"I hope that this project will integrate rigorous academic research and teaching towards resolving some of today’s most pressing problems in cybersecurity."
A 2016-17 Engaged Faculty Fellow, Rebecca Slayton is an assistant professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is developing a course that will give both advanced undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to engage with professionals working in the field of cybersecurity and to integrate academic understandings of cybersecurity with everyday practice. Learn more about Slayton in her faculty profile.
About the Project
Contemporary information and communication technologies offer tremendous power, but they have also brought new vulnerabilities. The same technologies that offer ready communication between people on opposite sides of the world can be turned into tools of mass surveillance. The technologies that make electronic commerce convenient can also create opportunities for crime and fraud on an unprecedented scale. And the computers that run electric power grids, transportation systems and other critical infrastructures are an attractive target for undermining the security of the society that depends upon them. Cybersecurity has thus become a multifaceted problem impacting individual freedoms, economic opportunity and national security.
While many students are eager to study these wide-ranging developments, universities are only beginning to engage with these problems. Many institutions offer technical training, but the interdisciplinary problems of cybersecurity have received relatively little attention either in curriculum or faculty research. The professionals who understand the problems at the most practical levels are largely outside of academia. As an Engaged Faculty Fellow, Slayton is developing a course that will give both advanced undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to engage with professionals working in the field of cybersecurity and to integrate academic understandings of cybersecurity with everyday practice.
Slayton’s work with the Engaged Faculty Fellows program is part of a National Science Foundation CAREER award project that is focused on integrating research and teaching. The project, “Enacting Cybersecurity Expertise,” is examining the emergence of several distinctive and interacting expert communities focused on critical infrastructure.
In Her Own Words
“In my two years at Cornell, I have met graduate students and undergraduates who are eager to learn more about cybersecurity and expect to pursue careers in the field. However, I have struggled to find appropriate pedagogical materials. Scholarly research on the topic is still new and needs development. At the same time, practitioners in the field are struggling to develop a conceptual framework and vocabulary for resolving the challenges they face. I hope that this project will integrate rigorous academic research and teaching towards resolving some of today’s most pressing problems in cybersecurity.”
Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program
A yearlong cohort program in which faculty dive deep into the theory and practice of community-engaged learning and scholarship; meet monthly to discuss readings, and share projects and workshop challenges