Scott Sagan

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Scott Sagan
Born Scott Douglas Sagan
Alma mater Harvard University(Ph.D.)
Oberlin College(B.A.)
Institutions Stanford University
Harvard University
Main interests
Nuclear proliferation

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, including discussions of system accidents, and has published widely on these subjects. Sagan was the recipient of the National Academy of Sciences William and the William and Katherine Estes Award in 2015[1] and the International Studies Association's Distinguished Scholar Award in 2013.[2]

He currently serves as Project Chair for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Initiative on New Dilemmas in Ethics, Technology, and War and as Senior Advisor for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Global Nuclear Future Initiative.[3]


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.[4] 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." [5][6]

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,[7] 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 2016, Learning from a Disaster: Improving Nuclear Safety and Security after Fukushima, co-edited with Edward D. Blandford (Stanford University Press, 2016); “A Worst Practices Guide to Insider Threats: Learning from Past Mistakes,” co-authored with Matthew Bunn (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2014); "Atomic Aversion: Experimental Evidence on Taboos, Traditions, and the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons" in The American Political Science Review (February 2013), with Daryl G. Press and Benjamin A. Valentino; "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 was the recipient of the National Academy of Sciences William and Katherine Estes Award in 2015 and received the International Studies Association's Distinguished Scholar Award in 2013. Sagan has also 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.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "William and Katherine Estes Award". Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  2. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "New Dilemmas in Ethics, Technology, and War - American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Book review at Amazon, same source counts that 100 books cite this book
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Amazon:The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed
  8. ^

External links[edit]