Tuesdays with a Korbel Grad

Happy Tuesday and welcome to another edition in the Tuesdays with a Korbel Grad series.

Balazs is a 2012 MA in International Security Korbel Grad and he was happy to share his Korbel and post-graduate experience as a Korbelian.


Balazs in the Minister of Defence’s office in Budapest. On the left, Csaba Hende, in talks with the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Sandy Vershbow in November 2013.


1.       What is your current profession?

I am a counsellor at the Defence Policy Department of the Ministry of Defence of Hungary. My portfolio includes transatlantic relations and NATO policy.

2.       How has the Josef Korbel School prepared you for your career?

The Korbel School is a unique place where theory meets practice. The faculty has a great mix of practitioners and theoreticians, and we as students benefited from both knowledge and experience. Policy-oriented classes allowed us to master the value of writing concisely when preparing policy briefs – I use the skill set I gained at Korbel regularly when I prepare policy documents for the Hungarian Defence Policy Director or even the Minister. Further, the small sizes of classes encouraged vigorous debate which led to a deeper understanding of any one issue area. I cannot overemphasize the value of adjunct faculty, ranging from Air Force colonels to former State Department officials: they provided a framework for us students to place academic theories of security in.

3.       Please describe your experience as a Sie Fellow.

The very generous donation from John and Anna Sie allowed us fellows to focus all of our attention on our education. Thus we could devote our time to debating and conceptualizing the security issues of today and work on developing ideas for policy makers. The regular meetings with Dean Hill were incremental in deepening my understanding of the drivers behind the policy world, and working for the Sie Center for International Security and Diplomacy was an added benefit in providing real-world work experience. Our Sie Fellow Seminar with Professor Avant on Global Governance was especially useful (and enlightening!) in exploring one of the current great security challenges of our time.

4.       Who from the Josef Korbel School faculty had the most impact on you?  

All of the faculty provide added value for any student there. Each faculty members’ expertise adds to the unique combination that is Korbel. If I had to name one member of the faculty, it would have to be my thesis adviser and supervisor, Professor Rachel Epstein. Professor Epstein was fantastic in working with me on finding the right methodology for my thesis and always had forward looking solutions whenever I reached an obstacle in the process. During the time I was compiling reports on Eastern Central Europe as her RA, her incredible amount of expertise on issues in Eastern Central Europe never ceased to amaze me, even in Hungarian policy matters (where I am supposed to be the “native”).


Balasz is a great example of our Korbel cohort, and we are excited to see what the future holds for him.

See you next week for our Tuesdays with a Korbel Grad series!


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