We live today in the world the Great War made. Virtually every geopolitical challenge we face in the twenty-first century traces its origins to the cataclysm that left almost 17 million dead, brought down four empires, and birthed Stalinism, Nazism and fascism. This seminar will explore what may well have been the greatest set of diplomatic failures in history: to prevent the war; to stop it by a compromise peace once it had begun; and to end it on terms that would not set the stage for a more ghastly conflict within a generation. We will conclude with a discussion of World War I’s lessons for those who seek sustainable peace and justice in the twenty-first century.
Jerald Podair is professor of history and the Robert S. French Professor of American Studies at Lawrence University, where he specializes in twentieth-century United States history. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of six books, most recently The Routledge History of the Twentieth-Century United States. He is the recipient of the Allan Nevins Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians for “literary distinction in the writing of history,” and the only two-time winner of Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He is currently writing Promised Lands: A History of the American People in the Twentieth Century, a comprehensive history of the American century written for a general audience, to be published by Princeton University Press.
After graduation from Princeton and Harvard Law School, Jon Greenwald served 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, the bulk of it in Europe, including East Berlin as the Wall fell and ending with the Mission to the European Union. He taught diplomacy and foreign policy at Lawrence as the Scarff Professor, 1998-1999, coordinated foreign policy for Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign (2000), then served as vice president of the International Crisis Group, the Brussels based-conflict prevention organization, for 16 years. He has taught frequently at Björklunden. He presently leads a project to bring youths from conflict zones – beginning with Israelis and Palestinians – to study together at top U.S. and other prep schools.