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June 27, 2022

What Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means for the world
3 Questions: The future of international education
Traveling the world to make a global impact
Mobilizing across borders to address global challenges
Congressional seminar introduces MIT faculty to 30 Washington staffers
Eleanor Freund receives Jeanne Guillemin Prize

What Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means for the world

MIT News | First published here.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has global implications. A panel of MIT foreign policy experts convened on Monday to examine those reverberations — on European domestic politics, the refugee crisis, great-power relations, and nuclear security.

Currently Ukraine has experienced widespread devastation, and millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes as refugees. Many countries have allied to enact stiff sanctions on Russia, and global sentiment has been with Ukraine. But as Monday’s discussion made clear, the global effects of the war may depend on how it evolves. If Russia ends up waging a “frozen conflict,” occupying some areas of the country indefinitely, with less visible devastation, it could produce a different long-term response.

Even in the current climate, Hungarian President Viktor Orban claimed an electoral victory this week, perhaps showing some limits to the European backlash against leaders with connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“One idea was that this war was going to end illiberalism in European states,” observed Roger Peterson, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science at MIT, during Monday’s event. “I think that's probably overblown.”

Indeed, Petersen added, even though Ukrainians have “won the information war” over the invasion, generating massive international sympathy, their struggle could soon become “routinized,” generating a less energized response in other countries.

“If it [turns] into some frozen conflict, this could be years and years of war,” Petersen said.

The event, “The Wider Implications of the War in Ukraine,” took place online as the latest installment of MIT’s Starr Forum, an ongoing series of public discussions on pressing foreign policy issues, held by the Center for International Studies (CIS).

Besides Petersen, the participants on the panel were Jacqueline Bhabha, a professor of the practice of health and human rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Joel Brenner, a senior research fellow at CIS and former head of U.S. counterintelligence under the Director of National Intelligence; Taylor Fravel, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science at MIT and director of the MIT Security Studies Program (SSP); and Jim Walsh, a research associate in SSP.

The panel’s co-chairs and moderators were Carol Saivetz, senior advisor in SSP; and Elizabeth Wood, professor of history at MIT and co-director of the MISTI MIT-Russia Program.

Refugees and cyber issues

An estimated 4.5 million Ukrainians have been displaced since the war started in late February, with many becoming refugees in other European countries. But the European Union is allowing many Ukrainians to stay in other countries for a year or longer, a policy Bhabha endorsed.

“The EU’s response is something which sets a wonderful precent for refugee flows and will at least in part mitigate the tragedy,” Bhabha said. At the same time, she noted, “The challenge is immense, because of the scale of arrival [of refugees], and the scale of harm and devastation are huge.”

Moreover, whether the war in Ukraine sets a precedent for openness toward refugees is still quite uncertain. Bhabha noted that Venezuelans, Syrians, and Afghans, among others, have not received the same welcome in Europe as refugees of European origin. In any case, she added, national leaders should be prepared for further refugee crises.

“States should anticipate unpredictable needs [regarding refugees] rather than always being behind the curve,” Bhabha said.

Brenner, focusing his remarks on cyber warfare, noted that Russia has not really deployed the kind of disruptive technology attacks many expected.

“This looks like a puzzle at first, but it’s really not,” Brenner said. “If you’re blowing up the hospital, and if you’re blowing up the power plant, taking out its cyber network really is sort of beside the point.” He added: “We’re in a war that has cyber aspects to it, and it’s anything but a standalone cyber event.”

At the same time, Brenner noted, Russia is not having unqualified success in the cyber arena at the moment. Ukraine has obtained data about Russian military operations, and the U.S. Congress passed new measures recently that may “make resilience greater” against Russian operations.

Aligned with China

One of the most pressing issues in global geopolitics is how the relationship between Russia and China will be affected by the war in Ukraine. China has not joined the economic sanctions against Russia, but it has not undercut them, either.

“Even though China opposes the sanctions, China so far does not appear to be helping Russia to circumvent or overcome them,” Fravel said. “And, in fact, [China] has been quite cautious, seeking to understand the limits of these sanctions, so that its companies and firms do not get entangled in them, because that ultimately would be bad for Chinese business, and [that’s] something that China wants to avoid.”

Diplomatically, Fravel added, China has hurt its stature among many countries in Europe due to its relationship with Russia. “China has managed very successfully to annoy the one group of countries it was seeking to cultivate as part of its broader response to the United States,” he said.

Finally, there has been rampant speculation that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might embolden China to initiate military action against Taiwan. But the problems Russia has encountered in Ukraine might equally well quell China’s likelihood of taking action, Fravel noted.

“Though of course China is not going to abandon any of its ambitions with respect to Taiwan, it may be more cautious, perhaps, in thinking about using the military,” Fravel said.

Rebuilding the relationship, versus the alternative

Walsh noted that Russia’s invasion, and Putin’s comments emphasizing Russia’s ability to use its nuclear arsenal, have heightened nuclear fears among more the public more than anything else in the last couple of decades — something that can be quantified through Google search patterns, for instance.

Moreover, Walsh added, “I think the odds of us removing tactical nuclear weapons from Europe have diminished significantly for a period of time.”

Still, Walsh said, he would not rule out the U.S. and Russia restarting a diplomatic dialogue over nuclear issues eventually.

“I think this [the war] is going to go on for a while, and I think that will continue to impede those conversations, but eventually — quietly perhaps at first, but eventually — the two countries will be pressed to talk again to reduce mutual dangers,” Walsh said.

Brenner also presented a similar conclusion. At the moment, it is hard to see common ground between Russia, on the one hand, and the U.S. and Europe, on the other. But in the future, at some point, with shifts in the situation in Ukraine, the U.S. and Europe might try to reestablish a semblance of normalcy with Russia, if only to prevent an even more troublesome sense of division.

“This [war] is going to be long, it’s going to be nasty, and could involve a lot of human suffering,” Brenner said. “Remember, it’s hard to think about this, given what the Russians are doing now. But in the long run, we’re not interested in isolating Russia. The question is, can Russia be incorporated into what we in the West think of as a civilized international order? Because, if not, we’re either driving them permanently … into the arms of the Chinese, which is not in our interest, or [Russia may remain] a volatile unsatisfied revanchist state which will continue to cause trouble. We don’t want that.”

3 Questions: The future of international education

MIT News | First published here.

Evan Lieberman is the Total Professor of Political Science and Contemporary Africa in the MIT Department of Political Science. He conducts research in the field of comparative politics, with a focus on development and ethnic conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. He directs the Global Diversity Lab (GDL) and was recently named faculty director of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), MIT’s global experiential learning program. Here, Lieberman describes international education and its import for solving global problems.

Q: Why is now an especially important time for international education?

A: The major challenges we currently face — climate change, the pandemic, supply chain management — are all global problems that require global solutions. We will need to collaborate across borders to a greater extent than ever before. There is no time more pressing for students to gain an international outlook on these challenges; the ideas, thinking, and perspectives from other parts of the world; and to build global networks. And yet, most of us have stayed very close to home for the past couple of years. While remote internships and communications have offered temporary solutions when travel was limited, these have been decidedly inferior to the opportunities for learning and making connections through in-person cultural and collaborative experiences at the heart of MISTI. It is important for students and faculty to be able to thrive in an interconnected world as they navigate their research/careers during this unusual time. The changing landscape of the past few years has left all of us somewhat anxious. Nonetheless, I am buoyed by important examples of global collaboration in problem-solving, with scientists, governments and other organizations working together on the things that unite us all.

Q: How is MIT uniquely positioned to provide global opportunities for students and faculty?

A: MISTI is a unique program with a long history of building robust partnerships with industry, universities, and other sectors in countries around the world, establishing opportunities that complement MIT students’ unique skill sets. MIT is fortunate to be the home of some of the top students and faculty in the world, and this is a benefit to partners seeking collaborators. The broad range of disciplines across the entire institute provides opportunities to match in nearly every sector. MISTI’s rigorous, country-specific preparation ensures that students build durable cultural connections while abroad and empowers them to play a role in addressing critical global challenges. The combination of technical and humanistic training that MIT students receive are exactly the profiles necessary to take advantage of opportunities abroad, hopefully with a long-term impact. Student participants have a depth of knowledge in their subject areas as well as MIT’s one-of-a-kind education model that is exceptionally valuable. The diversity of our community offers a wide variety of perspectives and life experiences, on top of academic expertise. Also, MISTI’s donor-funded programs provide the unique ability for all students to be able to participate in international programs, regardless of financial situation. This is a direct contrast with internship programs that often skew toward participants with little-to-no financial need.

Q: How do these kinds of collaborations help tackle global problems?

A: Of course, we don’t expect that even intensive internships of a few months are going to generate the global solutions we need. It is our hope that our students — who we anticipate being leaders in a range of sectors — will opt for global careers, and/or bring a global perspective to their work and in their lives. We believe that by building on their MISTI experiences and training, they will be able to forge the types of collaborations that lead to equity-enhancing solutions to universal problems — the climate emergency, ongoing threats to global public health, the liabilities associated with the computing revolution — and are able to improve human development more generally.

More than anything, at MISTI we are planting the seeds for longer-term collaborations. We literally grant several millions of dollars in seed funds to establish faculty-led collaborations with student involvement in addition to supporting hundreds of internships around the world. The MISTI Global Seed Funds (GSF) program compounds the Institute's impact by supporting partnerships abroad that often turn into long-standing research relationships addressing the critical challenges that require international solutions. GSF projects often have an impact far beyond their original scope. For example, a number of MISTI GSF projects have utilized their results to jump-start research efforts to combat the pandemic.

Traveling the world to make a global impact

MIT News | First published here.

For decades, MIT students have traveled abroad over Independent Activities Period (IAP) or in the summer for enriching global experiences through MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). This year, dozens of students became MISTI’s first IAP travelers abroad since the start of the pandemic. 

“We got very good at being spontaneous and rolling with the punches,” says MIT-Israel student Marilyn Meyers. “I knew that given the rising cases of the new Covid variant that things in Israel would be a bit chaotic and that I would have to be prepared to go with the flow. I decided to take a chance and go ... because I had a feeling that it would still be a transformative experience. I was right about that.”

MISTI students are extensively prepped before they take their trips abroad, with program managers advising on logistics such as visas and foreign bank accounts and training students on regional workplace culture and travel safety. While the pandemic added some additional elements to the process, a solid infrastructure was already in place to support them.

“Safely sending students abroad has always been our top priority, even prior to Covid,” says Griselda Gomez, MISTI’s assistant director of health and safety. “That constant commitment is what has made it possible for us confidently navigate the pandemic and reopen programs.”

The Global Teaching Labs (GTL) program is one of MISTI’s most in-demand opportunities, where MIT students teach STEM courses in high schools and universities abroad. On top of the standard preparation, GTL students are trained about teaching materials, platforms, and communication techniques, as well as introduced to the host country's education system and culture. Thirty-seven students took part in GTL this year, sharing the MIT style of education and unique approach to problem-solving around the world.

“GTL Israel was really an incredible experience,” gushes Meyers. “One of the highlights of my experience was playing English games with the students. Seeing the [students] push themselves to use the English that they knew and to learn more English words despite making mistakes [made it] a really special event.”

Yuka Machino and Holden Mui went to Ghana with the MIT-Africa GTL program to work on a unique mathematics project. “The mission for our MISTI program was two-fold. One of our goals was to train their nation’s top mathematics students in preparation for the International Math Olympiad. The second goal was to inspire students from Ghana’s top public schools to prepare for and participate in mathematics competitions,” says Mui. “It was exhilarating to watch the students reach their ‘aha!’ moments when working through problems.”

Machino agrees that interacting with the students was the highlight of the trip. “They were all very engaged and interested, and I felt a lot of satisfaction in being able to share the kind of math that I found most fun and beautiful.”

Students also gained valuable experience to bolster their academic and professional careers. “This MISTI program definitely helped me improve my ability to explain complex concepts in a simple way. Though I’m not sure what my career will be, this ability will be helpful in almost any career, from working with others in the workplace to one in academia,” says Mui.

“Compared to my life during the semester, it was a very different and enriching experience for me to work with other people on a project like this,” adds Machino. “I'm really thankful for MIT for this opportunity and for our host for making it such an enjoyable and exciting experience.”

There are more student opportunities like this on the way. Now that the students have returned to campus, planning at MISTI is already full steam ahead for the next group of students. Says Gomez, "We anticipate having even more countries open this summer, and we are positive that our staff and students will be ready."

MISTI is MIT’s hub for global experiences, providing immersive international programs that bring MIT’s one-of-a-kind learning model to life in countries around the world. MISTI empowers students to build cultural connections, make an impact in the world, and gain valuable perspectives that inform their education, career, and worldview.

Mobilizing across borders to address global challenges

MIT News | First published here.

For the most creative minds to work together to solve the world’s greatest challenges, it is essential for global collaboration to be unencumbered by distance. The MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) Global Seed Funds (GSF) program enables participating faculty teams to collaborate across borders with international partners to develop and launch joint research projects.

MISTI GSF is comprised of a general fund, open to any country, and a number of country-, region-, or university-specific funds. The resulting partnerships allow access to environmental resources, cutting-edge laboratory equipment, and perspectives not available on the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus. GSF has made global research partnerships possible since 2008.

“[Our] collaboration was extremely fruitful,” says 2018 Israel fund recipient and MIT professor of architectural history and theory Mark Jarzombek. “The insights and knowledge brought to architecture students, both from local experts and particularly from the field of archeology, allowed them to approach the project from a unique perspective and disciplinary lens.”

Ellen Roche, the W.M. Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering at MIT, had a similar experience with her 2018 collaboration with Spain: “Sending prototypes from one country to another and communicating transfer of manufacturing was sometimes challenging. However, working with Jose and his team was invaluable for their particle image velocimetry expertise.”

The 27 funds that comprise the MISTI GSF 2021-22 cycle awarded over $1.6 million to 75 projects from 20 departments across all of the schools in the Institute. This year's awards bring the total amount to $22.6 million funding 1,113 projects over the 14-year life of the program. This year, new funds helped MIT faculty collaborate further into Eastern Europe; funds in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia were met with a large number of excited applicants. Over 70 percent of all MIT faculty members have submitted a GSF proposal, with many receiving multiple awards.

“We have applied for [another] Global Seed Fund to facilitate a similar project in Berlin,” shares Jarzombek. “We hope to expand the breadth and goals of the method we developed and to continue to examine and explore its pedagogical and scholarly implications for the field of architectural history and pedagogy in various sites across the globe.”

Faculty seed funds also provide meaningful educational opportunities for students. The majority of GSF teams include students, contributing to both the Institute’s educational mission and commitment to encouraging intercultural learning.

“It was my intuition when I [applied for a] GSF project that we need to engage students,” says MIT associate professor of metallurgy Antoine Allanore of his 2017 U.K. collaboration. “It is the way to make this a meaningful experience for all.”

On top of building their expertise, students are often able to contribute to the faculty member’s groundbreaking research at a high level. “Two of [our] students were extremely involved and helpful in the fieldwork and study of the site,” says Jarzombek. “We could not have achieved what we have without them.”

Helping unite top academics from around the globe to address the most pressing critical issues, GSF fosters lasting connections between MIT and other leading research institutions. Most GSF projects have often culminated in published research and many have leveraged their early results to obtain additional research funding.

“We are submitting a paper this year on the work on single ventricle disease, and we have also recently started a collaboration with another group in Barcelona,” says Roche. The collaborators also secured additional funding from La Caixa Bank and have submitted an additional application to the National Science Foundation.

“[Our] highly successful seed grant resulted in a publication in the premier conference in bioinformatics and in an awarded BSF [United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation] grant proposal,” says Bonnie Berger, the Simons Professor of Mathematics at MIT and a 2020 Israel fund recipient. “We thank MISTI for funding us with the seed grant, which allowed us to achieve these goals.”

The next call for proposals will be in mid-September. “Now that global travel has nearly fully reopened, we expect even more applications next year,” says MISTI Assistant Director Alicia Raun. “We can’t wait to see what innovative ideas our faculty bring to us next.”

MISTI is MIT’s hub for global experiences, providing immersive international programs that bring MIT’s one-of-a-kind learning model to life in countries around the world. MISTI empowers students and faculty to build cultural connections, make an impact in the world, and gain valuable perspectives that inform their education, career, and worldview.

Congressional seminar introduces MIT faculty to 30 Washington staffers

MIT News | First published here.

More than 30 congressional and executive branch staffers were hosted by MIT’s Security Studies Program (SSP) for a series of panels and a keynote address focused on contemporary national security issues. 

