Tower Center Programs

The Tower Center currently manages three inter-related programs on a foundational theme of Political Economy & Security: National Security & Defense; International Politics & Economics; and U.S. Economy & Politics.

 

SAS@SMU Program

The Security and Strategy Program at the Tower Center serves to raise student and public awareness of national and international security affairs. Our principal mission is to prepare SMU undergraduates to become leaders in government service, academia, and industry. We offer a rigorous and demanding set of courses on international relations, national security policy, strategy, American foreign policy, and the politics of military force. The Tower Center also gives students the opportunity to interact with policymakers, military officers, intelligence officials, and diplomats.  

The United States has become increasingly active in regional conflicts since the end of the Cold War, and it invests enormous resources into projecting American power abroad. SAS@SMU encourages a vigorous debate on this investment. Along with the annual Tower Center National Security Conference, we organize regular forums and seminars that give the public the chance to converse with leading scholars about cutting edge research in security studies, as well as with government officials and defense industry executives. 

Click here to visit the SAS@SMU Program webpage.

 

Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program


The Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program aims to increase awareness of the economic, historical, political, and social trends of Japan and East Asia that affect the future of China, Japan, Korea, East Asia, and the world, including the United States.  Through the Sun & Star Symposia and lecture series featuring scholars, practitioners, journalists, and government officials, students and other participants learn about the challenges and opportunities in each country’s domestic politics and economics, the region’s relationship with the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific, and the international relations of the globalized world.

Click here to visit the Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program webpage. 

 

International Politics and Economics Program

This program explores the interconnections between politics and economics by focusing on issues of 1) international trade and finance and its effect on the well-being and security of people in the U.S.; 2) the intensifying competition for resources (particularly energy, water, and human capital); 3) climate change; 4) international migration; and 5) economic and political development in Latin America (especially Mexico), Asia (with a focus on Japan and China), the Middle East, and Africa with emphasis on the ethics of development.

 

U.S. Economy and Politics Program

This program focuses on the way in which the changing economic and security environments affect America’s institutions and policies; the well-being of its people and traditional American liberties. It also examines the way America’s approaches to its political, economic, and cultural challenges at home affects its ability to promote U.S. interests abroad.

 

 

The Security and Strategy Program at the Tower Center serves to raise student and public awareness of national and international security affairs. Our principal mission is to prepare SMU undergraduates to become leaders in government service, academia, and industry. We offer a rigorous and demanding set of courses on international relations, national security policy, strategy, American foreign policy, and the politics of military force. The Tower Center also gives students the opportunity to interact with policymakers, military officers, intelligence officials, and diplomats.  

The United States has become increasingly active in regional conflicts since the end of the Cold War, and it invests enormous resources into projecting American power abroad. SAS@SMU encourages a vigorous debate on this investment. Along with the annual Tower Center National Security Conference, we organize regular forums and seminars that give the public the chance to converse with leading scholars about cutting edge research in security studies, as well as with government officials and defense industry executives. 

 

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR

 

The United States has a remarkable capability for projecting power, and it energetically pursues its interests abroad. It deploys forces around the world. It vastly outspends all other nations on defense, intelligence, and diplomacy. It boasts a technologically sophisticated and highly professional military. It maintains a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. And it enjoys the blessings of geography, with oceans to the east and west, and friendly neighbors to the north and south. No other nation has ever enjoyed such a preponderance of power and a surplus of security. 

Yet a sense of insecurity abounds. Policymakers issue ominous warnings and the headlines scream bad news. Terrorism threatens stability in the Middle East. Russian ambitions threaten the peace in Europe. The rise of China threatens the balance in Asia. We also worry about security risks that are outside the realm of normal great power politics: global pandemics, transnational drug networks, and human trafficking. All of this adds to the feeling that things are not so safe after all.   

How do we make sense of this peculiar era? Are world politics more or less stable than in the past? Is the United States more or less secure? Do international problems affect U.S. interests?  If so, how? And what, if anything, should the United States do to solve them? 

SAS@SMU is an undergraduate teaching and research program at the Tower Center for Political Studies, as well as a hub for public discussions about strategy and international security. The program combines insights from security studies, which deals with fundamental questions about how states try to make themselves safe; and strategic studies, which deals with the use of violence to achieve political goals. Undergraduates take a suite of courses that delve deeply into these issues. They read classical strategic theorists like Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, and Thucydides, as well as modern international relations scholars. Along the way they also read a great deal of history. Successful students will leave the program with a broad theoretical and historical foundation to inform their judgment about contemporary security affairs.

As with the all programs at the Tower Center, SAS@SMU is animated by practical policy dilemmas. It addresses a range of current security issues, including everything from the grand strategy of great powers to the causes of militant violence in distant civil wars. Our faculty includes specialists on nuclear weapons, intelligence, and regional studies. Students learn from a combination of leading academics and faculty with vast diplomatic, military, and foreign policy experience. And because the program is problem driven, it is interdisciplinary by design. We encourage students to seek insights from political science, history, economics, engineering, and any other field that can help them develop ideas about important security problems.

While the principal mission of the program is undergraduate education, SAS@SMU is also a center for public debates. It organizes the annual Tower Center National Security Conference each fall, which has become a signature in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The program hosts a steady stream of public events featuring leading scholars and practitioners, including policymakers, military leaders, diplomats, and intelligence officials from the United States and abroad. Finally, we support research and provide opportunities for SMU students and faculty to present their findings in regular seminars. 

