where we are. I mean, I understand the, kind of, current moment. But, how do we try to bring it to a level where, OK, what do you mean by this? Ask questions. Listen, but then ask questions, and open it up to a conversation. Maybe the class is about something else, but maybe because of the crisis, the class has to pivot or shift to a different moment that deals with a particular event that is unfolding in the world. HESCHEL: But let me just add that I understand a hundred percent and have experienced it, too. My sense is, first of all, students are very lonely. Identity—that kind of insistence on one’s own identity—is a very lonely position to take. Students will end up saying: You will never understand what it feels like to be me. And that needs to be challenged. It may be, I will never understand you and your identity, but I can help you understand yourself better. I can help you accept relationships with other people, and even be loved by other people. So, there have to be ways to open up and not end with the declaration of identity, and that is a problem. I also would say that a lot of students have a very strong sense of injustice, and I admire that and appreciate it. But, sometimes they get into a state of despair over it, and we need to make sure that we can lift them up and not let them sink into a hole of despair, but to talk in more concrete terms about what they can do and make it a viable engagement with injustice—overcoming injustice. So, those are just a few things. There’s so much more to say about it. But we both have experienced this, and we’re with you. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question from Margaret Lewis, who’s at Seton Hall University. Q: Thanks so much. I’m both a professor and an associate dean, so I think about this from several angles. So, I wanted just to think more broadly about navigating the academic discourse. It’s one thing to do that in an intimate course setting where you know the students, they know you. But, I wonder if you have thoughts, both about how to create community conversations or spaces outside of a class when we do have a situation that emerges—for example, not just one we’re having now, but go back to Freddie Gray or anything that’s really rocked our students. And then maybe separately, but if you have thoughts about university messaging, the emails that our students expect us to put out after events and the extent to which those are helpful. And, if so, how to craft them in ways that: Is it expressing care just for the students? How do we try to bring in different stakeholders to give us language that will work across different stakeholders? Any of that would be hugely helpful as we all navigate this. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Tarek, or— HESCHEL: Yeah. I’m not sure it’s a single answer that will address every institution because there are important differences. You say you’re at Seton Hall, which is Catholic, and it’s a different culture on campus. I’m familiar with that; I actually lectured there a few months ago. In terms of the statements, I found that the outrage over many university president statements puzzling initially. And then I realized, I suppose, people were psychologically/emotionally so devastated that it was a displacement, and then a lot of argumentation arose over the precise language of statements. I’m not sure if statements are the way to address emotional devastation or catastrophe. And the statements that were quite formal in the language, or politically oriented, perhaps that wasn’t the way to do it. I’m not sure—I haven’t been an administrator—exactly how to formulate it, but I think that’s—in those kinds of moments, that’s what people are looking for, some sense of support. I also think it’s important at the convocation in the fall—Tarek and I were discussing this earlier—for the university to make its message clear, the mission: What are you supposed to be doing here, undergraduates, at this university for the next four years? This is what we want to offer you. And then, at some point later on, have the students write something. What they’re looking for because the only essay you have from them really is for the admissions. And once they arrive, it would be good to hear from them: What do you want to get out of these four years? What do you want from your classes, from your professors, and so on? And then finally, I’d just say that the atmosphere in the classroom is very important—friendly, happy, a joyous atmosphere throughout the semester—to keep the students together as a group having a good time, feeling that they’re there for each other, forming a community. We find that very important when we’re teaching a class that can, in fact, give rise to terrible conflict. We want to avoid that. So, we bring cookies. We have an open door in our office. We have conversation. So, again, the atmosphere. Tarek, go ahead. EL-ARISS: Yeah. No, and I think also we need to rethink, I mean, outreach. We also go to the students. We go to different religious groups, different houses. I went. Susannah went. We go also into their own spaces. We don’t just organize the event and say come; we go to them. And when we bring people—we’ve organized a couple of forums and we brought some people from outside, and we said—we organized breakfast with the students. We have organized places where the students also feel comfortable. And it’s very important, this question of space and you going to them. And they, then, are hosting you on their own—their own dorms or their own whatever—houses and so on. I think that’s very important. And also, the administration is not—the more I think about it, it’s not one thing. It’s not like the administration is this abstract thing, like a tower in the middle of campus that’s—I mean, I’m also the administration. Susannah is also the administration. I mean, my office is open to these students. They come. I listen to them. Some of them are not happy with the way things are going. I comfort them. I sometimes transmit their messages to higher-ups and say this—and who ask me, actually, how are the students doing? And I say, I met with so-and-so, and he said this, or she said that. And also, I have say, okay, I have this kid that said, you’re going to run the Arabic Club this term, or you’re going to help me on this research dealing with these questions, because I also have the ability to recognize some of the things they’re struggling with. So, the administration, we have to—or how the university responds—has to be rethought, and also support organic processes that are already happening. Who among the faculty are in conversation? What can the administration do to give them more support, to highlight more what they’re doing? So, I mean, we’re seeing some efforts that are coming from high up, from the top down; like, OK, we’re going to have a task force and start dialogue. But, I think it’s important that the administration responds to what faculty are doing and supports it. So, support these organic processes, these community-building processes that, I think, are much more effective and are more likely to produce results than some sort of, kind of a, let’s bring a consultant and tell us what we have to do, and then form this committee, and then make everyone go through more drills about how to be a good citizen in this university. I don’t think that is effective. I don’t think it’s effective in—also in other contexts that we’ve been experiencing on campuses. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take a written question from Mark Diamond which is—I think follows onto this, from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles: Could both of you share your thoughts about academic freedom on college campuses, especially as it relates to discourse on Israel and Palestine? When, if at all, is student or faculty discourse on campus out of bounds and poses a threat to others in the university? HESCHEL: Well, I can’t address the legal issues. I know that each university has a set of standards and so forth, and they may well vary. I know one college president of a Catholic university told the students: You may hold a prayer vigil, but you may not hold a demonstration. And that was that. So, that I don’t think happens everywhere, but that was one example. What is out of bounds? What’s out of bounds is, I would say first of all, people who don’t know very much about the topic that they’re addressing or screaming about. So, I begin with that. I was talking to some colleagues about this. Don’t teach a course if you don’t really know the subject or limit the course to what you know. I would encourage students who are deeply concerned about a political conflict to take courses on that conflict to get some background. We also encourage our students to think about what they can do in the future. Making a demonstration on a college campus is exciting, but actually, it can be more important to work for a political candidate, for example. To do canvassing and do work for an NGO, or come to Washington and be an aide at a congressional office. So, pointing that out to an 18-year-old is sometimes very helpful. Telling them that they can actually do something very concrete and powerful—not just on the college campus, but on the national level of politics. And then, I would say, yes, in terms of the kind of language and out of bounds, that’s really our point of our work. We wanted to demonstrate to the campus how to have a dialogue that’s respectful, that’s polite—even if we disagree—and that we talk to one another at a university in a way that’s different from the kind of conversation one has at a restaurant with your friends. We also emphasize that there’s a distinction between private and public. I may have some pretty strong views that I tell my family or my close friends—I’m not going to tell the whole world. That would be highly inappropriate. I think faculty need to be professional, and so do students. Once you’re in a university, you have to be a student. That’s a particular role, an academic role, and that, also, should be outlined to students when they’re admitted to the university, or at the fall convocation. Professional behavior is something we expect from everyone—from a doctor, a lawyer, a plumber, an electrician. I don’t want vulgar, sexist jokes when I’m consulting a physician, for example. And I don’t want a certain kind of language from faculty colleagues. So, these are basic standards of behavior that I think have been eroding in recent years, and we need to come back to them. EL-ARISS: Yeah, but we also understand that the university itself, the education and mission and the university as an institution, is no longer correspond to the model that we also study, or the Humboldt model, or the creation and the formation of the national subject. So, there is also something about the university itself that is shifting in terms of use, I mean, people say, if you also look at statistics about what people think of higher education in the U.S. and so on. So, there is a lot of questions about the university. What is the university? I mean, a lot of kids come to the university, they already know more than we do about a lot of things. They have technology on their side. Some of them are making money from apps that they created, and they talk to their parents, and they say is it really a good investment or not? So, also, we have to acknowledge that there is something about the university that—the humanistic tradition and the liberal tradition—that perhaps is no longer functioning in the same way that we imagine it to be. And we need to take this challenge seriously. And is the green a place where you take your students when it is nice out if you are in Ithaca or Ann Arbor—(laughs)—in April or end of April to do the class outside because you are missing the sun, or is the green a place of protest now, or identity affirmation. So, there are real fundamental questions about the university, and about our mission, and about our classrooms, and it’s not an either/or, it is not either this or that. How do we kind of bring the community into a space of negotiation where I understand that this is what the students are feeling right now, and they are angry, and they want to express themselves in an embodied fashion, and really do something about the world because we also expect them, when we ask them to apply how they are going to change the world. So, we also set them up for it. And so, we need to have a conversation about that. This is a moment of crisis, but it’s a moment of self-reflection that I think is really important to have—every university needs to have it, and it could have been some other crisis unfolding. But, I think this is an opportunity to ask these questions and have these conversations among—and Susannah was just we were talking today that we should have these conversations about—with faculty, with colleagues, cross-generationally, what do people think, how are they teaching, how do they come to the subject that they come to, what are their assumptions, what is the point of the classroom? Is it the political platform? Is it the place of intellectual inquiry? How do they come together? So, these are important questions I feel like, and this is the moment to ask them and engage them. