Information and War: Lessons from the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project



Joseph Felter, CISAC, Stanford University
Jacob N. Shapiro, Princeton University

Date and Time

June 2, 2016 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract:  In recent decades, social scientists have begun to employ the rigorous research methods that used to be the province of the natural sciences. This evidence-based approach has revolutionized how academic work is judged, how policies are created and evaluated and, now, how war is viewed. At the forefront of this movement, the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC) has developed a large body of evidence on conflict that enables a new perspective on the causes and effects of violence. Information and War presents a new framework to understand the conflicts that have prevailed since World War II and the kind in which the US was so recently embroiled: asymmetric contests where a greater power struggles to contain an insurgency.

About the Speakers: Dr. Joseph Felter joined CISAC as a senior research scholar in September 2011.

Felter retired from the US Army as a Colonel following a career as a Special Forces and foreign area officer with distinguished service in a variety of special operations and diplomatic assignments. He has conducted foreign internal defense and security assistance missions across East and Southeast Asia and has participated in combat deployments to Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Prior to arriving at CISAC, he led the International Security and Assistance Force, Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT) in Afghanistan reporting directly to Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus and advising them on counterinsurgency strategy. Felter held leadership positions in the US Army Rangers and Special Forces and directed the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point from 2005-2008. He is Co-Director of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC) and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

He has published many scholarly articles on the topic of  counterinsurgency and has focused on the study of how to address the root causes of terrorism and political violence. Some highlights include: “Aid Under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict” with Benjamin Crost and Patrick Johnston (American Economic Review), "Can Hearts and Minds be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq," with Eli Berman and Jacob N. Shapiro (Journal of Political Economy), and "Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines," with Eli Berman, Michael Callen, and Jacob N. Shapiro (Journal of Conflict Resolution).

Felter holds a BS from West Point, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University.

Dr. Jacob N. Shapiro is Associate Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and co-directs the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project. His active research projects study political violence, economic and political development in conflict zones, security policy, and urban conflict. He is author of The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations. His research has been published or is forthcoming in broad range of academic and policy journals including American Journal of Political Science, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Organization, International Security, Journal of Political Economy, and World Politics as well as a number of edited volumes. Shapiro is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an Associate Editor of World Politics, a Faculty Fellow of the Association for Analytic Learning about Islam and Muslim Societies (AALIMS), a Research Fellow at the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), and served in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve. Ph.D. Political Science, M.A. Economics, Stanford University. B.A. Political Science, University of Michigan.


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