Prof Kosal speaks on CBRN Security Culture and Academic Freedoms

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On Monday, 6 February, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs Assistant Professor Margaret E. Kosal spoke on the challenges of integrating security with the needs of basic scientific research.

Kosal was an invited speaker at the recent workshop,  “In Search of Sustainable Approaches to CBRN Security Culture,” organized by UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security (CITS) and the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs.

The international workshop focused on the human dimension of security related to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) nonproliferation rather than on physical security or technological approaches to reducing the risk from CBRN weapons and agents. A sub-set of the larger organizational culture, security culture is the assembly of characteristics, beliefs, and the patterns of behavior designed to enhance security or facilitate specific missions.

Kosal addressed the importance and role of science and technology as part of diplomacy and soft power for the 21st Century along with the recognition that emerging research – in areas of the biological sciences, the cognitive sciences, chemistry, and nanotechnology – offer potentially disruptive developments for national and international security. She discussed recent contentious research activities focusing on the recent controversy surrounding experiments on the H5N1 influenza virus and recommendations to limit publication of the results.

Based on the results of an ethnographic survey of academic scientists and engineers, Kosal presented data showing that researchers do not seem to consider fully the commonalities that may exist between dual-use potentials and other concepts such as criminal or state-sponsored exploitations of research. Not unexpectedly, the security implications of research were found to not be foremost on the minds of the researchers in general or in any specific area, as exhibited through overwhelming resistance to limitations on publications. Additionally, researchers are unsure, in general, about less intrusive measures like codes of conduct and other similar measures.

In relationship to academic research, Kosal noted that defining security as a “need” and academic freedom (either implicitly or explicitly) as an option or as secondary reflects a construction based on a security culture perspective.  She concluded by noting that the downward shift in security culture to individual researchers has the potential to affect scientific research, technological innovation, and national competiveness, as well as impact the authority, viability, and effectiveness of international regimes and organizations.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: William Foster
  • Created: 02/09/2012
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016


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