Meet 2018 Carnegie Fellow Scott D. Sagan

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program recognizes an exceptional group of both established and emerging scholars, journalists, and authors with the goal of strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving both natural and human environments. 

Scott D. Sagan is the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, the Mimi and Peter Haas University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. He also serves as Project Chair for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Initiative on New Dilemmas in Ethics, Technology, and War. In 2017, he received the International Studies Association’s Susan Strange Award which recognizes the scholar whose “singular intellect, assertiveness, and insight most challenge conventional wisdom and intellectual and organizational complacency” in the international studies community.

I strive to conduct rigorous social science research that remains highly relevant for contemporary national and international security policy.”

Sagan was also the recipient of the National Academy of Sciences William and Katherine Estes Award in 2015, for his work addressing the risks of nuclear weapons and the causes of nuclear proliferation. The award, which is granted triennially, recognizes “research in any field of cognitive or behavioral science that advances understanding of issues relating to the risk of nuclear war.” In 2013, Sagan received the International Studies Association’s International Security Studies Section Distinguished Scholar Award.

How will the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program impact your research and overall career?

Sagan: I love teaching both undergraduate lecture courses and graduate seminars at Stanford, but this wonderful fellowship will permit me to focus exclusively, for a full year, on my research about ethics, nuclear weapons, and public opinion.

What research topics do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?

Sagan: I will be conducting a series of survey experiments, with Janina Dill (Oxford) and Benjaimin Valentino (Dartmouth), designed to measure public support for following just war doctrine and the laws of armed conflict in hypothetical, but realistic, military crises and war scenarios.   We are launching the experiments in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Israel this summer and will be both writing up our findings and giving talks at universities and to government officials during the course of the year.  Articles that have already been published as part of this project, including “Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran” (International Security, Summer 2017) and “Atomic Aversion” (American Political Science Review, February 2013) and other related work are available on the website of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at

Do you have any advice for students in political science, including tips on how to find funding and support for research projects?

Sagan: I strive to conduct rigorous social science research that remains highly relevant for contemporary national and international security policy. Funding from foundations is more likely whenever both scholarly rigor and policy relevance are on display in the same project proposal.  Also, I encourage my graduate students and CISAC fellows that projects don’t end when an article or a book is published.  That is when a security studies scholar needs to hit the road, presenting the work at major university seminars and think tanks and in briefings for government officials and military officers.