The Next Generation Project: U.S. Global Policy and the Future of International Institutions
The US finds itself at a crossroads in its international relations. The continuing sharp and partisan disagreements over the new global environment highlight the need for reflective, thoughtful, civil debate about US foreign policy and the international system in the 21st century. Where will the new ideas come from?
The Next Generation Project built capacity among the next generation of US leadership to address the challenges of globalization and the changing role of the US in world affairs. Through a program of fellowships and workshops, the Next Generation Project built a network of 300 fellows from a wide range of fields and communities. Between 2006 and 2008, Assemblies were held in Dallas, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., followed by a series of one-day workshops that brought fellows back together for further discussion. Themes ranged from efforts to articulate an appropriate overall US foreign policy posture for the next decade ("U.S. Global Policy: Challenges to Building a 21st Century Grand Strategy") to a discussion about the policy opportunities available to the Obama administration (“Obama – One Year Later").
Next Generation Project fellows have gone on to serve in wide variety of foreign policy positions, including Colin Kahl, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East; Vikram Singh, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia; and Sharon Burke, currently Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs at the Defense Department.
The Next Generation Project: The Foundations of Power in the 21st Century? Technology, Finance, and Innovation
This June 15th, 2010 workshop explored how institutional flexibility and economic integration would help define the United States' competitive position in an increasingly global economy.
The Next Generation Project: U.S. Global Policy--Challenges to Building a 21st Century Grand Strategy
Harvard professor Joseph Nye popularized the term “smart power” to describe a context-sensitive approach to alliance building, cultural influence, and military force in foreign policy. On March 4th, 2010, The Assembly convened 50 Next Generation Fellows in Washington, D.C. to discuss how US foreign policy succeeds--and fails to live up to--these practical goals for the exercise of power.
The Midwest Assembly convened at Northwestern University October 18-20, 2007. The Assembly looked at the federal government's ability to respond to the current threats and opportunities that globalization presents. The networks and technological advances that connect local actors (such as NGOs and private sector and sub-national entities) with pressing global issues can provide blueprints to reinvigorate older, national and international institutions. The Fellows believed the U.S. government must take advantage of these innovations and realize its crucial role in leading and partnering with other international organizations.
The Mountain States Assembly, one of The American Assembly's Next Generation Project, took place at the University of Denver, on June 14-16, 2007, co-sponsored with the Graduate School of International Studies. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and General James E. Cartwright, currently Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed the group. Fellows agreed that challenges like the rise of China and climate change simultaneously presented fresh opportunities for international cooperation and mutual benefit. Voicing a tension around exporting American values abroad, many Fellows intimated that those interests are best sustained through the extension of shared global ideas, such as democratic accountability and human rights. Collaboration was valued over autonomy, and Fellows noted a drop in favorable opinions about the United States abroad.
The Southwest Assembly, the first of the Next Generation Project, took place on October 19-21, 2006 and was co-sponsored with the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Next The Fellows focused on the importance of soft power and the limitations of hard power in the context of globalization. The group also agreed on the importance of policy versus messaging: the actions America takes in the world in contrast with how it presents itself in the eyes of the world media.
The launch event of The Next Generation Project was held June, 2006 at the University of Texas at Austin. The event brought together 50 Next Generation Fellows to discuss major challenges facing US foreign policy in an era of globalization, emerging technologies, and non-state actors.
The Next Generation Project was founded by The Assembly at Columbia University in 2005 and now resides at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin. The project engages talent from around the state from disciplines that have been historically underrepresented in global policy discussions.