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On War: Thucydides and Current Strategic Dilemmas

Course Description

Thucydides is thought to be the first and greatest teacher of power, of the facts that might makes right, and that wars begin as a consequence of fear. Thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to proponents of modern “realist” schools of international relations invoke his name. But what are his teachings, exactly? And what can he tell us about modern warfare? In this workshop, candidates will study Thucydides' great history of the Peloponnesian War with a series of foundational questions in mind: What is the nature of power, and of war? How do wars start? What role do domestic politics and “ideology” play in foreign policy? In our discussions and final simulation, we will explore whether his actual teachings are applicable to current grand strategic dilemmas—and if so, how.

Apply by October 20 for priority admission.

Final applications are due by November 6.


Instructor profile picture

Aaron MacLean

Aaron MacLean is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Previously, he was senior foreign policy advisor and legislative director to Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Aaron served on active duty as a U.S. Marine for seven years, deploying to Afghanistan as an infantry officer in 2009–2010. Following his time in the operating forces, he was assigned to the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was the 2013 recipient of the Apgar Award for Excellence in Teaching. Aaron received a B.A. in philosophy and the history of math and science from St. John’s College, Annapolis, and an M.Phil. (Dist.) in medieval Arabic thought from the University of Oxford. He has been a Boren Scholar and a Marshall Scholar and lives in Virginia, where he was born.


Candidates will test their strategic acumen by simulating the development of a National Security Strategy. Drawing on their own professional experiences and what they have gained from Thucydides’ writings, candidates will wrestle with the imperative of translating theoretical insights about international relations into practical goals and strategies.


Course Dates

Application Deadline



Hudson Institute
1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW, #400
Washington, DC 20004

Capstone Project

Candidates will showcase their newly gained policy insight by completing their choice of an op-ed or policy memo. Projects are due a week after the end of the program and will be assessed by the committee upon the basis of their strategic soundness, original analysis, and grasp of the policy area. The quality of this project will determine if candidates are awarded the policy certificate.


Thank you for your interest in Hudson Institute Political Studies!

Our Policy Certificate Program is seeking an accomplished cohort of early career professionals who demonstrate capability and interest in American foreign and domestic policy issues. The selection committee will consider a candidate's subject matter expertise, creative thinking, writing ability, and professional background.
Applicants should meet the following criteria:
• Undergraduate degree holder
• Professional experience
• Demonstrated policy expertise in one or more relevant areas
• Highly competent writer and researcher