The explorations that shaped CyberIR@MIT were undertaken during the joint MIT-Harvard Research Project, Explorations in Cyber International Relations (ECIR) .

Initially framed as an experiment to pull together the results of very diverse research interests (see Final Report ), the overall vision of the project was developed in the course of addressing and attempting to answer two broad questions, centered respectively in the theory and practice of international relations and in the technology and utilization of cyberspace. The result was the development of the framework for an integrated joint cyber-IR system.

For international relations, the highest-order question is how these issues matter and whether they have risen or will rise to the level of “high politics.” For cyberspace, with the Internet as its current core, the question is how its specific character shapes the nature of contention, which actors are empowered or not by its structure, and how to reason about it as a built artifact.

The computational model for CyberIR@MIT is similar to that of the Global System for Sustainable Development (GSSD) , an evolving knowledge networking system:

  • With user-supporting functionalities,
  • Dedicated to sustainable development, and                            
  • That differentiates knowledge between domains & dimensions.

GSSD is designed to help identify and extend innovative approaches toward sustainability — including enabling technologies, policies, and strategies. It tracks diverse aspects of challenges, problems, and emergent solutions to date.

Earlier explorations provided ways of thinking about the issues — tools of reasoning, models of analysis, and the like — and did so in a global, geopolitical context. This ubiquity calls for a meta-analysis, an overarching investigation of the contours and interconnections of cyberspace and international relations (and international cyber relations) in order to identify the linkages between the international system (and international relations), on the one hand, and technological change (and cyberspace), on the other — through analytical, empirical, and observable terms.