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The Renewal Feeling of New Academic Beginnings

Prof Alessio Patalano

Co-Director at the Centre for Grand Strategy

01 November 2023

The beginning of the academic year is more often than not an opportunity to enjoy a sense of motivating renewal. The seasonal return of teaching activities provides a warm blanket of familiarity against which the curiosity of meeting new students combines with the prospect of new research opportunities and the dynamism and energy brought about by new colleagues.

The Centre for Grand Strategy is no exception to the rule and in this newsletter I would like to start with some superb news on our expanding team. I am particularly delighted to introduce our new AJI postdoctoral fellows, Dr Harriet Aldrich, Dr Robert Cullum, and Dr Giulia Garbagni. Harriet, Rob, and Giulia work on incredibly topical questions of applied history and statecraft. Harriet’s work exploring the role of political exiles in the shaping of a country’s political journey, Rob’s dedication to explore the links between climate change and regional security in the Indo-Pacific, and Giulia’s focus on the role of special envoys in foreign policy are just symptomatic of the increasingly diverse avenues the field of grand strategy is growing to explore. For this reason, I trust the Centre will become an intellectually stimulating home setting them on the path towards a long and rewarding career and I look forward to working with them to that end.

The Centre’s success in securing such a diverse talent becomes also an opportunity to bring together a wide spectrum of research activities. The newsletter includes, as usual, highlights from the numerous publications, events, and impact activities of our members. It is hard to handpick specific results, such is the variety of quality work. Yet, I would nonetheless like to draw your attention to the peer-review article published by Dr Nick Kaderbhai on the international thought of Hugh Dalton, a leading figure of the British left during the interwar period and the latest forum on future British Strategy, an effort led by Dr William Reynolds which brought together senior officials to reflect upon the role of planning in policy-making. Nick and Will, like all our doctoral and post-doctoral fellows are evidence of one of the Centre’s core objectives: to focus on empowering people by nurturing their ability to shine. The Centre’s light is brighter because of them.

Going back to my opening thoughts, the beginning of the academic year is also special because it offers a flavour of what is in store in the months ahead. As part of our focus on statecraft, this year the Centre aims to explore one of the manifestation of this age of minilateral formations, the so-called E-3: France, Germany, and the UK. Minilaterals, especially trilateral groups, are emerging as an important feature of international affairs, and certainly of British diplomacy after Brexit. The tech minilaterals known as AUKUS, an Australian, British, and American effort to help Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, and GCAP, the Global Combat Air Programme to equip Italy, Japan and the UK with a next-generation advanced fighter jet are two other manifestations of this trend. The Centre is hosting a series of seminars to explore the E-3 dynamics and has hosted and will continue to work on both AUKUS and GCAP.

Of no less relevance, the Centre continues to remain committed to the idea that international collaborations are crucial to renew our thinking about world affairs. To this end, in October the Centre worked with Johns Hopkins to organise a two-day workshop on the theme of world order. This event, combined with a series of book launches organised by our members to introduce international scholarship, the attendance to international conferences, and other impact activities, including my own oral evidence to the Italian Parliament on the subject of Italy and a strategy of engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, offer an overview in this issue of the breadth of our commitment.

In all, as I step into the shoes of Co-Director of the Centre I draw tremendous inspiration in the knowledge that there is much to look forward to as the new year gets under way. I personally look forward to welcoming soon at one of our activities so to ensure that together we can endeavour to transform this feeling of seasonal renewal into an opportunity for a lasting intellectual growth.

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Alessio Patalano

Alessio Patalano

Professor of War & Strategy in East Asia

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