September 18, 2020 – Foreign Policy

Grants will help Notre Dame scholars expand program on U.S. national security policy


Since its founding in 2008, the Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC) has provided a forum where leading scholars in national security studies from Notre Dame and elsewhere can come together to explore questions related to national security and foreign policy. The center recently announced that it will continue to build on its work with $7.66 million in new grants — $4 million from the Menard family and $3.66 million from the Charles Koch Foundation. 

“A seminal part of the college experience is hearing from people who have a diversity of viewpoints and track record of creating value for others,” said the Menard family in an open letter to the Notre Dame community. “At Menards, we want to give more students the opportunity to have that experience and to develop a lifelong love of learning as a result.”

The grants will help foster the next wave of NDISC expansion, including naming former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb as its inaugural distinguished fellow. The center also will create the Hans J. Morgenthau Fellowship program for up to 20 pre-doctoral candidates interested in deepening their engagement on national security issues, add a visiting faculty program, and expand its post-doctoral fellows program.

“We’ve grown from a small program to a center in which our faculty have been productive as scholars and offer a great deal of public affairs commentary on national security issues,” said Michael Desch, the Packey J. Dee Professor of International Relations and the Brian and Jeannelle Brady Family Director of NDISC. 

Desch added, “Notre Dame is particularly well-placed, with its long history with the U.S. military and close connection in national security affairs, to be a significant voice for thinking seriously about U.S. national security policy in the years to come.”

The Charles Koch Foundation previously provided a $3.5 million grant to NDISC that helped the center hire three faculty members and four postdoctoral fellows, create a nationally recognized seminar series, and partner with the U.S. Air Force to train its doctoral candidates and with the U.S. Army War College to host its students as fellows. 

“Over the last 12 years, NDISC has become an important resource for research and scholarship on American foreign policy,” said Charles Koch Foundation Executive Director Ryan Stowers. “These initiatives, including the Morgenthau Fellowship, will give students new space to learn about grand strategy, network with peers, and be mentored by NDISC’s incredible faculty. We are excited to continue our support for the program as it seeks to examine the role of the U.S. military and its duty to the American people.” 

“We’ve made major strides and will continue to do so with the support we’ve received,” Desch said. “The sky’s the limit.”

As the center’s scope expands and evolves, Desch said it will play a key role in one of the most critical issues in the broader national security debate — rethinking post-Cold War U.S. grand strategy that is still based on a Cold War mentality and revising it for an era in which threats are rapidly changing.

“The Cold War is over, and we should rethink about how the U.S. defines its national security objectives and how it should go about protecting them,” Desch said. “We’re doing that through cutting-edge, scholarly research that dovetails with major national security issues that are on the agenda. We’re also training the next generation of national security policymakers through our fellowship programs and Ph.D. programs for those in uniform who will be crafting the intellectual framework for the national security debate in the years to come.”

Click here to read the school’s announcement. Click here to read the grant agreement between the university and the Charles Koch Foundation.