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U. plans partnership with Naval War College

Agreement encourages increased collaboration on issues of cybersecurity, environmental change

Though the University and the U.S. Naval War College are only a 40-minute drive apart, the two institutions have had minimal interaction in the past. But on June 6, President Christina Paxson and former President of the Naval War College Walter Carter Jr. signed an agreement to collaborate on research and teaching.

Following the agreement, the two schools will begin to partner by holding joint lectures and planning future research initiatives.

Rick Menard, chief of staff to the provost of the Naval War College, said the partnership is in everyone’s best interest, since the institutions can benefit from each others’ facilities.

Richard Locke, director of the Watson Institute for International Studies, expressed a similar sentiment.  “Without spending any resources, we suddenly have available to us all this new expertise,” he said.

Though Carter Jr. has left his post at the Naval War College since the agreement was signed, Locke said he does not anticipate that the administrative turnover or other issues will pose problems for the partnership.

The partnership will focus on security-related topics, such as cybersecurity, nonproliferation — the prevention of arms buildup — and environmental change, according to a University press release. These issues will be explored in the forms of joint seminars, annual distinguished lecture series and research, according to the press release.

This teamwork “will help shape policy and research as we search for solutions to evolving national security challenges,” said Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who attended the agreement’s signing, in a statement provided to The Herald by his deputy press secretary Daniel Curran.

The two institutions complement each other, Locke said. For example, faculty members at both the University and the Naval War College have significant knowledge about Eastern Europe and the Ukrainian conflict, though they approach similar research from different angles.

A group of foreign policy and politics experts ­— including Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies Jeff Colgan —will give a talk at the University entitled “Ukraine and the New World Disorder” on Oct. 17 that students from both institutions are welcome to attend, Locke said. Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank and former deputy secretary of state, will lecture at the Naval War College sometime in mid-October, he added.

Discussion about a potential partnership between the University and the Naval War College began in 2003, Locke said. But efforts to launch the partnership stalled until Locke visited the Naval War College’s campus last year, he said, adding that “such a partnership should have happened a long time ago.”

Looking ahead, the next step for the partnership is joint teaching and classes in which students from both institutions can participate, Locke said. For example, many elite military staff in the Naval War College’s masters program who aspire to careers in public policy could benefit from taking classes at the University, he said.

“We are trying to figure out a way to get them to spend their second year hanging out here with our students and faculty, so that our students can interact with them and learn from them,” he added.

Overall, the agreement is flexible, and both institutions will be ready to take on opportunities as they come along, Menard said. “We are still in the beginning stages of understanding what each institution has to offer,” he said.

Students and faculty members from both institutions have expressed excitement about the partnership and surprise that it didn’t happen sooner, Locke said. Peer institutions such as Stanford University, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology currently have comparable programs in place, he added.


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