N Square is a multimillion dollar initiative designed to stimulate innovation in the fields of nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and safety and security. N Square is the brainchild of five of the largest peace and security funders in the United States: The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. N Square is based on the idea that new forms of cross-sector collaboration—combined with the sheer ingenuity of an engaged public—will enable us to innovate our way to a world free from the risks associated with nuclear weapons and fissile materials.
N Square is currently developing a network of innovators, influencers and experts in technology and media. Our goal is to encourage new ideas and attract new technical, human and financial resources to combat nuclear threats. N Square will provide seed funding for some of most promising solutions to emerge from this network.
Nuclear weapons are among the greatest threats facing civilization today. Almost 70 years after Hiroshima, the world has managed to avoid nuclear war, but we are far from being out of danger of a nuclear explosion. Most of the world agrees that nuclear weapons must never be used, yet we maintain a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the planet. Despite progress in disarmament since the end of the Cold War, there are still an estimated 17,000 nuclear weapons worldwide.
In fact, the nuclear threat is now greater than it was during the Cold War. Increasing geopolitical instability and the rise of global terrorism are amplifying the risk of both accidental and intentional nuclear disaster. Meanwhile, most nuclear weapons are aging and degrading, creating a new set of dangers that no one seems ready or able to solve. Rather than committing to dismantling these arsenals, the United States and other countries are contemplating building next-generation nuclear weapons to replace them—adding even more weapons to the pile.
Yet despite this mounting urgency, public awareness and activism around the need to eradicate these weapons is at an all-time low—and even those searching for a way to eliminate the nuclear threat have not found a clear path forward.
But what if we could create new kinds of collaboration that both reinvigorate the national dialogue about these issues and spark new ideas for how to eliminate the nuclear threat once and for all?
There are three parts to our mission:
Reinvigorate the conversation.
We need a new national dialogue about nuclear disarmament that helps bring the nuclear weapons issue back into public consciousness—and ultimately raises both public awareness and public influence over issues of nuclear safety. Our overarching goal is for more citizens throughout the world to see themselves as architects of a future free from nuclear risk.
Create the conditions for innovation.
The nuclear security field could benefit from an influx of new thinking from innovators, experts, and entrepreneurs accustomed to collaborative problem-solving. By facilitating new opportunities—through in-person and virtual workshops, online conversations, and more—for people from different domains and with diverse expertise to work and think together about these issues, new ideas and approaches will emerge.
Fund the most promising breakthrough ideas.
Unlike other initiatives in this space, N Square is committed to providing seed funding for some of the most promising ideas generated through these efforts. We will offer a series of prizes that help push breakthrough ideas into the next stage of development.
N Square is committed to bringing an end to the uncertainty surrounding our nuclear future and the global danger posed by nuclear weapons. We are absolutely capable of inventing our way out of this nuclear era, and we’re certainly capable of developing the innovations we need right now to make sure that we don’t have a catastrophe on our watch.
Bringing fresh thinking to a problem that’s both enduring and existential can feel beyond challenging—even impossible. If some of the best minds in the world haven’t figured out how free the world from nuclear weapons threat, how can the rest of us? Our answer: By approaching the problem in radically new ways. Here’s our method-in-progress.’
Step One: Envision the Future We Want
We need a new national dialogue that sparks public engagement and holds us to a higher ideal in regard to nuclear weapons security. Our overarching goal is for more people to see themselves as architects of a future free from nuclear risk.
Step Two: Map the Terrain
Nuclear security is not a neatly defined “issue” with clean edges and margins. It’s a sprawling living system with complex moving parts. Make a change to one of these parts—to international law, to fissile material security, or to the way terrorist networks function—and the other parts will shift, shrink, or amplify. We believe the key to gaining traction on this living-system problem is first to map the entire problem space in a way that’s never been done before. Understanding and visualizing all the parts of this wicked problem and how they interact will make “pressure points”—places where even small efforts can catalyze systemic change—more obvious.
Step Three: Create the Right Conditions
Finding new solutions to old problems requires new and varied perspectives. We’re inviting nuclear security experts to work with new contributors—from tech pioneers to artists, anthropologists to environmentalists, and octogenarians to millennials. These networks are combining and recombining ideas in bold new ways, helping us explore options with fresh eyes.
