Leveraging the skills of an exceptional interdisciplinary team of University of Michigan’s social, data, and climate scientists, this project will advance the frontiers of usable social-scientific knowledge at the intersection of climate, demography, and socio-political stability as it affects U.S. national security interests. The project will analyze how complex interactions of climate and demographic change affect sociopolitical stability in Africa, assess where and when risks are greatest, and thus respond to two central concerns of the 2022 U.S. National Defense Strategy: climate change and China (PRC). The project will generate actionable research findings on factors that prompt and locations that harbor great risks of political instability and conflict in Africa.

The five deliverables from the project: 1) Critical data infrastructure. The project’s innovations will include the creation and development of the most comprehensive and user-accessible data platform in existence for harmonized climate, demographic, socioeconomic, institutional, and conflict data for sub-Saharan Africa. The data infrastructure is designed to address the persistent and ubiquitous problems of data harmonization and integration. It exploits technical advances in up- and downscaling data, estimation of missing data, and metadata specification to transform datasets across different and incompatible spatial units, facilitating the generation of bespoke, analysis-ready datasets. In the process, it will also generate a comprehensive dictionary of causal and outcome variables and their measures that represent climate, demography, context, and conflict for national security relevant analyses. 2) Processed and transformed data into useable datasets for analysis. The project will extend existing data infrastructural capabilities to support interdisciplinary research on climate, demographics and conflict, by incorporating into the platform new spatial transformation and interpolation algorithms developed by computer scientists and statisticians on the project team. 3) Honed and tested analytical empirical models that can help forecast when and where risks will develop. The project will deploy big-data analytic and AI techniques for a systematic assessment of the empirical validity of multiple hypotheses proposed in the literature, and to test relationships between climatic, demographic, and conflict variables at the continental, country, and local scale. The project will share the results of these analyses publicly with the scholarly and the defense community for their assessment and feedback. 4) Novel data from field studies in critical sites. The project will support directed data collection by leading field research in three critical locations in the region, and additionally support 15 research projects by promising candidates from other institutions including in Africa, in the process mobilizing a community of research and practice on climate-demographic change and sociopolitical stability. The direct data collection efforts will help identify key variables on which data will improve the understanding and empirical modeling of the relationship between climate-demographic change and sociopolitical stability, uncover unsuspected mechanisms that lead to sociopolitical instability, and explore resilience mechanisms that dampen the prospects of instability. 5) A network of researchers (including education and training of early career scholars at PMEs and elsewhere).

The WVS is a global network of social scientists who are analyzing the basic values and beliefs of people throughout the world. In order to monitor changes in values and understand their implications, the WVS has carried out successive waves of surveys since 1981 in over 100 countries, containing almost 90 percent of the world’s population. This project provides an unparalleled data base for the analysis of the role of human beliefs and values in social, economic and political change. Results from more than 4,000 publications demonstrate that the values of ordinary people have an important impact on a wide range of important social phenomena, ranging from human fertility rates to gender equality, and the extent to which democratic institutions emerge and flourish. 

The Continent of International Law (COIL) research program lies at the intersection of international relations and international law. Principal Investigator Koremenos argues that the design provisions of international law matter, and, when chosen correctly, help states confront harsh international political realities and thereby increase the incidence and robustness of international cooperation. Because the set of cooperation problems states are attempting to solve with their international agreements vary in interesting and important ways and because the characteristics of the states solving these problems also vary greatly, the design of international law is characterized by tremendous and meaningful variation. In her book, The Continent of International Law (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press), Koremenos presents a theory of international law design, explaining differences across multiple dimensions including rules governing duration, monitoring, punishments, disputes, and even withdrawal in terms of a set of logically-derived and empirically-testable hypotheses. The COIL dataset, featuring a random sample of agreements across the issue areas of economics, environment, human rights, and security, allows her to test her hypotheses. She finds that, while international law indeed exists under anarchy, states design this body of law rationally — in ways that make sense if they are seeking to solve their joint problems and to stabilize these solutions. They do not neglect the details as they would if law did not matter in their calculus. Nor do the simply follow a uniform normative template because it is the “correct” way to make law. They meticulously tailor the law to their cooperation problems.

Building on research and data from the Transformations in Poverty and Property Rights in Rural Tanzania project (2009-present), the key objectives of this study are to:

  1. Strengthen understanding of the types of social assets that can advance productive uses of renewable energy in rural Tanzania;
  2. Enhance capacity in regional universities for assessment of village-based social assets that can be mobilized to support solar mini-grid investments;
  3. Liaise with Tanzanian civil society organizations (including non- governmental organizations, microfinance institutions, business incubators, entrepreneurial training institutes, and women’s organizations) to expand the range and scale of productive uses of renewable energy; and
  4. Consult with and select 4-6 villages with demonstrable success in managing social assets that can serve as pilot sites for mini-grid installation and expansion of productive uses of renewable energy in the rural sector.