Organized by the Security Studies Program, the Executive Branch and Congressional Staff Seminar was held from Wednesday, April 20m to Friday, April 22, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The program, supported by a generous grant from the Raymond Frankel Foundation, is hosted by MIT every other year to encourage interaction and exchange between scholars studying national security and policymakers.

Staff members from the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Congressional Research Service were joined by more than 15 MIT SSP faculty members and research affiliates. Each of them is an expert on one of a broad range of topics, from China’s ambitions to great-power competition.

This year’s program included a guided tour of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, four intensive panels with SSP faculty and affiliates, and a keynote address by Admiral John Richardson, the former chief of naval operations.

Keynote address

In his address, Richardson argued the United States is facing two simultaneous revolutions that have the potential to reshape the world. First, a political revolution of rising powers is returning the world to multipolarity and spreading authoritarianism. Second, a technological revolution of interconnected new technologies, from artificial intelligence to quantum computing, promises not only to increase speed and efficiency, but also to allow for entirely new capabilities. 

Richardson compared the current moment to two points in history: the turn of the 19th century and the beginning of the Cold War. In both periods, he said, the United States faced intertwined political and technological revolutions. 

In each case, he said, the U.S. and its allies prevailed. This success was won in both the political and technological spheres. 

In those areas, there was a sense of existential urgency that enabled a more adaptable and learning-based approach to the rapid changes of the Cold War, he said. In the end, the United States benefited from a coherent strategy to address worldwide changes.

The current challenges, Richardson said, demand a similar sense of urgency, adaptability, and learning if the U.S. is to prevail in preserving its influence in the world, and its quality of life.

The changing international order

During a panel on the “Changing International Order,” staffers heard from Ford International Professor of Political Science Barry Posen, SSP Senior Advisor Carol Saivetz, and Jonathan Kirshner, a professor of political science and international studies at Boston College.

Posen focused his remarks on Russia and China’s growing power relative to the United States, in the context of the 2008 financial crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. Kirshner identified the domestic politics of key participants in the international order, especially domestic dysfunction in the United States, as the chief driver of change. Saivetz offered several hypotheses on the cause of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which include pushing back against the expansion of NATO and the European Union, the desire for great power status, concerns about a liberal democracy on its borders, and the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

New tools of statecraft

A panel on “New Tools of Statecraft” featured remarks by Richard Nielsen, associate professor of political science at MIT, Mariya Grinberg, assistant professor of political science at MIT, and Joel Brenner, senior advisor to MIT SSP. MIT’s R. David Edelman, director of the Project on Technology, Economy and National Security and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory affiliate, chaired the panel.

Nielsen discussed the role of U.S. influence in a world beset by misinformation. He emphasized that the internet is more fragmented than it has ever been, and America’s ability to shape people’s opinions through the internet is extremely limited. Grinberg, an expert on conflict economies, addressed what policy changes are necessary — and what policy changes were unnecessary — in response to the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on markets. Brenner observed that many existing tools of statecraft are not “new,” but the speed, coordination, and synchronization of tools is new, as demonstrated by both the Russians and the Ukrainians in the ongoing war.

China’s growing ambitions

A panel on “China’s Growing Ambitions” featured remarks by MIT SSP director and Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science M. Taylor Fravel along with two SSP alumni: Joseph Torigian PhD '16, an assistant professor with the School of International Service at American University, and Fiona Cunningham PhD '18, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Torigian suggested that Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping’s views are likely a balance between pursuing the Communist Party’s ideals and mission with a deep skepticism of radical policies, and the kind of leftism and radicalism associated with events such as the Cultural Revolution. Xi is ideological, he said, but is flexible. Cunningham spoke broadly on China’s ambitions, and concluded with an argument that the U.S. needs to do more work to implement a more competitive Indo-Pacific policy, especially in terms of trade, and that U.S. officials should work to protect and strengthen existing channels of communication so that they can be functional in a crisis. Fravel discussed recent military changes in China. He noted that China adopted a new military strategy in 2019, which identifies the U.S. and Taiwan as principal adversaries, but stated that this was fundamentally not much more than top-level cosmetic changes to the 2014 military strategy in order to help cement Xi’s role as a military leader. 

