Our History and Mission
Founded in 1988 by Paul Kennedy, Yale’s J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History and Global Affairs, International Security Studies at Yale (ISS) soon established itself as the preeminent research institution for advancing the field of security studies, training a vast number of exceptional scholars and practitioners. Through its convening power and unique interdisciplinary approach, ISS brings together faculty from across the University who work on issues of international security, especially at the nexus of history and political science. ISS supports faculty and student research; awards pre- and post-doctoral fellowships to visiting scholars; and organizes a wide range of conferences, workshops, and other symposia, enriching the Yale community.
ISS has a demonstrated track record of incubating groundbreaking research and teaching initiatives at Yale. In the early 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, ISS led the global conversation on reform of the United Nations system, serving as the host institution for the Academic Center for U.N. Studies.
In October 2021, ISS became a part of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs (now called the Jackson School of Global Affairs). Odd Arne Westad, Elihu Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale, assumed the directorship of ISS on July 1, 2021. Edward (“Ted”) Wittenstein, assumed the new role of Executive Director of ISS, in addition to continuing to serve as Executive Director of Yale’s Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy and Lecturer in Law and Global Affairs.
Grand Strategy Program
ISS launched the Grand Strategy Program in 2000, founded by Professors John Lewis Gaddis and Paul Kennedy, along with the late Diplomat-in-Residence Charles Hill. Today, the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy is Yale’s flagship yearlong course in strategic studies for undergraduate and graduate students.
The program was most recently led by Professor Beverly Gage; Professor Michael Brenes, its current interim director, is supported by an advisory board of faculty from across Yale, chaired by Professor Westad. The current GS student cohort consists of 23 Yale students, mostly undergraduates with majors ranging from history and economics to philosophy and biology. They study a varied curriculum, emphasizing classic texts in strategy, as well as large-scale, long-term strategic challenges of statecraft, politics, and social change.
Other Related Programs
The ISS commitment to international history also played a critical role in the donation of Henry Kissinger’s papers to Yale and the establishment of the Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy in 2011. ISS further proved instrumental in bringing the Yale ROTC program back to campus in 2012, and now hosts one of the Commandant’s Marine Corps Fellows. In addition, from 2001 to 2011, ISS founded what is now independently administered as the Yale Young Global Scholars Program (YYGS), an innovative effort to inspire high school students passionate about security studies.
ISS organizes an array of extracurricular activities each academic year. We host lectures, dinner debates, conferences, colloquia, and discussion groups. To receive invitations to our public events and periodic news from ISS, add your email address to our mailing list.
Starting with the hiring of the late Professor Charles Hill as the first Diplomat-in-Residence in International Security Studies nearly three decades ago, ISS also pioneered the integration of senior practitioners into Yale’s traditional global affairs curriculum. Today’s ISS-affiliated Distinguished Practitioners and Visiting Fellows are descendants of that successful ISS strategy – distinguished diplomats, journalists, military officers, and business leaders who teach at the Jackson School and who bring seasoned policy experience into the classroom.
Since its inception, ISS’s primary focus has always been on training and mentoring the next generation of scholars in international security. To that end, ISS has hosted dozens of the most promising young scholars from other universities, who came to Yale as Visiting Scholars: pre- and post-doctoral fellows made possible by grants from the Bradley, MacArthur, Olin and Smith Richardson foundations. Additionally, ISS has provided funding for archival research and language training to more than 200 Yale graduate students. Through these efforts, ISS has left an indelible mark in the current generation of scholarly leaders in the fields of diplomatic and military history, many of whom now hold prestigious chairs at universities around the world.
Although ISS is not a degree-granting program, our faculty affiliates write and teach about numerous aspects of international history and world affairs. Our interests range from geopolitics and economics to international and foreign area studies. We are pedagogical pluralists—interested in explaining the genealogy of modern times, and developing holistic, comprehensive ways to think about the twenty-first century.
We also provide competitive summer grants to support language training and archival research for Yale students. Postdoctoral and predoctoral fellowships are available to scholars from other universities, and for serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces.