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 2015 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, Elizabeth Bradley, and Charles Hill. They are joined by Paul Solman, John Negroponte, and Daid Brooks, both Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellows in Grand Strategy.  Dr. Chris Miller, 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 2015

Meeting time: Mondays from 3:30 p.m  to 5:20 p.m. 
Maximum number of students admitted: 40 
Deadline for submission of applications for the 2015-2016 application year will be announced in September.
Contact person: Dr. Christopher Miller, 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 for the 2016 class is below: