Monterey Institute for International Studies

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When it Comes to Nonproliferation, One School Rules.

William Potter

Dr. William Potter
Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies and
Founding Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute of International Studies


The Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College, provides international professional education in areas of critical importance to a rapidly changing global community, including nonproliferation and terrorism studies. The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, with offices in Monterey, CA, Washington, D.C., and Vienna, Austria; is the largest nongovernmental organization dedicated to nonproliferation education. Through this center, faculty and researchers train students in the MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program in analyzing, preventing, and responding to terrorist threats and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

What is unique about the Monterey Institute’s MA Degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies?

In 2010 the Monterey Institute launched the world’s first graduate degree designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to respond effectively to terrorism. The curriculum includes an integrated program of courses, seminars, workshops and simulations taught by an international faculty with backgrounds in science, diplomacy, and policy-making. Students have the opportunity to acquire paid on-the-job training at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) and the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MONTREP). The degree also offers opportunities for internships at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs, and other international organizations, as well as U.S. governmental agencies.

What are the kinds of courses will students take as part of their program?

This interdisciplinary program of study combines traditional coursework in the policy sciences with seminars and technical workshops dealing with regional security issues, terrorist motivations, WMD science and technology issues, and research utilizing primary sources and new analytical tools such as geospatial imaging. Faculty members have pioneered the use of simulation pedagogy, and students participate in very realistic, semester-long treaty negotiation simulations, alongside professional diplomats. Last fall, two dozen students assumed the roles of delegates to the 2012 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee Meeting and negotiated a final document. Based on their classroom experience, four of the students from the class subsequently had the opportunity to participate as delegates to the “real world” NPT meeting, which met in Vienna for two weeks in April-May 2012. Our students also take advantage of immersive content-based language study at different international venues. In March 2012, ten MIIS students spent a week in Beijing discussing nonproliferation issues—in Chinese—with senior Chinese diplomats, military officials, and scholars.

What kind of jobs can your graduates expect to obtain?

A very large number of MIIS alumni—literally hundreds— now work on nonproliferation and terrorism issues in the U.S. and other national governments, international organizations, and research centers around the world. Perhaps the best known CNS alumnus is Ambassador Yukiya Amano, the current Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This growing cadre of professionals is a tangible result of the Monterey Institute’s commitment to educate the next generation of nonproliferation and terrorism specialists, who are equipped with policy-relevant knowledge, technical skills, and foreign language proficiency. So widespread is their influence that in Washington, Tokyo, Vienna, Beijing, and many other capitals they are affectionately known as the “Monterey Mafia.”

Monterey Institute of International Studies
A Graduate School of Middlebury College
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