Annual Kenneth N. Waltz Lecture in International Relations: “Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran: What the Public Really Thinks about Using Nuclear Weapons and Killing Non-Combatants”

April 11, 2018 Add to calendar

“The Saltzman Institute is pleased to honor one of Columbia’s most famous products and one of the most eminent international relations theorists of the past century by establishing the annual Kenneth N. Waltz Lecture in International Relations.”


Richard K. Betts, Director

September, 2008



The Annual Kenneth N. Waltz Lecture in International Relations was established by the Institute in September, 2008, in celebration of Waltz’s many outstanding contributions to the field of international relations. Past presentations include: Stephen Van Evera, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “A Farewell to Geopolitics: American Grand Strategy in the New Era” (October 14, 2008); Robert O. Keohane, Princeton University, “Social Norms and Agency in World Politics” (November 12, 2009); Stephen Walt, Harvard University, “Realism and American Grand Strategy: The Case for Offshore Balancing” (November 4, 2010); James Fearon, Stanford University, “Anarchy is a Choice: International Politics and the Problem of World Government” (November 11, 2011); Robert Powell, University of California at Berkeley, “Nuclear Brinksmanship and Military Power” (April 11, 2013); Barry Posen, “Why American Restraint Makes Sense in a World Going to Hell” (October  30, 2014); Etel Solingen, University of California, Irvine “Revisiting Nuclear Logics” (February 4, 2016): and Martha Finnemore, George Washington University, “Theorizing Cybersecurity & Other 21st Century Problems”(September 29, 2016).


Scott D. Sagan is the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, the Mimi and Peter Haas University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. He also serves as Project Chair for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Initiative on New Dilemmas in Ethics, Technology, and War. Before joining the Stanford faculty, Sagan was a lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University. From 1984 to 1985, he served as special assistant to the director of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. Sagan has also served as a consultant to the office of the Secretary of Defense and at the Sandia National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sagan is the author of Moving Targets: Nuclear Strategy and National Security (Princeton University Press, 1989); The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons (Princeton University Press, 1993); and, with co-author Kenneth N. Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: An Enduring Debate (W.W. Norton, 2012). He is the co-editor of Planning the Unthinkable (Cornell University Press, 2000) with Peter R. Lavoy and James L. Wirtz; the editor of Inside Nuclear South Asia (Stanford University Press, 2009); co-editor of Learning from a Disaster: Improving Nuclear Safety and Security after Fukushima (Stanford University Press, 2016) with Edward D. Blandford; and co-editor of Insider Threats (Cornell University Press, 2017) with Matthew Bunn. Sagan is also the guest editor of a two-volume special issue of Daedalus, New Dilemmas in Ethics, Technology, and War (Fall 2016 and Winter 2017); co-editor of a two-volume special issue of Daedalus, On the Global Nuclear Future (Fall 2009 and Winter 2010), with Steven E. Miller. Recent publications include “Atomic Aversion: Experimental Evidence on Taboos, Traditions, and the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons” with Daryl G. Press and Benjamin A. Valentino in the American Political Science Review (February 2013); “Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran” with Benjamin Valentino in International Security (Fall 2017), and “The Korean Missile Crisis” in Foreign Affairs (November 2017). In 2017, Scott Sagan received the International Studies Association’s Susan Strange Award. The award recognizes a person whose “singular intellect, assertiveness, and insight most challenge conventional wisdom and intellectual and organizational complacency” in the international studies community. Sagan was the recipient of the National Academy of Sciences William and Katherine Estes Award in 2015, for his pioneering work addressing the risks of nuclear weapons and the causes of nuclear proliferation. The award, which is granted triennially, recognizes “research in any field of cognitive or behavioral science that advances understanding of issues relating to the risk of nuclear war.” In 2013, Sagan received the International Studies Association’s International Security Studies Section Distinguished Scholar Award. He has also won four teaching awards: Stanford’s 1998-99 Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching; Stanford’s 1996 Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching; the International Studies Association’s 2008 Innovative Teaching Award; and the Monterey Institute for International Studies’ Nonproliferation Education Award in 2009.


Kenneth N. Waltz Before completing his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1954, Waltz served in the United States Army during the Second World War and the Korean conflict.  He was a member of the Columbia University faculty (1953-1957), and he subsequently taught at Swarthmore College, Brandeis University, and the University of California, Berkeley (1971-1994), before returning to Columbia and the Institute in 1997. Waltz was a research associate with the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University on several occasions, and with the Department of War Studies, Kings College, University of London.  He taught at the London School of Economics, the Australian National University, Peking University, Fudan University, the United States Air Force Academy, and the University of Bologna.  Waltz was President of the American Political Science Association 1987-1988. He has received honorary doctorates from Copenhagen University,  Oberlin College, Nankai University, Aberystwyth University, and most recently  from the University of Macedonia in Saloniki, Greece, which he accepted in person in the spring of 2011. Waltz’s books include Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis (Columbia University Press, 1954, 1959, 2001), Theory of International Politics (Addison-Wesley, 1979), and Realism and International Politics (Routledge, 2008).  The third, updated edition of The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate (W.W. Norton, 1995, 2003), which he wrote with Scott Sagan, was published in 2012. Waltz was also the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. His most recent articles included: “Why Iran Should Get the Bomb” in Foreign Affairs (July/Aug 2012); “The Great Debate,” an exchange with Scott Sagan on nuclear weapons in The National Interest (Sep-Oct 2010);  and with then-Columbia University Ph.D. candidate Mira Rapp-Hooper (now at CNAS), “What Kim Jong-Il Learned from Qaddafi’s Fall: Never Disarm,” The Atlantic (online, October 24, 2011). Waltz remained active in the life of the Institute as a Senior Research Scholar until his death on May 13, 2013 at the age of 88. At the time of his death he was still advising students, doing research on nuclear deterrence, and revisiting canonical works of international relations theory. In his later years, Waltz divided his time between homes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Harborside, Maine.