State of the Field of Cyber Conflict

In early summer, CCSA, in conjunction with the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, co-hosts the Workshop on the State of the Field of Cyber Conflict.

The SOTF Workshop is perhaps the only cyber-related event which is not dedicated necessarily to finding answers: rather, the SOTF is driven by the will to be sure we are asking the right questions.

The field of cyber conflict is growing faster than most other disciplines: not only are the underlying cyber technologies booming but so is the audacity with which adversaries are using them for national security purposes. Despite this fast-moving frontier of knowledge, the field has done a poor job of identifying the central questions, the canonical works, and the core issues which have been (more or less) adopted. A new researcher can enter the field and write a published paper on, for example, cyber deterrence, with little reference to the vast amount of work already published in this space.

At the SOTF, participants discuss cyber conflict as a field of research, agree on primary topic areas of research, review the core questions in each of those topics, create a shared understanding of existing research on those questions, and identify canonical works. The major questions include a wide range, such as: What is cyber power? How is cyber conflict most alike, and most different, from other kinds of conflict? Is it more or less escalatory than conflict in the air, land, sea or space? How can states and non-states encourage restraint?

SOTF consists of facilitated panel discussion led by a moderator who worked with rapporteurs to provide substance and structure to the discussion, which followed Chatham House rules.

The workshop presents engagement and leadership opportunities for established researchers as moderators. Ph.D. candidates play a particularly significant role in the event as both rapporteurs and participants. New scholars are frequently the ones most in need of this material and who can produce literature reviews and research which will fuel future conferences.

If you are interested in joining SOTF – as a participant, moderator, or rapporteur, please contact us.

Past workshops & agendas

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