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New Kissinger Center emphasizes multidisciplinary approach to global affairs

$50 million in gift support enables hiring of 10 new faculty
Posted November 9, 2016

Video: Renee Fischer


Today's global leaders face daunting challenges from crises in the Middle East, Ukraine, and the South China Sea to financial shocks and negotiations over trade or global warming. The new Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will lead the way in addressing these challenges.

"There is a need for an approach in international relations education that transcends the narrow confines of short-run policymaking. The Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs will address that need," says Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels.

"It's important to extend the study of international relations from dealing with the immediate symptoms of the issues to the underlying causes," says Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, whose diplomatic achievements span nearly six decades and include the negotiations to end the Vietnam War, bringing about the first ever ceasefire agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors, détente with the Soviet Union, and rapprochement with China.

"This multidisciplinary cluster of brilliant minds in international affairs will collaborate in designing a more integrated curriculum and mentoring young professionals. They will have a significant impact on policymaking."
Dean Vali Nasr

"Johns Hopkins SAIS is the perfect home for this endeavor because we are already dedicated to training global leaders who understand the broader canvas: the diversity of culture, history, philosophy, and other factors that go into the making of international affairs," says Dean Vali Nasr. "The Kissinger Center provides us with much greater capability to do this in a focused manner."

The center was established with $50 million in philanthropic funds, the largest combined gift in the school's history.

The 108th New York City mayor and Hopkins alumnus Michael R. Bloomberg, Engr '64, led the effort to create the Kissinger Center, providing the initial funding and helping define the center's mission to honor Kissinger’s legacy through the education of future leaders. "He really did change the world. The Kissinger Center at Johns Hopkins will make it possible for students to follow in Henry's footsteps," says Bloomberg.

To this end, the center will have at least 10 new faculty members. "This multidisciplinary cluster of brilliant minds in international affairs will collaborate in designing a more integrated curriculum and mentoring young professionals," says Nasr. "They will also have a significant impact on policymaking."

According to SAIS Board of Advisors Chair Sarah O'Hagan, SAIS '86, "Today's students need to be deeply steeped in the history of a region, of an issue, its politics, all of its ramifications. The center will allow SAIS to be a training ground for tomorrow's leaders."

"People who come through the Kissinger Center will have both theory at the highest level, but also a sense of the granular, nitty‑gritty part of decision making," says Niall Ferguson, who has been named the Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation Scholar at the Kissinger Center.

"I can think of no more fitting thing to do than to name a center for global affairs in honor of Dr. Kissinger, my friend and a great American," states Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc., who along with his wife, Wendy, is a Kissinger Center founding donor. Schmidt also has a personal connection with the school as his father, Wilson Schmidt, served as a professor of international economics at the SAIS Europe campus from 1963–65.

Other founding donors, in addition to those mentioned above, include the Agnelli Family, Alcoa Corporation and Foundation, Annette de la Renta, JPMorgan Chase & Company, the Kraft Group, the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, Rupert Murdoch, David Rockefeller, the Speyer Family Foundation, the Starr Foundation, the Xerox Foundation, and an anonymous foundation.