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Carnegie Corporation Awards Josef Korbel School’s Sié Center $1 Million Grant on Bridging the Academic-Policy Gap

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The University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies recently announced that a team from the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy, a leading research center at the School, was awarded a $1 million, two-year grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to generate and disseminate policy-relevant research on inclusive approaches to violence reduction, peacebuilding and governance.

The faculty team at the Sié Center, led by center director Deborah Avant, will gather and analyze the data necessary to understand the links between inclusiveness and violence reduction in a range of conflict settings. Avant expressed her thanks to the Carnegie Corporation for funding research on this important and timely set of issues. "Understanding how inclusive processes work and their effects is vital given the current political climate—in the U.S. and around the world. Our team is committed to generating research that is rigorous, relevant, and ethical; we are grateful that the Carnegie Corporation shares this commitment and honored to have their support." Avant is joined by DU faculty Marie Berry, Erica Chenoweth, Cullen Hendrix, Oliver Kaplan and Tricia Olsen to form the project's research team. 

Researching Inclusiveness

A key insight driving a wide range of policy decisions in conflict and post-conflict contexts around the globe is that inclusive approaches to governance, mobilization, and problem-solving are necessary to prevent or reduce violence, promote peaceful behavior and outcomes, and ensure more equitable and prosperous societies. However, most policymakers struggle to define inclusiveness or articulate how it operates. Inclusiveness, as a strategy, has not yet received rigorous and sustained scholarly attention. Working in small groups with Korbel doctoral and graduate students, the faculty will leverage this grant to explore the links between inclusionary policies and decreases in violence using both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

One component of the Carnegie-funded effort is the "MicroMob" data collection project led by Professor Marie Berry. This project harnesses the power of participant photos from mass protest events to identify the percentage of women present in mass protest events on a day-by-day basis during the duration of protest campaigns. The data will cover thirty-three mass protest campaigns from around the world since 2010, including the 2011 mass mobilization of Egyptians in Tahrir Square, the 2014 Euro-Maidan protests in Ukraine and the ongoing mass mobilization in Burundi. Professor Berry said "Our goal is to use a cutting-edge data gathering technique in order to provide activists and scholars alike with the first truly comprehensive data on the gender dynamics of mass protest campaigns." This research is part of the newly-launched Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative at the Sié Center, which seeks to understand the role that women and underrepresented groups play in advancing global peace and security.

Additional research projects will examine inclusive governing processes and how to conceptualize and measure the effects of inclusion on violence and peacebuilding. Two prominent Sié affiliated data projects—the Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO) Data Project directed by Erica Chenoweth and the Social Conflict Analysis Database (SCAD) directed by Cullen Hendrix—will be updated and expanded as part of this effort. Both NAVCO and SCAD have been widely used by policymakers and academics for the study and application of dissident behavior.

In addition to funding their new research program, the grant award will allow the Sié Center to bring two full-time post-doctoral researchers, practitioners-in-residence, and a host of visiting academic and policymakers to the Josef Korbel School.

Research With Impact

This new grant builds on previous work at the Sié Center funded by the Carnegie Corporation to bridge the gap between scholarship and policy on major international peace and security issues. The grant is also one of several large grants awarded to the Josef Korbel School in the past few years to support rigorous research with real-world impact. Erica Chenoweth, one of the faculty on the project and also Associate Dean for Research at the Josef Korbel School, believes that this remarkable increase in funding has strengthened the School's capacity to live up to DU's vision of a serving as great private university dedicated to the public good: "With $5 million awarded for policy-relevant research in the past two few years, the faculty members of the Josef Korbel School are leveraging tremendous resources to deepening and disseminating knowledge about global security in the twenty-first century."

Noting the importance of applying sound research to policy, Dean Christopher R. Hill, a four-time U.S. ambassador, said, "Rigorously studying inclusive processes to understand what really works—and what doesn't—is crucial for our country right now. With this grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to the Sié Center, we can directly help policymakers make evidence-based decisions to reduce violence. Furthermore, our students and junior scholars at the Josef Korbel School will gain experience doing academic research that has a real impact in the world."