A hidden conservative agenda?

Symposium Magazine recently interviewed several students who had taken part in Yale’s Grand Strategy Program, the subject of Fox, Meet Hedgehog by Euny Hong. This week’s blog discusses their experience.

Yale’s Grand Strategy Program is known not just for its high-profile faculty; it also enjoys deep financial support from donors. In 2006, mutual fund billionaire Charles Johnson ’54 joined up with former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady to make a major gift that reportedly totaled $17.5 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. What caught people’s attention was not just the sum, but Johnson’s history as a donor to conservative causes.

Johnson was again in the news this past Monday, when Yale announced he pledged $250 million to help the university complete a long-planned expansion of its residential colleges. This amounts to the largest gift in Yale’s history.

Given Johnson’s profile as well as the Republican affiliations of some of the faculty, some liberal media outlets have questioned the political motives of the Grand Strategy Program. But students who have taken part say those concerns are overblown.

“I’d say I’m pretty liberal, but I never felt there was any ‘conservative’ pressure from professors,” said Teddy Collins ‘13. “Overall, the Grand Strategy faculty are more conservative than your average Yale professor, and they bring in guests that sometimes share those views, but what that leads to is great discussions.”

Added Collins: “These critics of Grand Strategy tend to conflate two things: what are the tools that you use to observe and understand the world, and what are your policy recommendations. We learn to refine our analytical tools rather than get told one particular policy is better than the other.”

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