Teddy Roosevelt had it right:  “It is not the critic who counts…”

We’re about leaders and citizens of character – In The Arena– fighting to defend human rights, foster security and advance freedom.

Inspired by Senator John McCain and the McCain family legacy of public service, Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership champions character-driven leadership and civic engagement in the United States and abroad.

Our five core programs are all action-oriented and mutually supporting.

The Next Generation Leaders program prepares and networks emerging leaders from tough spots around the world.

International Rule of Law & Security steeps students in the law and policy of promoting fair and equitable justice systems, and assists in the development of legal systems that ensure fundamental rights and national security.

Combatting Human Trafficking educates stakeholders, trains authorities and fields long-term mechanisms to eradicate an unconscionable scourge.

Human Rights & Democracy convenes a uniquely effective working group of principals, gives voice and protection to a growing list of activists, and is mounting a national campaign to redefine how we talk and act.

And our National Security & Counterterrorism program has set out to increase U.S. capacity to challenge homegrown extremism, build an international community of young counterterrorism professionals and forge international partnerships.

Euromaidan “Revolution of Dignity” — Kiev, Ukraine, Dec. 2013

Cell phone footage captured by Senator John McCain

In Action

A Call for Mavericks
McCain Institute: Join Us -- In The Arena
Sedona Forum: “The Crisis in Venezuela”
Next Generation Leaders Impact Video


Rasmussen Calls for New Government Resources and Community Engagement Tools to Combat Domestic Terrorism and Violent White Supremacy

In the wake of this past weekend’s horrific acts of mass murder, McCain Institute Senior Director of Counterterrorism and National Security Nicholas Rasmussen was active in urging the U.S. government…

McCain Institute Hosts 2019 Next Generation Leader Cohort Graduation Ceremony with Keynote Address by Lt. Jack McCain

WASHINGTON—The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University congratulates the 2019 Next Generation Leader (NGL) Cohort for completing the 10-month intensive leadership training program. After finishing their yearlong…

McCain Institute Seeks Applicants for National Security Fellowship

For counterterrorism professionals from the Five Eyes nations WASHINGTON, DC  (July 17, 2019) — The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University is pleased to announce that applications…

Calling All Mavericks

America has lost its most well-known Maverick, and it’s a position we need to fill. Mavericks are essential to freedom. The McCain Institute has launched a new initiative, #MavericksNeeded, calling all Mavericks to stand up, to speak out, and to serve causes greater than themselves.

#MavericksNeeded is Phase 1 of a long-term nonpartisan initiative to educate and inspire Americans to reconnect with the United States’ bedrock legacy of standing up for human rights at home and around the world.


Phoenix, Arizona – Rick Davis, Senator John McCain’s former presidential campaign manager and McCain Institute Trustee, read the following farewell statement from Senator McCain at a press conference at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, on August 27th, 2018.

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Today's #WednesdayWisdom leadership quote of the week is courtesy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. #InTheArena ... See MoreSee Less

14 Aug 2019

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We Hold These Truths to be self-evident, that we are all born with freedoms. We must know them, protect them and defend them for all. For if we do not, who will? Weholdthesetruths ... See MoreSee Less

13 Aug 2019

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One month until the big debate! Join us on Wednesday September 17 as four experts debate “Are College Campuses Eroding Free Speech?” You won’t want to miss this timely and substantive discussion. https://t.co/efkU1PQLlf

ICYMI: Check out the newest episode of #InTheArena featuring smart city technology expert @BobBennett_b2! He shared insights about cutting-edge civic solutions shaping in Kansas City, across the country, and around the world. https://t.co/YvOl5MFkUB

Are you ready to learn from the best? Join rising leaders from across the Five Eyes to create a lasting community of counterterrorism professionals. Learn more about the McCain National Security & Counterterrorism Fellowship. https://t.co/V0yLLBUPsm