J. Brian Atwood

Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs
Brown in Washington, National Press Club, 9th Floor
Areas of Expertise Democracy & Elections, Inequality & Poverty, International Institutions, US Foreign Policy
Areas of Interest US Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Development Cooperation, Congressional War Powers, Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Transitions, Europe and Africa


J. Brian Atwood is a Senior Fellow and a member of the Board of Governors of the Watson Institute at Brown University. He was Dean of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs from 2003 to 2010. Atwood served for six and one-half years as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Clinton Administration. In 1992/93 he led the Clinton transition team at the State Department and served as Under Secretary of State for Management prior to his appointment to head of USAID. He was elected Chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD in 2010. During the Carter Administration Atwood served as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. He was President of the National Democratic Institute from 1985 to 1993, and served on the UN Secretary General’s Panel on Peace Operations in 2000. He joined the Foreign Service in 1966, and was Senator Tom Eagleton’s legislative advisor for foreign policy from 1972 to 1977. He was Dean of Professional Studies at the Foreign Service Institute in 1981–82. Atwood received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 1999.


International development cooperation; poverty and its relationship to conflict; war powers in the US, the politics of US foreign policy; the global context for development cooperation; inequity and its impact on the less developed countries.


Washington Post re President's authority to hold aid to Ukraine, Development Cooperation: Threatened but Durable (Georgetown Inernational Relations Journal)


Diplomacy: An Art That Isn't Dead (IAPA 1801B)
Diplomacy and Development: Related But Different Missions (IAPA 1801V)

Recent News

News from Watson

Alumni Spotlight: David Benoit ’23 MPA

David Benoit, a 2023 graduate of Watson's Master of Public Affairs program, has used the data analytical and policy evaluation skills he gained in the program, along with faculty mentoring and prior experience working for then Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, to earn a position as the racial justice advocate for the American Civil Liberties of Massachusetts.
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Three International and Public Affairs concentrators spent the fall 2023 semester in the nation's capital serving as White House interns while participating in the Brown in Washington program where they took courses and learned more about what it takes to work in the public policy arena.
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J. Brian Atwood writes for The Hill, "We have seen enough mass shootings made easier with weapons that shoot multiple rounds — in schools, shopping centers, churches and bars. The American people have made it clear in poll after poll that they want Congress to act."
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