ASU’s “Security & Defense Systems Initiative” (SDSI) addresses national and global security and defense challenges through an integrative, transdisciplinary, “whole system” approach that involves the following three key areas.

Integrative, transdisciplinary "whole system" approach

Technology Solutions

Programs supporting technology research and development to address current and emerging needs in security and defense.

Our contributions to advancing technologies include basic and applied research efforts as well as advanced technology development programs. These are primarily organized around seven Research Thrust Areas that reflect some of the most urgent needs of the security and defense challenges being faced over the next decade and beyond. SDSI combines a traditional on-campus, unclassified, low-TRL research capability with an off-campus, higher-TRL research entity called ASURE that is able to conduct higher-TRL and specialized research extending to the highest levels. This allows SDSI to contribute to technology research and development efforts ranging from TRL0 to TRL7+ and to address programs extending across all security levels.

Law and Policy Issues

Programs supporting laws, polices, and regulations enabling greater protections of national and global security while ensuring the privacy, freedoms, and way of life that define our society.

In many cases the technologies available to address security and defense challenges exceed the legal and policy layers needed to make effective use of them. SDSI seeks to contribute to an informed, reasoned, and mature understanding of key issues at the intersection of science and technology with law and policy. Our goal is to contribute to the development of appropriate legal and policy enablements that address the security and defense challenges we face.  To do this, we bring together law and policy experts, military leaders, technologists, social scientists, and experts in human rights and the law of armed conflict to understand the wide range of viewpoints involved and develop a clearer assessment of potential solution approaches.

Root Social Causes

Programs that examine social, cultural, and economic causes of emerging security and defense challenges, to address these before they grow to become major threats that may require costly action.

These range from factors that can contribute to cross-border tensions, to cultural factors that can create potential for future security and defense issues, to the competition for natural resources and the networks needed to enable their equitable distribution. By better understanding these drivers of potential future conflicts, SDSI can help support the development of solutions to alleviate them.  We work with researchers across a wide range of fields, including the humanities and social sciences, to clarify the key issues involved and define innovative routes for addressing them in distinctly integrative and transdisciplinary ways.

Together these three components of the “Security & Defense Systems Initiative” (SDSI) allow ASU to bring the entire intellectual resources of the largest single university in the U.S. to bear on some of the greatest challenges being faced in the security and defense area.