Public event

CANCELLED: Challenges in International Security: Nuclear deterrence theory and nuclear crises

A presentation by Dr. Julia Macdonald, Research Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, on nuclear deterrence theory. This event is part of the speaker's series Challenges in International Security hosted by the Centre for International Security.

This talk will provide a general overview of nuclear deterrence theory, such as "how does it work" and "what are its challenges" before discussing specific cases of nuclear crises. Dr. Julia Macdonald will introduce recent research that seeks to understand how dangerous nuclear crises are and the dynamics that underpin how they unfold. Four types of nuclear crises will be discussed - “staircase,” “stability-instability,” “brinkmanship,” and “firestorm” crises - each of which correspond to well-established ways of thinking about nuclear crises in the field. The utility of this new framework will be demonstrated through case discussions of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, 1999 Kargil War, 2017 Doklam Crisis, and ongoing U.S.-North Korea tensions.


Guest speaker

  • Dr. Julia Macdonald is a Research Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, where her research focuses on state threat assessments, use of force decisions, and U.S. military strategy and effectiveness. She has held fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania's Perry World House, Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and she was a Stanton Nuclear Security fellow in the Security Studies Program at MIT.  Previously, she worked for the New Zealand Ministry of Defense and the RAND Corporation in Washington D.C. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University, an M.A. (Hons) in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. (Hons) from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.


  • Dr. Julian Wucherpfennig is Professor of International Affairs and Security at the Hertie School. His research focuses on the strategic nature of political violence and conflict processes, especially ethnic civil war and terrorism. He has been an Assistant Professor and Programme Director for Security Studies at University College London, and a postdoctoral research fellow at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, from where he holds a PhD (2011) and an MA (2008) in political science. He has also been a Research Associate at the Gallup Organisation Europe. His PhD on ethnic conflict was awarded the ECPR Jean Blondel Prize.