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

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
August 25, 2016

The 2016 issue of GSPIA Perspectives features the Master of International Development (MID) program. Dean Keeler notes the training of specialists in international development has been a central component of GSPIA, since its founding in 1958. The MID program is one of three two-year master’s degrees at GSPIA. The program emphasizes the intellectual rigor and practical skills needed by organizations working in development, preparing students to make a difference locally, nationally and globally. This issue of Perspectives captures the “ethos” of alumni working in the field and documents some of their journeys. The magazine also features recent accomplishments of the school’s distinguished alumni, and faculty. It highlights the invaluable work of the school’s research centers, as well as student working groups, accomplishments and learning experiences. Lastly, GSPIA Perspectives provides a snapshot of the people dedicated to making the world a better place. Read more. 

May 16, 2016

The United Nations, in establishing its 2016 Sustainable Development Goals, considered inclusive governance a core component of peaceful and just societies, and called for more monitoring of women’s participation in public institutions.  GSPIA’s own Dr. Müge Finkel, Assistant Professor of International Development and Dr. Melanie Hughes, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, answered the call to lead an interdisciplinary group of graduate students in the search for data.  

April 01, 2016

 By Nicholas Caskey

John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), recently addressed students, faculty and guests on US efforts to reconstruct Afghanistan.  During his lecture, Spoko discussed the creation of SIGAR to oversee and prevent "waste, fraud and abuse" of American tax dollars. "I thought I knew all about corruption, but I can tell you that what I have seen and heard in the last four years in Afghanistan puts to shame what we call corruption here," said Sopko, "And this pervasive corruption poses a deadly threat to the entire U.S. effort to rebuild Afghanistan."

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.

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