MIT Seminar XXI Fellowship

Posted on September 9, 2011


For those interested, I will post here my experiences as an Army Fellow to MIT Seminar XXI for AY 11-12.

Seminar XXI is an educational program for senior military officers, government and NGO officials, and executives in the national security policy community. The program’s objective is to provide future leaders of that community with enhanced analytic skills for understanding foreign countries and the relations among them.

Seminar XXI began in 1986 as an experimental program adapted from several graduate-level courses taught at MIT. Over the years it has provided an opportunity for frank and challenging exchanges of ideas between policymakers and university scholars, as well as among the Fellows, who themselves represent a wide range of institutions and organizations in the policy-making community. We are now in our twenty-fifth year and have more than 1,600 alumni/ae.

The program explores key policy issues by examining countries and problems critical to American interests through a variety of paradigmatic lenses. At each session, eminent speakers present alternative perspectives from which the given country or problem can be understood. The seminar seeks to provide concrete frameworks for examining how different paradigms suggest fundamentally different, even conflicting, answers to the questions American policymakers must resolve.

Seminar XXI faculty are drawn from leading universities and research institutions in the U.S. and abroad, and represent a variety of intellectual approaches. The objective is to introduce Seminar XXI Fellows to the best minds at work in areas critical to American national security and international relations.

Military participants in Seminar XXI have generally ranged from Lieutenant Colonel to Major General, and Navy Commander through Rear Admiral. Promising Majors and Lieutenant Commanders have occasionally been selected for admission. Government civilians span levels GS-14 through SES, while NGO executives range from Program Managers and Division Directors through Vice Presidents. Individuals from the State Department include senior foreign service officers up to the rank of ambassador. The fundamental criterion of selection, however, is that candidates be individuals who are expected to reach top decision-making levels in the next three-to-five years.