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Conflict and Polarization

A large body of research has shown the substantial role that violent conflict plays in underdevelopment around the world, particularly in the most vulnerable communities. The Conflict and Polarization initiative fosters an interdisciplinary community of scholars at Stanford from fields including political science, economics, social psychology, and finance who are interested in helping to solving the problems of violent conflict and political polarization by cultivating new ideas about the causes, effects, and prevention of violent conflicts around the world and their impact on global development.

Initiative activities:

Please contact us if you are interested in any of these activities.

  • Reading group: a regular internal, and inclusive reading group on conflict that spans disciplinary lines, where members of different units become acquainted with each other’s work, and have a chance to identify frontier opportunities for inter-disciplinary research. Please check out the reading group page for upcoming meetings.

  • Lab experiment grants: In the first year, members of this reading group will be able to submit grant requests to fund lab or online experiments relevant to conflict and depolarization.
  • Collaboration seed money: We will also provide some funds to facilitate student and alumni involved in practical ventures that wish to adapt their business plans to facilitate social science research in the area of depolarization or conflict mitigation.
  • Data collection grants:  In the first year, we also envisage the initiative providing funding for faculty projects aimed at collecting data from archives, hiring overseas RAs, and supporting data entry.
  • Graduate student research grants: we will provide grants for graduate students interested in pursuing research related to conflict alleviation. The awardees will be deemed Initiative Fellows and be expected to join the reading group and present at the conference.
  • Conference: The culmination of the year’s activities will be a major academic conference, bringing together academics from across the university and elsewhere to campus, as well as policymakers involved in conflict mediation and mitigation. The objective will be both to foster discussion, to employ `design-thinking’ to find the major challenges facing policymakers, and disseminate the lessons of the conflict and polarization research being done at Stanford.
  • Policy outreach: along with the conference, three members of our group will be training European Union diplomats on multi-disciplinary approaches to mitigating violent conflict in Syria, Colombia and Ukraine this December as part of the European Union’s new School of Transnational Governance. We will actively examine other opportunities for policy outreach on campus and beyond.

Research and working papers

Essential readings

This evolving list of readings introduce some core ideas developed by our group on conflict, polarization and its mitigation that we believe are useful to know for practitioners and researchers, across disciplines, that are interested in mitigating conflict.

Economics, International Relations and Political Science

Psychology and Organizational Behavior

Visit the research page for a more complete list of the team's related research.


You can find out more about each member of the Conflict and Polarization Initiative on the team page.

Project Lead:

  • Saumitra Jha, Graduate School of Business Political Economy

Core faculty members:

Initiative fellows:

Media mentions

Friends of the initiative:

On campus:
Stanford alumni: