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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Who we are

Teri Murphy

The Conflict to Peace Lab (C2P) at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University develops evidence-based evaluations of policy and intervention models that support international peacemaking, peacebuilding, and social cohesion in fragile states affected by war and political violence.

  • We bring together scholars, policy makers, local development partners, and interested donors to develop and test the effectiveness of direct interventions that seek to alleviate violence, stabilize fragile societies, and develop positive peace.
  • We identify innovative evaluation approaches for research in conflict affected areas, placing priority on conflict sensitivity and cultural appropriateness.
  • We produce knowledge that is useful to local communities impacted by politically motivated violence, accessible to policy makers and practitioners, and compelling to the scholarly community.

What we do

Christopher Gelpi

The number of societies affected by political violence has risen steadily over the past decade. Over this same period, the annual number of deaths that directly result from political violence has increased to more than 100,000. This violence has even broader impacts on vulnerable communities in fragile states through the spread of sexual violence, famine, forced migration, and disease.

C2P partners directly with communities affected by politically motivated violence to identify interventions that are culturally-sensitive and effective. To accomplish this goal, we work alongside local organizations and/or INGOs to identify and embed peace and conflict processes and indicators into program frameworks. C2P supports project managers and local researchers in monitoring, analyzing, and evaluating data on the impact of these interventions.

Collectively, we consider the implications of the analysis to further strengthen the intervention and to instruct future policy considerations. We continue to support our partners through presentations, co-authored policy reports, and peer-reviewed publications. Finally, we use lessons learned from our research and collaborations to develop better tools to facilitate peacebuilding.

Our goal is to work as part of an interdisciplinary, multi-national, and multi-organizational team to integrate academic research, effective intervention models, and public policy through direct engagement with local stakeholders in order to alleviate political violence and build peaceful societies.

We support research that fosters comprehensive and collaborative linkages through sustained engagement that allows for the testing, evaluation, refinement, and implementation of peacebuilding tools and interventions. Central to our approach is the creation and sustainment of relationships with local partners that requires an environment of mutual listening, learning, and understanding among all of our stakeholders.

C2P emphasizes systematic thinking about the process of effecting change in a post-colonial world shaped by power relationships. Using a participatory process, we foster a common understanding of what it means to build durable peace and social cohesion. This goal requires exploring an inclusive vision of the sources of peace and conflict, as well as identifying concrete indicators of progress. After identifying a common understanding of the problems and measurement of the desired outcomes, we create innovative approaches to empirically evaluating policy and intervention models. We then carry out rigorous evaluations of the causal impact of these interventions, and collaborate with local partners in refining and reevaluating the interventions.

How we work

Austin Knuppe

We engage with our stakeholders through the implementation of a systematic process:

  • Identifying an issue or research area
  • Building a network of scholars, local partners, donors, and policy makers
  • Gaining insights into the culture, history, and conflict context of proposed sites
  • Sharing frameworks, methodologies, and perspectives across academic disciplines
  • Developing a joint proposal to address an identified problem or opportunity, including a work plan and research budget
  • Engaging in immersive field work over an extended period
  • Convening with stakeholders every 4-6 months for analysis, synthesis, and reflective learning
  • Amplifying, scaling, and/or extending successful interventions to new settings
  • Revising, replacing, or discontinuing unsuccessful interventions
  • Reporting findings to our stakeholders
  • Publishing findings in peer-reviewed scholarly outlets

Our issues

C2P focuses on a variety of issues related to the amelioration of politically motivated violence and the development of positive peace. These issues include:

  • Understanding the links between international, state, economic, and human security
  • Community-driven approaches to countering violence and encouraging local capacities for peace
  • Countering violent extremism (CVE) and supporting post-conflict stabilization
  • The role of women and youth in developing and sustaining peace
  • The beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that facilitate peace and reconciliation among conflict-affected communities

Our governing board

  • Christopher Gelpi – The Ohio State University
  • Teri Murphy – The Ohio State University
  • Austin Knuppe – Dartmouth College and Utah State University