Soft Power scholar Joseph Nye speaks at Walter Roberts Annual Lecture

Joseph S. Nye and Tara Sonenshine at the Walter Roberts Lecture. Photo by Sydney Elle Gray/GW Photos

On Thursday, January 30, eminent scholar of international relations and political scientist Dr. Joseph S. Nye delivered the keynote address for the 2020 Walter Roberts Annual Lecture at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Relations. Dr. Nye spoke on the topic of his latest book, “Do Morals Matter: Presidents and Foreign Policy”.

The Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (IPDGC) Director Janet Steele had noted in her introduction, “It is highly fitting that Professor Nye be the speaker at an annual lecture series that honors the memory of Walter R. Roberts… (who) throughout his 42-year career, was dedicated to the advancement of public diplomacy”.

In addressing the audience at the Walter Roberts Lecture, Nye suggested that they consider evaluating presidential decision-making along three ethical dimensions: intentions, means, and consequences. Nye spoke on how presidents, from World War II to current day, were not fully constrained by the structure of the system, and were able to consider choices for action – or non-action.

Joseph Nye at the podium

Hard power works pretty quickly. Soft power takes a  long time – Joseph S. Nye

Later in a discussion moderated by Tara Sonenshine, former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Nye fielded a variety of questions from the audience; ranging from the current U.S. global role to Russian soft diplomacy – “there’s not much of it”.

The Walter R. Roberts Endowment, which supports the Annual Lecture, was created by the Roberts family and housed at the George Washington University, has hosted annual lectures with prominent foreign policy figures since 2011.

The video of the 2020 Walter Roberts Annual Lecture will be shared on the IPDGC website soon. Please contact for more information.

2 thoughts on “Soft Power scholar Joseph Nye speaks at Walter Roberts Annual Lecture

  1. Thanks to all!! Wonderful event – professionally and brilliantly executed!

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