The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which oversees and directs the work of the 17 agencies and organizations responsible for foreign, military, and domestic intelligence for the United States, has a growing interest in research from the social and behavioral sciences that may be beneficial to the Intelligence Community (IC). To develop a systematic understanding of these potential benefits, ODNI requested that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conduct a decadal survey of the social and behavioral sciences to identify research opportunities that show promise for supporting national security efforts in the next 10 years.
A decadal survey is a method for engaging members of a research community to identify lines of research with the greatest potential utility in the pursuit of a particular goal. The National Academies pioneered this type of survey with a study of ground-based astronomy in 1964.1 Since then, committees appointed by the National Academies have conducted more than 15 decadal surveys. The Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security represents the first opportunity to apply this approach to the social and behavioral sciences.
Its purpose is to develop an understanding of the lines of research in these fields that offer the greatest potential to enhance the capabilities of the IC. To carry out this work, the National Academies appointed the Committee on the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security (Decadal Survey Committee); the committee’s charge appears in Appendix A.
The Decadal Survey Committee has pursued many avenues in collecting information about the needs of the IC and relevant cutting-edge research in the social and behavioral sciences. As part of its information-gathering process, the committee held a series of six workshops—the first three on October 11, 2017, and the second three on January 24, 2018. These workshops, for which planning began early in the committee process, were designed to explore areas about which the committee wished to learn more and to allow the committee to engage with a broad range of experts. The topics selected for the workshops do not necessarily indicate the ultimate direction of the committee’s deliberations.2 The six topics addressed by the workshops were
- changing sociocultural dynamics and implications for national security;
- emerging trends and methods in international security;
- leveraging advances in social network thinking for national security;
- learning from the science of cognition and perception for decision making;
- workforce development and intelligence analysis; and
- understanding narratives for national security purposes.
Separate steering committees, whose membership included both members of the Decadal Survey Committee and additional experts in the topics to be addressed, were appointed to plan these workshops. Each of these committees was guided by its own charge. All were asked to bring their expertise to bear in identifying specific areas of promising research and experts with deep knowledge who could offer a range of insights.
This proceedings of a workshop, prepared by the workshop rapporteur, summarizes the presentations and discussions at the second workshop, on emerging trends and methods in international security. This workshop was planned by the Steering Committee on Understanding Strategic Reasoning for National Security Purposes, whose charge is presented in Box 1-1. The workshop’s purpose was to explore the current state of research on political
2 For more information about the Decadal Survey and all of the workshops, see http://sites.nationalacademies.org/dbasse/bbcss/sbs_for_national_security-decadal_survey/index.htm [January 2018].
and strategic reasoning in the context of international security. It should be noted that the steering committee’s role was limited to planning and convening the workshop, and that the views contained in this proceedings are those of individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all workshop participants, the steering committee, or the National Academies.3 The agenda for the workshop appears in Appendix B; a list of individuals who attended the three workshops held on October 11, 2017, is presented in Appendix C; and biographical sketches of the steering committee members and speakers are provided in Appendix D.
In an opening session for the three October 11, 2017, workshops, the chair of the Decadal Survey Committee, Paul Sackett, University of Minnesota, and sponsor representative David Honey, ODNI, provided background information on the objectives for the six workshops.
Sackett observed that the Decadal Survey Committee will rely heavily on input from experts in the communities of national security and behavioral and social science research. Given the breadth of the committee’s charge, he explained, it must cast a wide net, extending well beyond the specific expertise of its members. He described the six workshops as an
3 For the archived Webcast of the workshop and available presentations, see http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BBCSS/DBASSE_181267 [November 2017].
important part of the effort to gather ideas. The workshops would support the committee by helping to identify promising research areas and allowing the committee members to engage in discussion with experts in a wide range of areas salient to its work.4
Honey expressed appreciation to all those contributing to the committee’s work through the workshops and other activities, noting that the participation of the full range of experts in the intelligence and behavioral and social science communities would be needed to make the decadal study successful. Making predictions about future directions for research is difficult, he acknowledged, but in his view it is necessary. He noted that the final report of the Decadal Survey Committee will be “a very powerful tool” for government officials who must make decisions regarding funding and other priorities. The decadal model, he explained, “offered the best opportunity” to identify research directions and priorities that reflect a wide range of insights and perspectives. “Decision makers are really asking much deeper and more probing questions today than we’ve seen before,” he said. “They really want to know why surprising movements such as the Arab Spring [uprisings that began in 2010] occur. The national security community is eager for new ways to understand such events and how to respond to them, and also for better ways to assess their interventions after the fact.” Honey thanked the participants for contributing, emphasizing that their ideas would be “crucial for getting us where we need to go.”
Consequential actors in international relations are growing in both number and diversity, noted steering committee chair Jeffrey Taliaferro, Tufts University, in opening the workshop. While complex and substantive issues continue to present new challenges, he said, the field of international security has evolved to embrace numerous academic disciplines, theoretical schools, methodologies, and ontologies. Thus, he explained, the workshop was planned as an opportunity for discussion with experts from a variety of domains. He added that the steering committee invited experts to explore three areas that shed light on both issues and methods in the international security arena: the changing nature and international security implications of status, power, and reputation among state and nonstate actors; cyber policy and security; and methods of forecasting negative developments with security implications. For the discussion of forecasting, the steering committee sought to examine approaches used in disparate domains, including
public health and the environment. Taliaferro acknowledged that a 1-day workshop could not begin to address the full range of current international security challenges, but explained that the presentations and discussions would allow participants to examine possible links across domains.
This proceedings follows the structure of the workshop. Chapter 2 summarizes the workshop presentations and discussions on the changing nature of status, power, and reputation. Chapter 3 turns to the strategic use of information, summarizing presentations and discussions on cyber-enabled information warfare and influence operations, Internet regulation under authoritarian governments, and the use of strategic cyber persistence. Chapter 4 explores forecasting methods and topics. Chapter 5 reviews trends in social science methods relevant to intelligence analysis. Finally, Chapter 6 includes the reflections of a panel of distinguished scholars on the presentations summarized in Chapters 2 through 5.
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