 

Joshua Rovner
John G. Tower Distinguished Chair in International Politics and National Security


The National Security Conference

The Seventh Annual Tower Center National Security Conference | The United States and China: Strategy, Competition, and Innovation | November 5-6, 2014

Conference details: click here
Conference videos: click here
Conference photos: click here


The Sixth Annual Tower Center National Security Conference | Making Strategy under Budget Austerity: Regional Threats and Practical Responses | October 30-31, 2013

Conference details: click here
Conference videos: click here
Conference photos: click here


The Fifth Annual Tower Center National Security Conference | Strategy, Forces, and Budgets | November 14-15, 2012

Conference details: click here
Conference videos: click here
Conference photos: click here

Other Events

November 5, 2015: SAS@SMU | Leaders and Generals

April 14, 2015: The New Middle East Cold War

March 26, 2015: Nuclear Weapons and National Security: The Once and Future Role of the Bomb

February 17, 2015: What do We Know about Cyber Conflict?

November 2, 2014: The U.S.-Turkey-Israel Triangle

September 11, 2014: After Al Qaeda: The Future of American Grand Strategy

October 8, 2014: A New Cold War? Russia, the U.S., and the Meaning of Ukraine

October 22, 2014: Tempting Fate: Confronting Nuclear States


Publications

 


A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR



Is China a threat to the United States? Is Japan still important in the age of China’s rise? Although I have been in the U.S. as a China specialist, I am from Japan, and I have been asked these questions frequently.

The U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral one in the world, and Japan is the most important treaty-based ally for the United States. Recently, China has been more concerned with internal stability than external threat, which has made it difficult for China to be a responsible player in international relations. As a result, the U.S. still needs to keep its influence in the Asia-Pacific, and hence China’s rise has made Japan even more important for the U.S.

We are living in an age where we are, in many ways, connected with each other in this nation as well as with those in other parts of the world. Presently, although we are not living under Cold War threats, there are still countless problems throughout the world, from severe poverty to terrorism and civil wars, to name a few. Debates over foreign policy toward China and the Middle East, and disagreements over domestic policies in the United States, especially concerning education and health care, have never been settled.

Students are expected to contribute to solving these issues. Contributing solutions and solving world problems are, of course, tremendous tasks. With its affiliation in the SMU Tower Center, the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia is in a unique position to explore the dynamic China-Japan-U.S. triangular relationship by discussing contemporary topics related to U.S. and world politics and economy. I hope that discussions here will help students become aware of the nuances behind the issues in the Asia-Pacific and be world changers by becoming problem solvers.

Dallas has become an increasingly important place to understand the United States, its relationship with Japan and East Asia, and world politics and economy. Many people in Japan and East Asia, however, have more familiarity with the East and West Coasts than with Texas, the South, or the Southwest. Our activities are thus an effort to connect and relate regional, national, and international perspectives.

 

Hiroki Takeuchi
Associate Professor of Political Science
Director of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia


The Sun & Star Symposium is founded by the lasting legacy of the Sun & Star 1996 Festival, a 100-day Texan-Japanese cultural festival, held in Dallas and Fort Worth.

The festival organizers made three large grants to local educational and cultural institutions, one of which was SMU. As a result of this significant gift, the university established a program within the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies to promote US-Japanese relationships. The Tower Center uses this Sun & Star Japan Studies Fund to provide Asia-related programming, faculty fellowships, academic opportunities, speakers on campus, and this symposium, held at SMU every other year. Past symposium topics have included Japan's Political Economy: Accidental Over-achiever of Temporary Underachiever?; Japan's New Nationalism: How Japan's Identity is Changing at Home and Abroad; The China-Japan-US Triangle: Economic and Security Dimensions; Are Reforms Dead in Japan? The Legacy of Prime Minister Koizumi; and Asia's Contested Waters: The East China and South China Sea.


Sun & Star Symposium Conferences



Sun & Star Symposium | Waiting for the Rising Sun: Japanese New Nationalism and Beyond | March 3-4, 2015

Conference details: click here
Conference videos: click here
Conference photos: click here

Sun & Star Symposium | Asia’s Contested Waters: The East China and South China Sea | September 18-19, 2013

Conference details: click here
Conference videos: click here
Conference photos: click here

Other Events


November 6, 2015: A Grand Economic Strategy for Asia? TPP, AIIB, and the Challenges Ahead for Regional Partnerships

October 14, 2015: Capitalism and Activism: Market Forces and LGBT Movements in Asia

September 15, 2015: The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Implications beyond Economics

September 9, 2015: Tax Reform in Rural China: Revenue, Resistance, and Authoritarian Rule

September 2, 2015: Propaganda for Sale: The Impact of Media Commercialization on Authoritarian Rule in China

January 15, 2015: Civil Society without Electoral Democracy? Hong Kong in Turmoil

February 24, 2014: U.S., South & North Korea: What the Future Holds




  

Texas-Mexico Program

"MEXICO CITY – As Mexico and Texas work to mend fences, Southern Methodist University today launched a program aimed at becoming a bridge-maker between both sides." -Dallas Morning News, September 8th 2015.





International Politics and Economics Program

This program explores the interconnections between politics and economics by focusing on issues of 1) international trade and finance and its effect on the well-being and security of people in the U.S.; 2) the intensifying competition for resources (particularly energy, water, and human capital); 3) climate change; 4) international migration; and 5) economic and political development in Latin America (especially Mexico), Asia (with a focus on Japan and China), the Middle East, and Africa with emphasis on the ethics of development.

U.S. Economy and Politics Program

This program focuses on the way in which the changing economic and security environments affect America’s institutions and policies; the well-being of its people and traditional American liberties. It also examines the way America’s approaches to its political, economic, and cultural challenges at home affects its ability to promote U.S. interests abroad.