The new nuclear era

The “New Nuclear Era” panel featured three MIT faculty and affiliates: Senior Research Associate Jim Walsh, Principal Research Scientist Eric Heginbotham, and Caitlin Talmadge PhD '11, an associate professor with the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and an SSP alumna.

Heginbotham discussed the increasing number and variety of roles that nuclear weapons play in international affairs, emphasizing how multipolarity and nuclear proliferation create “nested security dilemmas.” Talmadge similarly highlighted the complexity of the deterrence environment with multiple, multi-sided nuclear competitions occurring at once. Walsh framed the war in Ukraine as a reminder of nuclear danger that motivates the public both to “hug nuclear weapons more closely in a more dangerous world” and to “reduce nuclear danger before unimaginably bad things happen.”

Eleanor Freund receives Jeanne Guillemin Prize

MIT News | First published here.

The daughter of an American diplomat, Eleanor Freund spent most of her childhood living abroad in such places as Madagascar, Ghana, South Africa, and Austria. These experiences, she explains, led to an early interest in politics and international relations.

“Whether in South Africa, which was emerging from decades of racial discrimination and violence under apartheid, or Austria, which seemed practiced at navigating Cold War divisions between East and West, I was captivated by the import and impact of politics. I started college knowing that I wanted to major in political science and never doubted that decision.”

Freund, a PhD candidate in the MIT Department of Political Science, is the recipient of this year’s Jeanne Guillemin Prize at the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS).

The annual prize supports women pursuing doctorate degrees in international relations — a field that has long been dominated by men.

Jeanne Guillemin, a veteran colleague of CIS and a senior advisor in the Security Studies Program (SSP), endowed the fund shortly before her death in 2019. An expert in biological warfare, Guillemin’s groundbreaking work included an epidemiological inquiry into the 1979 anthrax outbreak in the Soviet Union and an investigation into the 2001 anthrax letters attack in the United States.

The funds from the prize will be used to support Freund’s dissertation research on Chinese foreign and security policies.

Through case studies, fieldwork abroad, and archival research, Freund aims to produce one of the first comprehensive historical studies on China’s alliances with other states.

This information could help contribute to a better understanding of how Chinese leaders evaluate threats and cooperate with other states to address these threats. It could also serve as an important resource for policymakers as they attempt to evaluate China’s current behavior, anticipate its future behavior, and avoid miscalculating during moments of crisis.

Embracing the China challenge

Freund became interested in China through international relations classes at college, when it became apparent that China would define the 21st century and dominate the attention of American diplomacy.

“I quickly realized that ensuring the relationship between the United States and China was peaceful and productive would require contending with a relationship defined by decades of mistrust. For anyone interested in foreign policy, there could hardly be a more meaningful challenge,” she says.

Shortly after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Freund moved to Beijing to study Chinese. This led to a host of other experiences, including jobs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a master’s degree from Tsinghua University as part of the Schwarzman Scholars program, and time at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

When considering PhD programs, MIT was a clear first choice.

“First, the political science department, like the rest of the Institute, is imbued with the guiding principle of education in service of practical application. That’s an important orienting philosophy for me. Second, the department offers substantial faculty expertise in my areas of interest — Chinese foreign policy and Asian security — and first-rate training in international relations and security studies more generally.”

MIT is among the few universities in the United States that provides the opportunity for graduate students in political science to specialize in security studies. A unique feature of SSP is its integration of technical and political analysis of national and international security problems.

This training is crucial to producing the civilian expertise that enables effective oversight of the military and clear-eyed foreign policy decision-making, explains Freund.

SSP also has a long track record of recruiting and training women interested in security studies. Many of these women have gone on to become successful academics and policymakers, including the current U.S. deputy secretary of defense, Kathleen Hicks PhD '10.

That legacy is a source of inspiration to Freund, who envisions a lifelong career in academia or government helping the United States navigate its relationship with China.

“It is an honor to receive an award named for Jeanne Guillemin,” says Freund. “I am particularly inspired by the tenacity and compassion she demonstrated while investigating the cause of the 1979 anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk. Although I never had the chance to meet her, the written account of her fieldwork in Russia illustrates her dedication to the principles of scientific research, her perseverance in overcoming the obstacles she encountered along the way, and her deep empathy for the victims and their families. I plan to use the award to fund my own fieldwork in Asia next year and hope to bring some of her passion and persistence to that experience.”