On Sunday evening, June 19, Dr. Juliana Pilon, Senior Fellow of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) and director of its Washington Program on National Security (WaPoNS), will welcome twenty-one students at a dinner that will kick off an innovative two-week program in Washington, D.C.
Students from Hamilton College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Trinity College, Texas Tech University, St. Vincent College, Mercyhurst University, East Georgia State College, Liberty University, Christopher Newport University, and the University of North Texas will participate in the inaugural educational program, engaging with some of the best thinkers on and practitioners in the field of national security, including both current and former officials in the intelligence community, Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House. The schedule includes meetings with Ambassador Steve Steiner at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Lee Edwards and Marion Smith at the Victims of Communism Foundation, Alex Crowther at the National Defense University, Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib at the Afghan Embassy, Josh Carter at the U.S. Senate, and Dr. Todd Leventhal at the State Department.
During morning and afternoon sessions, students will discuss a wide range of readings, including excerpts from The Black Book of Communism and from Dr. Pilon’s forthcoming The Art of Peace, as well as articles and papers on national security by Eric Hannis of Raytheon, former Defense Intelligence Official John J Dziak, international business professor Tomasz Mroczkowski, former Pentagon official Seth Cropsey, Special Operations Forces professor J. Michael Waller, and many others. Discussions will be led by the authors. AHI Executive Director, Professor Robert Paquette, will visit the group on June 29, at the headquarters of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
The program’s multiple sites will also give students an opportunity to visit the capital’s most important centers of intellectual thought and landmarks. Sessions will be held every day at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center. In addition, there will be visits to the Cato Institute, the National Defense University, American University, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, where students will interact with experts. Students will also enjoy tours led by specialists at the International Spy Museum, the Holocaust Museum, and the Laogai Museum. On Sunday afternoon, there will be a picnic at the home of Roger and Juliana Pilon.
The program, initiated by Dr. Pilon shortly after she joined AHI in March of 2015, will give students an opportunity to observe the process of national security policymaking up close, from the perspective of the practitioners themselves. It is intended to encourage and enhance students’ leadership skills, as well as open opportunities for future professional development. Dr. Pilon, author of several books and over 200 articles on international affairs, earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of Chicago. She has managed democracy-strengthening programs as Vice President of Programs at the International Foundation for Election Systems, and has taught at several colleges and universities, including Emory University, National Defense University, and George Washington University, among others.
A total of twenty-one students will take part in the program. The number and quality of applications made it difficult to decide on selection, said Dr. Pilon. No other program includes such a wide variety of distinguished experts and so many site visits. “National security education is sorely lacking. Too often there is a distinction between military and civilian exercise of power, when in fact both are indispensable. Our students will come away with a deeper appreciation of all it takes to keep our nation safe,” she said.
“The AHI owes Dr. Pilon a special debt of gratitude for bringing about what will be a memorable experience for these outstanding undergraduates from across the country,” Paquette observed. “One rarely sees her combination of energy, intellect, and organizational ability. She has put together a truly exciting program.”
A breakfast on Saturday, July 2, will wrap up this year’s program and send students on their way to celebrate the July 4th holiday.