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2021 Leaders in Graduate Education in International Affairs

Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies

Saving Democracy, One Byte at a Time

Thomas Rid, Professor of Strategic Studies, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

As hacking, disinformation, and other forms of digital espionage proliferate, educating future leaders about information security will grow increasingly important.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) has guidance in that area from Thomas Rid, professor of strategic studies. Rid, who has shared his expertise with the governments of the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, is author of several books, including most recently, Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare.

In the competition between democracies and autocracies, Rid says, “non-democratic governments are getting better at stealing data, at destroying data, and they are getting better at disinformation. Studying digital conflict can help leaders defend democracy in the 21st century.”

There will be a situation where you make a difference. You can come in and make informed decisions at a critical moment in time—at a company, at an agency, or in a democracy.Thomas RidAs more of the world’s conflicts crowd into the digital world, and internet connections make spying even more accessible, future leaders need the hands-on training of cybersecurity courses. “Operating in the shadows is becoming an ever more widespread phenomenon, and most of the shadows are in the digital space,” Rid says.

Rid teaches investigative techniques such as how to collect and assess open-source intelligence and digital forensic artifacts.

“What students are learning is to navigate treacherous terrain so they can make informed judgments,” Rid says.

Another benefit is that information security is a growth industry. In addition to finding information security work rewarding, Rid says that his students go on to jobs in large tech firms and in government: “If you focus on information security, there will be work practically guaranteed.”

Johns Hopkins SAIS leverages the locations of its three campuses—in Washington, DC, Europe, and China—to bring in guest speakers, virtually or in person, to help students network and learn from leading practitioners in the field.

“There will be a situation where you make a difference. You can come in and make informed decisions at a critical moment in time—at a company, at an agency, or in a democracy,” Rid says.


Training for Leaders to Analyze Hacks Can Improve Both Business and Government

Last summer during the pandemic, Jenna Morgenstern-Gaines started a company that will provide telemedicine. Rid’s class on information security was the perfect way to learn how to protect her new company’s medical and financial data.
||||Morgenstern-Gaines will graduate in June from a joint program that will award her an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Her longer-term goal is to work in government and focus on information security.
||||She says Rid’s class helped her “develop a much more critical way of looking at cyber and information security, which is undoubtedly one of the most pressing issues for our generation of leaders.”

Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
https://sais.jhu.edu
sais.dc.admissions@jhu.edu
+01 202-663-5700

Top photo credit: Annette Rid