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Heidi Lane. Q: Thank you very much. The question I have relates to things that I don’t actually experience in professional military education, but I have in teaching in universities like Dartmouth. And the question is, what do you think Dartmouth, or universities in general, should be doing to help faculty like yourselves engage in this kind of open, trust-building course? That’s the first question—because that really is a pressure that I think a lot of universities and administrators are feeling and navigating that for their faculty is maybe even as difficult as the relationship between the faculty and the students. That’s the first thing. And then the second question is, how do you change your model when you are teaching in, let’s say, an open session that’s like a lecture that is not part of the course? Because it’s one thing to build that trust within your class, within maybe twenty or so students over a semester, but it’s another thing to apply that same model when you are going into an open session and maybe even people from outside the campus are coming. So, thank you. HESCHEL: Those are big questions—thank you. There’s much to say. I’ll just say briefly, so on October 9, Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. my phone rang. It was the dean of faculty at Dartmouth calling to tell me that the president of Dartmouth—who was new, Sian Beilock—had asked her to get in touch with me because the president wanted to have dialog on campus. So, too often, I am afraid administrations aren’t really aligned with their own faculty. They don’t know who is teaching what, or who has what expertise, and they don’t turn to faculty in moments like this. And I actually—I’ve seen that happen after October 7 at times when I thought why didn’t the president call the faculty? Get the faculty, who are the ones working with students, to set up the kinds of forums that we held. I think it would have been very helpful. There is sometimes not a close enough relationship at some colleges and universities between administration and faculty, and faculty can actually help a great deal since we’re spending every day with the students in the classroom. So, that’s one thing. I think another issue is, when we hire faculty, we have to make sure we are hiring people who are willing to engage in dialogue. Who are willing to sit down and talk to people, or teach with people, from other programs, people who have different backgrounds with whom they may disagree. If they are willing, and enthusiastically, willing to do that kind of teaching, then I say bravo, hire them. But, those who are unwilling—that’s a problem at a university. If we aren’t talking to each other as faculty, then the institution is going to fall apart. We need to have that engagement; that includes in the sciences, the biologists and the geologists talk to each other. So, we have to foster that and make that an imperative, actually, a criterion for faculty. Are they engaged with one another? Are they open, willing to talk? There is more to say, but Tarek, you go ahead. EL-ARISS: No, I mean, basically recognize where there are efforts and where there are conversations—productive conversations—and see how you can support them; support them financially, support them logistically, get assigned space, fund—I mean, we’re lucky, really. We’re really lucky, I mean, in many ways, to have each other, but also to have an administration that was very receptive and very supportive, and said, what do you need? How can we help you to continue to do this? And that was very important. And they understood that, and they recognized—they knew us but we were kind of, I would say, a bit under the radar, and there is a new administration and new kind of leadership. So, again, it’s like, immediately they recognized that, OK, they are doing something, and what can we do to support it? How can we make it grow? How can we—and they continue to do that. And we took the initiative. We also went on a retreat to think about courses, to think about people we want to invite. So, I mean, I think it’s important that you have an administration, who are on the ground—(laughs)—are talking to faculty, who have their hand on the pulse and see where these collaborations are, and then try to figure out ways where—again, the changes are not coming from some cookie-cutter model that’s coming from the outside and being imposed on the campus, on the faculty, but actually—I mean, I’m a literary critic, and I always tell the students read the text; like do a close reading. So, do your close reading and see what is happening, and then from there, you move to the theoretical. No, don’t impose the theory on the situation, but rather let it come out of what is happening on the ground. And I think—so, this requires this different administrative direction from what we’ve been witnessing, which is bringing people from outside and training us in all kinds of ways to be better teachers, and more humane, and so on. And that’s taking the place of a lot of the things we do like the humanity especially—(laughs)—which is supposed to be doing that. So, recognize and build these infrastructures of support by recognizing what is happening on your campus, and the particularity of your campus, and your student body, and your geographic location. HESCHEL: What Tarek is trying to emphasize is that what’s important for the college is teaching that engages students in a dialogue, that brings students from different positions together, that that’s what should be recognized as the most important innovation in teaching and the most important thing for the future of the college and for the students, and not the size of the classroom, let’s just say, yeah? FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Karen Jackson-Weaver who is associate vice president of global inclusive faculty engagement and innovation advancement at NYU, and she also comes as a former dean at both Princeton and Harvard Kennedy School. So, she thanks you both for the important framing of your collaboration in the work you’ve done at Dartmouth. My sense is that the kind of sophistication and complexity that Professor Heschel mentioned that is very much needed is missing in academic discourse and in many conversations taking place on college campuses. Do you have any suggested guides or resources that you can share, which have been useful in the Dartmouth community and elevate the discourse in a meaningful way? HESCHEL: Look, that’s a great question, and it’s going to be waking me up in the middle of the night because I’m going to think of some things to tell you. But I would just say that I come to this because I wrote book about a Jewish scholar writing about the Jewishness of the New Testament, Jesus in the context of Judaism, and so on. Abraham Geiger was his name—and how the Christians responded to his arguments—very negatively, very critical—and he responded to them, and so on. So, there was a kind of engagement that I analyzed very carefully, something primarily from the late 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s, and that gave me a way of sort of understanding the subtlety of arguments, how they were perceived in the moment. So, that trained me to look for things like this, and I think that’s what I bring to this kind of situation: this way of trying to engage in—yeah? EL-ARISS: Yeah. I mean, my simple answer would be us. (Laughs.) But, we’ve actually been working on coming up with some dialogue, reflections on dialogue, or some resources that might—about this because this is also something that we’re thinking about—not about what we’re doing, but also as some sort of values that I think are important, not just for us, for our campus, and for the different constituencies on our campus who want to engage in this, who want to organize events dealing with these questions. So, I think eventually we will develop something, but this is not—I mean, really, we were just doing our normal work and—(laughs)—working on the—( HESCHEL: Yeah, but I would say that we understand that fields develop by engaging with different disciplines, with different theoretical models. That’s how we move ahead in a field. So, I would say, first of all, to any faculty member, think about how your field has developed and what has generated new ideas. What’s made it exciting is to engage with others; not to simply hide in its own corner. OK. FASKIANOS: OK, I’m going to go next to Stephen Zunes, with the raised hand. (Pause.) Yeah, we can hear you. Can you hear us? Q: OK. How about now? EL-ARISS: Yes. HESCHEL: Yes. FASKIANOS: Yes, we can. Q: OK, hi. I’m Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco. I’ve been teaching Israel and Palestine for over thirty-five years now, and there’s been a big shift in, sort of, the assumptions that students come in with. I mean, when I first started teaching, pretty much every student was familiar with the Israeli narrative, but not really aware of the Palestinian narrative, so I had to bend over backwards to make sure they knew that, as well. Today, if anything, it’s the other way around. It’s been quite striking, the shift—generational shift. I mean, maybe because the larger percentage are people of color. These people—this is a generation where black lives matter, indigenous rights—whereas our generation where the nationalism was a progressive force, and many of us saw Zionism as a national liberation movement for Jews. Nationalism seems more of a reactionary force to today’s youth of the Eastern Europe, and everything else, and Israel is seen more as a colonial settler-state. And, I was wondering, since it appears you all have been teaching this for a while, too, I was wondering if you’ve noticed similar shifts, and how you might have adjusted your teaching in light of this. EL-ARISS: I think—I don’t know, I think a lot of our students come—they don’t know a lot about this, and maybe this is where we are, or different campuses. I mean, there are some students who know and who are engaged. But I think what we try to do is that we try to kind of give them the longer history of this, so take them back to the eighteenth century, nineteenth century, and to see where they ended up—so not to kind of focus—like, we have colleagues who teach, like, Israel—the politics of Israel-Palestine and focus on the contemporary conflict, so they are more—(laughs)—they can tell you more about what the students say about those particular narratives. But, the students who come to us really don’t know anything beyond like the contemporary conflict if they know anything. So, we try to take them to places that really are uncharted—Damascus affair, the Dreyfus affair—I mean, Max Nordau on early Zionism. I mean, so texts that are foundational—and then they take politics of Israel-Palestine, and then they engage it, and they have a different understanding. So, we try to do the kind of earlier work to open up those narratives, so we’re not just simply pro-Palestinian, or pro-Israeli, or outside of these just simple binaries. We kind of take them even to open a wider horizon. HESCHEL: I would just add that I think—I’ve also noticed what you’ve noticed. There seems to be, also, just a wide rift generationally on these political issues and on many others as well, of course. And what I found in the course that I taught together with Jonathan Smolin in the fall on the 1967 war, sometimes called the Six-Day War, students came in and they thought they knew something—on both sides, by the way—but it turns out they didn’t. So, that’s one thing—to show students what they don’t know; that what they know is only a drop in the bucket, and there is so much more. Also, to show them that whatever you think there is something new that comes in that actually contradicts that assumption because there is so much evidence coming from so many different parts of the world—because it’s not ever really about just Israel and Palestine; it’s about nearly every other country one can think of, from the United States to China. So, the complexity is something. And then another—finally I want to say, sometimes students come in and they are looking for somebody to blame. That’s something important for us to address. This is not about blaming one side or the other, and sometimes, for example, yeah, one side is bad and one side is good. Sometimes both are bad. And when both are bad, I tell them. Even someone who has committed a terrible crime, don’t you still care about that person that is still a human being, who should be treated with dignity? So, let’s keep that in mind as well. Let’s remember that even those who do terrible things, nonetheless, these are human beings. There are reasons for it. Let’s figure that out, let’s see what we can do about it. But, don’t just dismiss it and say, oh, well, they’re terrible; let’s walk away—so to keep the students engaged all the time, to show the complexity, to show that it’s more and more and more complex, involving so many different groups, and not try to reduce it to bad guys, good guys, this one is to blame, this one is the innocent. Nobody ultimately, in politics, is innocent, and nobody is a hundred percent guilty. They become interlocking as we know, and they are doing that dance. What was the line about Fred Astaire danced with—who was it? Not Jane Crawford—Ginger Rogers, but she did everything he did but backwards and wearing high heels. So, there are ways in which each side influences the other, and we have to think about it in those terms as well. They are not separate from each other. So, those are some of the ways we try to overcome the biases that they walk into the classroom with, and we ask them sometimes, how has your mind changed in the last few weeks of the course? Every few weeks ask them that. What changes here when we bring you this document, or this fact that you didn’t know about? And hopefully they will experience the class as something uplifting and exciting, and that they will know that they are coming away as a different person with so much more knowledge. So, thanks for the question. FASKIANOS: And with that, we are at the end of our hour. I’m sorry that we couldn’t get to all the questions, raised hands, but I can say that I wish I were at Dartmouth and could take your class. (Laughs.) So, maybe perhaps you should do it and have it be available online to a broader group. I don’t know. (Laughs.) It’s a thought. Thank you very much, Tarek El-Ariss and Susannah Heschel, for this wonderful hour. We do appreciate it. And to all of you for your questions and comments. And we encourage you to follow us at @CFR_academic on X and visit,, and for research and analyses on global issues. And we look forward to your continued participation in CFR programs. So, thank you again. (END)


