Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab

“Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment."  Dogen, Leading Japanese Buddist (1192 - 1333) 

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The Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab (LDNS Lab) advances character-driven leadership, diplomacy, and national security education and training in support of the full range of university enterprises. Led by diplomatic and national security professionals, The Lab dedicates itself to learner-centered solutions and thought leadership through a global network of partners employing state of the art learning tools.

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Upcoming Events and Programs

Global Literacy Masterclasses

The LDNS Lab Masterclass Series, offered through the Lab’s Ambassador-in-Residence, engages the ASU community and ultimately all audiences in partnership with the university, in a broad–ranging conversation about America’s foreign policy and the country’s role in world affairs.

See upcoming classes 

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The Summer of the Cockroaches

Pardis Mahdavi relays her experience of the Iranian sexual revolution and similar movements in the Middle East, including Afghanistan. Why was the summer of the cockroaches her favorite? There weren't enough cockroaches for everybody! And this is to say nothing of the orgies.  Listen and find out what all of this could possibly mean.

Listen to the Podcast 

Lab Topics

By Ambassador Michael C. Polt

The Hill

We have all seen the disturbing images from the evacuations at Kabul airport. Most Americans supported ending our military mission in Afghanistan, but likely not in the way the departure has played out.


By Jarrod Davis

Barrett Values Centre

Our values inform our thoughts, words, and actions. Our values are important because they help us to grow and develop. They help us to create the future we want to experience.

Values, Leadership

By Sally Helgesen


Understanding how female leaders have developed over time can help us embrace the potential for their future advancement.



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What people say about us


General Freakley and Ambassador Polt offer a tremendous opportunity for civic leaders to learn more about our nation’s leaders through an in person walking tour in DC that provides both historical context about the leaders profiled while also illuminating the type of leadership characteristics for each. The presentations and encouraged interaction for all on the tours results in more insight and appreciation of those leaders who have come before us and why their leadership was so vitally important. I encourage everyone to request the opportunity and also to engage with the Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab for all the numerous initiatives it offers.

Christine Wilkinson, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Secretary of the University
President and CEO, ASU Alumni Association
Managing Director, Trustees of ASU
Arizona State University


I attended the LDNS Lab sessions on 'Exploring Character-Driven Leadership' and it turned out to be such a life changing experience. It clarified my vision, boosted my confidence and set me up for a successful career in leadership. The sessions used practical, real life lessons to teach leadership principles by exploring and explaining what leadership truly means.

Augustine Adepoju
Student, Organizational Leadership
College of Integrative Sciences and Arts
Arizona State University


As a strictly online ASU student, sometimes it can be a challenge finding the right ways to be involved in Sun Devil events. I am so happy I made the decision to participate in the Character-Driven Leadership session during Innovation Quarter! What stood out for me most was the intimacy of the session because it really allowed for us to actively engage with Ambassador Polt, Gen. Freakley, and our peers. I especially loved that what we covered during the session reinforced and amplified what I've been learning as an OGL major, because it shows that there is consistency across the disciplines at ASU. I highly recommend this session to anyone wanting to develop in their role as a leader...professionally and personally.

Najja Meeks
Arizona State University


The "Exploring Character-Driven Leadership" program during Innovation Quarter at ASU was one of my favorite sessions! The engaging two hour long sessions every day were one of the most thought-provoking and enriching experiences I have had, and that's after the virtual format of its programming! I felt close to the other participants despite them being in a different city or country altogether. We discussed multiple characteristics of leaders, including values, ethics, and trustworthiness and the environments in which we lead.

Tina Sindwaini
Student, Computer Systems Engineering
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Arizona State University