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Ideas Launch

LSE IDEAS celebrated its official launch 5-6 February 2008 with a public lecture by the Philippe Roman Chair, Professor Paul Kennedy, a reception for officials, diplomats and friends of the Centre and a panel discussion with the Permanent Under-Secretary of the FCO, Sir Peter Ricketts and the Ambassador of Germany, Mr Wolfgang Ischinger, on the role of academics in the foreign policy process.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008: Opening Public Lecture


Speaker: Professor Paul Kennedy, LSE Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs
Chairs: Professors Michael Cox| and Arne Westad|, directors of LSE IDEAS

In his opening lecture for LSE IDEAS, Professor Paul Kennedy of Yale University - this year's Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs in the centre - examined measures of America's relative global strength in today's world.

The United States today is undoubtedly the "Number One" Power in world affairs, but also a country which, simply because of its world-wide reach and world-wide obligations, continually faces the challenges that our fast-changing and fractured world throws up. This has caused an enormous debate among scholars of international strategic affairs as how best to measure relative American power, not just by "hard" military criteria but also by examining comparative economic performance and, not least, by the less tangible measures of "soft power" aspects such as culture, ideas, and political attractiveness.

This lecture is available as a podcast, click here.|

Professor Kennedy is the J Richardson Dilworth Professor of History at Yale University, where he teaches on political, economic, and strategic issues. He is one of the most well-known international historians working in the field today, and has reached a global audience through his books The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987) and Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (1993). Professor Kennedy is joining IDEAS -CWSC for 2007-2008 as the inaugural holder of the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008: Panel and Reception


Speakers: Sir Peter Ricketts, Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and H. E. Mr Wolfgang F. Ischinger, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
Chair: Sir Howard Davies, LSE Director.

A reception was held at the new LSE IDEAS offices in Columbia House on the Aldwych. The event was well attended by diplomats, academics, members of the press, and friends of centre inside and outside the LSE.

The reception was followed by a panel discussion on the role of academics in the foreign policy process in the Shaw Library across the street in the LSE Old Building. The panellists discussed the role of academics in the foreign policy process, and while agreeing that scholars, on the one hand, and civil servants and political leaders, on the other, should spend more time discussing issues of critical importance together, there were a number of hindrances that stood in the way of such conversations at present. 

Both Sir Peter and Mr Ischinger expected IDEAS to become a key venue for interaction in the future.  As the panellists explained, views on this subject have traditionally been very different on the different sides of the Atlantic: While in the United States a number of scholars have served as high officials, or even National Security Advisors and Secretaries of State, it would have been unthinkable for the same avenue to be explored in Britain or Germany. 

Both panellists emphasised the need to develop further links between established universities and the foreign policy elite, so that both sides could draw on the knowledge accumulated by each.  The LSE Director, Sir Howard Davies, commented that it was therefore proper that LSE IDEAS, which consists of academics with an interest in current international affairs, was launched with a debate between Britain's top civil servant in the area of foreign affairs and the London representative of the EU's largest country.



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