About the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism

There’s just no other place that does it like Syracuse.—US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter

The Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) is a multidisciplinary, university-based center for the study of national and international security and counterterrorism. The Institute offers certificates of advanced study, conducts incisive research on security topics, and provides timely policy analysis.

Headquartered in the Syracuse University College of Law, INSCT is a collaboration among the College of Law, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and other SU colleges and departments. INSCT’s initiatives and projects have shaped security dialogues on law and policy since 2003.

INSCT’S extensive national security capabilities were founded, in 2003, on the expertise of Professor Emeritus William C. Banks, who helped set the scholarly parameters of this field by co-authoring two leading textbooks—National Security Law (Aspen, 6th ed.) and Counterterrorism Law (Aspen, 3rd ed.)—and by initiating the New Battlefields/Old Laws (NBOL) project examining international humanitarian law (IHL) in the 21st century. 

Since 2018, INSCT has been led by the Hon. James E. Baker, one of the most highly regarded national security lawyers and policy advisors in the nation. Before joining the College of Law, Baker served on the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces for 15 years, the last four as Chief Judge. Continuing his public service, Baker was appointed to the Public Interest Declassification Board by President Barack Obama, and he is a Member of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative Board of Directors.

INSCT continues to advance its mission to be an internationally recognized center for interdisciplinary teaching, for multi-method research into complex security problems, and for public service to practitioners grappling with seemingly intractable national, international, and human security issues. Agile and responsive, INSCT’s educational and research programs continue to track the changing nature of these issues, as battlefields become virtual, wars become asymmetric, homeland security remains critical, human rights crises become commonplace, and the rule of law becomes indispensable.

INSCT’s interdisciplinary law and graduate academic programs give law and policy students the best possible theoretical and practical training as they prepare themselves for careers in national and international security and counterterrorism. INSCT’s research portfolio engages these cross-domain topics in six key areas: national security and counterterrorism law and policy; cybersecurity and cyberespionage; Middle East security and Islamic rule of law; security governance and postconflict reconstruction; homeland security; and defense strategy and veterans affairs.

In addition to books, monographs, and white papers, INSCT experts organize and contribute to international conferences and workshops (such as New Battlefields/Old Laws; Law and Security: Perspectives from the Field and Beyond; and Controlling Economic Cyber Espionage); host public lectures (such as the Becker Middle East Security and the Everett Postconflict Reconstruction speaker series); and, in collaboration with Georgetown Law, produce the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, the only peer-reviewed journal of its kind.

The Institute has forged several national and international partnerships in its spheres of research, most notably with the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security; Institute for Counter-Terrorism (Herzliya, Israel); International Committee of the Red Cross; International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (Siracusa, Italy); King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (Saudi Arabia); NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (Tallinn, Estonia); Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy; United States Institute of PeaceUS Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute; and the Warrior-Scholar Project.

Among Syracuse University’s colleges and departments, the Institute collaborates with the College of Engineering and Computer Science; Department of Economics; Department of Public Administration and International Affairs; Institute for Veterans and Military Families; Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs; Newhouse School of Public Communications; Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration; The School of Information Studies (iSchool); and Whitman School of Management.

Key Capabilities

Public Service & Policy Analysis

INSCT projects and initiatives have helped shape the national and global dialog concerning security and terrorism law and policy.

  • What is the next security challenge? National security and counterterrorism experts at INSCT continue to engage the issues to identify where policy makers and practitioners can best place their resources.
  • Thanks to strategic growth and interdisciplinary understanding of the field, INSCT remains on the leading edge of national security and counterterrorism research and policy analysis.
  • Our interdisciplinary approach leverages expertise in military planning, political science, public affairs, public management, diplomacy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, law, communications, economics, and more.
  • Our Distinguished Senior Policy Advisor is Gen. Montgomery Meigs (ret), former commander of NATO’s Bosnian peacekeeping force, former director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), and now visiting professor of Strategy and Military Operations at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies.
  • Other senior policy advisors are Mitchel B. Wallerstein, former Dean of The Maxwell School and now President of Baruch College, City University of New York, and James B. Steinberg, current Dean of The Maxwell School and former US Deputy Secretary of State.
  • Research and practice associates are drawn from the US Department of Justice, US Marine Corps, Lockheed Martin, Albany Law School, and elsewhere.
  • Our scholars and practitioners take into account the changing patterns of global conflict and structural changes in world order to provide the most appropriate legal and policy advice to solve complex challenges.
  • Our evolving mission follows the contours of the changing threat landscape—from virtual terrorism, fourth-generation warfare, and asymmetric conflict to homeland security, climate security, energy security, and cybersecurity.
  • INSCT studies the balance between robust and soft power responses to security and terrorism threats and strongly emphasize the role of peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and rule-of-law-based postconflict reconstruction.
Interdisciplinary Research

Our interdisciplinary research projects and areas of interest contribute to a comprehensive national and international security and counterterrorism research portfolio.

  • Research includes ground-breaking explorations into “New Battlefields, Old Laws,” Middle East Security, and Cybersecurity.
  • INSCT is a collaboration among these SU colleges and schools: College of Law; Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; LC Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science; and the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications.
  • Research and program collaborations beyond SU include those with the American Bar Association; Combating Terrorism Center at West Point; Georgetown Law; Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel; International Committee of the Red Cross; UN Peacebuilding Support Office; US Army Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Institute; and US Institute for Peace.
  • INSCT Research and Practice Associates provide additional academic and practical subject matter expertise.
  • A joint project of Georgetown Law and INSCT, the Journal of National Security Law and Policy is the only peer-reviewed journal of its kind. Its topics include FISA, cybersecurity, laws of war, humanitarian law, shadow wars, and more.
  • Among INSCT’s many conferences, seminars, and panel discussions are the Carol Becker Middle East Security Speaker Series and the David F. Everett Lecture Series in Postconflict Reconstruction.
Law & Graduate Education

INSCT offers a challenging combination of national security and counterterrorism law and security studies, and the Institute’s law and graduate programs are a calibrated mix of academic research and real-world practice.

  • Law and graduate students can choose from INSCT’s certificates of advanced study in National Security and Counterterrorism Law, Security Studies, and/or Postconflict Reconstruction.
  • INSCT’s varied academic offerings also include the Program on Security in the Middle East (which provides cross-cultural engagement with scholars, experts, and practitioners through graduate study abroad fellowships, the Carol Becker Speaker Series, and other opportunities) and a range of workshops, seminars, symposia, and guests that deepens the security and counterterrorism conversation.
  • Students are considered for capstone projects, graduate and research assistantships, internships, and research fellowships.
  • Students can extend their interest in this topic area through the INSCT-sponsored Student Association on Terrorism and Security Analysis (which produces an annual conference and the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis).
  • A rich curriculum across a spectrum of sub-disciplines positions INSCT students for public and private sector jobs and careers in national security, homeland security, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and postconflict reconstruction.
  • INSCT is led by distinguished subject matter experts—the Hon. James E. Baker, an internationally recognized authority in national security, the intelligence community, and emerging technologies and the law, and VADM Robert B. Murrett (Ret.), former Director of the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
  • Other faculty members are drawn from political science, public and international affairs, public management, sociology, anthropology, history, law, communications, economics, and elsewhere.
  • Alumni are employed at the American Red Cross; Atlantic Council; Booz Allen Hamilton; Brookings Institution; Deloitte; departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State; Foreign Service Institute; Judge Advocate General’s Corps; National Security Agency; US Institute of Peace; World Bank; World Vision; and elsewhere.
  • Former students stay in touch via active social media channels and alumni network gatherings.


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