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

National Security and Defense 

The National Security and Defense 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. 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. 

Visit the National Security and Defense Program webpage.



Sun & Star Japan and East Asia

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.

Visit the Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program webpage


International Politics and Economics 

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

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.


Jno. E. Owens Memorial Foundation

The Jno. E. Owens Memorial Foundation was established in 1953 by Mrs. Owens in memory of her husband, a prominent Texas banker. During his lifetime, Mr. Owens was intensely interested in international economics, and it was his wish to establish a foundation that would memorialize his lifelong interest in international relations. The broad objective of the Jno. E. Owens Memorial Lectureship Series is to enlarge public understanding of international economic forces in the philosophical context of free trade. 

Read more about the Jno. E. Owens Memorial Foundation here.

View the list of Committee members here.

Past conferences:

Tower Scholars Program

The Tower Scholar Program is a selective, multidisciplinary minor in Public Policy and International Affairs that enables students from a variety of academic backgrounds to combine their academic interests with experience in the real world of public policy. In four exclusive classes, Highland Capital Management (HCM) Tower Scholars learn from experienced policy practitioners and full-time faculty about the policy-making process before putting their education into action in a directed research project on a policy issue of their choice. Outside the classroom, HCM Tower Scholars experience policy in practice through on-campus events, private meetings with practitioners, and a fully funded trip to meet with professional policymakers in Washington D.C. At the conclusion of this experiential minor, HCM Tower Scholars will graduate prepared to transform ideas into actions and step into leadership roles in the public or private sector.

Visit the Tower Scholars webpage

Latino Public Policy

Latino Public Policy is a strategic research partnership between the Latino Center for Leadership Development and the John Goodwin Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs. America is in the midst of a fundamental, Latino-driven, demographic shift. Latinos will represent more than 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2050 and will represent 70 percent of the workforce growth between 2010 and 2020. This partnership aims to increase the study of public policy issues that are faced by Latino communities within the U.S. and to generate thoughtful solutions.

Visit the Latino Public Policy webpage.