Explorations in Cyber International Relations: A Research Collaboration of MIT and Harvard University

121 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2016

See all articles by Nazli Choucri

Nazli Choucri

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2015


In international relations, the traditional approaches to theory and research, practice, and policy were derived from experiences in the 19th and 20th centuries. But cyberspace, shaped by human ingenuity, is a venue for social interaction, an environment for social communication, and an enabler of new mechanisms for power and leverage. Cyberspace creates new condition — problems and opportunities — for which there are no clear precedents in human history. Already we recognize new patterns of conflict and contention, and concepts such as cyberwar, cybersecurity, and cyberattack are in circulation, buttressed by considerable evidence of cyber espionage and cybercrime.

The research problem is this: distinct features of cyberspace — such as time, scope, space, permeation, ubiquity, participation and attribution — challenge traditional modes of inquiry in international relations and limit their utility. The interdisciplinary MIT-Harvard ECIR research project explores various facets of cyber international relations, including its implications for power and politics, conflict and war.

Our primary mission and principal goal is to increase the capacity of the nation to address the policy challenges of the cyber domain. Our research is intended to influence today’s policy makers with the best thinking about issues and opportunities, and to train tomorrow’s policy makers to be effective in understanding choice and consequence in cyber matters.

Accordingly, the ECIR vision is to create an integrated knowledge domain of international relations in the cyber age, that is (a) multidisciplinary, theory-driven, technically and empirically; (b) clarifies threats and opportunities in cyberspace for national security, welfare, and influence;(c) provides analytical tools for understanding and managing transformation and change; and (d) attracts and educates generations of researchers, scholars, and analysts for international relations in the new cyber age.

Keywords: cybersecurity, international relations, cyber, cyberspace, cybercrime, cyberattack, MIT, Harvard, ECIR

Suggested Citation

Choucri, Nazli, Explorations in Cyber International Relations: A Research Collaboration of MIT and Harvard University (2015). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2016-1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2727414 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2727414

Nazli Choucri (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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