About Strategic Learning


What Is Strategic Learning?

Strategic Learning is an online initiative produced by the Stimson Center’s South Asia Program to sharpen understandings of strategic concepts and coercive dynamics in Southern Asia and beyond. Strategic Learning pursues this mission by making diverse viewpoints accessible via open online courses, nurturing vibrant communities of “strategic learners” on social media, and providing opportunities for students to engage with experts in the field.

What Is Deterrence in Southern Asia?

Deterrence in Southern Asia is an online course produced by the Stimson Center South Asia Program's Strategic Learning initiative. Deterrence in Southern Asia goes beyond the India-Pakistan dyad to study deterrence relationships in the context of a larger strategic chain that includes China and the United States. It covers deterrence theory, deterrence relationships, and case studies from the Cold War and Southern Asia through video interviews with more than 60 leading scholars and practitioners from India, Pakistan, China, the United States, and beyond, including senior diplomats and former military officials. The course also features comprehensive original texts, innovative interactive features and regular knowledge checks, expert-written crisis case studies, and suggested reading lists.

Why Enroll in Deterrence in Southern Asia?

Upon completing this course, students will learn:

  • The role of coercion – including its subsets, deterrence and compellence – in the international system;
  • The tenets and assumptions underlying deterrence theory and the analytical challenges that come with applying theory to practice;
  • The key characteristics of Cold War and modern-Southern Asian states' deterrence postures and strategies, and how they impact crisis stability/instability;
  • The importance of the strategic chain linking Pakistan, India, China, and the United States;
  • How to apply key takeaways not only to understand and analyze coercive dynamics in Southern Asia but in international politics in general. 


The Stimson Center’s South Asia Program works to pave the way for a more stable and secure region by investing in critical exchange and open, objective inquiry. We produce policy analysis and academic research on regional strategic trends and geopolitical dynamics in order to inform both policy debates and scholarly work. We believe this dispassionate, reasoned approach is vital to generating high-quality strategic thinking that will advance regional and global stability. 

The program also focuses its efforts on partnering with the next generation of South Asian analysts and policymakers to build better tools for regional stewardship and enduring relationships for deliberative engagement. We seek to foster space for respectful dialogue and debate for all those who seek it be they rising scholars, contemporary experts, or even government officials from New Delhi, Islamabad, Washington D.C., and Beijing. We create this space through products and programs including the Strategic Learning initiative, our online strategic analysis platform, South Asian Voices, our Visiting Fellowship program, policy roundtables, academic workshops, and our track-two engagements and simulation exercises.


Program Leadership

Sameer Lalwani | Senior Fellow and Director, Stimson Center South Asia Program
Elizabeth Threlkeld | Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Stimson Center South Asia Program

Course Authors

Zeba Fazli | Head of Strategic Learning and Assistant Course Author
Gillian Gayner 
| Head Author and Course Designer
Tyler Sagerstrom | Assistant Course Author

Additional Contributors

Heather Byrne