The Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab

The Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab conducts interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on issues at the intersection of climate change, security, and economic development. These research projects provide opportunities for undergraduate students to develop data science and other research skills and apply them directly to the policy challenges facing national governments and international institutions.

Junior lab members receive, and senior lab members help provide, formal training, but from day one lab members are working alongside faculty and doctoral students on cutting edge research projects, every one of which is aimed toward producing actionable research findings. Every exercise is live. That means mistakes are costly, but successes deliver more than a grade – they deliver policy-relevant results that address some of the world’s most pressing global challenges.

Arctic Strategy Workshop

USC is hosting a special workshop on the Arctic Environment and Strategy on October 20 in Washington DC.  Funded by the National Science Foundation, the event is formally titled Strategic Ambition and Environmental Constraint:  a Conference-Workshop on the Impact of Rapid Environmental Degradation on the Security Strategies of Arctic States.  The workshop features some two dozen invited experts—on Arctic environmental issues, on Arctic security, and on global threat assessment and strategy—discussing the collision of geopolitical rivalry with rapid environmental change.  The breakdown of relations between Russia and other Arctic Council states aggravates a trend toward militarization in the region even as accelerating environmental degradation prioritizes broader international cooperation.

Near Crisis Project

The Near Crisis Project dates back to 2008. The basic idea is to collect data on a comparison class of events for comparison to international crises. We know a lot already about why some crises escalate to war, but not where such events come from in the first place. The NCP is collecting, throughout the 20th century and beyond, exactly the kind of data that is needed to improve the scientific understanding of escalation processes. Since its inception, the NCP has involved more than one hundred undergraduate students at USC. Those who comment below are outstanding examples of USC students who are going on to great success in life and value their experience as undergraduate research assistants along the way.

It involves identifying a particular type of event, known as a near crisis, during the period from 1919 to 2017. The NCP is at an exciting point of its development – they have searched through about 95% of monthly time periods and soon will have completed the identification phase of the project. Students in NCP this semester will do research on a two-week cycle in which they seek to identify potential cases for the NCP data set. Every two weeks, each student attends a group meeting in which potential cases are debated. The Project Director, Dr. Patrick James, based on arguments heard back and forth, then decides whether a candidate case will be included.

J. Ann Tickner Book Prize

The J. Ann Tickner Book Prize honors outstanding new work in the tradition of Tickner’s pioneering scholarship.

The Tickner Prize was established in recognition of Professor Tickner’s path-breaking scholarship on gender and feminist International Relations and her tireless commitment to engagement across disciplinary paradigms. The prize seeks to recognize the author of a book that critically engages IR theory, that questions disciplinary assumptions, and that helps build practical knowledge to address pressing issues and contribute to a more just and peaceful world. Professor Emerita J. Ann Tickner is an eminent scholar of International Relations and a distinguished member of the SIR faculty from 1995 – 2011 (and now Distinguished Scholar in Residence at American University).

Administered biennially by the School of International Relations (SIR) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, the prize includes a $1,000 award and an invitation to USC to give a formal lecture.

In 2014, Dr. Fiona Robinson was awarded the prize for her book, The Ethics of Care.

In 2016, Dr. Laura Sjoberg was awarded the prize for her book, Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War.