The Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence Research Network is the largest inter-institutional initiative in the nuclear field established to advance new scholarship and promote innovative thinking on issues related to nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nuclear disarmament.

The network, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and housed at Harvard's Belfer Center, promotes greater academic cooperation across nations, disciplines, and generations to address some of the most compelling questions related to the role of nuclear weapons in today’s world.


What are the most dangerous military escalation pathways that might ultimately lead to intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons?

In what ways, if at all, do international law and ethical dilemmas constrain the behavior of nuclear weapons states on the global stage?

How can a new generation of arms control agreements be forged that encompasses both nuclear weapons and emerging technologies?

What credible security alternatives can replace nuclear deterrence or mitigate the current reliance on nuclear weapons by some states?

Supported by the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is seeking to create a stronger and more diverse nuclear field through a three-year, $30 million capstone investment. Learn more about MacArthur and its rich history of supporting the arms control and nonproliferation communities here.

Research Network Members

Organizational members in the Network span both education and advocacy, and represent a diverse set of interests, methods, strengths, and experiences. We are relying on this diversity as a way of building the next generation of arms control broadly.

Målfrid Braut-Hegghammer, University of Oslo

Matthew Bunn, Harvard Kennedy School

Janina Dill, University of Oxford

Hassan Elbahtimy, King’s College, London

Rebecca Gibbons, University of Southern Maine

Francesca Giovannini, Harvard Kennedy School

Stephen Herzog, ETH Zurich

Ulrich Kühn, University of Hamburg

Stephen Miller, American Acad. of Arts & Sciences

Joan Rohlfing, Nuclear Threat Initiative

Scott Sagan, Stanford University

Manpreet Sethi, Center for Air Power Studies

Structure of the Network

The network consists of a Advisory Council, an Academic Coordination Forum, four working groups, and a few policy tracks (that will be developed over time).

Research Network Leadership

PI: Dr. Francesca Giovanini
Co-PI: Prof. Matthew Bunn
Chair of the Brain Trust: Joan Rohlfing
Co-Chair of the Brain Trust: Steven Miller

Research Network Staff

Communications: Matthew Parent and Andrew Facini
Administration: Marina Lorenzini
Research Assistants: TBA


Working Groups

Learn more about each of the four working groups on their own pages:

Mitigating the Pathways to Nuclear War

Matthew Bunn and Manpreet Sethi

The core objective of this working group is to identify possible pathways to nuclear war, examine their degree of probability, and find ways of plugging the gaps to minimize the chances of deterrence breakdown.

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Ethics, Law and Nuclear Deterrence

Scott Sagan and Janina Dill

The scope of this working group is to take a systematic look at nuclear doctrine and planning across nuclear states in light of legal developments over the last fifty years.

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Arms Control and Emerging Technologies

Heather Williams and Ulrich Kühn

This working group will look at the complex interactions of nuclear and conventional deterrence with arms control policies and an emerging generation of novel technologies with military applications.

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Beyond Nuclear Deterrence

Rebecca Gibbons, Stephen Herzog, Hassan Elbahtimy

The core objective of this working group is to facilitate discussions aimed at advancing cutting-edge academic scholarship on alternatives to nuclear deterrence.

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