Our Mission

The mission of the Ford Institute for Human Security is to promote effective responses to severe threats faced by individuals and their communities as a result of conflict and deprivation. To that end, the Institute conducts research on the causes and consequences of political violence and economic underdevelopment, and works to advance the idea that governments have a sovereign responsibility to protect their people.

Upcoming Events
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Director's Message

Human security draws on studies of economics, governance, human rights, justice, peace and war to address a fundamental question: how can we protect people from severe threats to their lives and livelihoods?

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Featured Video
Climate Change, Social Stress & Migration: Implications for Conflict & Cooperation

“Climate Change, Social Stress & Migration: Implications for Conflict & Cooperation,” featured Dr. Susan F. Martin from Georgetown University and Dr. Daniel W. Bromley from the University of Wisconsin, on February 9, 2015.  This presentation illustrated that, while we have limited ability to control climate change, we can control how it affects vulnerable nations. Climate change has the capacity to cause either cooperation or conflict. In order to ensure that cooperation occurs instead of conflict, Dr. Martin and Dr. Bromley provided two distinct ways to address the development problem.

Recent News
March 21, 2016

In a headlining commentary in the latest issue of Governance, Assistant Professor Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili asks why the state building project in Afghanistan proved to be such a failure. She argues this was due to a misguided preoccupation with the build-up of "power-deploying institutions," and the neglect of mechanisms for holding power-holders accountable.  As she explains: "Afghanistan illustrates how a fragile state requires enough capacity to defeat insurgents, but enough constraints to discourage officials from predation and abuse. Unfortunately, well-crafted constraints often seem like an afterthought, as state-building efforts obsess with building quick capacity. A link to the piece can be found here.

January 12, 2016

By Camila Polinori, MPIA’16

GSPIA professor and director of the Ford Institute for Human Security, Dr. Taylor Seybolt, spoke in December 2015 at the 3rd Urban Health Regional Forum of the Americas in Medellin, Colombia. The Forum was a joint initiative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Medellin Mayor’s Office, and Colombia’s Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MHSP). Dr. Marcelo Korc, Senior Advisor at PAHO and moderator at the Forum, invited Dr. Seybolt to join the panel called “Focus on Human Security in Urban Settings.” Luis Fernando Suarez, Head Secretary of Security for the Medellin Mayor’s Office, and Dr. Alexander Butchart, Coordinator of Violence Prevention at WHO, also joined the panel. The panel’s objective was to highlight the importance of positioning human security as a public health topic.

December 22, 2015

By Brittany Duncan (PhD candidate, Dept. of Sociology) and Kathleen Euler (GSPIA IPE’16)

On December 9, 2015 Pelle Lutken (Policy Specialist) and Ciara Lee (International Consultant), two members of the UNDP's Governance and Peacebuilding Team came to the University of Pittsburgh for a one day workshop with the Multi-Disciplinary Graduate Student GEPA Working Group. This working group, housed by the Ford Institute for Human Security and led by Dr. Müge Finkel of GSPIA and Dr. Melanie Hughes of Sociology, has been working in partnership with UNDP for the past semester.  The workshop, the first one of the deliverables, was planned as an opportunity for working group researchers to meet and network with the UNDP Team, share their work, receive feedback and strategize for the next phase of the project.

December 18, 2015

By Elizabeth Moody

Bob Kitchen, director of Emergency Preparedness and Response for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), recently visited GSPIA to share his firsthand experience of the Syrian refugee crisis and humanitarian response with students and faculty. Drawing from his extensive on-the-ground experience, Kitchen relayed the harrowing details of refugees’ journey to Europe and IRC’s response.  Kitchen put a human face on the conflict, reminding the audience how quickly the situation had deteriorated and that until recently, Syrians led very similar lives to many Americans. 

December 18, 2015

Assistant Professors Luke Condra and Sera Linardi’s paper with Mohammad Isaqzadeh of American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, “Clerics and Scriptures: Experimentally Disentangling the Influence of Religious Authority in Afghanistan”, has been selected as the best paper in comparative politics by the Midwest Political Science Association’s Kellogg/Notre Dame Award committee. 

Faculty Research
Sustainable Development and Human Security in Africa: Governance as the Missing Link

Sustainable Development and Human Security in Africa, edited by GSPIA faculty Dr. Louis A Picard and Dr. Taylor B Seybolt seeks to broaden the policy debate and provide conversations about the sustainable development challenges facing African countries from multiple viewpoints and interdisciplinary perspectives—from academics, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in the field. The book tries to strike a balance between recognizing the need to bring politics back into development programs and understanding the limitations of political institutions in weak states. To that end, it looks at the challenges of development from the perspective of human security. 

Alumni Spotlight

Stephen Coulthart received his PhD from GSPIA in 2015. During his time here, he worked on the “Understanding the Responsibility to Protect” project at the Ford Institute. He and two other students coded and analyzed transcriptions of diplomats’ dialog at the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council to examine how the norms of intervention in humanitarian crises have changed. This hands-on experience provided him with practical skills he would later utilize in furthering his career. 


Ford Institute for Human Security
3930 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260