Jenny Lee, vice president for Arizona International, dean of international education, and professor of educational policy studies and practice at the University of Arizona, leads the conversation on U.S. international academic collaboration and how U.S.-China tensions are affecting higher education. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Jenny Lee with us to discuss U.S. international academic collaboration. Dr. Lee is vice president for Arizona International, dean of international education, and professor of educational policy studies and practice at the University of Arizona. She is also a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Lee formerly served as a senior fellow of NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, as chair for the Council of International Higher Education, and as a board member for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. And she has also served as a U.S. Fulbright scholar to South Africa, as a distinguished global professor at Korea University, and as an international visiting scholar at the City University of London, the University of Pretoria, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. So, Dr. Lee, thank you very much for being with us for today’s topic. I thought you could begin by giving us an overview of current trends in U.S. international academic collaboration, especially looking at what’s happening with our relations with China. LEE: Sounds great. Well, thank you for the opportunity, Irina. It’s a pleasure to be here and to speak with you and all those listening right now. I’ll speak for about ten or so minutes, and then open it up and engage with the audience. Hopefully, you all have some good questions that will come up during my remarks. So, clearly, we’re entering a very interesting and somewhat uncertain chapter in how we understand the role of higher education globally. So I will begin with some general observation so all our viewers are on the same page. Now, first and foremost, the U.S. is mostly at the top when it comes to the higher education sector. Most of us already know that the United States houses the most highly ranked institutions. And this allows the country to be the largest host of international students and scholars from around the world. According to the latest IIE Open Doors report published a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. attracted over a million students from all over the world. And we’re almost back to pre-pandemic levels. We also host over 90,000 scholars. And the primary purpose for them being here is research, for about two-thirds to 75 percent of them. These international scholars, as well as international graduate students, contribute significantly to the U.S. scientific enterprise. The U.S. is also among the leading countries in scientific output and impact, and the largest international collaborator in the world. In other words, the U.S. is highly sought because of its prestigious institutions, drawing top faculty and students from around the world. And with that comes the ability to generate cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs which further secures the U.S.’ global position in academia. At the same time, of course, we’ve seen China’s economy rise significantly as the country surpassed the United States in scientific output, and more recently in impact as measured by publication citations, and is outpacing the U.S. in the extent of R&D investment. Chinese institutions have also made noticeable jumps in various global rankings, which is a pretty big feat considering the fierce competition among the world’s top universities. What we’re witnessing as well are geopolitical tensions between the two countries that have impacted the higher education sector. While these two countries, the U.S. and China, are the biggest global collaborators—and they collaborate more with each other than any other country—they’re also rival superpowers. As global adversaries, what we are witnessing as well is increased security concerns regarding intellectual theft and espionage. I’m going to spend some time summarizing my work for those who are not familiar to provide some further context. I and my colleagues, John Haupt and Xiaojie Li, also at the University of Arizona, have conducted numerous studies about U.S.-China scientific collaboration. And what we’re observing across these studies is how the scientific pursuit of knowledge, which is fundamentally borderless, is becoming bordered in the current geopolitical environment. International collaboration, long valued as positive-sum, is being treated as zero-sum. Besides the rise of China and the accompanying political rhetoric that posed China as a so-called threat, tensions also grew among accusations, as you may recall, about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and a corresponding sharp increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. Public opinions about China were not favorable, and thus there was not a whole lot of public resistance when the FBI’s China Initiative was launched in 2018. This initiative basically signaled that anyone of Chinese descent was a potential enemy of the state, including possible Chinese Communist Party spies in our own universities, even though there was no pervasive empirical or later judicial cases that proved such a damaging assumption. Nevertheless, world-renowned Chinese scientists were falsely accused of academic espionage and their careers and personal finances ruined. In my research that followed with Xiaojie Li, with support from the Committee of 100, we surveyed about 2,000 scientists in the U.S.’ top research universities during the China Initiative. And we found that one in two Chinese scientists were afraid that they were being racially profiled by the FBI. We also observed that consequently scientists, especially those with Chinese descent, were less inclined to collaborate with China, less inclined to pursue federal grants, less inclined to even stay in the United States but rather to take their expertise to another country where they felt safer to pursue their research, including in China. In sum, the federal government’s attempts to weed out possible Chinese spies was highly criticized as a damaging form of racial profiling affecting even U.S. citizens and, in the end, undermined the U.S.’ ability to compete with China. Especially now, as we continue to observe Chinese scientists leaving the U.S. and taking their skills and talents elsewhere. With John Haupt and two academics at Tsinghua University in China, Doctors Wen Wen and Die Hu, we asked about two hundred co-collaborators in China and in the United States how were they able to overcome such geopolitical tensions and the challenges associated with COVID-19 during the pandemic? And we did learn something somewhat unexpected, and I hope valuable. Basically, we found that mutual trust between international collaborators helped overcome such perceived hurdles, including risks of being unfairly targeted. What this tells us is that a chilling effect is certainly real and remains possible, but in the end scientists have tremendous agency on what they study, where they study, and whether or not they seek funds, or where they seek funds. Regardless of the host or home country, international collaboration is important to all countries’ scientific enterprise. Coauthors from different countries improve the knowledge being produced, its applicability, enlarges global audiences, and thereby increases the impact of the work. So considering the value, yet risks, where do we begin? Firstly, federal and institutional policies, of course, matter, for better or for worse. But policies do not manufacture trust. The formation of an academic tie does not suddenly occur over a cold call in the middle of a global meltdown, as often portrayed in Hollywood. Rather, this is a gradual process. And the longevity of the relationship helps strengthen that trust over time. According to our research, these collaborative relationships begin as graduate students, postdocs, visiting researchers. They occur at academic conferences and other in-person opportunities. Cutting short-term fellowships, for example, will impact the potential of a future scientific relationship, but its effects may not be felt for years. Same with denied visas and opportunities for travel. Fewer graduate students from particular countries or fields also means a different shape when it comes to global science. U.S. for instance, was not too long ago Russia’s biggest foreign scientific collaborator, with the war in Ukraine, those research relationships, as well as much—with much of the Western world, have ceased. All of this, and my related empirical research, was conducted when I was a professor at my home institution. And since July, I’ve been serving, as Irina mentioned, as the dean and vice president of international affairs at my own institution. And I’ve been thinking a lot of, what does this mean for institutional practice? For those in university leadership positions, as mine, you know this is a tough challenge. Especially as domestic demand and state funding for higher education is generally declining. And at the same time, internationalization is increasingly central to senior leadership strategies. Universities are continuing vying to attract the world’s students, even despite a decline of interest from China. And at the same time, research universities in particular are quite dependent on federal grants. We have our own research security offices that need to ensure our universities have good reputations and relations with our large federal funding agencies and taking every precaution to not be seen as a vulnerable site of intellectual theft. These units tend not to operate within international affairs. And I’m very well aware that in my role of trying to attract as many students from China and develop international partnerships, all of them can be suddenly erased if a Chinese University partner does not pass visual compliance or there is a sudden presidential executive order, as we experienced under the Trump administration. I’m also very well aware that of senior leaders have to choose between my educational offerings and partnerships in China versus risking a major grant from a federal agency, I will lose. We witnessed that with the shutting down of over 100 Confucius Institutes in the U.S., despite a lack of evidence of systematic espionage occurring through these centers. Public perceptions, informed or not, strongly affect the nature of our international work, as in the case of Florida. Such negative perceptions are not one country-sided, of course. A key concern for Chinese and other international students and their parents relate to safety. Gun violence, including on our own college campuses, anti-Asian hate crimes in surrounding neighborhoods, and unfavorable political environment in which studies might be interrupted as in the case of Proclamation 10043, or visa non-renewals are all contributing factors for the decline of interest from China, and uncertain future student exchange as well. In closing, when it comes to China these days no practices are guaranteed. However, I can recommend some while also keeping in mind geopolitical conditions can suddenly change for worse, or perhaps better. I mentioned earlier the value of mutual trust. At my university, we have long-standing relationships with university leaders at Chinese institutions. We’ve set up dual degree programs in China. Actually, about 40 percent of our international student enrollment are through such partner relationships throughout the world, in which we go to where they are. Hiring staff who speak the language and know the culture are also essential. And, like any relationship, these arrangements have developed over time. They are not built overnight. It takes intention. It takes effort. But in my experience, as trust is established the numbers have grown, and the positive impact is still being felt. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much for that. That was terrific. Let’s go now to all of you for your questions, comments. You can use this to share best practices and what you’re doing to your universities or institutions. Please click the raise hand icon on your screen to ask a question. On your iPad or tablet, you can click the “more” button to access the raise hand feature. And when you’re called upon, please accept the unmute prompts, state your name and affiliation, followed by your question. You can also submit a written question, they’ve already started coming in, by the Q&A icon. And if you can also include your affiliation there, I would appreciate it, although we will try to make sure we identify you correctly. So let’s see. I’m looking for—no raised hands yet, but we do have questions written. So first question from Denis Simon, who’s a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Many U.S. universities have curtailed their exchanges and cooperation with China. You referenced that. Officials at these universities are worried that if they appear too friendly toward China they will lose all sorts of federal funding. Are these concerns justified? Are there any regulations or legislation that actually says federal funding can be removed assuming these universities are in compliance with the export controls, et cetera? LEE: All right. Well, thanks, Denis, for your question. I know there—when I saw the list of those who signed up, I know there are many here who can speak to this directly. So I encourage those to also raise their hands and provide input in the Q&A, maybe in the form of an A instead of a Q. But in any case, going to that question, you know, it’s a tough environment. And so much in my role, but what I even experienced in my research, is about that perception, that overinterpretation. So maybe signaling that we have this exchange program might draw attention in ways that might lead to suspicions that, oh, well is this, you know, somehow creating an opportunity for us to disclose military secrets? I mean, that’s where we take it. A friendly exchange or visit is oftentimes now having to be scrutinized and ensuring that there is no remote violation of export controls, even in educational delivery in a non-STEM field. And what we’re seeing is that this—we have our highly sensitive fields, but that kind of scrutiny we’re also seeing applied to the institution more broadly. So these seemingly benign programs about language or culture, about fields that are enhanced or help promote so-called American values, are also being watched. So I believe as an institutional leader, again, as I mentioned earlier, having to deal with the possibility of unwanted or unwarranted attention versus not having that program, I think some, as Denis has pointed out, are leaning towards being more cautious. Unfortunately, China—any work with China is considered a risk, even if there is no reason for risk, as we’ve witnessed under—or, observed under the China Initiative. I don’t know if I’ve fully answered that question, but please follow up if I haven’t. And I know others can probably say more to that issue. FASKIANOS: Great. I’ll take the next question from Peter—I don’t know how to pronounce— LEE: Peter Becskehazy. Hi, Peter. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: There you go. Thank you very much. LEE: I know Peter. FASKIANOS: All right. Good. Well, I’d love if Peter asked his question directly, if he can. Oh, good. From Pima Community College. Go ahead, Peter. Q: Hello, Jenny. Nice to see you. LEE: Hi, Peter. Q: Now my question is, the University of Arizona and other universities have had an inflow of dozens of countries, adding up to the million that you mentioned. Are other countries trying to fill in slots left vacant by Chinese students and scholars? LEE: Yeah. Great question, Peter. And I think you can also share what you’ve observed at Pima in terms of the patterns you’ve witnessed. But for us, and as we are seeing nationally, we’re seeing India rise. Not at the—not at higher numbers in many institutions, compared to China, but the rate is rising. It’s not so simple, though, because we also have relations in India, and trying to set up agreements, and bring students. The competition in India is intense. So even though there’s a relatively so-called large market, and the U.S. has been quite successful in attracting Indian students, that is perhaps where the attention is as a more, I would say—I hate to use the word “market,”—but a stable student market. There’s a lot more interest in graduate-level education globally, as we’ve observed. These countries that formerly didn’t have capacity now do have capacity. They have online offerings. They have branch campuses, dual degrees, lots of other options. And so the niche for the U.S., whereas before we didn’t really have to think about a niche, is really in graduate education. Now, of course, that’s not good news for Pima, that’s thinking about a community college and other kinds of educational offerings. But for us, we’re thinking about India a lot. Southeast Asia, of course, has always been an important partner to us. Africa continues to be a challenge. We know that when we think about population growth, Africa is the future. There’s still challenges and trying to identify places where there is capacity. But also the affordability of a U.S. education is a huge challenge. So it’s a great question. And, again, I’m curious to know other places in the world people recommend. Of course, Latin America, given our location, is a key strategic partner. But again, affordability becomes an issue. And again, I’m just talking about the traditional international student who would choose to come to Arizona. Not talking about research collaboration, which is less bound by affordability issues. Irina, you’re muted. FASKIANOS: How long have I been doing this? OK. (Laughs.) I’m going to take the next written question from Allison Davis-White Eyes, who is vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Fielding Graduate University: We have tried to work on collaborations with European universities and African universities, and met with much difficulty. What trends are you seeing in these regions? And what are emerging global markets beyond China? LEE: Great question, Allison. I mean, if you could leave the question in the future, so because I am visually looking at the question at the same time. FASKIANOS: Oh, great. Sorry. LEE: So, Allison, I’m not sure if you’re referring to academic or research. Of course, within Europe, where the government does highly subsidized tuition, it’s just becomes financially a bad deal, I suppose—(laughs)—for a student in the world who would normally get a free or highly reduced tuition to pay full price at our institution. So that kind of exchange of partnership, especially when it’s about—when it’s financially based, becomes almost impossible from my experience. But thinking about research collaboration, it depends on the level. So if it’s an institutional agreement, you know, it’s—often, these MOUs tend to just be on paper. It takes quite a bit of—it’s very ceremonial. You need to get legal involved. It’s a whole process to get an MOU. We really don’t need these non-binding MOUs for research agreements. Some countries like it, just to display that they have an MOU with a U.S. institution. But essentially, it doesn’t stop me as a professor to reach out to another professor at the University of Oslo, and say, hey, let’s do a study. Which we actually are doing. So, yeah, feel free to be more specific, or if you want to raise your hand or speak on—and elaborate on that question. So, again, for educational exchange, it is difficult because we are—there’s already a process within the EU that makes it very affordable and highly supported within the EU, or if you’re part of that bigger program. Africa, again, my challenge from my role as an institutional leader is identifying places where there is already enough mass education up through high school where one would be able to consider, first of all, being admitted to a U.S. institution, but secondly, to be able to pay the cost. FASKIANOS: Allison, do you want to expand a little bit? Q: Oh, sorry. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: There you go. There you go. Q: Right. Dr. Lee, thank you for your response. I think it was helpful, especially regarding the subsidizing of education in Europe. We’ve been working on some research partnerships. And we have just—you know, really, it has just been extremely difficult with European universities. And I do think part of it has to do with the way things are subsidized in Europe. I was just wondering if there were new and different ways to do it. I do appreciate your comment about the MOUs being largely ceremonial. I agree. And would like to see something with a little more substance. And that will take some creativity and a lot of partnership and work. As for Africa, we have tried to create partnerships with South Africa. I think there’s some potential there. Certainly, some excitement. We’ve had a few students from Nigeria, extremely bright and motivated. I just would—you know, would like to hear, maybe from some other colleagues as well on the call, if there are creative ways in working with these students as well. So, thank you. LEE: Yeah, no. And just to follow up quickly, and, again, opportunities for others to share, academic collaboration, as I mentioned during my remarks, is largely built upon mutual trust. And not to say it can’t happen from top down, but really does—is most successful from bottom up. And I don’t mean to refer to professors at the bottom, but meaning those that are actually engaged with that work. And so just some considerations is rather than a top-down initiative or strategy, is to identify those that are visiting scholars, already from that country, have networks within that country. What’s interesting, as I learned in my current role, is how little my predecessors worked with professors in these area’s studies programs, because they’re oftentimes treated as a separate or having different interests in mind when actually there is a lot of overlap to identify those that are actually there. Allison, by the way, I lived in South Africa for eight years. And I know it actually takes a long time. My Fulbright started off as a one year, and I had to extend it because even getting the data while I was on the ground takes time. And I’ll be honest, I think part of it was taking some time just to build trust the intentions of my work, what was I going to do with that data, how is that going to be used? Was it actually going to be ways to empower them? You know, for those who study international collaboration, know this north and south divide, and I think there are places in the world that are—maybe have some guardrails up from those—not saying this is what’s happening in your institution—but someone that they don’t know coming from the Global North to study someone else in the Global South. And so how do we create or initiate a collaboration that is clearly, expressly mutual at the onset? And, again, this is where trust can be operationalized lots of different ways, but that even begins with that initial message. I mean, I remember when I started my work, nobody responded to me. They’re like, who are you? And I don’t care who you are or what your CV says. And it takes time. You know, building that relationship, and that person introducing me to that other person. Like, you know, this is how scientific networks form. And I think, to some extent, this is also how institutional collaborative relationships also form. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to David Moore, who has a raised hand. Q: OK, thank you. I just got unmuted. FASKIANOS: Great. Q: Lee, I appreciate your comments. And I heard your reference to Florida earlier. I don’t know if we have colleagues on this call from Florida, but I think they’ll know what I’m about to say. I’m the dean of international education at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. And as of tomorrow, December 1, Florida has to—all institutions in Florida, public institutions, colleges and universities, must be completely devoid of any partnerships in China. And not just China. There are seven countries of concern. And you probably can cite them, most of you would know the other six. But of the seven countries, Broward had four partnerships in China alone, none in the other countries that were active. And so we are now officially done, have to be. And I’ve had to notify the partners as well as our accrediting body, because these were international centers of Broward where they literally offer—we offered associate degrees, two-year degrees. And students could then transfer to an institution in the United States. Now, this didn’t catch us too much by surprise because two and a half years ago our Florida legislature started in on this, really probably before that, where they isolated universities in Florida and said: You cannot do research—sensitive research, whatever, you know, engineering, computer science, et cetera—any research without notifying the state. And there’s an elaborate process that had to be—you know, they had to go through to do this. But now it’s not just research institutions. Now it’s not just those kinds of collaborations. It is, in fact, all partnerships of any kind. We had to end our agent agreements where we were recruiting students from China that were—where the companies were based in China. And in course our programs were not research. They’re just general education, two-year associate’s degree, maybe some business. But we’ve been informed now it’s completely done. And so I’m actually looking for institutions outside of Florida who might be willing to take over the role that we’ve had in transcripting students who later want to come to the United States. At least for the first two years in China, and then transferring to the upper division to the U.S. So I’m not sure. You’re probably quite familiar with this. I don’t know if you know the details of how it was worked out in practice. We were the only community college in the state that had any partnerships. So we were the ones that had to desist. So I want to—there are probably people on the call that are familiar with this, but there might be many others. And I just wanted to say that I’m looking to, you know, open that door to other institutions outside of Florida that might be willing in, yes, take a risk to go into China, but to—I’ve always felt that these kinds of programs were very good to build relationships, partnerships, communication. Ambassadors really. Where we feel like we were representing American education, whatever, you know, we call American values, democracy, you know, community. We thought we were doing good. But we found out we were—we were not. We were—we were doing something that went opposed to the prevailing political climate, at least in Florida. So that’s my comment. I think people should know about it. And thank you for letting me speak to it a bit. Maybe someone will speak up and say they’re interested in they can get in touch with me, David Moore at Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. LEE: David, thank you for sharing what you did. This is a really important example of where other states could very well head. And what’s interesting, as David noted, we’re talking about a community college. When we normally think about cutting ties, it’s usually around the concerns about national security. Now, how this translates to a two-year degree that is solely educational based is a pretty far stretch, and yet is being impacted quite severely. So I think we should continue to follow this example—unfortunate example. And, David, yeah, your partners have reached out to my office, and I’m sure to others. But thank you for being available. Q: You’re welcome. We have partners—we are also working with your Jakarta, Indonesia center there. So we have that connection. Thank you. LEE: Mmm hmm. Thanks. FASKIANOS: And if anybody wants to share contact information in the Q&A box, you can certainly do that. That would be great. There is a written question from Tutaleni Asino at Oklahoma State University: There was an article today in SEMAFOR highlighting that there are currently 350 U.S. students studying in China compared to 11,000 in 2019. Comparatively, there are 300,000 Chinese students in the United States. Is this a one-way problem, where the U.S. is not investing in international engagements as a result of being more inward looking and other countries having more options of who to collaborate with? LEE: Yeah. Tutaleni, that’s—I think your question is an answer. And I think it’s—I agree with your observation. So we are seeing that as there’s state and public disinvestment in higher education, and including scrutiny about international higher education, we’re also seeing a decline and cutting of foreign language programs in the United States. So here we are, a monolingual country whose students mostly go to Europe or other English-speaking countries to study abroad. A very limited number of international—U.S. students who pursue undergraduate degrees in a foreign country. And knowing that the future is global and international, at least in my opinion, does not set the U.S. up well to be globally competitive, even though much of its international policy is around this rhetoric of we need to compete with China. And so you raise a good point. How is this possible if U.S. citizens don’t speak Chinese, or have no interest in learning about Chinese culture, or there’s reduced opportunities even in our own institutions, I think is something to think about and ask more questions about. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next question from Zhen Zhu, chair and professor of marketing, director of faculty excellence, and director for international engagement at Suffolk University: How do you see the trend of U.S. students’ interest in study abroad to China? LEE: There is actually growing interest. As many of you know, China—offering Chinese language in high schools is not as unusual as it used to be. There is growing interest as students are thinking about employability in global markets in multinational or international organizations or corporations. It would be fundamental, in fact, for someone who has any interest in international work to pick up the language if they can, and at your own institution. FASKIANOS: Great. Let’s see. From—I’m going to take the next question from Jeff Riedinger: Is there a role for universities to play in knowledge diplomacy to sustain international relationships and collaborations in addressing global problems such as climate change and pandemics when national governments may be at odds with each other? LEE: Thanks, Jeff. And hi, Jeff. I’m just going to read over that question so I can kind of digest it a bit. Is there a role for institutions to play in knowledge diplomacy, such as climate change, pandemics, when national governments may be at odds with each other? Absolutely, 200 percent. It is occurring—knowledge diplomacy, science diplomacy. That one individual going on a Fulbright or coming to study here for some extended visit, having these collaborations and, ultimately, you know, science—knowledge production—I mean, there’s no bounds. And when we think about the kind of research that may not occur because of these national governments are at odds when it comes to addressing climate change or other global issues, you know, the world is paying somewhat of a price when it comes to that in—when there are overarching concerns about national security. So, you know, my issue has always been with policy you overlook nuance, and with sweeping policies that overlook the disciplinary distinctions and contributions, what is lost in the pursuit of trying to stay ahead of another country in fields and areas that really have no economic or military value, right? But yet, have an important cultural value, or maybe will address something bigger, such as COVID-19. So as I mentioned, the work that I referenced earlier about U.S.