top of page


The Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) of The Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) was established in 1980 to unite the worlds of scholarship and policy in the search for realistic answers to international issues facing the United States and the world. 


FPI seeks to advance practically oriented research and discussion about foreign policy. To this end, it organizes research initiatives and study groups, and hosts leaders from around the world as resident or non-resident fellows in fields including international policy, business, journalism, and academia.


In 1980, Paul H. Nitze, former adviser on foreign and security policy in several White House administrations and founder with Christian Herter of the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), established the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI). Nitze’s vision for FPI was to unite scholarship and policy in the search for realistic answers to international issues facing the United States and the world, a vision that remains FPI’s core mission today.


Since it was founded, the Foreign Policy Institute, housed within SAIS, has brought the expertise of SAIS academics together with the hands-on experience of policy practitioners within SAIS and the broader Washington community.


Among FPI’s early innovations was its “Washington Roundtables,” a series of discussions among academics, other foreign policy experts, and policymakers on leading foreign policy and security issues facing the United States. The Roundtables addressed critical issues, from broad boundary-spanning problems of the day to a subset of issues that drew on participation from experts with more specialized knowledge, organized as Embassy, Media, and Security Roundtables.

In 1981, FPI launched its premier publication, The SAIS Review of International Affairs. Dedicated to advancing the debate on leading contemporary issues in world affairs, under its graduate student editorial staff, The SAIS Review began to publish essays aimed at spanning the boundary between scholarly inquiry and practical experience. The journal has consistently featured contributors from a wide range of backgrounds, including academics, policy analysts, leading journalists, representatives from Congress and parliamentarians, as well as senior officials from both government and non-governmental organizations. Another longstanding publication of FPI was The SAIS Papers in International Affairs, FPI Briefs, papers and monographs on current international issues prepared by SAIS faculty, FPI fellows and affiliated experts.


Also in 1984, Senators Richard Lugar and Jake Garn established The Vandenberg Seminars at FPI. These seminars convened prominent members of Congress and senior officials from the corporate world, the executive branch, and academia to discuss the role of Congress in foreign and national security policy. FPI’s “Washington Briefings,” established the same year, gave foreign journalists from Western Europe, Asia, and Latin America a chance to be briefed by experts on the mechanics of US domestic and foreign policy.


In the mid-1980s, FPI concentrated its programming on key topics in international security, including the effects of military efforts and new technologies in space; the links between the scientific/technical community and the world of politics; and Soviet bureaucratic politics as they related to strategic nuclear policy.


Two trademark programs introduced in 1986 were the Program in Diplomatic Training and a further expansion of The Washington Roundtables. The Program in Diplomatic Training allowed SAIS faculty and FPI Associates to draft, analyze, and conduct twenty-five case studies of major diplomatic negotiations, both past and current. That year, The Washington Roundtables began to focus its discussions on countries potentially threatened by significant domestic upheavals such as the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan, Tunisia, and South Korea.


Much of FPI’s programming in the 1990s focused on civil-military relations. A “Civil-Military Relations Discussion Group” was established as part of the US Post-Cold War Civil-Military Relations Project, a program sponsored by the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. Speakers throughout the decade lectured on subjects such as Congressional influence on jointness in the US military, the origins and implications of the American military paradigm, and institutional approaches to explaining US civil-military relations.


The Foreign Policy Institute additionally established discussion groups on religion in the 21st century, Asian security, “new sciences,” and new technology and international affairs. Regular programming included a “Current Issues” luncheon group led by former statesman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and an outreach program for the mid-career professionals enrolled in the SAIS Masters of International Public Policy (MIPP).


FPI has served as a key incubator of several new academic programs at SAIS. The South Asia Initiative, led by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli (a current FPI Senior Fellow), became the South Asia Studies Program at SAIS. The current Director of SAIS’ Center for International Business and Public Policy, Roger Leeds, established the Corruption Project, with the mission of studying methods to combat political corruption around the globe and associated implications for US policy. Fred Brown, a former State Department official, established the Southeast Asia Studies program in 1991 and served as its Associate Director until 2005.


Between 2000 and 2008, the Foreign Policy Institute introduced several new initiatives. The Protection Project, established at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government by FPI Fellow Laura Lederer in 1994, had its home at SAIS for two decades.  The Center for Transatlantic Relations was established in 2001 to strengthen transatlantic relations and address contemporary challenges. S. Frederick Starr, former White House advisor and policymaker founded and chaired the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, a then sub-program of FPI that housed several leading publications on Russia and Eurasia. The SAIS Dialogue Project was founded in 2002. Early activities of the Dialogue Project, later Cultural Conversations, included discussions on perspectives of the general populace in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan; human rights in Iran; the influence of Western culture around the world; and literature as it relates to international affairs. New initiatives include work on emerging markets, nuclear nonproliferation, and human security.


In recent years, FPI Fellows have continued to contribute to FPI’s mission of bridging the worlds of scholarship and policy. Fellows are selected on the basis of their interest in projects that demonstrate expertise in an aspect of international relations or regional studies with a direct connection to addressing the international challenges of our time.

The Betty Lou Hummel Endowment

Thanks to the generous gift to SAIS by friends of SAIS alumna Betty Lou Hummel, the Betty Lou Hummel Endowed Fund provides support for innovative research and programming initiatives at the Foreign Policy Institute, as well as for the annual Betty Lou Hummel Memorial Lecture.


Betty Lou Firstenberger Hummel (1925-2011) was a member of SAIS’ first graduating class of 1946. Intrepid, curious, and keenly intelligent, Betty Lou would use her training at SAIS during a lifetime of work around the globe. She remained connected to SAIS throughout her life as well, traveling just months before her death to attend a library dedication at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China. Betty Lou first learned about SAIS when she came to Washington on a job hunting trip during the spring semester of her senior year at Vassar, and ended up touring SAIS with a friend who was on the staff. At just 20 years old and with little work experience and the government in retrenchment after World War II, Betty Lou decided that attending  SAIS would give her the practical experience she needed for a career that would give her a chance to “go out and see something of the world.” 

Betty Lou Hummel.jpg

While at SAIS, Betty Lou pursued her interests in contemporary Middle East affairs. She often recalled how much she had enjoyed her SAIS experience. Along with her classes, she learned from her classmates, many of whom had served in World War II. She also remembered the parties on the rooftop of SAIS’s then Florida Avenue location fondly. She would recount how her Arabic classes met at five in the morning when the instructor was free and how much she enjoyed studying under Ambassador George Allen, then head of the State Department’s Middle East Division. It was Allen who would persuade her to begin her career teaching abroad. 

After graduation, at Ambassador Allen’s suggestion, Betty Lou accepted a position teaching at a women’s college in Istanbul, where she would spend three years. She recalled that then, at the age of 21, teaching was the last profession she would have chosen, but she found Allen had given her good advice. She excelled at teaching and it became a lifelong passion.

Betty Lou held other jobs, including conducting research at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and a position at the U.S. Information Agency in the Near East Division, but she would return to teaching. As she put it, she found that, when living abroad, teaching offered the best opportunity “for her to get out beyond the diplomatic community.” Her husband’s career by then had made her part of the diplomatic community in the countries in which she was living.


After marrying diplomat Arthur Hummel, Betty Lou would accompany him to numerous countries. Arthur Hummel served as Ambassador to Burma, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and China. Betty Lou was with her husband in Addis Ababa during the Saturday Night Massacre and the government takeover by the Derg military junta. In 1979, Betty was evacuated from Pakistan after the assault on the American Embassy. Two years later, she would move to Beijing, where her husband served as the second American Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China after normalization.

bottom of page