Extracurricular activities

The Strategic Studies program coordinates several speaker series and runs numerous offsite trips. Our many excursions allow on-site views of military operations, historical events, and museums that offer perspectives a classroom may not deliver.

Speaker Series

Bernstein Lecture Series

The Bernstein Lecture Series is an annual event in honor of Alvin H. Bernstein that brings distinguished lecturers to the broader SAIS audience. Past speakers include:
General James N. Mattis -- Commander, USCENTCOM
Dr. Barry Strauss -- Professor of History and Classics, Cornell University
Admiral James G. Stavridis -- Commander, United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (NATO)    

Strategic Studies Speaker Series

The Strategic Studies Speakers Series provides a forum for practitioners and experts of foreign policy to interact with students to discuss salient national security issues of the day. All meetings are off the record.

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Sponsored by Professor McLaughlin, “Defense Against the Dark Arts” is a year long series of talks by senior practitioners, designed to convey practical knowledge to students about how to succeed in Washington. All comments are off the record, so students can hear the unguarded truth and receive helpful career advice.

You Were There

This lecture series is designed to teach students about decision-making in times of crisis. Each of the lecture events involves a public lecture held at the SAIS campus followed by a question and answer session. The guest lecturer then joins a select group of Strategic Studies students, department professors, and a few special guests with expertise or experience on the topic for a more informal discussion over dinner. The lectures and dinner discussions are strictly off-the record in order to promote an environment of candor and open discussion.

Film Series

The Strategic Studies program in conjunction with the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies actively utilizes film as a learning tool. Students, faculty, and members of the SAIS community at large explore issues that have applications within and beyond the field of Strategic Studies. Film series topics in the past have included leadership, combat in war, and civil-military relations.

Occasionally, the films are followed by a discussion with a member of the SAIS faculty or a distinguished guest. All members of the SAIS community and alumni are encouraged to participate in these stimulating events. For a schedule or to RSVP, please contact StratFilmSeries@gmail.com

Offsite Trips

Quantico Leadership Venture

SAIS and Wharton Business School students spend two days using the programs and facilities of the U.S. Marine Corps at its Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia.  Focusing on its Leadership Reaction Course, Confidence Course, and Combat Skills Course, the two-day program provides an intense experience that emphasizes fast decision-making, team-based problem solving, and effective strategic thinking.

United States Army Special Operations Command

The Strategic Studies Department traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a one-night stay at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) where students received briefings from the subordinate organizations responsible for Special Forces operations, psychological operations, civil affairs, aviation, and the training of all Special Forces, as well as the State Department’s political advisor to USASOC. Following the briefings and meetings, guests traveled to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School to practice their marksmanship and skydiving skills on advanced training simulators.