Amelia Hoover Green ’03 on Preventing Wartime Violence Against Civilians

How Swarthmore Built My Dataset

by Amelia Hoover Green ’03

Amelia Hoover Green '03It’s almost time for my ten-year Swarthmore reunion! When people ask me about having kids — a seemingly inevitable, if highly uncool, side effect of being a decade out of college — I will probably point them toward my only child (so far), the Armed Group Institutions Database (AGID; see our project page here: and watch the video at the bottom of this post). I’m currently an Assistant Professor at Drexel University, where I work on topics in human rights and armed conflict.

The AGID comes out of my sense that political science research has done a pretty lousy job integrating insights from other disciplines. My conviction that we ought to be better at interdisciplinarity is, as one of my Ph.D. advisors correctly stated, “such a Swat thing.” That’s certainly true — I don’t think I’d have read across so many fields without my liberal arts background. It’s equally true, though, that researchers who are stuck inside disciplinary boundaries often get the answers wrong — no matter where we went to college.

The particular set of findings that spurred the development of the AGID is from social psychology. I frequently summarize social psych findings on violent conflict (and violent behavior) as follows: War is bad for your brain. Armed conflict situations are full of stimuli that, experiments show, make people more prone to violence: fear, uncertainty, sleeplessness, general stress, insecurity, glorification of violence, alcohol, drugs, highly traditional masculinities — you name it, war’s got it. Looking at it from that perspective, the puzzling question isn’t “Why do armed groups commit so many human rights violations?” but rather “Why do some armed groups commit so few human rights violations?”


That’s where the AGID comes in. My work suggests (again, borrowing from researchers in psychology, sociology and behavioral economics) that groups that cultivate a strong positive identity around civilian protection, whether by informal methods or formal education, should commit more carefully controlled patterns of violence against civilians. Once complete, the AGID will allow us to test that theory (and along the way will provide a wealth of data about armed group structures that’s never been gathered in one place before).

Interested in getting involved with this research? There are lots of ways to do so. As you may have noticed from the project page (, this project is partially crowd-funded, which means that we’re actively looking for help from folks who like science and/or human rights. (Honestly, who doesn’t like science and human rights?) $14 pays for an hour of my research assistant’s work; $110 pays for a whole day. If you don’t have money but you do have time (and you’re an undergraduate who wants to see how cutting-edge social science research works), try your hand at some volunteer data-gathering. Have questions? Just write me:


Catch up with War News Radio

Been listening to War News Radio recently? If not, get back in the groove with this month’s broadcast.

This month on War News Radio, “Back to Work “. First, we examine the problem of youth unemployment in Morocco. Then, we look into the persecution of physicians in Syria. Finally, we hear about a peace activist whose surprising devotion to the cause didn’t seem to match his flat personality.

The latter piece about a peace activist refers to the recent lecture by Michael Doyle on Roy Kepler and Kepler’s bookstore.

The Global History of Genocide

Ben Kiernan lecture

The Guest Speaker:

Ben Kiernan is Professor of History, Professor of International and Area Studies, Director of the Genocide Studies Program, and Chair of the Coucil on Southeast Asian Studies at Yale University. He has done extensive research on the genocides in Cambodia and East Timor, and has published numerous books and articles on these subjects. He is the author of Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007).

The Lecture:

The lecture “The Global History of Genocide” will provide a survey of genocide from ancient times to the twenty-first century. It will include substantial parts on the Holocaust, Cambodia, and East Timor. It would bring out a number of commonly recurring themes in a range of historical cases of genocide that make possible advance detection of future cases, and it would illustrate new technology for tracking genocide in real time.

Scheuer Room

Monday, November 26, 2012 at 4.30pm

Swarthmore College

(A different kind of) snacks will be provided.

Presented by Southeast Asian Student Association (SEASA).

Funded by Peace and Conflict Studies Program, Department of History, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of Political Science, and Forum for Free Speech (FFS).

Olivia Ensign ’12 and the Quaker United Nations Office

by Olivia Ensign ’12


Olivia Ensign '12 and the Quaker United Nations OfficeAs a senior I decided to take on the challenge of a double credit thesis to fulfill the requirements of my Peace and Conflict Studies honors minor. I chose to write my thesis on the evolution and intersection of the fields of Security Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. This topic was the culmination of four years of seminars and individual inquiry. Completing this work, eventually titled “Separated at Birth: An Analysis of the Origins and Evolution of Peace and Conflict Studies and Security Studies,” was simultaneously the most draining and rewarding experience of my time at Swarthmore.  My continued interest in the theories and applications of Peace and Conflict Studies led me to apply for my current position as a Program Assistant with the Quaker United Nations Office. This yearlong fellowship has so far been an amazing experience.


The Quaker United Nations Office represents the interests of Quakers worldwide at the United Nations. Much of QUNO’s work consists of facilitating informal, off the record dialogue among relevant stakeholders on the role of the UN in peacebuilding and prevention efforts. In addition to helping plan and execute these meetings, my role as a Program Assistant consists of monitoring developments in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I also track developments in UN action in Iran and Iraq. My duties include attending relevant meetings at the U.N. as well as monitoring academic journals and news sources in order to gather information on the issues QUNO engages around. Another area of work I am engaged on is the Palestinian bid for an upgraded status at the UN. This work includes updating the Palestine Resource, an online database intended to be a source of information for activists engaged around the issue of Palestinian statehood, and attending meetings of the Israel-Palestine NGO working group. Finally, I work on QUNO’s engagement around the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the framework that will replace the MDGs upon their expiration.


My work with QUNO has reaffirmed my interest in the role of international organizations and international law. As a result I decided to apply for law school with the aim of completing a degree in international human rights law.


One Million Bones workshop

Please join Swarthmore Students this Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 for a One Million Bones bone-making workshop!

One Million Bones is a large-scale social arts practice, which uses art making to raise awareness of genocides and atrocities going on around the world.  The goal is to collect 1 million bones to create a mass grave in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this spring.  The installation will serve to remember victims and survivors, and to raise awareness of the issue.

The Bezos Family Foundation has generously pledged to donate $1 per bone made, so please help us try to make as many bones as possible! The donations go directly to two CARE International Schools in DR Congo and Somalia.

For more information about the One Million Bones campaign, please visit:

So join us:

When: Saturday, November 17th

Where: Scheuer Room

Time: 3:00-5:00 pm

Come when you can, leave when you must. Food will be provided!!

Contact: mtucktu1

Peace & Conflict Studies Courses for Spring 2013

As you are planning for your spring 2013 semester, here are courses on offer that may be counted toward a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Peace & Conflict Studies – Spring 2013

ARAB 025. War in Arab Literature and Cinema

ECON 051. The International Economy*

ECON 081. Economic Development*

ECON 151. International Economics*

HIST 037. History & Memory: Perspectives of Holocaust

JPNS 083. War/Postwar in Japanese Culture

LITR 025A. War in Arab Literature and Cinema

LITR 083J. War/Postwar in Japanese Culture

PEAC 071B. Strategy: Non-Violent Struggle

PEAC 077. Peace Studies and Action

PEAC 090. Thesis

PEAC 093. Directed Reading

PEAC 180. Senior Honors Thesis [W]

PHIL 021. Social and Political Philosophy*

POLS 004. International Politics

POLS 047. Democracy, Autocracy and Regime Change

PSYC 035. Social Psychology*

RELG 039. Good and Evil

SOAN 010J. War, Sport and Masculine Identity

SOAN 071B. Strategy Non-Violent Struggle

* Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are eligible for credit upon prior arrangement with the instructor and the program coordinator.  Download the appropriate form from the PCS website.


Peace Studies and Action Course Spring 2013

Advising week is here, and we know you are planning your spring schedules. Our upper-level Peace and Conflict Studies course, “Peace Studies and Action”  PEAC 077, will be offered by Prof. Lee Smithey during the spring semester.

Peace Studies and Action aims to bridge the gaps between peace research, theory, and implementation by encouraging students to move between each as we study nonviolent ways of conducting conflict and the challenges of developing and sustaining peace work. Emphasis will be placed on getting close to the experience of peacemakers and activists by reading autobiographical writings, visiting local peace organizations, and dialogue with invited guests. As a class, we will seek an opportunity to contribute to the work of a local organization. Discussion about the readings and exploration of peace studies literature will also be emphasized. This course will encourage collaboration and active participation in delivering the content of the course.

Rev. Martin Luther King “Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by educated thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with knowledge as they. Our policies should have the strength of deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Do We Go from here: Chaos or Community? (p. 155)

The class will meet on Tuesdays 1:15-4:00 in the Lang Center Seminar Room (#106).

(“Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies” is a pre-requisite for this course.)

New video: Swarthmore’s Northern Ireland Semester

In honor of Dr. Denise Crossan’s arrival in Swarthmore today, we’re launching a new promotional video presentation about the Northern Ireland Semester. Watch it here or at

North Ireland Semester from Swarthmore Peace Studies on Vimeo.

Dr. Crossan is the Regional Director of the Swarthmore College Northern Ireland Semester Programme. Visit If you are even vaguely interested in the Northern Ireland Semester, please contact Rosa Bernard (rbernar1) in the Off Campus Study office TODAY to see if you can arrange to meet with Denise Crossan about the possibility of studying in Northern Ireland.  You don’t have to commit to the program to chat and imagine what your semester in Northern Ireland might look like. There will also be a general information session about the program on Tuesday at noon in Sharples Room 6, which you are welcome to attend.

We hope you’ll be able to attend Denise’s lecture on social entrepreneurship tomorrow / Monday afternoon at 4:15 p.m.; see for more information.

Dr. Denise Crossan

Follow the Northern Ireland Semester at:

Video of Prof. Mubarak Awad’s 2011 visit

Spurred by Dr. Kuttab’s visit to campus this past week, we are posting video of his colleague, Prof. Mubarak Awad’s visit to Swarthmore College on November 7, 2011. Photos are available here. The Daily Gazette covered the event. Both of these events were sponsored by Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine.


Mubarak Awad speaks at Swarthmore College November 7, 2011 from Swarthmore Peace Studies on Vimeo.