Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Research Topics

The Watson Institute’s faculty and postdoctoral fellows bring a wide range of expertise to bear on the world’s most pressing problems.  Focusing on three main areas – development, security, and governance – the following themes are currently focal points of our comparative, interdisciplinary research. This work forms the very basis of informed public policy.

21st Century Economic Challenges

Drawing from economics, political economy, sociology, and political science, this research illuminates global economic developments and foreshadows where policies and actions may lead us.

Future of the Welfare State

In a world of increasingly urbanized and globally aware citizens, this research examines both the struggle of advanced industrial nations of the West to redesign inherited social welfare systems and efforts of emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East to create theirs.  

Global Health

This comparative, cross-national research examines the viability and vulnerability of different approaches to health care, ways to improve health policy, and solutions to health care crises associated with natural disasters and human conflict.  

Industrialization, Governance, and Technology

This research explores how industrial innovation can be used to improve governance, security, and developmental outcomes. Areas of focus include policing, education, and health care, globalized labor standards compliance, and the interaction between technological change and global security regimes with regard to energy or weapons of mass destruction.   


Liberal and Illiberal Democracy

In a time marked by a rise in economic populism and nationalism, experts across a range of disciplines and regions examine the current state of democracy in the world.

Migration and Displacement

Taking a comparative approach, this research explores conflict-induced displacement throughout the world; municipal governance during periods of rapid migration from the countryside to cities; the delivery of public services to immigrant communities; and the policing of border regions.

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Power

This research focuses on ethnicity and incarceration in the United States; gender and educational and health outcomes in the United States; and conflict, peacekeeping, and policing in minority or ethnically divided communities throughout the world.

Security, Stabilization, and Conflict Avoidance

Focusing on developmentally related, non-traditional sources of conflict, this research includes studies on multilateral peacekeeping and stabilization; policing and drug control; multilateral nuclear non-proliferation regimes; the management of cyber threats; and new frameworks for understanding the costs of war.

Urban Governance

This research explores the comparative experience of rapid urbanization across America, India, and China; management of urban slums in contemporary Latin America and India; and the relationship between city-suburban politics and metropolitan inequalities across the United States.