CPOST conducts focused and cross-disciplinary research on international affairs at the University of Chicago. Our faculty and research teams have on-going projects on international politics, security, and trade. Many projects build on large-scale, student-supported, faculty-led research teams, critical to the collection and analysis of major quantitative, experimental, and qualitative data. While CPOST faculty pursue diverse projects, what unites them is a shared commitment to advancing knowledge on major international and national security issues relevant to scholars and policymakers.

CPOST Scholars and Areas of Research

Robert Pape

CPOST’s director and founder, Robert Pape, is professor of political science at the University of Chicago and a leading scholar international security, military strategy, and political violence. He has written extensively on strategic airpower, counterinsurgency strategy, and how military occupation, not religion, is the major cause of suicide terrorism campaigns. In addition to his research, he maintains the most comprehensive database of global suicide attacks and attackers. His current projects focus on the role of airpower and “over-the-horizon” strategies in counterterrorism, militant power politics, and militant group use of propaganda for recruitment in the West.

Benjamin Lessing

Ben Lessing, CPOST associate director and co-director of the Program on Political Violence (PPV), is associate professor at the University of Chicago and a leading scholar of organized armed violence by criminal gangs and drug cartels, with a regional focus on Latin America. He has written extensively on how criminal gangs use violence to coerce political concessions from rival criminal and political actors. Lessing’s current projects explore criminal governance in Latin America and the relationship between mass-incarceration policies and the growth of powerful armed criminal groups challenging state security and stability. He is building a new database estimating the number of people under gang rule in Latin American countries.

Paul Staniland

Paul Staniland, CPOST associate director and co-director of the Program on Political Violence (PPV), is associate professor at the University of Chicago and a leading scholar of political violence, insurgency, and security, with a regional focus on South Asia. He has written extensively on how leadership and local networks shape insurgencies and on the politics of state-insurgent relations, which vary from coexistence to conflict. His current project is a major study into the politics of state-insurgent relations in South Asia, which includes a new database cataloging all instances of and changes in state-insurgent relations in South Asia since 1945.

Austin Carson

Austin Carson, CPOST assistant director, is assistant professor at the University of Chicago and a leading scholar of international security and statecraft. He has written on when and why states choose to keep their foreign policy interventions secret, arguing that secrecy is a useful tool for preventing conflict escalation, even between allies. His current projects include studies of how intelligence and other kinds of sensitive information impact the work of international organizations and the way states signal via covert action.

Robert Gulotty

Robert Gulotty, CPOST assistant director, is assistant professor at the University of Chicago and  conducts research on the politics of international trade and on the spillover-effects of trade disputes. A recent project found that competition between the United States and China over steel escalated tensions beyond the narrow issue of the initial dispute. His ongoing research focuses on the risk of conflict escalation between major trading partners.

Paul Poast

Paul Poast, CPOST assistant director, is associate professor at the University of Chicago and a leading scholar on the politics of international alliances and the role of the global economy on the prospects for security conflict and cooperation. He has written on when membership in security alliances like NATO make members more (or less) secure, and the role of World War I in shaping international institutions like the World Bank and World Trade Organization. His current project  investigates the relationship between globalization and war, with a specific focus on how the global cotton trade contributed to the American Civil War.

Rochelle Terman

Rochelle Terman, CPOST assistant director, is Provost’s postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago and conducts research on the counterproductive consequences of “naming and shaming” campaigns as coercive tools for enforcing norms in international politics, such as the promotion of human rights by the West. Her current project focuses on when normative coercive campaigns succeed in generating compliance, when they fail, and when they are likely to result in backlash and an increased risk of conflict.