College of Liberal Arts

CIA Director John O. Brennan Visits UT Austin Innovative Online Foreign Policy Class

Tue, Sep 22, 2015
CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks to the Innovative Online Foreign Policy Class to discuss role of CIA.
CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks to the Innovative Online Foreign Policy Class to discuss role of CIA.

Director John O. Brennan spoke of the Central Intelligence Agency’s primary mission to do “everything possible around the globe to uncover threats to the United States” in a wide-ranging live conversation streamed over the Internet to a class of over 1000 University of Texas undergraduates enrolled in an innovative Government Department course on United States foreign policy that is delivered entirely online. 

Brennan, who received an MA at UT Austin from the Government Department in 1980, spoke with Professors Patrick McDonald and Robert Moser, who teach the course, about policy related topics including the Syrian crisis, the use of drone strikes, the discontinuation of the use of enhanced interrogation by the United States, and the role and function of the CIA.  He also shared personal experiences in the CIA, including his memories of the September 11 attacks and his travels in the Middle East.  Brennan answered course related questions from the professors as well as questions submitted in video and written form from students in the course.

Brennan visited campus to participate in a discussion at the LBJ Presidential Library marking the declassification of classified presidential briefings the CIA gave to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He also participated in an event at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center sponsored by the Clements Center for National Security and the Strauss Center for Security and Law. 

The discussion with the CIA director in Professor McDonald and Professor Moser’s class enabled students to participate in a discussion mediated by their professors and tailored directly for their class.  “We really appreciate Director Brennan’s willingness to contribute to our efforts to create innovative course material that can reach thousands of students over time,” said Moser, who is also chairman of the Government Department. “The director’s willingness to answer questions on video that are tailored to our efforts to provide students with firsthand knowledge of the foreign policy process provided us with teaching material that we can use way beyond our students this semester.  Our future students will benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, too.”

GOV 312L: United States Foreign Policy will be offered again in the spring and summer semesters, and will feature the Brennan interview as part of the course material.

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