-Chinese scientists coming together during COVID-19, were actually scientists who studied COVID-19 together. And again, this was not—this was fraught with risks. They were very well aware that there was a lot of scrutiny about any research about COVID-19 coming from China. There was scrutiny about, you know, where the data was held, who was analyzing it, who was funding it. And yet, these scientists took these risks in order to address how does the world deal with the pandemic. And this was based on interviews of those studies that were actually successful and published. This is where that mutual trust, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is so important. And without that mutual trust, these studies, I’m pretty certain, would never have been published, because it was not an easy path when it comes to that particular geopolitical climate during the pandemic. FASKIANOS: Jenny, I’m just going to ask a question. President Biden and President Xi met during APEC. Did anything come out of that meeting that could affect U.S.-China academic collaboration? LEE: Yeah. You know, this is tough. I mean, how do you analyze political statements? What do they really mean? And what is really going to change? I think what’s clear is that there’s an acknowledgment that we’re interdependent, but we’re also adversaries. Almost a love/hate codependent, in a relationship that we can’t just easily separate but we do need each other. But the form that it takes, I think there’s an understanding it needs to be more specific. And I don’t think that has been clarified yet. I realize I missed part of Jeff’s question on what can institutions do? That’s such a good question. And I got more into the topic than the actual to-do. What can institutions do? Honestly—(laughs)—I’ll just speak as a researcher, to back off a bit, right? To let scientists do what they want to do. Yes, we need to follow disclosures. We need to make sure there’s no conflicts of interest. We need to follow all of these procedures. But what I also found during the China Initiative, there was also this chilling climate in which there’s an overinterpretation that may put institutions at risk. And to my knowledge, institutions were not at risk to the extent to which their scientists, especially those of Chinese descent, felt scrutinized. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have a raised hand from Dan Whitman. Q: OK, I think I’m unmuted. Thank you, Irina. And thanks, Professor Lee, for mentioning the Great Wall that that prevents us from dealing with even Europeans who have subsidized education or Africans who have no money. And just an anecdote, since you have welcomed anecdotes, I am an adjunct at George Washington University. But totally unrelated to that, just for free and just for fun, pro bono, nobody pays, nobody gets paid. A course that I’m giving by webinar, it’s zero cost. The topic is crisis management, but it could be any topic. And in that group, which there are about eighty people who tune in twice a week, fifteen Kenyans, twenty-five Ukrainians, and forty Kazakhs. I mean, I don’t know if there’s ever been exchange between Kazakhstan and Kenya. Anyway, my point is things can be done. We share it for free. What motivates the students? A certificate. It’s so easy to give them a certificate. And in many countries, they very highly value that, even though it’s not a—there’s no formality, there’s no formal academic credit. But the students are very motivated. And possibly, there may be universities in the U.S. that could—that might want to give a professor a small stipendium to do an informal webinar course, which would create connections, which would be zero cost, basically, and would bridge that gap of funding that you’ve alluded to. Thank you. LEE: Yeah. Dan, thank you for that. And I think this leads to a kind of a spin-off comment about certificates. Absolutely. Micro-credentials or alternative forms of education, where there’s maybe not a full-fledged undergraduate degree but some certificate, I think, is important niche, especially for returning adults or communities where they’re not able to afford to take time off. So that flexibility, and obviously now with online education, just becomes so much more accessible and very low cost. Something else to keep in mind, though, is that, depending on the institution you’re from, that will make a difference in certificates. I mean, an institution like George Washington University offering a certificate may have some symbolic or perceived value that may be higher than an institution that is lower or are not ranked at all. So this is where, unfortunately—I’m a big critic of global rankings. But unfortunately, it does play a role in how that certificate is being perceived and the attractiveness of that certificate. But absolutely, this is definitely a way to open access especially for places in the world that just cannot physically move or have the funds to support their studies. FASKIANOS: Great. There are two comments/questions in the Q&A that I wanted to give you a chance to respond to about Africa, from Tutaleni Asino and Fodei Batty. Dr. Asino talks about English is the language of instruction and governments in Africa where they’re funding education to a higher degree, and thinks that there are opportunities there, but it sounds like all fifty-four countries are grouped together. And Dr. Batty talks a little bit about there are a lot of students from African countries pursuing graduate education in the United States. But South Africa is usually an exception to the higher education American norm in Africa. Most South Africans don’t like to travel, especially travel to America. I thought maybe you could just clarify some—respond to those comments. LEE: Yeah. Absolutely. Thank you for sharing those comments. There’s a book I edited called Intra-Africa Student Mobility. And I agree with the comments. And one of the things I didn’t mention that I think is important to help us understand the broader global context is that there’s actually considerable international activity within the continent. And there’s actually considerable intra-Africa mobility within the continent. South Africa is the most important country player in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is globally ranked—has more globally ranked institutions than any other African country. And so South Africa then becomes an important hub. And, yes, as an English-speaking, among many other languages, country, that does attract African students to go oftentimes for a similar sense of shared culture, despite sometimes different languages and customs and backgrounds. And yet, nevertheless, South Africa is an important player within the continent. Not to say that there is no international mobility occurring, but there is increased capacity within the continent that would allow students and interested students to travel within the continent. Not the same extent, of course, as Europe. But the least we’re seeing that rise over time. And so it’s called Intra-Africa Student Mobility. Chika Sehoole and I coedited the book. We were able to get about eight African scholars to talk about the various reasons students would choose that particular African country, and what draw them. And what was really interesting about this phenomenon is that it goes against this prevailing notion of Africa’s victim of brain drain or all going to the north. That’s actually not what is happening. But that there is capacity building within the continent. So in trying to answer a different question, I skirted over a lot of the things I could go further into. But hopefully that book will shed light on what’s happening within that continent, at least from the perspective of eight different countries. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you for that. I’m going to go next to Jonathan Scriven at Washington Adventist University in Maryland: What are some of the strategies universities are using to make education more affordable in the United States? If that is a challenge, are schools investing more or less in setting up campuses in foreign countries as a way to reach foreign students? LEE: I’m just going to read over that question. OK, yeah. Great question, Jonathan. So what’s happening in my institution and many others is a way to attract students is we’re providing considerable aid, merit aid, financial aid, aid even to international students. The majority may not even be paying the full sticker price. Now this, of course, will affect the revenue that would have otherwise been generated, but nevertheless is a way to deal with the fierce competition across U.S. institutions for these top students. So how to make it affordable? There’s a lot of aid going around at the undergraduate, not just the graduate, levels. And so what are institutions doing? Well, for example, at the University of Arizona for our dual degrees, it’s a fraction of the cost of what it would cost to be a student at our main campus. When you have a combination of hybrid or online delivery with a campus partner maybe providing most of the gen ed’s and then we would teach most of the major courses as an example, that does significantly lower the cost where that student will still get a bona fide University of Arizona degree, just like they would at main campus. So these alternative forms of delivery certainly make it more affordable, especially for those that opt to stay in their home country and receive an online education, or a flipped classroom model, or a dual degree. FASKIANOS: Great. Denis Simon, if you can—why don’t you ask your question? Q: Here I am. OK. Recently, on a trip to China in September, a number of faculty have told me they’re no longer wanting to send their best students abroad. They want to keep them in China. And this is all part of the rise of Chinese universities, et cetera. And so it may not be simply the souring of Sino-U.S. relations that has causal effect here, but simply the fact that China now is becoming a major, you know, educational powerhouse. And that also could change the dynamics. For example, even the BRI countries could start to send their students to China instead of sending them to the United States. Do you see anything evolving like this or—and what might be the outcome? LEE: Yeah. Spot on, David. That halo effect of a U.S. degree is not the same as it was when I was a university student. Chinese students, as well as students in the world, are much more savvy. They have access to information. They have access to rankings. They know all universities are not the same. And they know that they have some institutions that are highly ranked and may offer better quality education than the U.S. So that the image of a U.S. degree, of course, is not as universally perceived as it may have been, I don’t know, pre-internet, or without the—all sorts of rankings in which institutions are rated against one another. And absolutely, Chinese institutions are very difficult to get into, fiercely competitive, producing far more scientific output than some of our leading institutions. And there’s another factor when it comes to Asian culture just more broadly speaking, is that social network tie. Sociologists refer to it as social capital. When a Chinese student, a Korean student, Japanese student decides to study in the United States, they may lose that social tie that may possibly put them in a disadvantage when they decide to come back and compete for a position when they may just have that U.S. credential, but may have either lessened or no longer have that relationship that may have allowed them to get a position at the university, or in a place where that alumni network would have been especially useful. So again, I don’t want to generalize, you know, in any place to the world, but there is that component that I think sometimes is missed in the literature. Maintaining that social network is pretty key, especially as jobs, of course, global, you know, unemployment—places where students are competing for positions need to have every edge possible. So that also can be part of that reason they decide to stay. FASKIANOS: Great. The next question from Michael Kulma, who’s at the University of Chicago. He’s following on David Moore’s comments about Florida: Do you know how many other states in the U.S. are enacting or are considering such policies against partnerships with China? LEE: I do not know the answer. So if anyone wants to raise their hand and share about their own state, or put it on the answer part of the question and answer. There are related concerns about DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some of that may spill over to China. Hopefully, at some point at the Council of Foreign Relations will have a discussion on Israel and Hamas conflict and how institutions are dealing with that. And so we’re seeing a pretty challenging political environment that is clearly spilling over to our classrooms and to our international activities, our domestic recruitment. But I’m not answering your question, Michael. (Laughs.) I’ll leave it up to someone else to answer. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. So we don’t have very much time left. I thought maybe you could, given your research and expertise, could suggest resources—recommend resources for higher ed leaders and administrators to better understand how to promote collaboration. LEE: Sure. So promoting collaboration, it really—each person at a time. You know, again, MOUs may be signed, and maybe overarching presidents will come together and have an agreement, but there’s no guarantee that will ever happen. I’d love to do a study on how many MOUs never actually materialized into real action. So where do we begin? International affairs SIOs out there, identify who are your area studies experts? Who are your visiting postdocs? Who are your Fulbright scholars from other parts of the world? They all represent their own network and are certainly are valuable resources to consider. What I’ve sometimes have heard even at my own institution is, you know, how do we bring these people to the table? Why are they not at the table to begin with, and then how do we bring them there? And this is a relatively low-cost way to go about this, right? Like, faculty engaged in service. What kind of opportunities can your university provide for faculty service that is aligned with their area of expertise, the areas of the world they represent, the networks they have? And many of—some of you already have experienced this directly. These partnerships often begin with our alumni, international—former international students who decide to go back home. So, again, there’s just a lot of exciting opportunity. I love this field because it’s never boring. There’s always new ways to grow, expand new partners. But it really does begin with that essential element of trust. And that often begins with our own institutions and identifying those who’ve already started to build that network. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Thank you very much. Really appreciate your being with us and for sharing your expertise and background, Dr. Lee. It’s been fantastic. And to all of you, for your questions and comments, and sharing your experiences as well. You can follow Dr. Lee on X, the app formerly known as Twitter, at @JennyJ_Lee. I will send out a link to this webinar, the transcript, and the video, as well as the link to the book—your book that you mentioned, and any other resources that you want to share with the group. And I encourage you all to follow @CFR_academic on X, visit,, and for research and analysis on global issues. We also—just putting in a plug for our other series, Academic Webinar series, which is designed for students. We just sent out the winter/spring lineup and we hope that you will share that with your colleagues and your students. It is a great way for them to have access to practitioner scholars and to talk with students from around the country. So if you haven’t received that lineup, you can email [email protected], and we will share that with you. So, again, thank you, Jenny, for being with us, and to all of you. And wishing you safe and happy holidays. And good luck closing out this semester before we get to the holidays. (Laughs.) So thank you again. (END)


