• Barry Posen discusses the fate of Iraq during a CIS Starr Forum held in Morss Hall on Oct. 27. Posen has just been named the new head of the MIT Security Studies Program.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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Posen will direct Security Studies


Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science, has been appointed head of the MIT Security Studies Program (SSP).

In making the announcement, Philip S. Khoury, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, said, "Barry Posen is one of America's most talented scholars and teachers of national and international security and is the obvious faculty member to assume the leadership of MIT's nationally acclaimed Security Studies Program." 

Posen will succeed Harvey Sapolsky, professor of public policy and organization in the Department of Political Science, effective July 1, 2006. Sapolsky has been SSP director since 1989.

"I am honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to direct the Security Studies Program. SSP has been my intellectual home for nearly 20 years. I could not have found a better one," Posen said.

Posen credited his predecessors and colleagues in SSP for making the program "one of the premier places in the United States to think about and to learn about all aspects of the role of military power in international politics, and the problems of disciplining that power."

"We owe great thanks to Barry for agreeing to offer us his leadership. We also owe great thanks to Harvey Sapolsky for his long and outstanding service as SSP head," said Stephen Van Evera, Center for International Studies acting director and professor of political science.

"Two generations of extraordinary leaders precede me," Posen said. "Jack Ruina created this institution, and Harvey Sapolsky nurtured it to adulthood. Harvey has been a great friend, a terrific mentor and an unbelievably committed and responsible director. As I face the many challenges that lie ahead, I do not think I can go far wrong by emulating him."

Posen's research topics include European Union defense policy, Army innovation and the role of force in U.S. foreign policy.

Posen is the author of two books -- "Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks" and "The Sources of Military Doctrine" -- both of which won major awards in the field.

He received the B.A. degree from Occidental College in 1974 and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley in 1976 and 1981, respectively. He taught at Princeton University before coming to MIT as an associate professor in 1987.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 30, 2005 (download PDF).


Topics: Humanities, Political science, Security studies and military, Faculty

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