For almost two generations, major parts of academe have been alienated from America's exercise of power due to entrenched ideological differences with the federal government. Following President Obama's election, however, signs of a remarkable shift emerged, with more academics serving in policy positions, huddling with top officials behind closed doors, and otherwise extolling the virtues of "soft" or "smart" power. How can Washington take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create more structured and effective partnerships with universities?
In this Policy Focus, Dr. Martin Kramer surveys the state of government-academe relations ten years after his bestselling book Ivory Towers dissected "the failure of Middle Eastern studies in America." Intended as a short field manual for government engagement with professors, deans, and university presidents, the paper describes how policymakers can better wield three of academia's most important levers: the clout inherent in peer review, the influence conferred by academic endowments, and the access created by sharing information despite the need to keep some of it classified.
Martin Kramer is The Washington Institute's Wexler-Fromer Fellow and author of its bestselling monograph Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America. An authority on contemporary Islam and Arab politics, he earned his doctoral degree in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. During a twenty-five-year career at Tel Aviv University, he directed the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies; taught as a visiting professor at Brandeis, the University of Chicago, Cornell, and Georgetown; and served twice as a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Currently, Dr. Kramer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and president-designate of Shalem College (in formation).