Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Introductory remarks at Global Security Engagement Conference

Good morning, my name is Doug Shaw and I am an associate dean here at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome you to our campus for this important discussion of “Emerging Opportunities and Challenges in Global Security Engagement Programs. I’m grateful to all of you for participating in this important work, and particularly to the committee of conference organizers that has worked for several months to make this event possible. I am especially grateful to Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, the State Department’s Coordinator for Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs for her vision to convene us here to explore a path forward toward Global Security Engagement.

The Elliott School is a great place for this discussion. Hopefully, our location will prove convenient for many of you. For those of you who haven’t been here before, the White House is that way, the State Department is over there, and the World Bank is around the corner and up the street.

Our location has been an important asset in the growth of the Elliott School. Originally founded in 1898 as the GW School of Comparative Jurisprudence and Diplomacy, we were renamed the Elliott School of International Affairs in 1988 and since then have grown into the largest school of international affairs in the country.

Our mission is a simple but important one: to create knowledge about important global issues, educate future leaders, and engage the public and policy communities to make our world a better place. In no topical area is this mission more urgent than the emerging field of Global Security Engagement and we are grateful that this conference and your presence will contribute to our ongoing efforts in knowledge creation, education, and policy engagement.

In terms of knowledge creation, GW’s Center for Nuclear Studies is home to one of the largest concentrations of nuclear physicists in higher education.

Nuclear physics has a distinguished history on this campus. In 1934, then GW President Cloyd Hecht Marvin decided to strengthen physics by hiring George Gamow who would become renowned for developing the big bang theory. The following year, they hired Edward Teller who would become the father of the American hydrogen bomb. And at GW on January 26, 1939 Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr reported the splitting of the uranium nucleus with a release of two hundred million electron volts of energy, heralding the beginning of the nuclear age. This important work in physics continues today, as the continued support of the Energy Department for our work and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s adoption of a description of neutron-proton interactions developed at GW’s Data Analysis Center as an international standard. Our science is top-shelf, and we are engaged in a University-wide discussion, led by Professor Chris Cahill in our Chemistry Department, to better understand and respond to the grand challenges of science that will emerge from the security challenges of the 21st Century.

We are also grateful to have you here because this event will help engage young people in the important work of Global Security Engagement.

I am especially grateful to Ambassador Jenkins for making room for several Elliott School students at this conference. The Elliott School has a strong track record of educating leaders at the nexus of technology and security policy; our alumni include Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller, Adam Scheinman of the National Security Council, and Jedidiah Royal of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Several of my students are here with us today, and I hope their participation will spark and inform their interest in taking up this important work.

Finally, we are grateful that this conference will help us better engage the policy community.

GW’s Institute for Security and Conflict Studies hosts one of the most active event series on proliferation prevention in the world. Just over two years ago, renowned nuclear strategist Sir Lawrence Freedman visited the Elliott School and remarked on a “missing generation” of nuclear policy specialists. In an effort to learn more about and respond to this problem, we initiated a series of Nuclear Policy Talks – NPT – to bring leading specialists on all aspects of nuclear and nonproliferation policy to campus. When we break tomorrow, the number of expert presentations we have had on these topics on campus in the last two years will number more than 170, including remarks by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Senator Richard Lugar, and Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control Ellen Tauscher – twice. Video from a growing number of these talks is available at the Elliott School’s website, where you can also join the email listserve of more than 2,200 subscribers who receive regular updates about these events.

So, thank you all, again for participating and I look forward to a rich and productive discussion that will inform your work and our three part mission of research, teaching, and policy engagement.