Drawing on his recently published book, The Future of Power (2011), world-renowned political scientist Joseph S. Nye, Jr. delivered a Political Science Department-sponsored lecture on “The Future of American Power” on February 21, 2011.
Dr. Nye is University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He served President Carter, President George H.W. Bush, and President Clinton and has enjoyed a distinguished academic career. His many books have added well-known concepts to the foreign policy lexicon, including complex interdependence, soft power, the paradox of American power, and smart power. A 2008 survey of 1700 international relations scholars ranked him the six most influential scholar of the past 20 years, and the most influential on American foreign policy.
Over 300 students, faculty, and members of the community packed Altgeld Auditorium for the afternoon presentation. The event was coordinated by Professor Christopher Jones, chair of the Department of Political Science, and co-sponsored by the Political Science Department, Political Science Student Advisory Committee, Division of International Programs, Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, and the Office of the President.
Professor Nye discussed American power in both absolute and relative terms and from historical and contemporary perspectives. He also discussed the many actors, types of power, and transnational issues that will undoubtedly impact America’s global standing in the coming decades. Despite an array of challenges, his central message was, in relative power terms, it is reasonable to expect that the United States will remain atop the world’s pecking order for the foreseeable future, especially if it relies on its “soft power” and “smart power” resources.