Former Covenant student Jed Royal returned to campus this past week to give a lecture series on US/China relations, foreign policy, and globalization, in addition to discussing his career path. Mr. Royal is currently employed as Director of Cooperative Threat Reduction Policy, an office in the United States Department of Defense. His comments are made in his private capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Government.
What was your time at Covenant like? What brings you back to the school?
I had four great semesters here at Covenant, and I really attribute my initial thinking and interest in international politics to the time I had here, particularly with the history department professors, but some others as well, like Dr. Fikkert. It was Dr. Morton’s International Politics class that really started me down the road of investigating where the United States was as a country, and where we were headed in terms of international influence, and use of force… But I hadn’t been back to the college until last summer. I had heard that Cale Horne had been hired as the new political studies professor, which was very exciting news for me because it was something that I had always wanted as student here, to be able to take political studies courses….We went to Covenant around the same time and recognized how much we had in common…He invited me to come down and give a short series of lectures on some things that I care about up in Washington, and that’s why I’m back. It was an opportunity for me to come back to the place where my initial interest in international politics began, and also do something that’s a little bit helpful for students as they think about their careers.
How has the lecture series been going? Have you been impressed by the interactions you’ve had with students while here?
Yes. I think the depth of knowledge on political issues and international relations issues is much stronger now than it was when I was a student here. The questions I’m being asked are challenging questions…truly inquisitive questions and to me it reflects a real sense of interest in what’s going on in the world today.
Could you tell the students here about what you do for a living, and what your career with the Department of Defense has been like?
I’m a policy advisor. I work in the office of the Secretary of Defense… What I do is provide policy advice, in particular for issues related to countering weapons of mass destruction. So our department and our government thinks that there’s a lot we can do right now to prevent, prepare and respond to WMD use, particularly by terrorist organizations, but also state based actors as well. What I do is help manage a program we call Cooperative Threat Reduction, that works with partner countries to reduce the vulnerability of the use of WMD materials, and tries to prevent access to those materials by non-state actors and from crossing international borders through illicit means. That’s kind of a broad conceptual overview; on a day-to-day basis, the more routine stuff that I do is I write a lot of briefings, I attend a lot of meetings, I provide advice to my senior leadership on resourcing, use of funds, and new country engagements. We are starting a new effort out in Southeast Asia, so I’ve been to that region twice this year, interacting with foreign governments. I’m working on cooperative approaches with them, and what we’ll do is come to an agreement with a foreign government on certain projects we might want to undertake, and then we will ask other components of our department to go implement those projects.