Announcements, News

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey has been awarded over $7 million to establish a Japan Chair for a World Without Nuclear Weapons at its Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

Vienna Award
Vienna Center Executive Director Elena Sokova MAMPA ’00 and H.E. Ambassador Atsushi Kaifu (middle in front of flag) surrounded by colleagues at a signing ceremony on March 1 in Vienna. 

The funding from the Japanese government, announced on February 27 by Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, will be used to establish an endowment in support of research, capacity-building, dialogue, and policy proposals contributing to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. 

“I wish to express my appreciation to Japan for recognizing the disarmament and nonproliferation accomplishments of the Center, including with respect to education and training,” said William C. Potter, director of Middlebury Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS).

In addition to bolstering the Center’s current work on disarmament and nonproliferation, income generated from interest on the endowment will fund a dedicated fellowship for early-career scholars and a summer internship for graduate students from Japan at the Vienna Center.

“Our collaborations with both the Vienna Center and CNS are critically important for our graduate students in Nonproliferation and Terrorism and Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies,” said Michelle McCauley, interim executive vice president and provost. “This new funding provides our graduate students greater opportunities to interact with leading experts focused on disarmament and nonproliferation in this important geopolitical moment.”

Vienna Center Executive Director Elena Sokova MAMPA ’00, who secured the funding, said the award underscores the significance of the Center’s multifaceted approach to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. 

“It motivates us to redouble our efforts towards achieving a safer and more secure world for all,” she said. 

The Vienna Center, established in 2010 by Middlebury College, CNS, Middlebury Institute, and the Austrian Foreign Ministry, is one of three non-governmental organizations to receive the award from Japan. It’s a member of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium, which coordinates a Europe-wide network of think tanks and research institutes, supported by the European Union.

The new Japan Chair will work closely with these organizations globally and support existing disarmament mechanisms and institutions like the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. They also will help develop new ones. The funding will enhance existing in-person courses and online resources to inform key decision makers and train diplomats and practitioners around the world. 

“This recognition is a testament to the Vienna Center’s numerous contributions to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation through groundbreaking research, impactful capacity-building programs, and the ability to bring together national governments, international organizations, academia, and civil society for a constructive and result-oriented dialogue,” said Sokova. 

Potter credits Sokova, a Middlebury Institute alumna, and her team for pursuing the funding and for leading an international team of experts in Vienna. Three others on the team are also Middlebury Institute alumni. 

“It has been exceptionally rewarding to observe the growth of the Vienna Center since it was founded in 2011,” said Potter, who is also the Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute. “The Japanese award is indicative of the global impact and international standing of the Center.”