Grand Strategy

The Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy seeks to revive the study and practice of grand strategy by devising methods to teach that subject at the graduate and undergraduate levels, by training future leaders to think about and implement grand strategies in imaginative and effective ways, and by organizing public events that emphasize the importance of grand strategy.

The program defines ‘grand strategy’ as a comprehensive plan of action, based on the calculated relationship of means to large ends. Never an exact science, grand strategy requires constant reassessment and adjustment. Flexibility is key. Traditionally believed to belong to and best-developed in the politico-military and governmental realms, the concept of grand strategy applies—and ISS believes is essential—to a broad spectrum of human activities, not least those of international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private businesses and corporations.

International Security Studies launched the Grand Strategy Project in January 2000 with a seminar on ‘Studies in Grand Strategy’ and an accompanying lecture series. This seminar has been offered each year starting in the 2002 calendar year, and is currently offering it during the 2012 calendar year. The course is complemented by a public lecture series and other events held outside of class hours. The faculty for the Project are Professors John Lewis Gaddis, Charles Hill, and Paul Kennedy. They are joined by Paul Solman and John Negroponte, both Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellows in Grand Strategy.  Dr. Jeremy Friedman, the program’s associate director, has administrative and curriculum development responsibility for the Grand Strategy program and graduate seminar.

‘Studies in Grand Strategy,’ a two-semester, calendar-year interdisciplinary graduate-level seminar offered jointly by the Yale Departments of History and Political Science and the Yale School of Management, is the flagship course of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. The class investigates methods and materials for teaching and understanding grand strategy, and attracts a select group of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who, upon completing the course, plan to pursue their own research and career agendas in grand strategy. The aim of the course, like the program as a whole, is to educate students who, in the coming decades, are likely to assume positions of leadership in a variety of public and professional fields.

Articles About the Grand Strategy Program

Amy Marcus, “Where Policy Makers Are Born: A class at Yale with close Washington ties aims to expand to other schools,” The Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2008.

William Alden, “There is to be no fighting in the war room,” Yale Daily News, December 7, 2007.

Daniel Weisfield, “What’s the real lure of ‘Grand Strategy’?,” Yale Daily News, October 19, 2005.

Bruce Fellman, “Training the Next Leaders,” Yale Alumni Magazine, March 2003.

Studies in Grand Strategy

A Graduate Course Open to Graduate, Professional, and Undergraduate Students 
Coordinated by International Security Studies | Admission by application only
Spring and Fall 2014

Meeting time: Mondays from 3:30 p.m  to 5:20 p.m. 
Course numbers: To Be Announced 
Maximum number of students admitted: 40 
Deadline for submission of applications: Monday, October 27, 2014
Contact person:  Dr. Jeremy Friedman, Associate Director, Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy

This rigorous two-semester course begins in January with readings in classical works from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz to Kissinger as well as more contemporary works from the post-Cold War era. Students will identify principles of strategy and examine the extent to which these were or were not applied in historical case studies from the Peloponnesian War to the post-Cold War period. During the summer, students will undertake research projects or internships designed to apply resulting insights to the detailed analysis of a particular strategic problem or aspect of strategy, whether of a historical or contemporary character. In the fall, the seminar will turn its attention to fundamental contemporary grand strategic issues. Students must take both semesters for academic credit (No credit/D/Fail) and fulfill the summer research/internship requirement.  In both semesters the seminar will meet during reading week and hold a total of 14 weekly sessions. Admission is by competitive application only.  Admitted students are expected to attend an introductory meeting to be held in mid-December (date and time to be announced) and to begin preparation for the course over the winter break. A significant number of special events outside of class meeting times throughout the year will be organized as opportunities permit.

The two most recent course syllabi are available as a sample.  Please click to download:

Application Information

Enrollment in the course is limited to 40 students and is by competitive application only. In order to be considered for admission, students must show that they intend to fulfill the requirements of the entire course. Students must take both semesters of the seminar for academic credit, complete the summer research/internship requirement, and attend a variety of special events. The application deadline for the 2015 class is Monday, October 27th.

To apply for the course, complete the following items:

  • the Grand Strategy course application form;
  • a detailed resume or curriculum vita (CV);
  • a short statement of no more than 1000 words on your reasons for seeking admission to the course - what you hope to derive from it and your preparation for it;
  • a brief proposal of no more than 500 words on a potential summer research project/internship/experience, introducing a research question that you would like to explore or the purpose of your proposed internship;
  • an unofficial copy of your most recent transcript; and
  • two references, preferably from Yale professors or mentors who know your work and leadership abilities well, with contact information. No letter or statement of reference is necessary.
  • If you are a transfer or first-year grad student, contact information for references from your previous institution are acceptable.
  • We will contact references directly.

Note: Applicants may be contacted for a phone or in-person interview.

Important: Accepted students must attend a mandatory orientation session to be held in early December.

Please note that incomplete or late applications shall not be considered.

Application form: