Nicholas Burns

Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

R. Nicholas Burns is the Roy and Barbara Goodman family professor of diplomacy and international politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He founded and directs the school’s Future of Diplomacy Project and is faculty chair for programs on the Middle East and South Asia.

Prior to Harvard, Burns served for twenty-seven years in the U.S. Foreign Service. He served as undersecretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008, as U.S. ambassador to NATO for President George W. Bush and to Greece for President Bill Clinton, and as State Department spokesman for Secretaries Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright. He worked at the National Security Council from 1990 to 1995 on Soviet and then Russian affairs for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton. 

Burns is director of the nonpartisan Aspen Strategy Group and serves on several other nonprofit boards. He is a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s foreign affairs policy board at the U.S. Department of State.

Top Stories on CFR

Climate Change

The UN climate summit delivered on a loss and damage fund, but it fell short on goals to reduce emissions and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Malaysia

Malaysia's voters delivered an inconclusive message in the general election, leading to a hung parliament.

Iran

Despite limits to their political and social power, Iranian women are leading protests that could jeopardize the regime.