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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Democratization has been a consistent theme of activities at the Mershon Center, whether through events or research. The showcase project in this initiative, long supported by the center, is the Comparative National Elections Project, one of the largest and longest-running projects of its kind in the world.

The Comparative National Election Project (CNEP) is a partnership among scholars who have conducted election surveys across the democratic world. Founded in the late 1980s, it now includes 41 surveys from 1990 to 2015 in 24 different countries on five continents, with multiple election surveys in 11 countries. CNEP-based surveys are projected in up to eight future elections.

At their core, the CNEP surveys focus on common questions on the following research topics: personal discussion networks, use of the mass media (television, newspapers, radio, and various electronic sites), political information from associations, contacts by political parties, socio-political values, attitudes towards democracy, civic participation, the integrity of the electoral process, and voting behavior in the most recent election.

In addition, standard demographic and voting behavior variables also are a part of the CNEP surveys. As the project has evolved over time, new question modules have been added to capture important aspects of elections in the new member countries and to reflect broadened theoretical perspectives.

At present, CNEP includes surveys in the following places (and elections):

  • Argentina (2007)
  • Bulgaria (1996)
  • Chile (1993, 2000)
  • China, local elections (2008)
  • Colombia (2014)
  • Dominican Republic (2010)
  • Germany (1990)
  • Great Britain (1992)
  • Greece (1996, 2004, 2015)
  • Hong Kong (1998)
  • Hungary (1998, 2006)
  • Indonesia (1999, 2004, 2009, 2014)
  • Italy (1996, 2006, 2013)
  • Japan (1993)
  • Kenya (2013)
  • Mexico (2006, 2012)
  • Mozambique (2004, 2015)
  • Portugal (2005)
  • South Africa (2004, 2009, 2014)
  • Spain (1993, 2004)
  • Taiwan (2004)
  • Turkey (2014)
  • United States (1992, 2004, 2012)
  • Uruguay (1994, 2004, 2014)

The Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University is the host for the CNEP website. The center has generously sponsored some of these surveys and research conferences focused on them. The website contains each of the original country surveys and questionnaires; a data set that merges the common questions from the first 26 surveys (through 2008) into a cross-national file of over 45,000 respondents; and various descriptions of the project and its partners.

As the surveys conducted since 2008 are processed, they will be added to the merged cross-national file. The website also lists numerous publications that have resulted from the individual country studies and from cross-national analyses of their data. Two edited books have been produced by CNEP partners: Gunther, Montero, and Puhle (eds.), Democracy, Intermediation, and Voting on Four Continents (Oxford, 2007); and Gunther, Beck, Magalhães, and Moreno (eds.) Voting in Old and New Democracies (Routledge, 2016).

Richard Gunther and Paul Beck, both of the Department of Political Science and the Mershon Center at Ohio State, are currently the co-directors of CNEP. Find out more about the project on its website at https://u.osu.edu/cnep

The Mershon Center for International Security Studies and the Byrd Polar Research Center have joined forces to develop a multiyear initiative to bring together faculty and graduate students to study the impact of climate on human health, international security, and resilience of societies. 

The Climate, Security, Health and Resilience initiative will sponsor a series of outside speakers, internally focused workshops and leading edge conferences focused on integrating what is known about a range of major topics regarding climate and society. 

The project will bring together an interdisciplinary world-class cohort of Ohio State experts – including climatologists, geographers, sociologists, political scientists, legal experts, medical scientists, and historians -- who both study the climate itself and assess its impacts on society.

Unique to the CSHR initiative is its two complementary approaches on past and future.  On the one hand, project leaders seek to “rewind” the tape of history to study similar climate-induced catastrophes in the past; on the other, they hope to “fast forward” the tape to attempt predictions of what might happen in the future based on our best understanding and climate models.

A major feature of CSHR is a series of workshops to take place in coming years on climate and health, climate and food security, climate and water security, climate and population dynamics, and climate and human conflict. These events will be designed to answer questions such as:

  • How does climate and associated climate change affect disease and human health?
  • How does climate affect international security, including the spawning of instability and violence and new areas of international engagement?
  • How does climate affect the resilience of societies and their ability to adapt and adjust to climate challenges?

CSHR will also encourage the preparation of faculty proposals for outside funding to private, federal, and international agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Gates Foundation, and Mellon Foundation.  Students may be involved through the creation of climate-centered study abroad programs, and links will be formed with agencies doing similar research both domestically and abroad.

The initiative maps onto all three of Ohio State’s Discovery Themes: energy and environment, food production and security, and health and wellness, as well as onto the College of Arts and Sciences initiative on environment, energy and sustainability. 

It is also linked to two areas of focus at the Mershon Center -- ideas, identities and decisional processes that affect security, and institutions that manage violent conflict – as well as to the broad mission of Byrd Polar -- to conduct multidisciplinary investigations of polar, alpine, and tropical processes to understand their role in the Earth’s ever-evolving climate system.

The Mershon Center for International Security Studies is working on several key multidisciplinary research initiatives.  These initiatives bring together faculty from a number of different disciplines across The Ohio State University to explore a topic related to international security studies in more depth and detail.

Current initiatives under active consideration include:

Please click on the links above or to the left to find out more about each Mershon Center initiative.

