U.S. Capitol building with flowers in the fore ground
ASU in Washington D.C.

Advancing democracy and US leadership

Arizona State University’s presence in Washington, D.C. supports the university’s efforts to advance democratic principles and strengthen America’s capacity for global leadership.

ASU’s multifaceted approach to this mission includes promoting democracy at home and abroad, strengthening diplomatic relationships and practice, supporting national security and defense and training the next generation of American and global leaders. ASU carries out this work in collaboration with numerous government, academic and civic partners, including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development and a broad community of Washington-based practitioners in diplomacy, defense and development. The university routinely convenes these diverse partners with ASU subject matter experts at the Barrett & O’Connor Center to develop solutions that serve American interests and enable a more prosperous and democratic world.


McCain Institute

Character-driven leadership for a free, safe and just world

Reflecting the legacy of Senator John McCain and his family’s dedication to public service, the McCain Institute works to advance democracy, human dignity and security in America and around the world. The Institute works with local and national partners to turn ideas into action and impact across multiple areas, including democracy promotion, combating human trafficking, preventing hate-based violence, national security and counterterrorism, and global leadership development. The McCain Institute also hosts the Sedona Forum, an annual, high-level gathering of national and international leaders and decision-makers committed to advancing character-driven leadership and democratic values.

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International Development Initiative

Advancing transformative partnerships for global development

The International Development Initiative at ASU mobilizes the university’s expertise and relationships with global universities and partners to drive impact-oriented approaches for addressing the world’s development needs. ASU’s presence in Washington, D.C. provides direct connectivity to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State and numerous Washington-based organizations— enabling ASU to collaboratively design innovative solutions to global challenges related to democracy and governance, economic growth, education, energy, and water and resource security. Through the International Development Initiative, ASU has implemented and partnered on more than 50 global projects, with over $350 million sponsored by USAID alone.

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National security

Global Security Initiative

Supporting America’s defense research strategy

Experts at ASU’s Global Security Initiative (GSI) provide thought leadership and expertise to support the Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) and other federal agencies working in defense research and development. The GSI also brings together interdisciplinary researchers from across ASU to develop tools, technologies and solutions for multiple DoD-identified Critical Technology Areas, from microelectronics and future generation wireless to cybersecurity and AI.

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Future Security Forum

Rethinking global security for the 21st century

The Future Security Forum, an annual conference hosted by ASU’s Future Security Initiative and New America, convenes thought leaders from academia, military, government, industry and civil society to address the most pressing security issues facing America and the world. Running consistently since 2015, the conference has become an important part of the Washington, D.C. national security calendar, drawing significant national media coverage and thousands of in-person and online attendees including major thought leaders from the military, government, media, and international civil society and diplomatic circles.

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Competitive Statecraft Initiative

Addressing contemporary security challenges

The Competitive Statecraft Initiative advances innovative approaches to sustaining and strengthening American national security and global leadership. Leveraging ASU’s leadership and connectivity in Washington, the initiative supports national defense priorities through research and analysis, strategy and policy development, and by providing training and education for the next generation of national security experts.

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ASU Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab

Led by seasoned diplomatic and national security professionals, ASU’s Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab (LDNS Lab) advances character-driven leadership, diplomacy, and national security education and training in support of the full range of university enterprises. The Lab dedicates itself to learner-centered solutions and thought leadership through a global network of partners. This gives learners a chance to engage with some of the most experienced and distinguished diplomacy and leadership experts available. In addition, The Lab’s work includes the American Diplomacy Project, in collaboration with the Una Chapman Cox Foundation, which has produced a blueprint for reforming and redesigning U.S. foreign service to meet 21st century needs.

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Strengthening economic and security ties in Southeast Asia

The United States and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (U.S.-ASEAN) Center, launched in partnership between ASU in the U.S. Department of State, works to strengthen American economic and cultural engagement across Southeast Asia. Located at the Barret & O’Connor Center in the heart of Washington, D.C., the U.S.-ASEAN center deepens U.S. ties with the Indo-Pacific region through academic, private sector and civil society partnerships and people-to-people engagement.

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McCain Global Leaders

Building character-driven leaders worldwide

The McCain Global Leaders Program provides personal and professional development for 25 diverse, character-driven global leaders from around the world each year. Through personalized training, resources and access to the McCain Institute’s Washington and global networks, the program equips senior and mid-career leaders to enhance their ability to advance democracy, human rights and freedom in their home countries and beyond.

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U.S. Department of State Young Leaders programs

ASU is a host institution for all three of the U.S. Department of State’s premier leadership training programs for youth in developing countries, including the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) and Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). ASU is also the lead implementer of an $80 million USAID award to empower more than 24,000 alumni of the YALI program in 49 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with multiple Washington- and Africa-based partners.

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