Desch Named Director of International Security Center

Author: Arts and Letters

Michael Desch Michael Desch

Political Science Professor Michael Desch has been appointed director of the Notre Dame International Security Center.

“This is both a tremendous honor and a daunting challenge,” Desch said. “My colleagues and I have made much progress since 2008 in building NDISC into a leading center for international security studies. But our challenge now is to take it to the next level in terms of both the scope of our programming as well as its impact on campus and in the academic and policy communities more broadly.”

Desch, who was previously co-director of the center, is a noted expert on international relations, American foreign policy, and international security. His commentary has recently appeared on,, and

A former chair of the Department of Political Science, he is the author of When the Third World Matters: Latin America and U.S. Grand Strategy, Civilian Control of the Military: The Changing Security Environment, Power and Military Effectiveness: The Fallacy of Democratic Triumphalism.

Founded in 2008, the center began with a seminar series that brought together academics interested in national security issues with current and former policy makers. Over time, it expanded to include an undergraduate fellows program, graduate student and faculty research, an endowed speaker series, and mini-conferences.

Inspired by the inscription over an entrance to Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart—“God, Country, Notre Dame”—the center has sought to meaningfully engage with pressing issues facing the nation and world. It strives to play a catalytic role in matters of global policy through actionable research guided by the University’s Catholic character.

The International Security Center focuses on diversifying discussion surrounding U.S. international relations and its “grand strategy”—how the military is used to advance foreign policy goals. While the national debate is often dominated by voices on both the right and left who consider America’s outsized role on the world stage to be essential, one of NDISC’s missions will be to broaden that discussion through considering and evaluating alternative approaches to grand strategy.

Rather than prioritizing only academic research that makes an impact in academic circles, the center incentivizes scholarship that advances conversations in the public sphere. It also aims to foster a new generation of intellectual entrepreneurs willing to take the fruits of such academic pursuits into the marketplace of ideas in Washington and elsewhere.

The center recently received a five-year, $3.5 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to further develop and expand its role as a forum for broader scholarship on U.S. foreign policy. The grant builds on the significant and wide-ranging support the center has received over the past seven years—including two grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to research how American scholars can contribute to the formation of U.S. national security policy.