Alumni (National Fellow)

Seth Center

National Fellow
Ph.D. University of Virginia (2007)
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Dream Mentor:
Emily Rosenberg
University of California, Irvine
Fields of Interest:
Foreign Policy
International Relations
Region: Middle East
The Cold War


Seth Center is senior fellow and director of the Brzezinski Institute’s Project on History and Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). His work employs a historical lens to examine the contemporary national security agenda, develop applied history findings to inform responses to future challenges, and connect diplomatic and military historians to the policy community.

Prior to joining CSIS, Dr. Center served at the National Security Council (NSC) and the U.S. Department of State. He served as director for National Security Strategy and History at the NSC from 2017-2019, where he helped conceptualize and write the 2017 National Security Strategy. Dr. Center joined the NSC staff as a historian in the fall of 2016 to document the evolution of key national security initiatives of the Obama administration including managing the China relationship, counterterrorism policy, Iran policy, and broader strategic questions. He provided historical context and lessons learned for the NSC across the 2017 presidential transition. As a State Department historian, he produced policy-supportive historical research and analysis on a broad array of subjects including the origins and conduct of the Iraq War, post-conflict and stabilization operations, strategic communications and public diplomacy, and the organization and development of U.S. diplomacy. He also supported the department’s lessons learned efforts in partnership with the U.S. military and the intelligence community. He has taught and lectured on U.S. foreign policy and international history at universities, the Foreign Service Institute, and professional military education institutions. Dr. Center received his Ph.D. in diplomatic history from the University of Virginia and his B.A. from Cornell University in history and government.

Thesis Description:

Spreading the American Dream?: Power, Image, and U.S. Diplomacy, 1968-1976
Center’s dissertation examined how America’s image-makers in the United States Information Agency defined America’s image problems in the midst of the turmoil and transformations of the 1970s, designed a program focused on the Bicentennial of the American Revolution to allay global anxiety and hostility, and implemented public diplomacy effort overseas. It concluded with an analysis of the international response to the campaign.

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