Welcome to the National Security Studies Program!


The George Washington University National Security Studies Program (GW NSSP) provides high-quality executive education courses to senior military (O-5/6) and civilian officials (GS-14/15) from the United States and its international partners. The courses are designed to fulfill the training needs of career professionals and combine foundational knowledge with a focus on the core issues for U.S. national security in the 21st Century.

The program is based in Washington, DC, giving participants access to an unparalleled range of Washington, DC policymakers and other thought-leaders.

Our next sessions of the Senior Manager Course in National Security Leadership will be from June 3-14, 2019, March 9-20, 2020, and June 1-12, 2020. For more information, click here.

About the Program Director:

Dr. Matthew Levinger

Matthew Levinger is Director of The George Washington University National Security Studies Program and Master of International Policy and Practice Program, as well as Research Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs. Previously, Matthew was a Senior Program Officer in the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace, where he taught courses on conflict analysis and prevention for foreign policy professionals. He has more than twenty years’ experience doing research, analysis, and teaching on nationalism and violent conflict in the modern world. Before joining the U.S. Institute of Peace, he was director of the Academy for Genocide Prevention at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum from 2005 to 2007. At the Holocaust Museum he played a key role in launching the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. The Task Force’s report Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers was released in December 2008.

Previously, Matthew was associate professor of History at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon; he has also taught at Stanford University. Matthew is the author of Conflict Analysis: Understanding Causes, Unlocking Solutions (United States Institute of Peace Press, 2013), Enlightened Nationalism: The Transformation of Prussian Political Culture, 1806-1848 (Oxford, 2000), and co-author (with Charles Breunig) of The Revolutionary Era, 1806-1848, 3rd ed. (W.W. Norton, 2002). From January 2003 to January 2004 he was a William C. Foster Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, where he worked on initiatives for atrocities early warning and prevention in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He received his B.A. from Haverford College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago.

Remembering Senator Richard G. Lugar

Richard G. Lugar, one of the most influential leaders of U.S. foreign policy during his 36-year career as a U.S. senator from Indiana, died on April 28 in Falls Church, Virginia at the age of 87. Senator Lugar was a regular keynote speaker in the GW Senior Manager Course in National Security Leadership at the Elliott School of International Affairs, where he emphasized the importance of a principled and bipartisan approach to advancing U.S. and global security.

Among Senator Lugar’s greatest contributions to international peace was the passage and continued funding of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, developed in partnership with Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. From 1992 through 2012, on a budget averaging less than $1 billion per year, the Nunn-Lugar Initiative led to the deactivation of more than 7,600 Soviet nuclear warheads and the destruction of more than 900 intercontinental ballistic missiles, along with the removal of all nuclear weapons from the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus. The CTR program also helped secure and dismantle Soviet stocks of chemical and biological weapons, as well as reducing the risk of WMD proliferation by employing thousands of former Soviet weapons scientists in peaceful work.

In his last speech at the Elliott School in February 2019, Senator Lugar discussed the importance of the relationships that he and Senator Nunn had developed with their Soviet counterparts during the nuclear arms control negotiations of the 1980s. He recalled that, in 1991, with the Soviet Union on the verge of collapse, a Soviet delegation came to Washington, DC to warn the two senators: “You’ve got a lot of trouble ahead of you.” The delegates said that “the missiles and the warheads that are aimed at you in the United States in many cases are no longer being guarded. The troops that were in the installations have deserted. We are in essence a bankrupt country. We can’t pay our armed forces, and people are leaving by the hordes.” Senator Lugar confessed that it had “never really occurred to my mind’s eye, thinking of the Soviet Union, that the arms would not be guarded, and that the Russians would be coming to tell us in Sam Nunn’s office about this, and asking for our money.”

As Senator Lugar noted in his February speech, CTR and successive rounds of arms control negotiations offered a “successful story, in which we went from tens of thousands of particular weapons of mass destructions, including well over a thousand long-range missiles, down to the 1,550 we’re dealing with now. That’s not the end of the story, but it’s a very different story than it was at that particular point.” He expressed regret over the lack of progress in nuclear arms control since the signing of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in 2010, and declared that it was “imperative” to extend New START before its expiration in February 2021. He expressed optimism about the possibility of negotiating further reductions in nuclear arsenals, despite the heightened frictions between the U.S. and Russia during recent years. Yet it will take “real leadership” on the part of the executive branch and the Senate, he said, “to pass another treaty, or maybe even to get New START revived for another five years.”

Senator Lugar’s own work offered a powerful example of “real leadership” in addressing critically important global security challenges. We hope his record will serve as inspiration for the next generation of U.S. foreign policy decision-makers.

–Matthew Levinger, Director
GW National Security Studies Program