Special Lecture by Stephen M. WALT (Harvard U.)
Where is the World Headed?

2019.08.27 16:00 - 18:00

On August 27, 2019, the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies invited Professor Stephen Walt (Harvard University) for a special lecture titled “Where is the World Headed?” The lecture began with a brief summary of world history, followed by an examination of the post-Cold War period. Professor Walt concluded the lecture by outlining what we know and don’t know about the future of world politics and assessing their implications for the Korean Peninsula.

After offering a brief summary of world history dating back 500 years, Professor Walt commented there are certain predictions that can be made about the future of world politics. First, demographic changes will continue to impact world politics. Second, states will continue to be the main actors in world politics. Third, today’s wealthy and powerful states will continue to be rich and powerful for the foreseeable future. Fourth, the United States and China will still be the world’s two most powerful states in 2050 and will continue to be rivals. Lastly, climate change will continue to affect the world as we still do not have an answer on how to reduce climate change.

Professor Walt also named a few blind spots that will continue to add uncertainty to world politics. First, he questioned the role of alliances and whether they will survive another 30 years. Second, he admitted that it is difficult to forecast how ideas, especially ideas about politics, will evolve over time. Lastly, he identified science and technology as the one area that we will know least about in terms of its impact on world politics.

Professor Walt concluded his lecture by offering implications for South Korea. As the competition between the U.S. and China intensifies, the value of American allies in Northeast Asia will increase even more. As long as the United States is willing to support South Korea, the bilateral alliance should remain the lynchpin of South Korea’s security policy. The United States and its Asian allies must address issues that have long been part of managing alliance relations. For the foreseeable future, the United States and South Korea have much to gain by continuing cooperation.

Stephen WALT, LEE Jae-Seung

Lectures and Topics

  • Speaker: Stephen WALT,


  • Discussant: LEE Jae-Seung, GSIS, Korea University