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Joe Nye of Harvard University the first guest of the new Keble Social Sciences Group.

Monday 05 February 2007

On Thursday 1st February 2007, the first dinner of the Keble Social Sciences Group was convened. The goal of the group is to bring together the fellows and graduates in the Social Sciences to discuss their work and to debate the work of others. On this evening, 25 graduates and fellows gathered to dine and discuss the notion of 'soft power' and American influence in world affairs with Professor Joe Nye from Harvard University. Professor Nye also served as Deputy to the Undersecretary of State in the Carter Administration, Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs in the Clinton Administration, and was one of the leading candidates for the position of National Security Advisor had John Kerry won the 2004 election. At the same time as all his work for the State, Professor Nye published dozens of leading articles and books, and the one in the spotlight at Keble was Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (2004). Over a 4 course dinner, and dozens of bottles of water(!) Professor Nye discussed and debated the meaning and operation of 'soft power', a term which he coined in the late 1980s and which is now in widespread usage to describe the ability to influence and affect others without direct coercion. For almost 3 hours, with only a brief break during main course, he entertained with debate and discussion from almost every person at the table. After a very thorough debate, many were thoroughly convinced by Professor Nye's thesis that thinking of power in narrow military or economic terms was counter-productive to foreign policy and strategy.