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Svetla Ben-Itzhak

Svetla Ben-Itzhak

Adjunct Assistant Professor


Dr. Svetla Ben-Itzhak is Assistant Professor of Space and International Relations and Deputy Director with the West Space Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins University -SAIS in Washington DC.

She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Kansas, after also completing some doctoral work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Her disciplinary background is in the fields of International Relations (IR) and American Politics. In her doctoral dissertation, Ben-Itzhak examined empirically the effectiveness of sectoral foreign aid on subsiding terrorism. To uncover the conditions in which foreign aid is more likely to correspond to fewer terrorist events, she collected large-n, longitudinal, cross-national data on ten types of sectoral aid and twenty-seven indicators of socio-economic and political grievances in aid-receiving countries and tested their independent and interactive effects on terror events.

Ben-Itzhak’s current research explores issues in space security, space theory, strategic alliances in space politics, and quantitative assessment of space power capabilities. In particular, she is working on mapping current and past power configurations in space politics and cislunar space to project their (potential) long-term effects on conventional international relations on the ground and in space. Within this general theme, she is currently completing book on Space Security, contracted with the MIT press, and is compiling a quantitative database on space power capabilities, termed (SPOC). In addition, Ben-Itzhak has ongoing research projects that test the predictive power of leading IR theories against observed outcomes at the systemic, state, and individual levels of analysis, and projects that further explore the connection between poverty/relative deprivation and political instability/conflict, as uncovered by findings reported in her dissertation.

Ben-Itzhak has been teaching in academia for more than 15 years. More recently, she developed and taught PME courses on International Security and the Space Domain, Space Security, and Space Regional Strategic Studies. Previously, Ben-Itzhak taught university classes on Global Security Threats/International Relations, US Politics, Comparative Politics, and Applied Linguistics.

Ben-Itzhak has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Peace Research, Astropolitics, the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, 21st century Political Science, and the International Journal of Education. She has also published general audience articles in the Washington Post/The Monkey Cage, The Conversation, Australian Outlook, and 360info, among others. Her articles in The Conversation have been read by more than 400,000, translated in dozens of languages, and published in numerous additional outlets. She has been interviewed on BBC World News, Scientific American, Canadian Public Radio, Australia’s National ABC Radio, the Conversation weekly podcast, Newsweek, and TRT World UK/Turkey broadcast, among others. She has reviewed articles and texts for Space Policy, the RAND Corporation, the MIT Press, Sage Publishing, Routledge, Cengage, McGraw-Hill Education and the Journal of African Studies. Ben-Itzhak has presented numerous papers at professional conferences, including the International Studies Association Annual Meeting, the International Astronautical Congress, the Cislunar Security Conference, ESSCA Space Policy workshop, and the Space Workshop on Teaching Space. She is a polyglot and seeks to integrate research published in other languages.

Ben-Itzhak and team won the competitive 2022-2024 DOD Minerva/DECUR grant to study "Multi-stakeholder Regime Formation: The Case of Cislunar Space".

Ben-Itzhak has served as the main research advisor to numerous PME SLE students who have written on various topics including orbital debris, NATO space capabilities, security cooperation in the space warfighting domain, and space systems architecture. She has co-authored several articles with her students.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

General Public Articles




  • Outer Space


  • International Security
  • Space Security
  • International Relations
  • Space Theory and Power


  • English
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  • Russian
  • Hebrew