Grand Strategy and the American Century:

Enduring Trends and Emerging Challenges

March 30-31, 2017

The past one hundred years since U.S. entry into World War I in 1917 are often called the “American Century.” This period was marked by almost continuous growth in U.S. involvement in world affairs leading up to superpower status during the Cold War period, and ultimately to the position of preponderant power during the past quarter century since the fall of the Soviet Union. As such, the past century is a period of considerable continuity in U.S. grand strategy. At the same time, the United States has had to face evolving challenges to its core international goals, from the peril of German domination over Europe (twice), to the need to contain communism, to interstate terrorism. Indeed, the first quarter of the American Century were shaped by strong isolationism sentiment in the United States – a sentiment that now seems to be resurgent.

This conference aims at evaluating the evolving trends in U.S. strategy during this period and extrapolating lessons for current and future U.S. foreign policy. Panels will cover the U.S. participation in World War I, the interwar period, the Cold War and its end, and the “unipolar moment” of American dominance, as well as analyze emerging challenges and constraints to U.S. grand strategy, such as international law, climate change, global pandemics, and human displacement and migration. Participants are drawn from the fields of history, political science, international law, and global health.