Richard Locke’s mission at the helm of Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies is to guide and shape its expansion from a research center and think tank to become a more powerful force in helping to address the global challenges of the 21st century.
Building on Brown’s interdisciplinary approach at all levels, Locke’s vision is to engage the university’s schools and experts, from political science to medicine and technology, to create one of the nation’s top institutes for international and public affairs.
PBN: What were the factors that made you decide to leave the Sloan School of Management at MIT and take this position at Brown?
LOCKE: There were two factors. I was on the faculty at MIT for 24 years and loved it. I hadn’t been thinking of leaving. I was approached by Brown and the first thing that was very attractive was the opportunity to build something [special] at a great university like Brown. The second thing was the leadership at the university – the president, Christina Paxson, and the provost, Marc Schlissel. The two of them have a great vision of what Brown can be.
PBN: What do you envision for the Watson Institute?
LOCKE: What I’m trying to do is position the Watson Institute, eventually, as a school or program of international and public affairs that would resemble in many ways, and hopefully someday compete with, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton or the Kennedy School at Harvard or the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia.
PBN: The global political and cultural landscape changes by the day, but we are currently in what seems to be a particularly volatile time, with massacres and chemical weapons in Syria, the Middle East as tense as ever, the resurgence of civil and religious conflict in Iraq and the issue of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea. Then there’s the shutdown of the U.S. government. How do these issues impact how you will lead the Watson Institute?