This program 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. The National Security and Defense Program 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.
The National Security and Defense Program 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, the National Security and Defense Program 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, the National Security and Defense Program 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.
The Seventh Annual Tower Center National Security Conference | The United States and China: Strategy, Competition, and Innovation | November 5-6, 2014
The Sixth Annual Tower Center National Security Conference | Making Strategy under Budget Austerity: Regional Threats and Practical Responses | October 30-31, 2013
The Fifth Annual Tower Center National Security Conference | Strategy, Forces, and Budgets | November 14-15, 2012
April 24, 2017: Is Cyberwar Coming?
April 10, 2017: Civil Liberties and National Security
April 6, 2017: After ISIS
November 16, 2016: National Security Dinner: U.S. Policy in the Middle East
September 15, 2016: Jon Sather, Chief Intelligence Officer, STRATFOR
November 1, 2016: Does America Still Need the Army?
April 14, 2016: Intelligence in an Age of Terror
April 12, 2016: Can the UN Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?: Multitasking in Peace Operations
March 3, 2016: Killer Robots
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
- Joshua Rovner, "Two kinds of catastrophe: nuclear escalation and protracted war in Asia," Journal of Strategic Studies, February 28, 2017
- Joshua Rovner, "The U.S. just leaked its war plan in Iraq. Why?," The Washington Post, February 27, 2015.
- Tower Center Fellows & Associates Research Highlights, Fall 2014.
- Admiral Patrick Walsh, USN (ret.), Testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, February 27, 2014.
- Joshua Rovner, “For the U.S. Military, Less is More in the Persian Gulf,” Dallas Morning News, September 8, 2014.
- Paul Avey, “Political Science and Politics: It Ain’t Just Academic,” War on the Rocks, September 29, 2014.
- Tower Center Fellows & Associates Research Highlights, Spring 2014.
Admiral Patrick Walsh, USN (ret.), Senior Fellow
Diana Newton, Senior Fellow
Patrick Mordente, Senior Fellow
Fred Chang, Senior Fellow and Director of the Deason Cybersecurity Institute
Ambassador Robert Jordan, Senior Fellow
Jeffrey Engel, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Presidential History
Lynne Novack, Senior Fellow
2nd floor of Carr Collins Hall
3300 University Blvd
Southern Methodist University
Dallas TX 75205
(Deliveries should be sent to the physical address above)
Tower Center - SAS@SMU Program
Southern Methodist University
PO Box 750117
Dallas TX 75275