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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Abigail McGowan

Want to learn about state secrets, nuclear proliferation, cyber security, and terrorism from people who have lived and worked internationally in the field?

Then you might want to follow in the footsteps of Abigail McGowan, an employee at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and the first Ohio State student accepted to the Cambridge Security Initiative’s International Security and Intelligence Programme and Conference, to take place July 9 through August 3, 2018.

During this four-week summer program, McGowan will enjoy a unique opportunity to work with leading practitioners and academics from the security and intelligence communities in the riverside setting of Magdalene College at University of Cambridge.

“I'm an international studies major with a specialization in relations and diplomacy, so I thought this was a unique opportunity to learn about another specialization within international studies, that of security and intelligence,” McGowan said.

Chaired by Sir Richard Dearlove, formerly head of MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, and convened by Michael Goodman and David Gioe, the International Security and Intelligence Programme will consider the claims of state secrecy, the threat of nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, terrorism, the problems generated by the demand for regional security, and the security challenges of revolutions and governing diversity.

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Bruno Cabanes

Peter Mansoor

Mershon affiliates Peter Mansoor, Gen. Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair in Military History, and Bruno Cabanes, Donald G. and Mary A. Dunn Chair in Modern Military History, are recipients of a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through a program called "Dialogues on the Experience of War."

The purpose of the grant is to train participants in a seminar next fall, several of whom will go on in the following spring to lead discussions among local veterans regarding the experience of war in different eras, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the seminar, a one-time course offering in Fall 2018 on “Voices of War,” graduate and upper-level undergraduate students will examine the evolution of modern warfare and veterans’ identities.

Literature, films, and memoirs will provide valuable insights into the experiences of deployment, combat, and homecoming in conflicts ranging from the U.S. Civil War and World War I to more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Follow-on seminars in Spring 2019 led by selected participants will leverage material from the Voices of War seminar to enable Ohio veterans from recent conflicts to share their war experiences with our graduate students, our faculty, and with one another.

The seminar will be led by co-project directors Bruno Cabanes and Peter Mansoor along with Mershon affiliates Mark Grimsley and Jennifer Siegel. Classes will meet on Wednesdays from 11:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. in 168 Dulles Hall, 230 Annie & John Glenn Ave.

Alexander Wendt

Scientists have long thought that quantum mechanics -- the bizarre and fantastic world of non-locality, indeterminacy, and wave/particle duality that physicists discovered in the early 20th century -- was confined to the sub-atomic level. At the macroscopic, human level it’s been assumed that our familiar classical, Newtonian physics still rules, a belief reflected in the fundamental categories of social scientific thought such as classical logic, classical probability theory, and classical decision and game theory.

In the past decade, however, there have been growing hints that this foundational classical assumption is mistaken. For example, a field of “quantum biology” emerged after biologists unexpectedly found that birds, plants and other organisms use non-trivial quantum processes to survive. Closer to home, “quantum decision theorists” in psychology have shown that quantizing the axioms of expected-utility theory can resolve the long-standing anomalies of rational choice known as “Kahneman-Tversky effects.”

While these and other hints are still very preliminary, if evidence of quantum effects at the human level continues to mount, then the social sciences today could be in a situation similar to physics in 1900 – based on a simple but profound mistake, with a revolution just around the corner.

Quantum Theory and the International, organized by Alexander Wendt, Ralph D. Mershon Professor of International Security, won't try to solve any such grand question. But it will begin thinking – in a very exploratory and open-minded way – about what a quantum social science might look like. As students mostly of international politics, that subject will provide our substantive focus and primary illustrations.

>> Read more and register at go.osu.edu/quantumtheory

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Hollie Nyseth Brehm

Social factors shaped who rescued people in Rwandan genocide

We tend to think of heroes in terms of a psychological profile: brave, altruistic, strong.

But a new study suggests that for at least one kind of heroism, it takes a village to save a life.

Through in-depth interviews, researchers examined what motivated some members of the majority Hutu population in Rwanda to risk their own safety to save persecuted ethnic Tutsi during the genocidal violence of 1994. The violence claimed up to 1 million lives, eliminating much of the Tutsi population.

“We started this study thinking we would identify the individual characteristics that motivated rescuers, because that’s what most previous research had pointed to,” said Mershon affiliate Hollie Nyseth Brehm, co-author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

“But we realized very quickly that most people who rescued weren’t doing this alone. It was a form of collective action. The social dynamics and situational context were key factors in determining whether someone decided to rescue.”

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