What is “Security Studies”? We asked ourselves that same question a few years ago when we hired Eric Schewe to write a column for us called “Security State of Mind.” We thought the working name for the column— “Security Theater”—told us almost everything we needed to know. Then he started publishing columns about food security, climate change, military bases, and suddenly we got it. Like our other syllabi, this is a thematic collection of stories that have been published on JSTOR Daily over the past several years by our pool of freelance writers. If you’re looking for a more academic list of resources, Eric has also compiled a Security Studies Reading List of foundational security studies texts found on JSTOR. As always, the research we cite is free for all to read.

US National Security

NSA operations center

The National Security Advisor: A Primer

Presidents have appointed National Security Advisors since 1953. Since the 1960s, they've become increasingly powerful within the Executive Branch.
Sacred Cow plane

National Security and the Rise of American Air Power

Intending to rein in spending, the 1947 National Security Act reorganized the military establishment.
declassified NSA poster

What Drives American Disenchantment with the NSA

The National Security Agency's surveillance of citizens flew under the radar for decades. Why is there now so much mistrust of the NSA?
Factories Emitting Pollution

Why Climate Change Is a National Security Issue

Viewing climate change through a national security lens makes a certain amount of sense -- but it won't entirely solve the problem.
An illustration of hands around a ballot box

Enfranchisement Is the Only Route to Security

In our final security studies column, our columnist posits that security as a permanent mode of government is actually making Americans less secure.

Surveillance and Privacy

Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper from 1928 announces that Olmstead is guilty of bootlegging.

An Early Wiretapping Case

Wiretapping made its debut in front of the Supreme Court in 1928.
data mining

Testing Americans’ Tolerance for Surveillance

What would have been considered a dystopian level of surveillance a mere twenty years ago has now become the norm. Why don't internet users care?
Security camera

The World’s New Private Security Forces

The global private market for security has brought with it the need for hiring, measuring, and monitoring security workers in unprecedented ways.
My Body My Choice graffiti

What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy

Roe v. Wade left Americans with the idea that privacy is something we can expect as citizens. But does the SCOTUS consider privacy a constitutional right?
Facebook landing page on a tablet

How to Disappear Completely: Linguistic Anonymity on the Internet

Is anonymity on the Internet linguistically possible?
ominous smartphone

How Pleasure Lulls Us into Accepting Surveillance

The domestication of surveillance technology has caused big legal and ethical implications for security on both a personal and a social scale.

Borders and Migration

Noah Webster painting

How Noah Webster Invented the Word Immigration

Noah Webster, author of An American Dictionary of the English Language published in 1828, invented the word "immigration."
The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777

Immigration and National Security on George Washington’s Day

Presuming that immigration was a boon to national security, U.S. borders remained mostly open for the first century of the nation’s existence.
German dissidents Friedrich and Pauline Kellner's 1935 passport photos

Papers, Please: The Invention of the Passport

Immigration and national security remain at the top of President Trump’s agenda. He issued a revised executive order ...
Khmer Rouge guerilla accepts a gift of cigarettes from a waiting French official, May, 1975.

How the Vietnam War Shaped US Immigration Policy

The makings of our modern resettlement system can be traced back to the fallout of the Vietnam War, a cascade of international crises stoked by the U.S.
Nogales Arizona Mexico

The Case for Open Borders

Is a world without borders an idea so crazy it just might work? Scholars weigh in on how open borders might solve the world's immigration problem.
Finistère by Rhona Haszard, 1926

What Happens When Rising Seas Shift Maritime Borders?

Some countries argue that they should keep their ocean territories, even if the land they're based on is submerged.
Food security

Global Food Security: A Primer

World hunger is not caused by our inability to produce enough food. The problem arises because of the economic inequality that distorts food distribution.

War, Terrorism, and Military Conflict

A man looking at land affected by drought

Climate Change and Syria’s Civil War

Some scholars and scientists are calling climate change the invisible player in Syria's ongoing civil war. But is that too simplistic an explanation?
Rosie the Riveter

How Conflict Boosts the Economy

Historically speaking, we are living in unusually peaceful times. But does peacetime mean bad things for the economy, which is often boosted by war?
Black and white photograph of the Postdam Conference group from 1945

Potsdam and the Origins of the Cold War

An exploration of Potsdam and its effects on the Cold War.
U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) meet in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017.

Can the US and China Avoid the Thucydides Trap?

The "Thucydides trap" refers to the theory that when a rising power threatens a ruling power, the result is often war. Are the US and China headed there?
U.S.S. Pueblo, 1968

Can Thucydides Teach Us Why We Go to War?

A contemporary scholar uses the ancient Greek historian to explain the 1968 Pueblo Crisis in North Korea.
By FEMA News Photo (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism

The fight for nuclear non-proliferation by state and non-state actors alike.
Airport map Afghanistan

Why is the US Military Occupying Bases Across Africa?

The U.S. occupation of Africa has become self-justifying. The U.S. military now must stay in Africa to protect the interests of the U.S. military in Africa.
War headlines

Do Terrorists Ever Win?

Surveying the purported objectives of 28 international terrorist groups and determining whether these groups achieved their aims.

Spies and Intelligence Agencies

The CIA Seal

America’s State Secrets and the Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 (or FOIA) was the result of a struggle by Congress and private business for information from the executive branch.
An illustration from the Bantam edition of Graham Greene's The Quiet American

When the CIA Was Everywhere—Except on Screen

Hollywood was just fine avoiding all portrayals of the Central Intelligence Agency for years after the agency's founding in 1947.
The CIA logo over a Jackson Pollock painting

Was Modern Art Really a CIA Psy-Op?

The number of MoMA-CIA crossovers is highly suspicious, to say the least.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin attend an inauguration ceremony for Putin May 7, 2000 in the Kremlin in Moscow.

Was Russia Destined to Be an Autocracy?

The most important factors that steered Russia away from democracy, says one scholar, weren't inevitable.
Special Operations Executives (SOE) Agents During WWII

Clothing Britain’s Spies during World War II

To hide in plain sight while on assignment in foreign nations, agents needed precisely tailored clothes made to look local.
Polish Codebreakers

Cracking Enigma: The Polish Connection

Bletchley Park's code-breakers are famous for cracking Enigma, but they had a major assist from three Polish mathematicians, who had done it in 1932.
Microwaves

How a Microwave Weapon Might Work

Personnel at the US embassy in Havana have reported mysterious sounds and physical symptoms consistent with brain injury. Could it be microwaves?
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