Stealing Secrets? Intelligence theory and the open society


Project summary

Stealing secrets is routinely seen as the world’s second oldest profession. However, despite rich literature on the history of intelligence agencies and operations, and the prominence of intelligence in contemporary politics, intelligence is a Cinderella in international relations theory and efforts to create a distinct theory of intelligence are also limited.

This Research Development Project provides fresh understandings of how to think of intelligence in twenty-first century international relations through sustained engagement with two core issues: looking at where intelligence sits within claims of a crisis of the post-1945 Liberal International Order, asking what roles intelligence still plays – positively and negatively – in diplomacy, war, and great power management of shifting international power distributions. And secondly, and relatedly, following major 21st century controversies over the role of intelligence organisations in the ‘war on terror’, it will focus on intelligence within the specific context of the open society and its ideals.

Term: Epiphany 2024

Principal Investigator:
Professor John Williams, School of Government and International Affairs

Events and Activities:

  • Workshop: 07 February 2024, 2.00-5.00pm, and 08 February 2024, 09.00am-1.00pm

Further details



Posted on

September 15, 2023

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