Stephen Walt

Stephen Walt

A preeminent scholar of U.S. foreign policy plans to visit the University of Wyoming campus Thursday and Friday, speaking to students, faculty and the wider community about the direction the country’s foreign policy is heading and how to share controversial ideas.

Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, is taking part in the Visiting Scholars program organized by the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

“The places that are somewhat off the beaten path tend to do more of this just because it’s a way of getting people who might otherwise not be in Laramie, Wyoming, to come through,” Walt said.

“I didn’t know exactly where I would be invited, and it’s terrific that I’m going to end up in Laramie, where I’ve never been.”

As part of a tight itinerary, which also includes meals and meetings with professors and administrators, Walt will speak Thursday to international studies students about holding elected officials accountable for their foreign policy actions.

He will also present a public lecture about the current trajectory of U.S. foreign policy in the Trump era, titled “Where is U.S. Foreign Policy Headed?”

Walt will argue that while President Donald Trump described U.S. foreign policy as a “complete and total disaster” — and while this likely reflected a shared and reasonable opinion of many Americans — he has since reverted to the foreign policy status quo as president.

Friday morning, Walt will have coffee with undergraduates and speak to them about how to handle becoming a controversial public figure, should they ever take a position that brings them both praise and criticism.

“It’s based on some experiences I had when I wrote an article in a book that got a lot of attention — and not all of it was flattering — and what I learned from being in the public eye,” Walt said.

The talk will focus on how to behave so one “survives the ordeal” while also advancing their cause, he said.

“I always like talking to students about these things,” Walt said. “Young people often have very interesting things to say and they’re remarkably open to a wide range of opinions these days and that’s always fun to interact with.”

The visit is made possible by Phi Beta Kappa, an honors society older than the U.S. with chapters across the country at the nation’s top four-year institutions. The Visiting Scholars program is bringing Walt to UW, but it will also send him to a handful of other universities for similar events throughout the academic year.

“The whole idea is to get a major scholar who will interact with the community, but also with the students,” said Ric Reverand, Phi Beta Kappa UW chapter president .

Walt’s free public lecture “Where is U.S. Foreign Policy Headed?” starts at 5:15 p.m. Thursday in the UW College of Business Auditorium. Call the School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies at 766-6484 for more information.

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