Robert Art retires as director of the Seminar XXI Program

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Robert Art will step down from his role as the director of the Seminar XXI Program effective June 30. Art is a senior fellow at the MIT Security Studies Program (SSP) and the Christian A. Herter Professor of International Relations, Emeritus at Brandeis University. He has directed the Seminar XXI program at the Center for International Studies since 2000.

The Seminar XXI Program is one of the most successful and competitive post-graduate education programs in the national security arena. It links policymaking and academia by bringing together military and civilian executives with scholars from MIT and beyond. 

Since its inception as an MIT program in 1986, it has inspired its graduates to apply the compelling insights of social science to the most pressing challenges of our times. It currently boasts 2,530 alumni, who serve or have served in high-ranking positions in government organizations, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defense. 

“I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been affiliated with Seminar XXI for two decades because of the quality of the people I worked with: the staff — Tisha Gomes and Jen Kempe; the many faculty at MIT and other universities, here and abroad; and, of course, the fellows from the U.S. military and the senior civilian ranks of the U.S. government, whose dedication, integrity, and patriotism I deeply respect. Seminar XXI immeasurably enriched my life and for that I am profoundly grateful,” says Art.

Under Art’s leadership, the United States — and U.S. security — faced several of the greatest challenges in living memory, including 9/11 and Covid-19. Through it all, his steadfast commitment and dedication to the mission of Seminar XXI ensured the program’s continuing success. His guidance and coordination of the fellows, alumni, faculty, and staff have cultivated a diverse and enduring network of professional relationships.

“Few can chair a panel discussion that blends scholarship and policy analysis in national security, and which ensures the participation of speakers and audience, as well as Bob. Most of what I know about chairing such meetings I learned from him. All of us are grateful for his long tenure as Seminar XXI director,” says Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science, director emeritus of SSP, and a member of Seminar XXI’s executive board.  

Posen added that Art has made prolific contributions to the field of security studies. Art’s co-edited book, “The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics” — a compendium of analysis by influential thinkers—is a boon to young faculty. Art also served on the founding editorial team of the Cornell University Press Security Affairs series.

On July 1, Art will pass the stewardship of Seminar XXI to Kenneth Oye, a professor of political science in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and a professor of data systems and society in the School of Engineering. Oye also directs the Program on Emerging Technologies at CIS.

A long-standing executive board member of the program, Oye is well-known to generations of Seminar XXI fellows and faculty. He will serve as the program’s interim director for one year. 

Beginning in July 2021, Kelly Greenhill PhD ’04, a professor of political science at Tufts University — and a Seminar XXI veteran and an executive board member — will become a visiting professor at MIT, a senior fellow at SSP, and the director of the Seminar XXI Program.

Greenhill received her PhD from the MIT Department of Political Science and is currently a member of SSP.

“The impact of Art’s leadership of the program — for the faculty and for the program’s participants — will long endure. He leaves Seminar XXI in a strong position for continued success, and all of us at CIS thank him for his dedication and service to this most impactful of our many programs,” says Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science, director of CIS, and a member of the Seminar XXI executive board. 

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