His research focuses on the relationships among science, technology, and security. In particular, he focuses on the intersections of national security and military thought with new media, information, and communication technologies (ICTs).
His most recent book, Cybersecurity Discourse in the United States, explores the use of cyber-doom rhetoric in the U.S. public policy debate about cybersecurity. Cyber-doom rhetoric relies on the use of various tactics, such as hypothetical doom scenarios, to raise fear of catastrophic cyber attacks on infrastructure and motivate a response. Dr. Lawson traces the use of such rhetoric, assesses how realistic it is, and the implications it has for our ability to respond effectively to cybersecurity challenges.
His first book, Nonlinear Science and Warfare, traced the use of chaos theory, complexity theory, and network science in the development of theories of information-age warfare. This included a focus on the theory and strategy of network-centric warfare in the U.S. military, as well as theories about fourth-generation warfare and global counterinsurgency.
At the University of Utah, Dr. Lawson teaches courses on new media, ICTs, and society. Undergraduate courses include “Communication Technology and Culture,” “Information Technology and Global Conflict,” “Introduction to Web Design,” “International Communication,” “Drones and Society,” “Innovation with Drones,” “Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods,” “Strategic Communication Theory & Practice,” and “Privacy and Surveillance.” He also teaches graduate seminars in technology studies, science communication, and qualitative research methods. He has taught “Science and Technology in Western Culture” for the State University of New York’s Empire State College.
Dr. Sean Lawson serves on the Academic Review Committee for the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) International Conference on Cyber Conflict. He is an editor for Routledge Studies in Conflict, Security and Technology. He has served as an instructor in the course “Operational Planning for Counterterrorism” offered by the NATO Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism. He has presented his research to the Joint Staff’s Strategic Multilayer Assessment and was interviewed for its Assessment of the Future of Global Competition & Conflict. He has also presented his work on cybersecurity discourse at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Dr. Lawson received his Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2008. Before beginning his Ph.D., he worked as an Associate National Security Analyst with DynCorp Systems & Solutions, LLC in Alexandria, VA. He has an MA in Arab Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a BA in History from California State University, Stanislaus. As an undergraduate, he interned in the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Project at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California.