Step Four: Focus on Learning and Development
N Square is a hybrid R&D lab and seed fund. We expect that some of our investments will “fail” in ways that quickly make us smarter. In addition to regular grants, we offer a series of prizes that engage diverse problem-solvers to push ideas to the next stage of development.
Step Five: Incent Innovation
We aren’t just helping to spark new strategies for creating a nuclear-free world. We’re funding them. Our prizes and awards to incentivize crowd-sourced innovation. With the help of Innocentive, Games for Change, and other partners—and with input from you, the public—we will continue to pinpoint the most promising ideas and put real money behind them.
We will cycle through these three steps many times over the next two years as the problem space shifts, new urgencies arise, and our funded projects begin to have real impact.
N Square, a project of the Ploughshares Fund, operates as a true collaborative between its advisory committee and staff, giving us a good mix of experience in nuclear issues, philanthropy and social innovation practice.
Director of the newly-founded N Square—a multiyear, multimillion dollar innovation initiative hosted by the Ploughshares Fund—Erika is responsible for catalyzing innovation in the nuclear security and non-proliferation arena.
Part research and development lab, part venture fund, N Square brings a cross-disciplinary, collaborative approach that reflects Erika’s twenty-plus years of experience building companies and leading innovation programs for clients in philanthropy, education, government and the private sector in the US, South Asia, and Europe.
A serial entrepreneur, Erika is co-founder of Collective Invention, a boutique social innovation firm, and The Idea Factory, a strategy and innovation center now based in Singapore and replicated, with Erika’s supervision, in Amsterdam, Paris and London.
As Director of Scenario Communications for Global Business Network/Monitor Group, Erika developed innovative techniques for engaging stakeholders in the future of global issues such as education and workforce development. She staged scenarios of the future for audiences of business leaders, policymakers, and academics, designed learning journeys and facilitated strategic decision making processes.
Erika founded and acted as Executive Director for the Princeton Review Foundation, where she collaborated with Eugene Lang’s “I Have a Dream” Foundation to offer out-of-school education and test-preparation programs for underserved children in New York, Newark, Washington DC and Seattle.
Erika is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Drama.
Program Manager and Design Strategist
Morgan is a people-focused design strategist and innovation practitioner with expertise in facilitation, strategic planning, and design thinking methodologies. She has facilitated design thinking and strategy workshops at TED conferences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the World Futures Society Summit, among others. Morgan is energetic and enjoys building community, connecting the dots in new ways, and convening teams to collaboratively solve problems.
Morgan joined the N Square initiative because she believes that the nuclear threat is a solvable problem and that innovation frameworks are essential to uncovering unexpected and effective solutions.
Her background is varied and spans the career gamut from social innovation consulting and real estate to working in the media department of a professional baseball team. Morgan has deep passion for strategy and currently co-teaches the Managerial and Sustainable Strategy course at Presidio Graduate School. Her education includes a BA in International and Intercultural Communications from California State University of Sacramento and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School.
In her free time Morgan can be found cycling in Tahoe or running in Golden Gate Park with her dog, Butters.
Bruce serves as Director, Policy and Communications, for the Skoll Global Threats Fund, helping shape the organization’s approach to engagement with government and leading message development and outreach for its communications efforts.
Prior to joining the Skoll Global Threats Fund, Bruce served as Communications Director for the Skoll Foundation, working with media, the Skoll social entrepreneurs, and Skoll’s partners to broadly promote the Foundation’s message around the power of social entrepreneurship.
Bruce brings both private and public sector experience to the Skoll Global Threats Fund, with an international perspective built from working and living in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. He joined the Skoll Foundation from Novell, where he led the company’s global public relations team. He oversaw the company’s media and communications efforts as Novell underwent a major reinvention, moving from a traditional proprietary enterprise software player to a leader in Linux and open source.
Prior to Novell, Bruce spent nearly 14 years at the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. An economic specialist, he served overseas tours of duty in Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and Italy. His domestic assignments included stints in the Department’s Economic and Business Affairs Bureau, the European regional economic office, the office of the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, and the Ukraine Desk. As a diplomat, Bruce worked on a wide range of issues, including, among others, the G-7 summit process, the Middle East peace process, Chernobyl/nuclear safety, human rights, democratization, and economic development.
