Stephen Walt is the Robert and Rene Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was previously on the faculties of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, where he served as Deputy Dean of Social Sciences. He is the author of books including The Origins of Alliances, Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy. He is a frequent contributor to journals including Foreign Policy and International Security. He was educated at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
He presently serves on the editorial boards of Foreign Policy, Security Studies, International Relations, and Journal of Cold War Studies, and he also serves as Co-Editor of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, published by Cornell University Press. Additionally, he was elected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in May 2005.
Question: What question should we be asking ourselves?
Walt: You actually sort of touched on it, but one question is at a very personal level, many people find it hard to change. And we are living in a world now which forces us to change more rapidly than we used to. You know technology is changing dramatically. The work environment changes dramatically. The idea of someone getting a job at 21 and being in the same career at the same firm for the next 50 years is increasingly outmoded. Just not the way things work. And so I would ask most individuals, you know, “What have you done or what are you doing to prepare yourself for change? For the fact that the world is gonna look different 10 years from now? Your children are gonna grow up in an entirely different environment.” That wasn’t the case 200 or 300 years ago. The pace of social change was much slower. And I think as a species, we have to become more adept at the personal adjustments, right? If it means that, you know, Americans do have to start bicycling more because we can’t all drive SUVs, how are we gonna make those adjustments, right? And so part of it I would ask individuals, you know, “What are you doing to be able to prepare yourself for change? And what can we learn from those people who turn out to be very good at it, right? Who are very quick to sort of sense where they want to go next.”
Recorded on: 10/8/07