Remembering Zbigniew Brzezinski

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and a Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, passed away at the age of 89 on Friday, May 26, 2017. Students, faculty, alumni, and staff are saddened by the loss of a great statesman, intellectual, friend, and member of our community.
From 1977 to 1981, Dr. Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. In 1981, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in the normalization of U.S.-China relations and for his contributions to the human rights and national security policies of the United States.
He was a faculty member of Columbia University and Harvard University before joining the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in 1989 as a senior research professor of international relations.
“Zbigniew Brzezinski was a rare statesman-scholar, a wonderful teacher and a towering figure in contemporary American foreign policy,” Dean Vali Nasr said. “His legacy represents the very best in American global leadership, and primacy of strategic thinking and diplomatic initiative in resolving complex global issues.”
Dr. Brzezinski received numerous honors and awards, including the de Tocqueville Prize in 2011 for his contributions to the field of political science. Most recently, in 2016, he received the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the agency’s highest civilian honor.
His many books include Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power, America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy coauthored with Brent Scowcroft and David Ignatius, Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower, and The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Dr. Brzezinski received bachelors and masters degrees from McGill University and a PhD from Harvard University.
Dr. Brzezinski remained active at Johns Hopkins SAIS and maintained an office in the Foreign Policy Institute, continuing to be keenly interested in helping educate the next generation of leaders in world affairs. He delivered an annual lecture that was always standing room only. During the 2014 lecture, Dr. Brzezinski outlined for students the challenges of the world they would soon come to lead and what would be required of them: “This is going to be an infinitely more complex, potentially more dangerous world, in which common sense, a sense of responsibility, deliberate planning, well prepared elites, and a far more informed public about the world are the sine qua non of America’s intelligent conduct.”
“The United States has lost a brilliant strategic thinker at a time when strategic vision on international policy is acutely needed,” said Carla Freeman, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Institute. “Dr. Brzezinski remained connected to the school as a senior fellow at The Foreign Policy Institute where he was keenly interested in helping educate the next generation of leaders in world affairs. We will miss him profoundly.”