Dean's Welcome

Government Studies at the IDC


 


The twenty-first century is a time of deep transformations and great contradictions. On the one hand, unprecedented scientific and technological advances have significantly improved the quality of life of many citizens around the world. Yet, alongside this stunning human progress, communities around the globe continue to face daunting challenges to their security, prosperity, and identity. Powerful new social, environmental, and technological forces, such as the information revolution, artificial intelligence (AI), and the growing prominence of non-state actors in international relations affect virtually all aspects of human existence. They are also fundamentally shaping and transforming the core domains of concern to us at the Lauder School: government, diplomacy, and strategy. 

In the domain of government, growing gaps have become apparent between voters’ interests and intentions and those of their elected representatives. This “democratic deficit” is intensifying just when populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism are resurging and eroding the liberal democratic order. Democratic governments also face persistent and familiar economic challenges, among them income inequality and a general decline in the provision of social services. But democracies also face more novel challenges. The "fake news" phenomenon, for example, undermines the very social trust upon which the democratic idea rests. Concurrently, big data and digitization are fundamentally transforming the public sector, while redefining participatory democracy more broadly. Like many contemporary innovations, these trends carry both opportunities and risks. The advent of e-government, for example, has the potential to streamline political participation, but also carries the risk of governmental intrusion into the electorate's private sphere. 

The current information age is also fundamentally changing the conduct of diplomacy. Whereas diplomacy has traditionally been the purview of states, non-state actors are increasingly challenging the government’s role as the main hub of diplomatic activity, and are gradually emerging as a new center of gravity of diplomatic engagement. Today, multinational corporations, civil society actors, the media, and academia are as likely as the government to engage in diplomatic efforts, and at times they do so to greater effect. Their private and public diplomacy initiatives increasingly influence how people think, communicate, and engage with one another.

These global developments also affect international security, and hence our understanding and exercise of strategy. Traditional security threats such as armed conflict—both between and within states—continue to claim a high human toll on nearly every continent. They often generate, or combine with, non-traditional security threats ranging from terrorism and transnational crime to "soft" security threats such as climate change, environmental degradation, trafficking, immigration and refugee crises. The formulation and exercise of strategy today is also influenced by rapid developments in the tactical, operational, strategic, and doctrinal spheres, which converge to fundamentally change the character of war. Among the most far-reaching of these developments are technological innovations such as AI, big data, and machine learning, which will have a deep impact on strategic interactions. Here too, such innovations are double-edged swords that can either reduce or increase the likelihood and intensity of conflict. Among the more worrisome trends is the impact on strategic interactions of the “post-truth” period, which raises heightened risks of war due to specter of “deep fakes” and similar phenomena. Finally, nuclear security remains a key problem influencing contemporary strategy, and may become an even more pressing issue given the potential expansion of the nuclear club in the foreseeable future.

These trends pose both opportunities and risks for citizens at the local, regional, national, and international levels—and they present today’s governmental decisionmakers, public administrators, diplomats, and strategists before formidable tasks. Managing these problems requires thoughtful, informed, and innovative responses by future leaders who are equipped with the appropriate set of intellectual tools, who uphold democratic values, and who are willing to devote their lives to causes greater than themselves.  This is where the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy comes in. Our mission is to prepare students for leadership positions in government and society to tackle the challenges of an ever more complex world. In doing so, we are guided by the core values of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya at large—liberty and responsibility.  

The Lauder School is uniquely positioned for this task. Our curriculum is up-to-date, interdisciplinary, and encompassing in its aim to provide a combination of theoretical and conceptual rigor alongside a practical approach aimed at problem-solving. Our world-renowned faculty has been trained in leading universities, and many have served in senior positions in government, business, the security sector, and the nonprofit world. They are at the forefront of academic research in the fields of terrorism and security, public policy and administration, decision-making, e-government, political marketing, public diplomacy, energy, and the Middle East, among other specializations. 

Our students benefit from a unique out-of-classroom experience as well, complete with one of the most diverse student bodies in Israel, an enriching set of extra-curricular activities, and a beautiful, state-of-the-art campus. Most importantly, at the Lauder School we view our students as full partners and strongly encourage student-led initiatives. We foster learning partnerships among students, and between students and faculty. Our Research Cadets program, for example, promotes joint student-faculty publications through collaborative research projects in the course of the academic year. Other programs, such as student exchanges or the Argov Fellows Program in Leadership and Diplomacy, provide students the opportunity to expand their horizons by spending time abroad. We also offer our students plenty of opportunities to gain valuable practical experiences, including by facilitating internships in government, the private sector, and the non-profit world. Those students interested in issues of terrorism, strategy, and diplomacy can benefit from internship programs at the Lauder School’s in-house think tanks—the world-renowned International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS), and the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy. 

Equipped with the comparative edge that the IDC provides, it is no wonder that our students have gone on to achieve great accomplishments in government, the private, and the non-profit sections in Israel and abroad, making a contribution every day to make the world a better place. We invite you to become part of the IDC family and to reach out to us with your questions and ideas. 

Yours, 

Prof. Assaf Moghadam

Dean