Although high-tech and catastrophic issues maintain their relevance, the contemporary global security environment has increasingly diffused, evolved in complexity, and become more “human.”
The concept of “national security” for the US and of “global security” for the international community have necessarily broadened to adapt to the demands of this new environment. Security no longer centers on a static tension between two large state superpowers.
It must now concern itself with weak and corrupt governments, not just strong ones.
It must contend with non-state actors and violent extremists who pose a more grave and present danger than any single nation.
It must struggle with the fact that genocide and insurgencies are more prominent and more likely than conventional military standoffs, and that transnational criminal enterprises – from drugs to human trafficking – are deeply interconnected with social, economic and political conflicts.
It must confront and account for the reality that global climate change, energy crises, shortages of potable water, poverty and hunger threaten lives and challenge development. And it must appreciate that this diverse array of threats is dynamic and transactive.
The social and behavioral sciences offer theories and findings that might enhance our understanding of security issues, but they also offer a method of systematic inquiry to develop new knowledge.
A Report from the National Research Council (2002) suggests, for example, :
With regard to security concerns, the social sciences could focus on the precise nature of current “threats” to national and global security, including investigations of the culture of terrorist groups and the structure of terrorist networks. In addition, the social sciences could inform us about the difference between Cold War approaches and strategies for coping with biological threats, terrorist attacks, and stateless violence.
There are many ways in which the study of human behavior – at individual and collective levels – can inform policy and provide a platform for a more empirically-informed multidisicplinary science of national and global security.
It is in the long-term interest of the U.S. and the international community to encourage social/behavioral scientists to engage with each other around global security issues and to connect them with the security enterprise.
Accordingly, this blog is designed to serve as a resource for social/behavioral scientists interested in security issues and for security professionals interested in what science has to say about human behavior.