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About Foreign Policy

About the Foreign Policy program at Brookings

Our Goals

America’s conduct of foreign policy demands that, as a nation, we address the dual realities of new threats and opportunities in a world that is more connected and interdependent, where technology has eclipsed traditional understandings of borders and security. The Foreign Policy studies program, under the direction of Vice President and Director Bruce Jones, has two goals:

  1. To understand the dynamics of world affairs and the challenges they pose to the international community.
  2. To influence policies and institutions in the United States and abroad that promote sustainable peace, security, and prosperity around the world.

Our Areas of Focus

  • Established and Emerging Powers.
    China and India’s re-emergence as powers and their rapid industrialization have raised security, economic, and governance questions linked to trade, proliferation, poverty, and the environment. Established powers—the United States, Europe, Japan, Russia—must build common approaches to questions linked to the rapid development of emerging countries, and to issues such as terrorism, ethnic conflict, energy security, and infectious diseases. Our challenge is to influence the dynamics of change to avoid zero-sum solutions to problems that require today’s powers to commit to collective security, recognizing that no state alone can make itself invulnerable.
  • Redefining Security.
    Increasingly, we face international challenges and threats from poor, weak, and failing states that cannot exert the rule of law or meet the aspirations of their people. Instability abroad can lead to regional instability and become a platform for terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime. As a nation, the United States is challenged to defuse these emerging threats and respond competently. Both civilian and military entities alike must modernize and adapt technology and response capabilities. Experience has shown that the United States must act in partnership with others to advance our interests in unstable regions; this requires a new understanding of international engagement and capabilities.
  • Politics, Economics, Security.
    Foreign Policy studies works closely with the Brookings Global Economy and Development program to examine ways in which economics affect political and security issues, and vice versa. For example, achieving U.S. energy security demands that we understand the geopolitical factors driving key consumers and producers and how they affect global markets. Even voting patterns at the U.N. on issues of international security may be driven by the economic interests of voting nations.
  • Adapting Institutions.
    The profound changes in international relations require institutional changes to formulate and carry out sound policy. Do current models for regional and international institutions work? Does our own system for engaging the rest of the world reflect the challenges and opportunities we face? The United States has a unique opportunity to redefine our role in the world and to help shape the nature of multilateral and regional institutions as we adjust to post-Cold War and post-9/11 challenges. Conversely, failure to make these institutional adaptations will almost guarantee that we cannot advance our security and prosperity as the world changes around us.

Our Structure

The Foreign Policy studies program conducts its research through its 18 centers, projects, and initiatives, housing a team of independent experts with expertise ranging from military reform to the geopolitics of energy. For information on general employment, fellowships, internships, and guest affiliations, please reference the employment section of the Brookings website.

Our Centers, Projects, and Initiatives

International Centers:

Learn more about Foreign Policy’s Centers, Projects, and Initiatives »

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