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Professor Corri Zoli Awarded US Intelligence Community Grant to Offer Geopolitical Simulation

Posted on Thursday 6/25/2020
Corri Zoli

Professor Corri Zoli, Syracuse University College of Law Director of Sponsored Research, has been awarded an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (ICCAE) Program Office grant for a 2020 Virtual Summer Session Simulation project she is spearheading entitled "Strategic Triangulation in Central, South, and East Asia." The award is made through the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which directs the national ICCAE program. 

The nationwide ODNI ICCAE Summer Session takes place across 26 July and 7 Aug., 2020. The simulation, which will be presented to ICCAE students twice, draws on the international security subject matter expertise of Zoli, a Co-Investigator for the Syracuse University ICCAE, and Robert B. Murrett, Professor of Practice in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and SU ICCAE Primary Investigator. Also helping to design the simulation are Professor James Edward Crill II, Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI), College of Arts and Sciences; Professor Margaret Hermann, Director of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, Maxwell School; Professor Michael Marciano, Associate Director of FNSSI Research; and Professor Robert A. Rubinstein, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Professor of International Relations, Maxwell School. 

"The ODNI ICCAE online simulation scenario reflects today’s highly dynamic strategic environment and the stressors currently faced by the 17 elements of the US Intelligence Community (IC) and our national security institutions," explains Zoli. "This environment is characterized by complexity and unpredictability, asymmetric actors, transformative technology, and global economic and public health variables, to name just a few challenges." To provide a realistic geopolitical theater, the simulation begins with a recent real-world event: on April 2, 2020, an Indian quadcopter was shot down by the Pakistan Army after it violated Pakistan’s airspace in the Sankh district and entered 600 metres into Pakistan's territory to conduct surveillance. 

"As the simulation unfolds, ICCAE students will discover, through plot-twists and seemingly unrelated incidents in Afghanistan—including the release of a modified vaccinia virus and the recovery of fissile material from a dirty bomb—that China is influencing actors in the background," explains Zoli. The students, adopting various roles in the IC community, must puzzle their way through this combustible mix of events, involving operationalized chemical and nuclear capabilities, illicit global economic collaboration, disrupted supply chains, and the role of transnational critical infrastructure, such the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. 

“ICCAE students will play US intelligence analysts from many of the 17 IC agencies and must make sense of the threats and opportunities that these kaleidoscopic challenges create," says Zoli.

Zoli explains that in the interdisciplinary spirit of the SU ICCAE program, the simulation exercise is the result of a collaborative partnership that includes faculty from the College of Law, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Maxwell School. Zoli adds that several of her College of Law colleagues also will share their expertise with participating ICCAE students from across the nation. Furthermore, SU ICCAE graduate students have been invited to join with and mentor ICCAE summer session students during the simulations. 

About SU ICCAE

Recently renewed for year two, the Syracuse University Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (SU ICCAE) is a Congressionally-mandated, $1.5 million federal award program designed to increase the recruitment of diverse candidates into US public service and the 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community. SU ICCAE—which includes minority-serving partner institutions CUNY Grove, CUNY John Jay, Norfolk State University, and Wells College—is open to all Syracuse University faculty and students. Embracing a broad understanding of diversity, SU ICCAE prioritizes the central role and contribution of diversity to public service, building next-generation knowledge professionals, and the ethics and rule of law tradition essential to US security policy and governance.