Founded in 2004 by Dr. Robert A. Pape as the “Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism,” CPOST began as a venue for its Suicide Attack Database, the first resource of its kind, which today remains as the most comprehensive database of suicide attacks available. Working out of the University of Chicago Political Science Department, Dr. Pape assembled a research team fluent in all the key native languages associated with the phenomenon of suicide attacks (Arabic, Hebrew, Tamil, Russian, Urdu, etc.), and collected martyr videos and other primary source materials produced by terrorist groups, as well as secondary sources from major world publications.

To date, the CPOST Suicide Attack Database has culminated in the publication of two books: Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House, 2005), and Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How To Stop It (University of Chicago Press, 2010). Additionally, the database played a key role in developing research that was published in a special issue of Security Studies, a top international relations journal in the United States, in 2009.

Ten years later, CPOST continues its proud tradition as a center for terrorism research, along the way expanding to new areas of study, including humanitarian intervention policy and U.S.-China relations. Ongoing terrorism research includes a broad analysis of the targeting patterns of over 55,000 suicide and other terrorist attacks, the most comprehensive study of its kind. Born in the wake of the Arab Spring, humanitarian intervention research centers on how to develop standards for intervening in crises, specifically by taking into account the limits of intervention in certain crises. Meanwhile, CPOST remains focused on the larger picture of American Grand Strategy, researching new ideas for the management of Asian security crises in the face of the changing power dynamics in the region.

Across these issues and others, CPOST has maintained its commitment to the highest levels of peer-reviewed scholarship, while also pushing for a real-world policy impact. CPOST has achieved this not only through its scholarship, but also by hosting conferences across the globe (including Washington, D.C., Beijing, and Shanghai) and by receiving significant visibility in the media.