Scott Sagan

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Scott Douglas Sagan (born 1955) is the Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). He is known for his research on nuclear weapons policy and nuclear disarmament, and has published widely on these subjects. Sagan was the recipient of the International Studies Association's Distinguished Scholar Award in 2013.[1] He currently serves as co-chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Global Nuclear Future initiative.[2]


Sagan holds a B.A. in Government from Oberlin College (1977) and a Ph.D. from Harvard University (1983). He spent the junior year of his undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.[3] Before joining the Stanford faculty in 1987, Sagan was a lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University and served as special assistant to the director of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. He has served as a consultant to the office of the Secretary of Defense and at the Sandia National Laboratories and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.


Sagan is known for his research on the organizations managing nuclear weapons and published on the subject in The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons (Princeton University Press, 1993). Bruce G. Blair writes, "Scott Sagan's book [The Limits of Safety] is nothing less than a tour de force.... It is by far the most carefully researched and painstaking study of nuclear weapons safety ever written." [4][5]

He also is one of the leading pessimist scholars about nuclear proliferation, and his co-authored book with Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed,[6] is widely read and cited in the literature on nuclear weapons. Sagan writes in the book, "the United States and the Soviet Union survived the cold war and did not use their massive nuclear-weapons arsenals during the period's repeated crises. This should be a cause of celebration and wonder; it should not be an excuse for inaction with either arms control or non-proliferation policies."

His most recent publications include as of March 2014, with Daryl G. Press and Benjamin A. Valentino, "Atomic Aversion: Experimental Evidence on Taboos, Traditions, and the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons" in The American Political Science Review (February 2013); "A Call for Global Nuclear Disarmament" in Nature (July 2012); and "The Case for No First Use" in Survival (June 2009). He is also the editor of and a contributor to Inside Nuclear South Asia (Stanford University Press, 2009).

Awards and Teaching[edit]

Sagan has won four teaching awards: the Monterey Institute for International Studies’ 2009 Outstanding Contribution to Nonproliferation Education Award; the International Studies Association’s 2008 Deborah Misty Gerner Innovative Teaching Award; Stanford University’s 1998-99 Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching; and Stanford University's 1996 Laurance and Naomi Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching. He teaches a popular course at Stanford for sophomores called "The Face of Battle," in which students examine how strategy was translated into tactical decisions on the battlefield during key battles in American history. [7]

Sagan received the International Studies Association's Distinguished Scholar Award in 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
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  4. ^ Book review at Amazon, same source counts that 100 books cite this book
  5. ^ Charles Perrow (2006). "The Limits of Safety: The Enhancement of a Theory of Accidents". Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 2 (4): 212–220. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5973.1994.tb00046.x. 
  6. ^ Amazon:The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed
  7. ^

External links[edit]