Bruce earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations from Pomona College and a Master of Arts in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He’s a member of the Pacific Council for International Policy, a Founding Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research, and a board member for the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Program Officer, International Peace and Security, International Program
As Program Officer in International Peace and Security, Carl Robichaud manages a portfolio of grants to strengthen nuclear security. In this capacity, he heads the Corporation’s work on strengthening nuclear governance and investing in the next generation of nuclear experts.
Before joining Carnegie Corporation, Robichaud was a Program Officer at The Century Foundation, where he wrote extensively on nonproliferation and counterterrorism policy and directed the Afghanistan Watch program. During this time he authored, edited, and contributed to numerous publications on international security, including Breaking the Nuclear Impasse: New Prospects for Security against Weapons Threats (2007). Previously, Robichaud was a program officer with the Global Security Institute where he coordinated programs on arms control and disarmament.
Robichaud holds an M.P.A in public policy and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. He is a 1999 Thomas J. Watson fellow and a 2003 Harold W. Rosenthal fellow for international affairs and security at the Stimson Center and the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is currently a Term Member. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Elsie Kagan, a painter.
Emma Belcher is the Director of the International Peace and Security program.
Prior to arriving at MacArthur, Emma was at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow. She has also worked as an advisor in Australia’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on national security and international affairs, and as a public affairs officer at the Australian embassy in Washington, D.C.
She has a background in international security (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, PhD and MALD; University of Melbourne, BA [Hons]). While completing her PhD, she was a fellow in the International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
She serves on the advisory committee of N Square—a Ploughshares Fund initiative to promote innovation in the nuclear realm. Emma is a co-chair of the Peace and Security Funders Group Steering Committee and a 2014-2016 Emerging Leader at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Paul directs all of Ploughshares Fund’s grantmaking efforts and provides strategic guidance to the president, executive director and the board. He works to ensure that our grants are the most effective to achieve the goal of reducing the risks from nuclear weapons. Paul is a well-regarded expert on a broad array of nuclear weapons topics, from the history and current status of US plans and programs, to international programs and treaty regimes. He has a particular expertise on the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons infrastructure – where warheads are designed, built, tested, and stored. He also is an expert on North Korea’s program and the challenges to limiting it, having traveled to the DPRK twice with nongovernmental delegations.
Prior to joining Ploughshares Fund in 2000, Paul worked on nuclear weapons issues at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, DC. He also worked on environmental issues at a regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He has published articles and appeared as a commentator for a number of media outlets including The Daily Beast, Hannity, CNN International, Fox News, AP Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Al Jazeera America, among others.
Paul has a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a Masters of Public Policy in National Security Studies from the University of Maryland.
Philip oversees the organization’s entire range of day-to-day activities, including grantmaking, communications, financial management and fundraising. He is an experienced executive and former policymaker who has also worked extensively in academia, business, international diplomacy, nonprofits and government.
Prior to joining Ploughshares Fund, he was a vice president at The Asia Foundation (2005-2011), a Pantech Scholar in Korean Studies at Stanford University (2004-2005) and worked at the U.S. Department of State (1994-2001). He was part of a U.S. delegation that travelled to North Korea with Secretary of State Madeline Albright in October 2000, and was a member of a U.S. government working group that managed U.S. policy and negotiations on North Korea under President Clinton. Mr. Yun also served as senior advisor to the first U.S. Coordinator for North Korea Policy, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. His writings and commentary have appeared on The Hill, Foreign Policy.com, AP TV, Fox News, CNN, NBC and the Los Angeles Times, among others. He is the co-editor of a book entitled North Korea and Beyond (2006).
Prior to government service, Mr. Yun practiced law at the firms of Pillsbury Madison & Sutro in San Francisco and Garvey Schubert & Barer in Seattle. He also was a foreign legal consultant at the firm of Shin & Kim in Seoul, Korea and later a vice president at the private equity firm of H&Q Asia Pacific. In other lives, Mr. Yun was a national staffer on the Presidential campaigns of Vice President Walter Mondale, Governor Michael Dukakis, and then Governor Bill Clinton.
Mr. Yun attended Brown University (magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and the Columbia University School of Law. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Korea. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and member of the Board of Overseers for Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.