Scott Jaschik, cofounder and former chief executive officer and editor of Inside Higher Ed, leads the conversation on the changing landscape of college and university admissions criteria. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Scott Jaschik with us today to discuss the changing landscape of college and university admissions criteria. Mr. Jaschik was a cofounder and former chief executive officer and an editor at Inside Higher Ed, a media company and online publication that provides news, opinions, resources, and events focused on colleges and university topics. He previously served as editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education and was a former board member of the Education Writers Association. And he’s a leading voice on higher education issues, publishing articles in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. So, Scott, thank you very much for being with us today. There’s a lot here to cover, I thought maybe you could give us context and set the stage of the current trends in college and university admissions, as well as the role and importance of international students and scholars at U.S. universities. JASCHIK: Sure. Thanks very much for the invitation. And it’s great to speak to CFR people. And it’s great particularly because you’re a group whose interests extend far beyond higher education. And it just goes to show, higher education is important to every society and everyone, really. So I think this is a great opportunity for me to talk to you. And mainly, I’m excited to hear what the attendees have to say about these issues. But briefly, to give an overview. The big issue, and I want to say a few—one thing, in terms of setting the context. Admissions, talking about college admissions, can vary hugely depending on who you are talking about—by student, by institution, and so forth. So I’m going to talk, for instance, at the beginning about affirmative action. And I’ll talk about the institutions that are most affected by the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action. But then I’m going to talk about a trend in the rest of higher ed, direct admissions, and how that affects people in higher ed. And then at the end, I’ll throw in a few comments on the international students. So on affirmative action, the big news was this summer the Supreme Court ruled six to three that colleges—that two colleges in particular, Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill, were not following the law with respect to how they used affirmative action in admissions. It was a very strong decision, a very thorough decision, but one that greatly upset most people in colleges. The general public generally is a little bit skeptical of affirmative action. But in higher ed, there is very strong support for affirmative action. Now, it’s important to remember that this decision will directly affect maybe two hundred institutions. Now, it may indirectly affect many more down the road. I’ll talk about that in a minute. But it’s important to remember, at most colleges—you know, you read these stories every year about how under 5 percent of applicants get into Harvard, Yale, and whatever. Well, most colleges admit most applicants. And I’ll just repeat that, because it’s really important to remember. Most colleges admit most applicants. I think that is largely lost in the coverage of late on affirmative action. And it’s really important, if you have an opportunity, to shout that out to the world. Because even if a student doesn’t feel comfortable applying to an elite college or university, it’s important to always say that there is a place in higher ed for that student, and for all students. But on higher ed, this is a big decision for higher education because most of the top colleges in the country have used affirmative action in admissions. They don’t maybe want to talk about it now, but they have used it for their admissions processes. And now they can’t. And, you know, there’s really a lot of skepticism about what it will be like. Now, the expectations are based on the University of California, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, because in prior court rulings and in state votes they do not use affirmative action. And if you expect them to follow—to follow what’s going to go on, people will predict a major decline for Black students, Latino students. White students actually are not going to gain a lot. Asian students will gain. But that’s based on those past examples. There’s a big question mark this year which is about the admissions tests that in the past were required of all students, but now they aren’t. And test-optional admissions truly took off during the pandemic, because there was a period of time when students literally couldn’t take the SAT or ACT. But a secondary reason, and arguably, I think, the more important reason, colleges dropped the test-optional—or, went test-optional, is this decision. They knew it was coming and this gives them a lot more flexibility. So do I expect to happen what happened with the University of California? I would say yes, but, because nobody really knows what the impact will be of test-optional admissions. Now, very quickly, some other things on affirmative action to remember. Many colleges are adding essays specifically to reach students who are minority students or who have particular experiences that colleges want to have. And this is, again—remember, even if a college asks, are you Black, Latino, or whatever, they cannot use that information when they evaluate students. So that will be totally invisible to the colleges. The Supreme Court decision explicitly said that students can write about their experiences in life and how that affects them for higher ed. But the Court’s going to be watching very carefully and wants to make sure that anything that the students say is not just a way to go back to considering students differently, as the Court said, on the race and ethnicity. Also, there’s a group working to create a new system to evaluate students’ character, because character is something that many people cite but they don’t really have a way to cite it. That’s the kind of thing that we’re seeing. Now, there are other issues too. Legacy admissions, in which colleges favor the children of alumni or relatives, that is under real tight scrutiny right now. There was nothing in the Supreme Court decision to say they couldn’t do legacy admissions, but many colleges are uncomfortable given that they cannot use the systems they came up with to help Black, and Latino, and Asian American students get into college. They are uncomfortable with legacy admissions because it primarily helps white students get into college. And that’s not something they want to do. Similarly, early decision is something that is very controversial, because it primarily helps white students. Now what’s unknown is two things. One is the final rule, so to say, on admissions. That’s going to be decided not by anything I say or that anyone else says, but it’s going to be back in the courts. I would be absolutely certain it will return to the courts. And they will, you know, hash that out. Also, there’s the question of financial aid. Some colleges award—and this is many more colleges—award financial aid in part based on race and ethnicity. Is that legal? We don’t yet know. Some players on both sides have offered their opinions, but that will be a huge decision that will come down. Now I want to talk about another issue in higher ed that’s going on, which is direct admissions. And if you’re not familiar with direct admissions, in direct admissions students do not apply to colleges. Students simply fill out a form, which includes their transcript, any test scores they want to submit, and roughly where they want to go to college. I don’t mean institution names, but, like, I live in Connecticut and these are the—and I want to go to college near my home. It’s important to remember, most college students go to college near their homes. So and then after that, colleges will look at the application that they filled out. And colleges will admit those students. Now direct admissions is very popular among all the institutions that I wasn’t talking about before, because it is a good way to recruit more low-income students, who seem to really like this system. But direct admissions has primarily been used on a small scale. And that—we have to see what will happen as it goes to a larger scale. So that is something still to find out. And then on international students, with international students most colleges very much want international students. But there are key things that may make it difficult to recruit them. One is foreign—the foreign relations, as your group well knows. I mean, you’ve got the war in Russia and Ukraine, which didn’t send a lot of foreign students to the United States, but they sent some. And, interestingly, some of the colleges in New York City have both Russian and Ukrainian students at the same college. And they are dealing with issues related to that. But the most students have come from China. And our relations with China are, frankly, pretty bad right now, I would say. And that raises real questions about which students will come. My guess is that the top universities are not going to have a loss in foreign students, or at least not a substantial loss. But it’s important to remember, foreign students are enrolling at every type of college and university. And they may be affected at institutions that aren’t as competitive in admissions. So that’s my rough answer to your question. Have at it. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you so much. And now we’re going to go to all of you for your questions and comments. And please use this as a forum too to share best practices. (Gives queuing instructions.) So I’m going to take the first written question from Edie Gaythwaite, professor at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida: The issue of essays is now the use of AI-generated essays being submitted. So how do you see the admissions process moving forward with this in mind? JASCHIK: That’s a great question. And it’s something that’s getting a lot of attention right now. And I’m going to answer first for what’s going to happen this year, and then I want to talk about the future. Right now, this is making a lot of people in admissions very nervous, because every day someone does a story on—on the way AI can be used to write essays. Colleges don’t know. So they are nervous. Now, some of the services that colleges use to detect plagiarism can also be used, they say, to maybe detect the use of AI. So that’s one possibility. Others are suggesting that colleges should instead of using regular essays, should require an essay that is handwritten and was graded by a high school teacher, and to turn it in with the high school teacher’s grades. Now that’s a little—there’s something odd about that, in that that assumes that the student didn’t use AI in high school, which, you know, who knows if that’s true. But the reason I would say not to get a huge panic this year, is that a bunch of colleges are working on the issue. I suspect that by the end of this year, they are going to have better ways to deal with AI than they do right now. So I would say, you know, watch. But remember—and the other thing I would say is to remember past examples. Remember, when Wikipedia first started? There were people saying, no college student is ever going to write his or her own essay again. They’re all going to come from Wikipedia. Well, they’re not. And so because a lot of people figured out how to use Wikipedia, and how not to use Wikipedia. So I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna, but there may be a better way coming. FASKIANOS: Our next question comes from Beverly Lindsay. Beverly, please identify yourself and ask your question. Q: Can you hear me? FASKIANOS: We can. We can. Q: Great. Beverly Lindsay, University of California, multicampus. Hello, Scott. Good to hear your comments. I have something that wasn’t quite covered. Because I have been at two major research universities, actually more, but two in particular. They actually have informal legacy admits. And I would like your speculation on how that will continue. The second part of the question relates to HBCUs, particularly the ones that are known as the Black Ivies. I was at two of them. And I also know that they are concerned about having more diverse students from different economic backgrounds. Could you comment on that as well? Thank you. JASCHIK: Sure. Those are very good questions. So, first, on the informal legacies, which is something I have heard about. And I, in fact, did a story about a university that said it was eliminating legacy admissions, but it turned out they weren’t. They still had legacy admissions. And that’s because legacy admissions is something that colleges like to talk about with their alumni, but maybe not with the public. It strikes me that informal legacy admissions really doesn’t make sense. If you believe in legacy admissions, defend it. But informal strikes me as inappropriate, frankly. Now, on the HBCUs, and particularly, the so-called top HBCUs, there’s interesting developments with regard to affirmative action. When California eliminated affirmative action way back when, more Californians started to go to Morehouse, and Spelman, and other very good HBCUs. And we are going to see more of this in the next year, I think. But at the same time, I would caution against assuming that HBCUs can provide the answers to everything here. Morehouse and Spelman, despite being great colleges, to not have the financial aid that Harvard and Stanford have. They just don’t. There’s not enough money there. And it’s a different kind of experience, a great experience for some students. But financially and otherwise, there are limits to what they can do. Now, if Morehouse and Spelman could grow by a thousand students, well, that would sound wonderful. But I don’t think they can grow by a thousand students, at least not immediately. So this year, I think we’re going to be watching what goes on at those colleges. So I hope I’ve answered. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you. I’m going to take the written question from Todd Barry, who is professor at Hudson County Community College? Excuse me. How safe is it geopolitically for U.S. professors to teach abroad? JASCHIK: How what is it? FASKIANOS: Safe is it. JASCHIK: Oh, how safe? I think it really depends on the country. In lots of countries it is totally safe, in that—you know, you have to be realistic. What is—how safe is it to teach in the United States is a legitimate question, in some parts of the country. To go abroad, there are real issues if the country is not secure, it does not have an adequate system for making sure that people are protected. And also, there are issues related to the potential in other countries for anti-American thought to happen and to be a cause of concern. At the same time, there are many countries where you will find yourself welcome. And I think it’s great for American college professors to look for those places and to go abroad. They will learn as much as they will teach. So I think that’s, you know, that’s great. FASKIANOS: Great. Don Habibi has raised his hand, and also written a—written a question. But, Don, I think you’ve put your hand down, but I’d love you to ask it yourself, if you could unmute yourself. Q: OK. Yes. Hi. Yeah, my question was triggered by the first AI question. And that is, what’s to prevent—or how do you check a student who writes a fabulous story of their overcoming adversity or their combat experience, or whatever it is that, you know, would just sort of bring them to the top of the applicant pool. And the likelihood of fact checking that sort of thing is pretty small. And I mentioned in the question that several times reporters won Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on stories, and they made them up. FASKIANOS: And Don is—can you give us your affiliation? Q: I’m a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. FASKIANOS: Thank you. JASCHIK: Yes, that is a real concern. And it’s not just in admissions. Colleges are worried about that issue in the essays they will assign to students to write after—you know, after they’re enrolled. There, they—some people are arguing for in-person writing. You know, in class, where the students will be forced to write it down. Now, some students say they can’t write a long, handwritten essay anymore, because all they can do is type. And I have some sympathy for them, but that’s what they’re saying. It goes back to what I said before. Colleges are working on solutions to this and going to try. I would say that a good admissions counselor should be able to see some things that come out in their applications. Also, some colleges are changing their essays so that they are more about the college you are applying to, to make it more difficult to use a copied essay. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. The next question we’ll take from Melissa McGinnis, assistant director of admissions at Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs: What are your thoughts on how these affirmative action issues impact graduate admissions for professional programs, not PhD? JASCHIK: Sure. Yeah, well, I’ll tell you about both. In law schools, medical schools, business schools, it is the same thing. That there’s no expectation that this decision doesn’t apply. And they have got to redo their systems and procedures just like their undergraduate counterparts do. PhD programs actually are interesting, though, because in many colleges and universities, those decisions are done by the department level. And it is more difficult to control a department than it is to control a whole school. You know, you may have six members of the English department or whatever deciding on admissions. But they can’t use race. That’s just—and if they do they’re going to get sued. So that’s just the rules. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you. We have a raised hand from Sneha Bharadwaj. Excuse me if I did not pronounce it correctly, but you can correct me. Q: OK. So my name is Sneha Bharadwaj. I’m from Texas Woman’s University here in Dallas, Texas. I was following up on other questions you answered regarding the holistic admission process. And I’m wondering, beyond the handwritten essay, are there any talks about video interviews or uploading video prompts, where you hear from that person? And if that is something that’s in the talks or is being considered, because I think we’re all in the same boat of wondering how this holistic admissions is going to work. JASCHIK: Right. Well, and Texas Woman’s University is a great example. It is a—it is a university in Texas that has men, for those who are not familiar with it. It is not—does not just admit women. And it’s—and in recent years, it’s become quite popular and is growing with more people using holistic admissions to get in. So, you know, to do an interview for everyone, on the one hand, it makes perfect sense. You meet the people, find out about them, find out about their interests, et cetera. But in most colleges, and I don’t know if this is true of Texas Woman’s University, that is a major undertaking, to interview everyone, even via Zoom. And most college admissions offices will be hard stretched to interview every student. Also, there have been charges that admissions interviews favor or don’t favor minority students. They are said to favor them, if colleges want to admit more minority students. They are said to disfavor them when the students don’t have the same expertise in doing interviews as wealthier students do. And most of the wealthy students are white students. So it is something that they are looking at, but I am not sure it will work at very many institutions this year. Q: Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you. So I’m going to take the next question from Kurt Schmoke, who is the president of the University of Baltimore: Which states are using direct admissions? And will this spread to other states? JASCHIK: Great question. Nice to have a president here. And so, there are not any statewide requirements, but Minnesota is the state to look at. In Minnesota, they made it possible for any college that wanted to, to use direct admissions. And most of the colleges opted in in part. One college opted in entirely. They said, that’s the way you’re going to apply to get into that college. Most colleges, though, are doing it on a piecemeal basis, admitting just some students. And I’m curious, does the University of Baltimore—did you use direct admissions? FASKIANOS: Kurt, if you want to unmute and respond, that would be great. We’d love to hear your experience. Q: Sure. The closest that we have to that is dual enrollment programs that allow students to obtain X number of credits. And it usually is with the community college, some with high schools. But now I’m quite interested in this direct admissions. So I’ll take a look at what Minnesota is doing. JASCHIK: Right. You should do that. In Minnesota, the colleges that definitely didn’t do it were the flagship University of Minnesota campus and Carleton College. You know, again, colleges that get tons of applicants don’t need to, but it was all the other colleges. And if you search on Inside Higher Ed’s website, you’ll find a bunch of stories on the players in direct admissions, EAB, the common app, et cetera. There are places you can go. Niche does direct admissions. There are places that would love to talk to you, I’m sure. Q: Good, thank you. