From the history of the world to the current terrorist threat, the campus community is invited on a reader’s journey to explore issues, principles, and conditions facing mankind in the twenty-first century through the Kennedy Center’s Book of the Semester. Faculty and administrators seek input to determine which book addresses a timely topic in a provocative way, and the author is invited to present their viewpoint in an open forum. Prior to each forum, a panel of faculty—each with significant knowledge and research interest in the topic—is selected to discuss the book’s theme(s). We invite you to join the exploration.
The Book of the Semester, inspired by an honors program at BYU, began in winter 2003 with the first selection, the Paradox of American Power, by Joseph S. Nye, Jr., dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “A timely warning that it is perilous to disregard the deeply held concerns of the rest of the world,” said Henry A. Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State. Excerpts from the preface offer a flavor of the contents:
Americans are still wrestling with how best to combine our power and our values while reducing our vulnerabilities. As the largest power in the world, we excite both longing and hatred among some, particularly in the Muslim world.
American popular culture has a global reach regardless of what we do. There is no escaping the influence of Hollywood, CNN, and the Internet.
The real challenges to our power are coming on cat’s feet in the night, and ironically, our desire to go it alone may ultimately weaken us.
On many of the key issues today, such as international financial stability, drug smuggling, or global climate change, military power simply cannot produce success, and its use can sometimes be counterproductive.