Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Centers. Initiatives. Projects.

The Watson Institute is proud to house 11 region- or topic-focused centers, initiatives, and projects that are dedicated to research, teaching, and outreach. These entities also serve as conveners, sponsoring informative events that inspire dialogue among scholars, students, and the public.

Africa Initiative

Africa Initiative

The Africa Initiative promotes research and pedagogy at Brown and in collaboration with African partners, supports academic programs and activities that foster critical inquiry, enhance knowledge, and contribute to efforts to address contemporary social problems.

Brazil Initiative

Brazil Initiative

Brown University is one of the country's premier academic centers for the study of Brazil. Building on this strength, the Brazil Initiative promotes research, teaching, and public engagement on key issues of modern Brazil – public health, the environment, political economy and development, and social and cultural studies.

Center for Contemporary South Asia

Saxena Center for Contemporary South Asia

The newly established Saxena Center for Contemporary South Asia is based at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. The Saxena Center supports faculty, graduate and undergraduate research and teaching on the region and is home to the South Asian Studies concentration. The Saxena Center will function within the larger framework of the Watson Institute, which is seeking to define a new approach to regional studies for the 21st century. Anchored in the social sciences, this new approach is problem driven, comparative and multidisciplinary. Our multidiciplinarity will include sustained interaction of social scientists with the humanities on the one hand and the disciplines such as medicine and public health on the other.

Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies

Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies

The Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies is committed to promoting a more just, peaceful, and secure world by furthering a deeper understanding of global human rights and humanitarian challenges, and encouraging interdisciplinary and intersectional collaboration between local communities, academics, and practitioners to develop innovative solutions to these challenges.

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

Through its programming and undergraduate and graduate-level course offerings, CLACS fosters knowledge, teaching, and research on the history, peoples, environment, languages, and contemporary problems of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Center produces a wide range of activities, including lectures, conferences, film screenings, and performances related to the region. CLACS also provides direct support for graduate students and scholars whose work is relevant to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Middle East Studies

Center for Middle East Studies

MES is driven by a distinguished core faculty from disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. In addition to support for faculty and graduate students and opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and visiting professors, MES provides funding for course development, academic and cultural programming, and undergraduate projects aimed at promoting greater understanding of the region. MES also hosts a lecture series, conferences, workshops, monthly luncheons, and cultural events.

China Program

China Initiative

The China Initiative is an interdisciplinary hub for the study of modern China at Brown University. The initiative's goals are threefold: to produce cutting edge academic research on the Chinese development experience, to apply that research to the resolution of real world societal challenges, and to connect China-focused research efforts to new forms of pedagogy and experiential learning. The Initiative seeks both to better understand China itself and to use the Chinese experience to better understand broader global phenomena in a comparative context.

Climate Solutions Lab

Climate Solutions Lab

The Climate Solutions Lab’s mission is to create, learn, and distribute solution-oriented climate knowledge, at Brown and across the world. The Lab catalyzes Watson’s efforts on questions of international climate politics. Their experts have “climate-adjacent” expertise on issues like energy, trade, gender, and finance. The Lab is especially interested in public-facing policy analyses on barriers to progress on climate change at the international level. 

Costs of War project

Costs of War Project

The Costs of War Project is a team of 35 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians, which began its work in 2011. The project uses research and a public website to facilitate debate about the costs of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria. There are many hidden or unacknowledged costs of the United States’ decision to respond to the 9/11 attacks with military force. The Costs of War project aims to foster democratic discussion of these wars by providing the fullest possible account of their human, economic, and political costs, and to foster better informed public policies.

John F. Kennedy Jr. Initiative for Documentary Film and Social Progress

John F. Kennedy Jr. Initiative for Documentary Film and Social Progress

Spearheaded by family, friends, and classmates of John F. Kennedy Jr. ’83, the initiative aims to bring film and filmmakers to the University with the goal of shedding light on some of the most urgent, challenging, and complex issues facing society through the prism of documentary. Concurrently, and with the support of the Brown Arts Initiative, the presence of filmmakers on campus will allow Brown students the opportunity to explore the practicalities of filmmaking and to enhance their capacity to make films of their own. 

Watson Institute Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellows Program

The Watson Postdoctoral Fellows Program is open to young scholars from across the social sciences who are conducting research related to the Institute’s three core thematic areas: development, governance, and security. Participants in this program join an interdisciplinary community of scholars engaged in theoretically and substantively important research addressing the most pressing global issues of our time. 

The A. Alfred Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy

Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy

The Taubman Center brings together scholars, practitioners, and students with different perspectives to address important problems facing American politics and policy. Working at the intersection of research and public engagement, the Taubman Center influences local, national, and global policymakers.

The William R. Rhodes Center for Finance and Economics

The William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance

Today, not only are all politics global, all of economics is international. To understand those interlinkages the William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance seeks to understand how local politics, global economics, and international finance combine to produce the volatile and uncertain world that we all inhabit. Whether it’s the role government bonds play in the repo markets that finance much consumer credit; the emerging world of ‘fin-tech’ that has the potential to transform the entire structure of the industry; or the way that surpluses and deficits across the world have become objects of politics, our mission is to understand how the worlds of finance, economics, and politics are all intertwined.