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next written question from Kevin Collymore, who is an assistant dean of retention and persistence programs at the University of San Francisco: How will institutions handle donor gifts, scholarships intentioned for students of color moving forward? FASKIANOS: Very carefully. (Laughs.) They will have to say that a gift cannot be used by the college specifically for minority students. In fact, some think the best way will be for colleges to work with outside groups, and to say: Don’t give us the money. Give it to the such-and-such foundation. And then that group may decide to give financial aid to minority students at the University of San Francisco, or any university. But this is very much in play right now, in that I think it’s one of the issues about which there will be a court ruling soon. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’ll take the next question from Mahmood Khan, a professor at Virginia Tech: Can you comment on anything that can be done about the time to get a U.S. visa? Students cannot join because they didn’t get visas on time. So I guess they couldn’t come this semester. JASCHIK: That is a terrible problem. And it has been a big issue this year. Many of the—going back to the pandemic—at the height of the pandemic, no one wanted to come to the United States. (Laughs.) And the United States didn’t really want them. Everyone was viewed as a threat, really, to the health of others. Since then, officially, they’ve opened up. But students from certain countries report incredible delays in getting their visas. And particularly these are students trying to travel to the United States from countries where there are many Muslim students, or many Muslim people and Muslim students. And they say they’re not rejected, but they just—it just takes forever for them to fill out and to get an answer. Now, why this is sort of—it’s subject to debate. Many of the people who work in processing visas say they are working as fast as they can, looking for the information they need, et cetera. Many in higher education view that very skeptically. And they see students who they cannot think of a good reason why that student should be denied a visa. And it just lingers. Some colleges have taken to educating students abroad for their first semester when they can’t get in. But that is something that only some colleges can do. And also, it denies the students what they’re seeking, which is a real experience at Virginia Tech, or any college. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Beverly Lindsay has her hand—I don’t know if that’s a residual from your last question or if you had a follow-on comment. OK. I’m going to move on, then. I’m going to take the next question from Michael Strmiska, a professor of world history at the Orange County Community College: Do you think that the ban on affirmative action in student admissions might eventually apply to academic employment? I teach in a community college with very low representation of non-white faculty and I think if the Supreme Court or other powers signaled that any diversity motivated hiring among minority faculty could come under dispute this would hamper or even halt our very slow progress toward creating a more diverse faculty. JASCHIK: You’re absolutely right. And many colleges do use affirmative action in hiring. The court decision itself did not speak to that. However, if you look at the justices on the court today and imagine a case involving academic hiring reaching them, it is hard for me to imagine the six justices would not also object to affirmative action in hiring. And that would be very limiting in terms of who colleges have to hire. Now, there is some leeway in that academic hiring decisions are mainly made at the department level, with some administration involvement. I don’t know if that will work. But I think you’re right to see that as a potential problem ahead. FASKIANOS: OK. The next question is from Galia Benitez, an associate professor of international relations at Michigan State University: You began the discussion by asserting that the number of Black and Latino students was going to decline. How do you see the actual class environment for professors and for minority students already in the system or in the future who form part of a minority would be teaching and learning in a less diverse environment? In short, what would be the consequences of these new admissions rules and learning? JASCHIK: The consequences aren’t good. We are already seeing racial incidents on campuses that sort of relate to the Supreme Court decision. And when the Supreme Court has taken up these issues in the past, they have similarly been incidents about race on campus. In terms for learning, again, I think it’s going to be very negative because students look to a diverse student body to learn, for all the reasons that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote back in 2003 still apply. Well, or I think they should still apply. They aren’t. They don’t apply because of the recent Supreme Court decision. I think it’s going to be tougher for faculty members who are truly committed on those issues. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I think Beverly has re-raised her hand, so I’m going to try again. Beverly, I’ll give you a few minutes to—seconds to unmute yourself. You’re still muted. There we go. Q: I don’t know what’s happening because I didn’t have another question. There may be a technical problem, but since I’m on I will ask something else. FASKIANOS: OK. (Laughs.) OK. Q: Scott, with reference to the international students and the international faculty, as we know in many of the tier one, AAU major research universities, and the ones also in our neighboring countries like Canada with the University of Toronto which is also a member of AAU and McGill, for example. A number of the faculty and the PhD students in particular—this is one of my areas of research—are in the STEM fields, but they’re from other countries. So how are we going to think of other ways to get diverse students, whether they’re Canadians in Canada, or Americans in the United States, to be able to pursue some of these programs in STEM fields? JASCHIK: It’s going to be very challenging. Look, in STEM fields international students are admitted not because only—in the past, haven’t been admitted only because of affirmative action. They’ve been admitted—there aren’t enough American students of any race or ethnicity to fill those classes. There aren’t. And that is true at any university in the country, really. Now it’s not that there aren’t talented Americans, but they are not—they’re just not in the right numbers to help. And so, you know, a bunch of things. When recruiting international students or recruiting any students, it’s money. And here, the University of California, I’m less worried about than colleges that are not as high in the rankings as UC is. But, you know, it’s money. And it’s also—it’s also mission. Why you come and do that. And it’s really important that professors have good answers to questions—to both of those questions, because they are going to be asked. But, no, it’s not going to be easy at all. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Beth Hillman. Beth, do you want to ask your question that you’ve written? Putting her on the spot. Q: Sure. I just—I’ll read it there. So how will the new return on investment economic models influence student choices about institutions and programs? JASCHIK: Return on investment, I don’t like the use of return on investment but I’m in a minority. And a lot of students and their parents love it. Look, return on investment is greater if you are a student in STEM at MIT than if you’re a student in English at any college or university. That’s just a fact. But to me what that misses is that in many areas the student studying English may have a perfectly good return on investment. And it’s important for colleges to publicize the actual returns that students get. Look, students who study English, and history, and political science, and whatnot, are not, in fact, as a group, ending up working at Starbucks And they, they have the ability to get good jobs. Now, most of them, they get good jobs by not staying as a—in that field. I am a history major. I am not a historian. And most people don’t seem to really understand that. But every year people will come up with more ways to rank colleges by return on investment. I don’t really put too much in it. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Please raise your hands if you have more questions. I see none—no more raised hands or written questions, but we’d love to hear from you. So I do have a couple, though. I wanted to ask you a little bit about how do you think the U.S. higher education admission strategies is affecting our image in the world, our global standing? JASCHIK: That’s a really important question. Look, most people abroad would love to attend a great American college or university. They felt that way during the Trump administration, during the Biden administration, during the Obama administration. They want a U.S. college. Now, that doesn’t mean that they favor the U.S. in terms of what the U.S. is doing around the world, but they do value American colleges and universities. There’s no doubt about that. And so, in fact, I’d say it’s a real loss that the U.S. doesn’t act with more on that, because—you know, potentially it’s a great, great reason to come to the U.S. FASKIANOS: And what resources do you recommend for higher ed leaders and administrators to better understand how to promote equitable missions, processes, or to navigate now what’s this current landscape? JASCHIK: Read Inside Higher Ed—(laughs)—and, you know, pay attention to the issues. If you are at an elite institution, there’s a set of questions that you have about early admissions, about legacy admissions. You know, why are you continuing those policies if they are specifically resulting in—(coughs)—excuse me—in the admission only of white students? Align your financial aid to admitting more low-income students. You can base it on income, not race and ethnicity. Totally legal. And, you know, why aren’t more colleges doing that? If you are a less-wealthy institution, and an institution of less stature, I would raise the same question, particularly about merit aid—so-called merit aid, is what I would call it. Because merit aid is really aid for those who don’t really need aid. And, you know, why do you do these policies that don’t—that don’t actually improve things in terms of your student bodies? FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Todd Barry. Again, it’s Hudson County Community College: Will any of President Biden’s debt forgiveness programs be upheld by the courts? And will college rankings involve more companies to become more diverse? JASCHIK: Companies? FASKIANOS: Todd, do you want to just clarify that second part of your question? Thank you. Q: Yes, thank you. Will there be more organizations that put out college rankings rather than just the two that do so already? JASCHIK: Ah, OK. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Q: Thank you. JASCHIK: I suspect there will be. I’ve yet to find a ranking that I truly like, because I personally believe that college—the way to pick a good college is not to look at what somebody else said are the rankings of colleges. It’s just not a good way. But it may be a good way for some people to make a lot of money, so the rankings will continue. I’m sorry. I just forgot. What was the first part of that question? FASKIANOS: The first part was—let me pull it back up—will any of President Biden’s debt forgiveness programs be upheld by the courts? JASCHIK: Ah, yes. I don’t know. (Laughs.) The most recent of his debt relief things are being challenged. And I don’t know. I really don’t know if he’ll be successful. It depends which judges the cases are before to tell. Yet, I think I saw—I read this weekend, four million have applied for the most recent debt relief, with more expected to. That’s a lot of people. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next question from Amanda Shanor, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School: Why haven’t universities used First Amendment arguments to defend their admissions policies? And should they do so in the future? JASCHIK: I don’t think that that argument would carry the day with the current Supreme Court. I just don’t. They were—if you read the decision, if you listened to the arguments that were made, they were wholly committed to getting rid of affirmative action. It may help in the future with a different Court, but I think we have the current court for a while. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next written question from Edie Gaythwaite, again, a professor at Valencia College: To build off the global conversation, do you see institutions actively recruiting international students as admission applications decline? JASCHIK: Definitely. Many colleges—most colleges have some international recruitment strategy. Now, at—at Valencia, I don’t know what your strategy is. But, you know, many Florida colleges, they are trying to—they have a tremendous advantage in Latin America, as opposed to Europe and the Middle East. That may be something that they are trying. All types of colleges are pushing for more students. And it makes perfect sense. They should definitely recruit more. FASKIANOS: OK. And then we’re going to take the next question from Sneha again, from Texas Woman’s University: How does removing scholarships and merit aid impact enrollment and retention? JASCHIK: It depends what institution you’re at. Many institutions use merit aid to get students who wouldn’t otherwise attend. And that’s just a reality. Most students are making their choice based on a combination of factors, both the academic quality of the institution and the money. And so shifting it is a risky business. Now, some colleges that are more prestigious have managed to eliminate merit aid. But the main problem for colleges that are not in the elite is that they are trying to get some students who wouldn’t come, to come. And they’re very nervous about eliminating merit aid for that reason. FASKIANOS: And now that the—the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, have the admissions or the matriculation from international students—is that going up again? JASCHIK: Slightly. The big study comes out, I think, in December. So we don’t know yet for this year. FASKIANOS: Mmm hmm. Great. OK, so I’m doing a final call for questions from the group. Oh, I think—oh, one more from Kurt Schmoke: Do you think that the Court’s exemption of military academies will undermine their rationale for ending affirmative action? JASCHIK: You know, that’s really interesting. And the group that led the campaign against affirmative action, they are right now seeking plaintiffs at all the military academies. So I don’t think it’s going to last long. And I don’t know. The court may have left it in place because they truly believe it. But in reading the overall decision, I would have a hard time imagining them voting to uphold it anywhere. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have a raised hand from Dena Bateh at NYU. Q: Yes. You pronounced that perfectly correct, thank you. My question is somewhat related, but maybe just on an alternative tangent. And it’s something that I’m going to be doing some research on. So I do teach at NYU, but I am an administrator at another institution. And I’ve noticed—I’m in New York City, of course. And I’ve noticed the pattern of referring to students as consumers or customers has been a prevalent topic. And I can’t even tell you how that boils my blood rather than, say, learner. So that’s my research topic. But I’m wondering, how is this being addressed? You know, to uphold the standards of higher education, what are your thoughts on moving forward beyond a Google certification or just certificates that will get students who are—who have not pursued higher education to a certain point, but then they’re going to need to return? What are your thoughts on that, I think, in general will be. JASCHIK: So I share your distaste, I guess, for calling students consumers. Look, you know, in a real higher ed environment, professors are teaching and they’re also testing students on what they’ve done, period. But there are some areas where a more consumer approach can work. I did a story about fifteen to twenty years ago about—I wanted to take an online course. And I sent off emails of my interest, didn’t say it was for journalism, to some nonprofit and for-profit places. And the for-profit places clearly saw me as a customer. And they wrote immediately—I mean, within an hour—and said, what can we do to help you? Blah, blah, blah. That spirit should be prevalent at any college, particularly that’s going to get a lot of low-income students. That’s how they will get more low-income students. So in some areas thinking about students as consumers is OK, but I hope they don’t do it overall. FASKIANOS: OK. I’m going to take the last question for Babafemi Akinrinade: In Washington State, minority students will number white students in a few years. Will the Supreme Court decision impact the efforts of colleges to recruit these minority students, especially as the state is worried about declining birth rates, while other states are poaching students from Washington State. And Babafemi is with Western Washington University. JASCHIK: So it shouldn’t. Look, it’s great if Washington State has great numbers of students. They should shout out to the world. More colleges should go and recruit. That’s just the fact of life. In the United States today, at Harvard—which was in this decision—they are a majority minority institution. So it didn’t really help them out, but it can help—but lots of colleges can recruit students of all kinds, in Washington State and elsewhere. And thanks so much for your invitation to speak today. And I hope you found it useful. FASKIANOS: We did indeed. Thank you very much, Scott Jaschik. I appreciate it. And to all of you for your questions and comments. We enjoyed this conversation. We will be posting the video and transcript online afterwards if you want to review it and share it with your colleagues. You will receive an invitation to our next Higher Education Webinar under separate cover. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow @CFR_Academic on X, formerly known as Twitter, and visit,, and, for research and analysis on global issues. We also have a dedicated series for students and professors, so professors can invite their students to join the Academic Webinar series. And the first one of this semester is next Wednesday at, I believe, 1:00 p.m. So I hope you will join us for that. If you haven’t gotten an invitation, please do email us at [email protected]. Again, thank you all for being with us today. We look forward to your continued participation in our program series. (END)

