‘America’s Sputnik Moments’

U.S. has failed to respond to new challenges, Sean Kay writes in ‘Survival’ article
Sean Kay

Sean Kay

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University professor and global security expert Sean Kay, Ph.D., says America’s “failure to adjust to repeated shocks to the system” – such as the 9/11 attacks, financial collapse of 2008, and 2011 Arab Spring – has led to “strategic paralysis at a key moment of systemic international change.”

He discusses the nation’s reactions in comparison to its response to the Soviet’s 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite in a new article in the journal “Survival: Global Politics and Strategy.”

“After investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets,” Kay writes of the Sputnik response and subsequent race to the moon. “We unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.”

Such innovation and investment in both higher education and technology is needed now to ensure the nation meets “our generation’s Sputnik moment,” he states. 

“Survival,” published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is considered one of the most prominent journals in international relations, along with “Foreign Affairs” and “Foreign Policy.” Read an excerpt of Kay’s new article, “America’s Sputnik Moments.”

Kay is a politics and government professor and director of international studies at Ohio Wesleyan, a Mershon Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University, and a fellow in foreign policy and national security at the Eisenhower Institute in Washington, D.C. He also is the author of “Global Security in the Twenty-First Century: The Quest for Power and the Search for Peace (second edition.)”


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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