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. By developing interactive online courses and exclusive video lectures, we make diverse viewpoints from experts around the world accessible for our community of engaged "strategic learners."

What Courses Does Strategic Learning Offer?

The Stimson Center's Strategic Learning initiative offers four open, free online courses: Strategic South Asia, Deterrence in Southern Asia, Restoring Deterrence: Coercion and Crises in Southern Asia, and Missile Technologies in Southern Asia.

Strategic South Asia is the most comprehensive collection of perspectives regarding India and Pakistan's strategic and nuclear trajectories available online. Originally released in 2017, this course has been updated for improved interactivity and a more engaging student experience. It includes video interviews with more than more than 80 leading scholars and practitioners from India, Pakistan, and the United States, including former senior diplomats and military officers. In addition to lectures, the course includes multiple-choice quizzes, recommended readings, and a pass/fail final exam.

Deterrence in Southern Asia, released in Fall 2020, 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.

Restoring Deterrence: Coercion and Crises in Southern Asia is a 3-hour adaptation of Deterrence in Southern Asia intended for audiences of all vantage points. Released in 2022, this accessible course goes beyond academic theory and policy jargon to offer students the analytical tools necessary to assess the roles that coercion and deterrence play in Southern Asia. It covers deterrence relationships in the context of the “strategic chain” in Southern Asia, including China, India, and Pakistan, and explores deterrence concepts, crisis risks among nuclear-armed states, and key crisis case studies through video interviews with more than 20 leading scholars and practitioners from Southern Asia, the United States, and beyond.

Missile Technologies in Southern Asia, released in 2023, is an accessible, 3-hour course connecting technology to strategy by explaining how major missile technologies work, and presenting diverse perspectives on their relevance to strategic competition in Southern Asia and globally. Missile Technologies in Southern Asia explores key missiles and missile defense systems, missile arsenals across China, India, and Pakistan, and emerging developments through interactive features, text explainers, and video interviews with more than 20 leading scholars and practitioners from Southern Asia, the United States, and beyond.

Why Enroll in Strategic Learning Courses?

Upon completing Strategic Learning courses, students will learn:

  • The role of coercion – including its subsets, deterrence and compellence – in the international system;
  • How to analyze crisis episodes, management challenges, and confidence-building efforts in Southern Asia;
  • The tenets and assumptions underlying deterrence theory and the analytical challenges that come with applying theory to practice;
  • How missile technologies shape strategic competition and risks in Southern Asia;
  • To propose innovative solutions to reduce strategic competition and dangers in Southern Asia; and
  • 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

Elizabeth Threlkeld | Senior Fellow and Director, Stimson Center South Asia Program
Sahar Khan | Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Stimson Center South Asia Program
Akriti Vasudeva | Fellow, Stimson Center South Asia Program

Strategic Learning Team

Zeba Fazli | Project Lead
Betzalel Newman 
| Research Assistant
Siddharth Sridhar  | Junior Fellow

Contributor Alumni

Heather Byrne