IDSS 25th Anniversary Debate by Professor Pascal Vennesson, Senior Fellow and head of Research, RSIS; and Professor of Political Science, University Panthéon-Assas, Paris II; and Professor Heng Yee Kuang, Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo
Security Studies Versus Strategic Studies: Relevance in the 21st Century
The collapse of the Soviet Union heralded the ending of the Cold War, and subsequently created the widespread belief in a so-called “peace dividend”. The ending of the Cold War arguably also had a significant impact on the academic subject of Strategic Studies, since Strategic Studies had been very closely associated with the study of the strategic nuclear balance between the United States and its erstwhile adversary, the Soviet Union. Given the apparent demise of the strategic nuclear balance, what value could Strategic Studies then have? Instead, intellectual attention then shifted to the subject of Security Studies; with its attention focused on conceptions of security that transcended the narrow focus on military power that characterises Strategic Studies, Security Studies was widely seen in academic circles to provide better clues to the security issues that states would have to address in the post-Cold War world.
This debate, between two thought leaders from the two subjects, seeks to examine the following question: which subject provides policy makers and strategic planners with the better intellectual tools with which to comprehend, and subsequently address, the 21st Century security challenges facing states like Singapore.
About the Speakers
Yee-Kuang Heng is Professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo, and was also Specially Appointed Guest Professor at Keio University’s Faculty of Commerce (2017-2020). Dr Heng graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a B.Sc. (First Class Honours) and then PhD in International Relations funded by the UK Overseas Research Students Award Scheme. After completing his PhD, he held faculty positions lecturing at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (2004-2007); the University of St Andrews in Scotland, United Kingdom (2007-2011); and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (2011-2016). Dr Heng’s research in some ways reflects the shifting security agenda over the past two decades. Stemming from his doctoral work, he retains abiding interest in the globalisation of risks and Western military campaigns in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Current projects focus on existential risks associated with climate change and Artificial Intelligence, and the European military presence in the Indo-Pacific, especially UK-Japan security cooperation. His publications on these topics include the books War as Risk Management (Routledge 2006); Managing Global Risks in an Urban Age (Routledge 2016) and Asia-Pacific Nations in International Peace Support and Stability Missions (edited with Chiyuki Aoi, Palgrave 2014). Other peer-reviewed articles have featured in Survival; Security Dialogue; Review of International Studies; The Pacific Review; International Relations of the Asia-Pacific; and Journal of Strategic Studies. His most recent paper on UK-Japan military exercises is forthcoming in Defence Studies.
Pascal Vennesson is Senior Fellow and Head of Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is also Professor of Political Science at the University Pantheon-Assas, Paris II (on leave). His research and teaching lie at the intersection of the fields of international relations and strategic studies. Before joining RSIS, he held the Chair “Security in Europe”, at the European University Institute, Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies. He also taught “Strategy and Policy” for ten years at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)-Bologna Center. He is the author, co-author and editor of six books and his refereed articles have been notably published in Armed Forces and Society, International Relations, Journal of Strategic Studies, Journal of Global Security Studies, Review of International Studies, Revue Française de Science Politique and Security Studies. An award-winning teacher, Professor Vennesson supervised or co-supervised more than twenty PhD dissertations in international security. He is a member of the editorial boards of Revue Française de Science Politique (French Political Science Review), Security Studies, Armed Forces and Society and the European Journal of International Security. He was a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, at Ohio State University’s Mershon Center and a Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. He received his MA from the University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and his Ph.D. from Sciences-Po Paris.