College and University Educators Workshop

CFR hosts an annual workshop for university and college professors, the College and University Educators Workshop, which features expert briefings on global issues and discussion groups on best practices for teaching international affairs. For more information about future workshops, please email [email protected].

College and University Educators Workshop Sessions


The goal of the workshop is to find new ways for college and university educators to encourage their students to learn about international relations and the role of the United States in the world. It provides an opportunity for educators to explore the wide array of CFR and Foreign Affairs teaching and research resources available to the academic community, participate in substantive briefings with subject experts as well as in group discussions, and share best practices and educational tools for bringing global issues into the classroom. The workshop will include an opening night dinner conversation on the global outlook; plenary sessions on the Middle East, societal implications of AI, and climate policy and implementation; a presentation on CFR Education and fellowship opportunities; and a breakout discussion with a choice among regional topics.


The 2023 College and University Educators Workshop is part of the CFR Academic initiative. The goal of the workshop is to find new ways for college and university educators to encourage their student…


The 2022 College and University Educators Workshop is part of the CFR Academic initiative. The goal of the Educators Workshop is to find new ways for professors to encourage their students to learn a…

Student Events

Student Briefings

Each year, CFR welcomes a limited number of college and university student groups to its New York headquarters and Washington, DC, offices to learn about the organization and meet with CFR fellows and staff (*Note: All briefings are currently conducted virtually). Briefings may include an overview of CFR and its mission, a foreign policy discussion with a CFR expert or Foreign Affairs editor, or a short presentation on job and internship opportunities. A minimum of twenty students is required to arrange a visit, and briefings are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information and to apply, please fill out the CFR Briefing Request Form.

Back-to-School Event

Prior to COVID, CFR held an annual Back-to-School event at CFR's New York headquarters for college and university students and professors. The program featured a panel discussion with foreign policy experts on a pressing issue, a presentation of the latest CFR multimedia resource, and a networking session with CFR representatives. 

Watch the 2019 event celebrating the tenth anniversary of the podcast The World Next Week with a live taping before a student audience.



CFR Academic participates in conferences across the country by hosting exhibitions, meetings, and workshops. Meet CFR representatives and learn more about our resources at upcoming conferences. Contact [email protected] for more information.

CFR Luncheon Discussion: Foreign Policy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

April 4, 2024

The conversation featured Rachel Gillum, vice president of ethical and humane use of technology at Salesforce; Andrew W. Reddie, associate research professor of public policy at University of California, Berkeley; and Carla Anne Robbins, senior fellow at CFR. James M. Lindsay, senior vice president, director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at CFR, moderated the discussion.


Commissioned from Gallup, a December 2019 survey by CFR and the National Geographic Society revealed that adult Americans exhibit gaps in their knowledge about geography and world affairs. While the report shows that U.S. adults have limited knowledge about these topics, seven in ten respondents consider international issues to be relevant to their daily lives and express a desire to promote education in these areas.


CFR collaborates with educational institutions, organizations, and associations to foster a deeper understanding of international relations and an enduring interest in U.S. foreign policy.


For more information about CFR Academic programs, please contact [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter at @CFR_Academic.