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Introducing the AGS Cyber Blog

By Justin Sherman. October 3, 2018.

“Cyber” is changing everything around us, from international security to domestic surveillance to corporate advertising to the prosecution of human rights abuses. While these technological developments embody and implicate principles that are thousands of years old—ideas such as deterrence, proportionality, vulnerability, consent—they nonetheless occur at a scale and speed that makes them markedly different from earlier periods of industrialization and technological impact; further, there are distinct features of today’s technologies, from the degree of vulnerability to the low barrier of entry into cyberspace, that require new forms of education to prepare the next generation of global thinkers.

This is why fellow student Rebecca DiLuzio and I started the general-body Cyber Club and the competitive Cyber Team, run out of the Duke University Program in American Grand Strategy (AGS). It is an effort at student-led cyber education unrivaled at many other institutions. (Inés Jordan-Zoob, Vice President of the Club and Team, and I are actually teaching a half-credit, undergraduate class “Cyber and Global Security” as well.)

With the AGS Program, we have slated a number of high-profile cyber speakers this semester—such as Stephanie O’Sullivan, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence; Dr. Peter W. Singer, Strategist at New America and author of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media; and Jeffrey Ritter, Lecturer at the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science—and recruited over a dozen undergraduates to join our competitive Cyber Team, coached by a former intelligence official, which will compete in the likes of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12. We are rigorously preparing these students, through weekly briefings from experts across government, academia, think tanks, and private industry, to learn about how “cyber,” broadly speaking, is changing the world around us. We are also helping them to develop the skills necessary to think, lead, and affect meaningful change in our increasingly digital world.

This very blog is where the Cyber Team students will document their journey. They will recap events; they will analyze the ‘war room’ simulations we’ll run; they will even provide commentary, as up-and-coming cyber experts, on recent news events and policy happenings. In some ways, I hope this will demonstrate how Duke’s Cyber Club and Cyber Team began—after all, for higher education to survive the changes of the twenty-first century, it must quickly adapt to the reality of the digital world around us, and this may provide lessons for others looking to start similar programs. In other ways, though, I hope this will also prove useful to those interested in cyber and technology more broadly. Everybody starts somewhere, and sometimes it means a lot to see that explicitly: to follow these students on their path to the future!

Justin Sherman is a junior double-majoring in computer science and political science and the Co-Founder and President of the Duke Cyber Team. He is a Fellow at Interact; the Co-Founder and Vice President of Ethical Tech; and a Cyber Policy Researcher at the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences. He has written extensively on cyber policy and technology ethics, including for Journal of Cyber Policy, Defense One, The Strategy Bridge, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article and in all following articles on the Cyber blog are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of Duke University or the Duke University Program in American Grand Strategy.