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Thought Leader: Joseph Nye

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Joseph S. Nye, Jr. on


  • WHAT’S DISTINCT distinct

    What's different about the world today is the extraordinary complexity. Today, with modern communications bringing so many different cultures together, with a whole new set of problems created by technologies and communications, there are many, many more choices that people have to make, and probably there is less of a clear moral hierarchy.

  • CHALLENGES challenges

    Climate change is something which is long term and certainly affects how we treat the planet for our progeny, although it is less immediate than future-oriented.

  • GLOBAL ETHICS ethics

    I would think that a global ethic would require the combination of two things. One is a greater understanding and broader compassion of how we treat each other. Let's call it the horizontal dimension of a global ethic: how do we treat others; how do others treat each other; our concern about their condition. There is another dimension, though—I might call this a vertical dimension—which is how we treat the planet and what we are leaving to future generations.

  • PEACE peace

    Much depends on what one means by world peace. If we think back to Carnegie and his concerns before World War I, he was mostly thinking about great-power war, the kind of disaster that occurred in 1914 with World War I. I think that type of war is less likely, but it's not impossible. Thinking of world peace as a major conflagration among great powers with extraordinary widespread destruction, I think we can avoid that.

  • LEADERSHIP leadership

    I argue that a president, or any leader, has to think of leadership in three dimensions: the ends or the goals that the leader has, the means that a president or any other leader uses, and in terms of consequences, does it basically fill a role of increasing welfare. Does it make people better off, not just one's own followers, but also with minimal damage to the interests of others?

  • FUTURE future

    We'd like to see an increase in the tolerance for different viewpoints and greater diversity. We'd like to see a reduction in poverty, a continued improvement of the life opportunities for more people inhabiting this planet. We would also like to see a reduction in the amount of violence, if possible.