Justin Key Canfil is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University and a nonresident fellow with the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. His dissertation research focuses on how the US, China, and Russia frame their international legal obligations, particularly in the context of emerging technologies.
Drawing on experimental methods, computational text analysis, and numerous case studies, Justin's dissertation project asks why some new technologies are more publicly controversial than others, and how states manage these controversies when they arise. This research bridges theory from political science, legal scholarship, economics, and psycholinguistics to advance a general theory to explain how preexisting law can inadvertently apply to technologies its framers could not have foreseen, lending credibility to regulatory campaigns and constraining would-be opportunists. These findings run counter to deeply held convictions that international law struggles to keep pace with technological change.
Justin's writing has appeared in outlets such as the Journal of International Affairs, Lawfare, War on the Rocks, and the Diplomat. Prior to his graduate studies, he worked as an international education professional at the Council on World Affairs, where he managed various public diplomatic programs on behalf of the US Department of State. A summa cum laude graduate of the Ohio State University, he holds MA and MPhil degrees from Columbia.
He is currently a fellow with the US-Asia Grand Strategy Program at the University of Southern California's Korean Studies Institute. He is a US Fulbright Scholarship recipient (China), a National Science Foundation dissertation award winner, and has previously held visiting affiliations with the Wilson Center, the London School of Economics, Peking University, and Fudan University.