Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship


Scholars' Library: Joseph Nye on 'A Life in the American Century'

Scholars' Library: Joseph Nye  on 'A Life in the American Century'

Open to All

30 May 2024

17:00 - 18:00 (GMT+01:00)

Online Platform


Join Joseph (New Jersey & Exeter 1958) to discuss power and political leadership, and changes in US academia and government over the years.

This event is free and open to the public.

For our May Scholars’ Library event, Joseph Nye (New Jersey & Exeter 1958) will discuss his new memoir A Life in the American Century. In conversation with fellow Scholar Ziyi Wang (China & Queen's 2021), amongst other topics, Joseph will talk about power and political leadership, his personal journey between Harvard and Washington, life in Oxford in the late 50's, and how US academia and government have changed over the years.

For the past eight decades, we have lived in "the American Century" - a period during which the US has enjoyed unrivalled power - be it political, economic or military - on the global stage. Born on the cusp of this new era, Joseph S. Nye Jr. has spent a lifetime illuminating our understanding of the changing contours of America power and world affairs. His many books on the nature of power and political leadership have rightly earned him his reputation as one of the most influential international relations scholars in the world today.

In this deeply personal book, Joseph Nye shares his own journey living through the American century. From his early years growing up on a farm in rural New Jersey to his time in the State Department, Pentagon and Intelligence Community during the Carter and Clinton administrations where he witnessed American power up close, shaping policy on key issues such as nuclear proliferation and East Asian security. After 9/11 drew the US into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nye remained an astute observer and critic of the Bush, Obama and Trump presidencies. Today American primacy may be changing, but he concludes with a faint ray of guarded optimism about the future of his country in a richer but riskier world.

You can obtain a copy of A Life in the American Century here

Joseph S. Nye , Jr. (New Jersey & Exeter 1958) is University Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and a Deputy Under Secretary of State, and won distinguished service awards from all three agencies. His books include Soft Power, The Future of Power, The Power Game: A Washington Novel, and Do Morals Matter? He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2014, Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun.

Ziyi Wang (China & Queen's 2021) is a 3rd -year PhD candidate and Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. As a member of the Royal Historical Society, Ziyi is a diplomatic historian specialising in post-Napoleonic Europe, particularly during the Concert of Europe, as she compares diplomatic efforts preceding the Greek War of Independence to that before the Crimean War. She has conducted extensive archival research in the UK, France, and Austria. Ziyi received her Master of Arts in International Policy from Stanford University, where she also obtained her BA in History and French. During her time at Stanford, Ziyi worked at the Hoover Institution as a research assistant to Secretary Condoleezza Rice, working on political communication in China. Ziyi also worked for Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster across projects including a white paper on public-private sector collaboration in Covid-19, emerging challenges in international security, and assisting with evacuation efforts in Afghanistan in August 2021.

Ziyi has competed as an elite golfer for nearly 20 years, having played on the Chinese National Team and the Stanford Women’s Golf Team; she became the 5th woman to join the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society since 1898 after competing on the Oxford Blues Men’s Golf Team.

Ziyi is fluent in English, Chinese, French, with fundamental knowledge of Russian and German.


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Q & A:

Please feel free to submit any questions in advance to or you can use the Q&A function within Zoom to ask questions directly during the live event.

There is no cost to attend this event, and we hope that all will join us! If you would like to support The Rhodes Trust, please consider giving time through volunteering, or giving a gift to the Scholars Fund. If you are interested in our volunteering opportunities, they can be found on our website.

ALT TEXT: A light blue background within which says 'Scholars' Library series' in a bolder, darker blue. There is the Rhodes 'R' and inside of that there is a shelf of books of various colours.

Part of the Lifelong Fellowship portfolio, The Scholars’ Library is a monthly book talk series, where Rhodes alumni can come together to present, discover and debate their literary works. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to Georgie Thurston at