USF Launches New Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies

Noted author Christopher de Bellaigue featured at first event May 21.


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (May 16, 2012) - The University of South Florida is leveraging its longstanding work in international relations and geopolitical issues into a new Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, which will unite interdisciplinary research and expertise to help inform policy decisions.


The new center, lead by internationally-recognized Middle East expert Mohsen Milani, will hold its first event Monday, May 21, when it hosts journalist Christopher de Bellaigue, author of the newly released Patriot of Persia, a biography of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. The British and American-led coup against Mosaddegh is considered one of the rally points that fueled the eventual Iranian Revolution and continues to shape Iran’s modern–day interaction with the West.


De Bellaigue’s public lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 206 of C.W. Bill Young Hall, 12303 Maple Drive, on the USF campus in Tampa. The event is free to the public.


USF’s Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies is a unique approach linking the latest research in geopolitical issues to policy making, said Milani, whose expertise on Iran, Afghanistan and the wider region has earned him a place as a frequent commentator on the BBC, Voice of America and media outlets around the world. The center, based in USF World, will develop academic programs, organize lectures, workshops and conferences to explore the critical international issues of our times, as well as conduct research and formulate policy recommendations in a non-partisan setting.


“Our goal is to bring down the walls disciplines have created for themselves as well as the walls that have separated the public sector from academia and academia from government,” Milani said.  “We will explore alternative policies that enhance our national security and which also contribute to peace and harmony.”


The center was created through the guidance and support of Karen Holbrook, USF’s Senior Vice President for Global Affairs & International Research; USF Provost Ralph Wilcox and Eric Eisenberg, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The effort builds on several high-level conferences organized by Milani and College of Public Health Professor Tom Mason exploring security issues in the Middle East and Central Asia, including ones which brought military leaders such as Ret. Gen. David Petraeus, now the CIA director, and Gen. John Allen to campus.


“I am delighted to add Dr. Milani‘s significant expertise and ideas to the programs in USF World,” Holbrook said. “This center is expected to attract a great deal of interaction with educational and governmental programs at home, nationally and internationally.”


Milani said the times require a new approach to discussing international affairs that require researchers and scholars to contribute their knowledge to create practical and workable policies to ensure security on many levels.


“We can no longer talk about American prosperity or American security unless we understand the connections between our domestic policies and international events,” Milani said. “There is an everyday impact on how we do things, such as the connection between events in the Persian Gulf and Iran’s control over the Strait of Hormuz and the price of gasoline that we pay.


“We really need to have a paradigmal change in the way we look at foreign and domestic policy. We can no longer look at them as two independent entities. They are closely linked.”


Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.