Steven Livingston

Steven Livingston
Professor of Media and Public Affairs, Professor of International Affairs
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Media and information technology's role in foreign affairs policy making, including economic development, governance, and human rights advocacy and security.

Steven Livingston is Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs with appointments in the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) and the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) at the George Washington University. He served as the director of the Political Communication Program when it was a degree-granting entity within SMPA (1996 – 2002, 2004 – 2006). In 2004, he served as acting director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, a position held until August 2006. He also founded the Public Diplomacy Institute (PDI) at GW in 2000 and served as the chairman of the Board of Directors until 2008. PDI is now the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.

Livingston's research and teaching focus on media/information technology, national security and global politics. He is particularly interested in the role of information technologies and media on governance, development, accountability and human rights. Since 2015, he has been a visiting senior research fellow at the Free University of Berlin; Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand; a Visiting Scholar at the Brookings Institution in governance; a visiting professor at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland; and a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge in Britain. Beginning in the fall of 2016, Livingston was appointed a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University, a position he holds until the spring of 2018.

Following service in the United States Army, Livingston received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of South Florida (1982) and a master's (1984) and Ph.D. (1990) in political science from the University of Washington. He joined the faculty of the George Washington University in 1991. From 1992 – 93, Livingston was a Social Science Research Council Senior Research Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies, funded by the Ford Foundation. In 1995, he received funding from the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation to investigate the role of the military and the media in humanitarian crises. In 1996, he was a Research Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Livingston also received a Goldsmith Award while at Harvard. In April 2004, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, declined to assume SMPA directorship.

Livingston has lectured at the National Defense University, the Army War College, the Strategic Studies Group at the Naval War College, the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the U.S. Institute for Peace, European Institute of Diplomacy, Vienna, the Foreign Service Institute, the U.S. Department of State, and at universities and think tanks in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He has appeared on CNN, CNNI, ABC, CBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera International and many other news organizations commenting on public policy and politics. He has also been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Economist and many other newspapers around the world. He has written for Newsday, USA Today and La Stampa in Rome. His research and consulting activities have led to extended stays in Northern Ireland, Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and East and Central Africa. At the invitation of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, he was twice in Iraq in 2008 and once again in 2009. At the invitation of the Canadian government and NATO, he was in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. He has advised a wide range of governments, the UN and NGOs on matters relating to international affairs, media, technology, and public opinion dynamics.

Among other publications, Livingston has written “Clarifying the CNN Effect,” a monograph published by Harvard University in 1996, and “The Terrorism Spectacle,” Westview Press, 1994, and “When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina,” co-authored by W. Lance Bennett and Regina Lawrence and published by University of Chicago Press, 2007. In 2011, following two months of field observation in several African countries, Livingston published “Africa's Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Security and Stability.” It assesses the effects of the rapid growth of ICT on governance in Africa. Also in 2011, he was a visiting scholar at the Freie Universitat-Berlin's Research Program on Areas of Limited Statehood. He is writing another book, “Networked Governance: Knowledge, Technology and Global Governance in the 21st Century,” working title).


Ph.D., Political Science, University of Washington, 1990
M.A., Political Science, University of Washington, 1984
B.A., Political Science, University of S. Florida, 1981


Video selection: Speech delivered on the topic of Africa's Information Revolution at National Defense University, May 3, 2011.

Africa's Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Security and Stability, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, February 2011.

When The Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina, The University of Chicago Press, 2007.

As Goes the Statue, So Goes the War: The Emergence of the Victory Frame in Television Coverage of the Iraq War, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic MediaSeptember 1, 2005. With Sean Aday and John Cluverius.

Embedding the Truth: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Objectivity and Television Coverage of the Iraq War, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 10(1), 2005, pp. 3-21. With Sean Aday and Maeve Hebert.

The Effects of New Satellite Newsgathering Technology on Newsgathering from Remote Locations, 2005, pp. 45 - 62. Political Communication, vol 22, no 1. With Douglas Van Belle.

Strange Bedfellows: The Emergence of the Al Qaeda - Baathist News Frame Prior to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, Leading to the 2003 Iraq War: The Global Media Debate (In press). Alexander G. Nikolaev and Ernest A. Hakanen (editors) Palgrave. With Lucas Robinson.

Steven Livingston, International News and Advanced Information Technology: Changing the Institutional Domination Paradigm?, Media and Conflict in the 21st Century, Phil Seib (ed), Palgrave, 2005. With W. Lucas Robinson and W. Lance Bennett.

Transparency and the News Media, Power and Conflict in the Age of Transparency, Bernard Finel and Kristin Lord (eds.).

Diplomacy in the New Information EnvironmentGeorgetown Journal of International Affairs.

The New Media and Transparency: What Are the Consequences for Diplomacy?Cyber-diplomacy in the 21st Century, Evan Potter (ed.).

Remote Sensing Technology and the News Media. Commercial Observation Satellites: At the Leading edge of Global Transparency, John Baker, Kevin O'Connell, and Ray Williamson (eds.).

Diplomacy and Remote Sensing Technology: Changing the Nature of Debate2001,iMP Magazine.

Steven Livingston and Todd Eachus. Humanitarian Crises and U.S. Foreign Policy: Somalia and the CNN Effect Reconsidered, Political Communication.

Steven Livingston and W. Lance Bennett. A Semi-Independent Press: Government Control and Journalistic Autonomy in the Political Construction of News, Political Communication.

Clarifying the CNN Effect: An Examination of Media Effects According to Type of Military Intervention, 1997.

Terrorism Spectacle, Westview Press, 1994.

Steven Livingston and Lucas Robinson. Mapping Fears: The Use of Commercial High-Resolution Satellite Imagery in International Affairs, AstroPolitics, 2003.

Steven Livingston and W. Lance Bennett. Gatekeeping, Indexing and Live-Event News: Is Technology Altering the Construction of News, Political Communication.

Classes Taught

SMPA 100, Introduction to Political Communication
SMPA 140, Media and Foreign Policy
SMPA 50, Introduction to Media and Public Affairs
SMPA 51, Research Methods
SMPA 199, Senior Seminar