MIT SEMINAR XXI: Foreign Politics, International Relations, and the National Interest

Navy JAG Corps senior officers and civilians seeking to deepen their understanding of national security and foreign relations policy are eligible to apply to be Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Seminar XXI Fellows at no cost to themselves or their assigned command.

Recent Navy JAG Corps Seminar XXI Fellows include Capt. Rock DeTolve (current Fellow), Capt. Patrick Gibbons (Class of 2015), and retired Cmdr. Mark Nevitt (Class of 2016).

“Seminar XXI was a phenomenal opportunity,” said Gibbons. “First, the faculty includes leading scholars in each topic, and you don’t just sit through their lectures – you get to meet and socialize with them.  They’re genuinely interested in your experience and perspective.  Second, it genuinely broadens your perspective on international relations.  While they don’t conform to the War College’s elements of national power construct (Diplomacy-Information-Military-Economic-Financial-Intelligence-Law Enforcement), they bring the perspectives of many disciplines to each topic discussed.  And third, you get to meet your inter-agency counterparts, who are as talented, committed and broadly-experienced a group of peers as you could wish for.”

Established in 1984 and administered by MIT Center for International Studies, Seminar XXI is an academic program geared toward current and future leaders in the U.S. national security and foreign policy communities. As such, military legal professionals both gain and contribute valuable insights during sessions. Since its inception, over 2,100 military and civilian Fellows have completed this program.

“I heard about MIT Seminar XXI from Capt. Patrick Gibbons, who was a mentor to me and participated in the program before me,” said Nevitt.  “It was a lot of reading (about 200+ pages per weekend) and the days were packed from 0800 to 1800 with classes. Following class, there was ample time to socialize.  It was great meeting so many people from different services as well as other branches of government. I am still in touch with many MIT Seminar students from my class.  It also allowed me to take a step back and see the big-picture about national security and governing policy.  The instructors were truly excellent and the program encourages lively discussion and open and honest dialogue.  I highly encourage JAGs to apply for this program.  It is a lot of work, but an incredible experience.”

Curriculum

The Seminar XXI program consists of a series of 8 sessions over 9 months; 5 evening sessions held in Washington D.C. and three weekend sessions held in Warrenton, Virginia.

Seminar presenters include distinguished academics from MIT and other universities as well as practitioners in the national security field and related disciplines.

  • Religion, Identity Politics, & Civil War
  • Cybersecurity and Bio-Security
  • National Economies and Transnational Factors in a Globalized World
  • Democracy & Authoritarianism in the Arab World
  • US National Security Policy

Application Process

The Chief of Naval Operations (via OPNAV N3/N5) administers the Navy’s Seminar XXI nomination process for Navy personnel assigned to Navy staff organizations in the National Capital Region. Personnel assigned in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Defense Agencies, or the Joint Staff can apply through a separate selection process.

For the 2018-2019 academic year seminar, MIT selected approximately 75 personnel across the Federal Government including approximately 13 from the Navy.  Attendance costs are fully funded through the Navy with no cost to participants or their commands.

Eligibility is currently limited to officers O-5 and above and senior civilians GS-14 or above currently serving within the National Capital Region with the opportunity to apply these skills in their future assignments.  OPNAV N3/N5 recently promulgated eligibility and application requirements NAVADMIN 023/19.  Application deadline is 8 March.

“Seminar XXI offers a unique and truly enjoyable opportunity,” said DeTolve. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know and gaining insights from a fascinating mix of distinguished academics and national security practitioners. Highly recommended!”

No Department of Defense endorsement of MIT or other non-federal entities is intended.

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