Carnegie Mellon University
August 15, 2023

Audrey Kurth Cronin To Lead Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy and Technology

Abby Simmons
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 412-268-6094

Following a comprehensive, global search, Audrey Kurth Cronin has been named founding director of the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy and Technology (CMIST) at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, she has been named Trustees Professor of Security and Technology.

Formerly of American University in Washington, D.C., Cronin is one of the world’s leading experts on terrorism, security and technology and has held senior positions in both academics and U.S. policy. 

“The world today continues to grapple with terrorism, cybersecurity threats and renewed great-power competition. Carnegie Mellon University is poised to address these critical challenges that face defense, intelligence and foreign affairs professionals,” said Provost James H. Garrett Jr., who led the search committee. “Audrey Kurth Cronin possesses the vision and credentials to lead the institute’s expanding team of international relations experts and political scientists. Their nonpartisan research — combined with expertise from across our university — will deepen and broaden public understanding of developing technologies and security issues.”

CMIST, formerly known as the Institute for Politics and Strategy, will draw upon, highlight and connect the remarkable security-related technological innovations already underway throughout the university with cross-cutting analyses of their ethical, social, political and economic impacts. CMIST’s administrative home will be in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  

“CMIST will be administered in Dietrich, but will in every sense be a cross-university, interdisciplinary institute,” said Richard Scheines, Bess Family Dean of Dietrich College. “It will work at the nexus of humanity and technology, and there is no one better in the world to lead CMIST than Audrey Kurth Cronin.”

“I am excited and honored to be directing this major university initiative, building on Carnegie Mellon University’s strengths in emerging technologies, and tying them to in-depth analyses of their wise use in national and international security,” Cronin said. “Our goal is to focus on building cross-disciplinary bridges — to reduce risks, maximize benefits and make our brilliant technologies a force for good in the world.”

Cronin’s best-known book is “How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns” (Princeton, 2009), which The New Yorker called a “landmark study.”  Her latest book, “Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists” (Oxford, 2020), analyzes emerging technologies and devises a new framework for 21st century military innovation. It was short-listed for the Lionel Gelber prize and won the 2020 Neave prize.     

Cronin was a Marshall Scholar from Princeton University, earned a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Formerly a Distinguished Professor at American University, she founded and directed the Center for Security, Innovation and New Technology in Washington, D.C. She also gained accreditation, founded, and ran the International Security graduate program at George Mason University.

In addition, Cronin has been director of the core course on War and Statecraft at the National War College, director of studies for the Changing Character of War program at Oxford University and specialist in terrorism at the Congressional Research Service. She has served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy and frequently advises at senior levels. She was chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Terrorism and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Her commentary and analysis frequently appear in Foreign Affairs, International Security, Survival, BBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among many other media outlets.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Dec. 6, 2023 to reflect a name change of the center.