The Mershon Center for International Security Studies is the research home for the Peace Studies Program at The Ohio State University.  This program has three central areas of emphasis: Teaching, Community Outreach, and Research.


Teaching Peace Studies at Ohio State focuses on both the theory and practice of peace work. It aims to prepare students to work for peace and justice in a variety of local, transnational and international contexts. 

Peace Studies Minor - Undergraduate courses in peace studies are delivered through the International Studies Program. Four Peace Studies courses including a popular introductory course and upper level theory and practice courses are currently offered on an annual basis through International Studies. We are in the process of developing additional courses that can be offered annually and identifying existing courses across various departments that may count for credit toward a Peace Studies focus. See the Peace Studies Minor handout

Graduate Certificate in Peace Studies – Following the completion of the Peace Studies undergraduate minor curriculum, we will begin work on an online Graduate Certificate in Peace Studies.  Coursework in this certificate program will focus on applied skills in managing Peace Studies activities and organizations.  

Peace Education and Training Repository (PETR) – The Peace Program has received external funding to develop an online peace education archive. The repository will house peace education and training materials from around the world in an easily accessible and flexibly searchable format.  The educational materials will be made freely available via the Internet in order to support Peace Education efforts across both local and global communities.  PETR will also facilitate international collaboration among peace educators and trainers. 

Community Outreach

Community outreach will occur primarily through events and activities hosted at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies.  While some of our teaching and research activities also involve community outreach components (such as the PETR and the NVC experimental studies), our primary community outreach activities are:

Conferences – An international conference was held in October 2012 commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the UN’s An Agenda for Peace. An edited volume on the same topic is being prepared for publication.  The Peace Initiative is developing a second conference focused on media representations of war and violence.  The conference will bring together academics, journalists, and peace activists to discuss how editorial decisions on war reporting influence popular attitudes toward conflict. 

Student Engagement – In spring 2013 the newly established Ohio State University Student Peace Studies Society awarded the first Student Peace Prizes to two Ohio State students. The Mershon Center provided financial and logistical support to the event. Building upon the success of the 2013 event, The Peace Studies Society hosted a student peace conference and award event in January 2014. The program for this event included a peace-building workshop conducted by Compassionate Communication of Columbus, and a roundtable discussion on peace building by academics and practitioners.  The event attracted Ohio State students, faculty, and members of the Columbus community. 

Business Engagement – The Business for Peace Initiative was started in September 2013. Recognizing that businesses do better in peaceful and stable societies, and that businesses can play an important role in building peace the Initiative is being set up with the long-term goal of establishing an Ohio State Business for Peace Center. In the short to medium-term the initiative will focus on developing a network of likeminded business leaders who will meet regularly with researchers, practitioners and policy makers to share ideas and knowledge. Engagement by the business community is vital to the relevance, sustainability and overall success of this initiative. 

The Business for Peace Initiative held its inaugural events in March and April of 2014.  In March we convened the Business for Peace Collaborative: Panel Discussion, hosted by Ann Fisher of WOSU.  The panel brought faculty from Ohio State, University of Nebraska, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem together with Ohio State students and community members to discuss the role of business engagement with the peace process.  In April we met with a group of interested business leaders from the Columbus area to discuss the development of practical initiatives through with the Mershon Center can foster and promote peace both at the local and international levels.  We are continuing to develop our engagement with the business community in fostering peace education and peace building. 


Chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution – The current chair holder, Christopher Gelpi, is engaged in a variety of peace research activities.  He is currently engaged in research on American public opinion and the use of military force, the role of trade and economic exchange in promoting peace, and on statistical models for forecasting military conflict and transnational terrorist violence.

Experimental Evaluation of Non-Violent Communication – The Peace Studies Coordinator, John Carlarne, and the Chair of Peace Studies, Christopher Gelpi, are developing a research project that will evaluate the effectiveness of Non-Violent Communication training on the attitudes of ethnic diaspora groups in the Columbus area toward competing diaspora groups.  The research will begin with a focus on the impact of NVC training on attitudes toward clan rivalries in the Somali diaspora community.

Peace Research Fellowships – The Chair of Peace Studies grants research fellowships each year to graduate students who are conducting research on peace related topics.  These fellowships are used to support Ohio State graduate students in launching their own peace research agendas.

Program Development

The Peace Program has identified three development priorities that we believe will allow the program to continue building and expanding into the future.  

First, we would like to find permanent funding for our Peace Studies Coordinator position.  The Peace Studies Coordinator has played a vital role in launching the Peace Initiative, and secure funding for this position will ensure our ability to continue to develop the program.  

Second, we would like to secure funding for the establishment of two post-doctoral fellowships in peace and conflict resolution research. The fellows will be members of the Mershon Center, and will also teach within the Peace Studies program. They will also be responsible for organizing and delivering public programming.  We plan to identify one of these positions as a Business for Peace Fellow. 

Finally, we would like to secure long-term support for our project on the experimental evaluation of peace education curricula.  We believe that this project has the potential to provide critical knowledge about the consequences and effectiveness of peace education both to academics and to practitioners of peace.  Moreover, we believe that this project provides an unusual opportunity to extend the work and contributions of the Mershon Center and the Ohio State University outward into our community and the world.