Minerva Initiative

About ECIR

Traditional approaches to international relations theory and research, practice, and policy are 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 conditions—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.

Exploration in Cyber International Relations (ECIR), is the label of a multidisciplinary and multidimensional research project initiated under a grant from the Minerva Program, Department of Defense. A joint project of MIT and Harvard University, ECIR included, but was not limited to Political Science, Economics, Business and Management, Engineering, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Law and Government. In response to new 21st C realities, the goal is to construct a cyber-inclusive view of international relations (Cyber-IR System) – with theory, data, analyses, simulations – to anticipate and respond to cyber threats and  challenges to national security and international stability.

The research design is modular (organized in core themes and cross cutting issues), supported by a multi-method strategy that enables the "individual" connect to an overarching "whole". ECIR is anchored in empirical analysis, buttressed by modelling, simulations, and the construction of new tools as needed. Basic assumptions are: (1) interdependence of technology and policy, (2) conjunction of uncertainty and regularity in human interactions, and (3) persistence of transformation and change in international relations.

The MIT-Harvard collaboration project was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, under award number N00014-09-1-0597. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research. See Minerva Project for details.

 The Final Report highlighted the major accomplishment of a five year MIT-Harvard University research, leading to the continued initiatives. 

See Science magazine article on Minerva Project.