Challenge to ST readers

Harvard professor Graham Allison invites ideas from The Straits Times readers for his next big project, pathways to avoid a global conflict that no one wants.
Harvard professor Graham Allison invites ideas from The Straits Times readers for his next big project, pathways to avoid a global conflict that no one wants.ST PHOTO: RACHEL AU-YONG

For his next big project, pathways to avoid a global conflict that no one wants, Harvard professor Graham Allison is open to ideas from many sources - including The Straits Times readers.

He issued this challenge to ST readers in Singapore and beyond: Put on your thinking caps, study history, imagine steps and actions that might be taken to help manage a transition to a new global order that might make the world a safer place for all to live in.

"There is no monopoly of wisdom in Washington or Beijing," he says in an interview with ST.

"Singapore understands China, understands the US, and has an independent perspective," he adds.

"There is no reason why a good idea might not come from one of your readers in Singapore.

"Your leaders, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew, have shared many great insights on China and global affairs.

"Singapore has also always punched above its weight - in ideas," he says during an interview in his office in Harvard.

Prof Allison himself has identified nine possible paths to avoiding a global conflict. But he says he is not yet sure that he has found the best option, so he is researching these further before putting his ideas together in a paper or a book.

The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which is part of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, recently launched a competition calling on anyone to submit a "Strategic Options memo of no more than 600 words", spelling out their thoughts on just how to manage Sino-US ties, amid the major "structural changes" taking place with the rise of China.

Details of this crowd-sourcing ideas initiative, such as the format the memo should take and recommended background readings, can be found on its website: www.belfercenter.org/ publication/searching-grand-strategy-meet-china-challenge

To help promote this effort, ST is offering a $3,000 prize to the best essay from one of its readers.

The ST contest is now open for submissions.

ST editors will pick the top entries to be sent to Prof Allison for his review.

The winner will also receive two tickets to participate in this year's ST Global Outlook forum, to be held in November.

This is an ST signature event which looks at the big foreign affairs issues of the year and where these might be heading in 2020.

Entries for this ST essay contest should be submitted at http://str.sg/oV6P

These should reach us by 6pm on Oct 27.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 19, 2019, with the headline 'Challenge to ST readers'. Print Edition | Subscribe