This project is a partnership between the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) and University of Michigan, with support from the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) to leverage election observer missions and local election results to inform the challenges of building sustainable peace in Africa. It collates results from roughly 300 polling stations in countries where EISA will send election observer missions from late 2018 through the end of 2019. Election observers on the ground will gather information about security arrangements, incidents of political violence, and public infrastructure and services in the areas served by individual polling stations. The information they collect will be geocoded and linked to local election returns. The resulting data sets will allow academics and practitioners to analyze the relationship between elections and violence and to identify local factors – such as public infrastructure and services – that can inform efforts to promote sustainable peace in Africa.

This project seeks to understand how diverse forms of political conflict and violence (e.g. genocide, civil war [insurgency/counter-insurgency], human rights violations, protest, protest policing, terrorism, counter-terrorism, revolution, counter-revolution) influence various key political and economic outcomes, such as the type of political system, mass participation, economic development and foreign direct investment. In previous research, our understanding of the overall costs of conflict and violence has been limited by studying too narrow categories political conflict and violence as well as political and economic outcomes. The current project opens up the categories of contention and costs in order to achieve a comprehensive analysis of the real costs of contention. Additionally, the project seeks to explore not only global patterns but also sub-national and individual level patterns and processes.

The research effort is complex in that it involves using pre-existing data in new ways, as well as collection and analysis of new unique data across time and at multiple levels of analysis (i.e., the globe, specific country cases, and individual level data from specifically-targeted matched locations within the cases). The project will be attentive to numerous potential biases: e.g., gender differences in costs of contention, and the existence and meaning of missing data. The project will also engage in establishing an appropriate baseline for comparison, and combine diverse databases in new ways to allow us to study individual effects as well as general patterns across compiled information. The information emerging from this research will have significant potential use. Most importantly, project outputs will provide evidence-based early warning of likely challenges for recovery and development efforts in the post-conflict period, for policy-makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders engaged in recovery efforts. This can significantly improve the lives of those who would otherwise suffer without informed policy options.

This is a scholarly community focused on political conflict and peace through the use of rigorous, evidence-based research as well as community-building related efforts around relevant themes.

The Conflict & Peace, Research & Development (C&P, R&D or CPRD) group comprises individuals and activities broadly concerned with political conflict (e.g., genocide, civil war, human rights violation, terrorism, protest, torture, domestic spying and everyday resistance) and peace (e.g., community building, inter-group relations and negotiation). The range of topics is purposefully conceived in as encompassing a manner as possible.

The Arab Barometer was established in 2005 by the Institute for Social Research of the University of Michigan in close collaboration with institutions and scholars in the Arab world. The project is a multi-country survey project that provides data for theory-driven scholarly inquiry and for dissemination and outreach activities that are useful for political development. Among the many topics covered in the Arab Barometer survey instrument are conceptions of governance and attitudes about democracy; tolerance and respect for diversity; civic engagement and political participation; inter-personal and political trust; attitudes toward status of women and gender equality; religiosity and religious attachments; support for terrorism and radical ideologies, and views of international relations and other countries.

Data from the first five waves of surveys may be found on the project’s website. Arab Barometer surveys have been conducted one or more times in each of the following 15 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Qatar, and Yemen. 

Professor Tessler specializes in Comparative Politics, Public Opinion, and Middle East Studies. He has studied and/or conducted field research in Tunisia, Israel, Morocco, Egypt, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza), and Qatar. Many of Professor Tessler’s scholarly publications examine the nature, determinants, and political implications of the attitudes and values held by ordinary citizens in the Middle East and North Africa. He has focused in particular on attitudes and values pertaining to governance, to women, to Islam, and to international relations. Many of his research findings are brought together in his book, Public Opinion in the Middle East: Survey Research and the Political Orientations of Ordinary Citizens.

Professor Tessler has also written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is one of the very few American scholars to have attended university and lived for extended periods both in Israel and in the Arab world. His book, A History of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict, has received national honors and awards. Professor Tessler has also spent several years teaching at universities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Tessler is co-founder and co-director of the Arab Barometer survey project. Since its establishment in 2006, the Arab Barometer has carried out 37 surveys in 15 countries and conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 43,000 respondents. Data from all waves have been placed in the public domain for use by others and may be downloaded from the Barometer’s website. In 2017, the website had more than 100,000 hits and 45,000 downloads of data and reports. Professor Tessler is PI or co-PI on successful proposals that have raised $2.8 million for the next wave of Arab Barometer surveys and associated activities.

Professor Tessler has organized and directed social science research training and capacity-building programs in many Middle Eastern and African countries. During 2019-2020, partially with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, this will include six workshops and international conferences to be held in Arab countries.

Ken Kollman’s research focuses on political parties and organizations, elections, lobbying, federal systems, formal modeling, complexity theory, American politics, and comparative politics.

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