Dr Heather Williams on the role of academia in the ‘post-truth’ era

Here we catch up with Dr Heather Williams, Lecturer in the Department of Defence Studies, to discuss her experience of working in policy and academia and how King’s has shaped her research.

Dr Williams is the Course Leader for a new Masters in Arms Control and International Security (ACIS) which is a collaboration between the Defence and War Studies departments. The programme brings together scholars from a range of backgrounds, all dedicated to advancing their understanding of arms control as a core aspect of international security.

What do you think the key issues in US-Russia relations will be over the next few years?

I think we should be watching Russian domestic politics as much as we can. It’s so hard to know what is really going on inside Russia sometimes. There are some things that are not quite as stable as Putin would really have us believe.

The second thing would be the role of emerging technology. Putin’s speech in March 2018 focused on modernisation and that’s going to play a role in the nuclear balance.

The third thing is the role of social media and our awareness that Russia is focusing on psychological and information warfare.

Should everyone have the opportunity to understand nuclear policy?

I think everybody as citizens has the right to ask questions and to try to understand their government’s policy.

Beyond that, the ‘post-truth’ era, academia has a real responsibility to play a role in trying to help identify what ‘truth’ is. If the public really wants to know what’s going on they should have access to more academically-driven resources. And that’s why I do what I do and why I think King’s can play this great social role as well.

To read a transcript of the full interview please click here.


Dr Heather Williams is a Lecturer in Defence Studies and Centre for Science and Security Studies Fellow, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, King’s College London. She is also an adjunct Research Staff Member in the Strategy, Forces and Resources Division of the Institute for Defence Analyses in Alexandria, Virginia and consults on projects for the US Department of Defence.

She will be part of the debate at Alumni Weekend 2018 Who Will Lead Humanity Forward?

This engaging, participatory event will decide which academic discipline is the most revolutionary and has the capacity to affect the most change for our world. Speakers have been drawn from across the academic spectrum and the panel will feature experts from subjects including philosophy, psychiatry, computer science, law and organisational behaviour.

Book your tickets for Alumni Weekend 2018, taking place 8 – 10 June, by clicking here.

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