Research Projects and Faculty Expertise | Castleberry Peace Institute

Research Projects and Faculty Expertise


Conflict, Politics and Reconciliation in Colombia

Castleberry Peace Institute Director James Meernik, and PSCI faculty Diego Esparza, Kimi King work are involved in several long-term research projects with partners in Medellin, Colombia. They work with colleagues from EAFIT University (Administration and Finance School and Technology Institute), the Pontifical Bolivarian University, as well as other organizations of victims and former combatants in Medellin, Colombia to study topics related to peacebuilding and transitiional justice CPI co-hosted a conference on peace and justice in Colombia in October, 2017 in Medellin, Colombia that brought together experts from around the world who discussed the prospects for peace and justice in Colombia in light of the recent peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC. Many of the conference papers became part of our volume, As War Ends, edited by James Meernik, Jacqueline Demeritt and Mauricio Uribe (EAFIT University). CPI has also sponsored visits to Medellin by faculty and students and is bringing a Fulbright Scholar to PSCI in Fall, 2022. Current research projects include the study of criminal violence in the aftermath of conflict, gender and the Colombian conflict, reconciliation between victims and perpetrators and recidivism among former combatants.

Language Endangerment and Conflict

The Castleberry Peace Institute works with partners in the UNT Department of Linguistics and at Gauhati University and the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati, in the Northeast of India on projects related to understanding the role of conflict violence and language endangerment. Professors Shobhana Chelliah (Department of Linguistics, UNT) and Kimi King (Department of Political Science, UNT) won an NSF to grant to host a conference on language endangerment and conflict violence in 2018. Professors Meernik and King visited Northeast India in March, 2022 to begin the development of a formal research partnership and to begin developing academic research conferences for faculty and students.

Issue Correlates of War (ICOW)

Led by Dr. Paul Hensel and funded by the National Science Foundation, the US Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense's prestigious Minerva grant program ICOW is collecting data on territorial, maritime, and river conflicts around the world over the past two centuries. The project has already identified over one thousand disagreements and is studying what makes each one valuable to the involved countries and how these countries have managed their disagreements. ICOW focuses on conflicts that arise over competing territorial claims between two or more nations, conflicts that have the risk of escalating to war. Hensel has been building and updating this data set, which identifies "militarized interstate disputes" (MIDs) over such issues as border disputes, river and sea boundaries. ICOW then codes events that occur between each pair of nations in the dispute that could escalate to war. The most recent addition to ICOW has been the addition of identity claims - where two nations in a MID have some ethnic, religious, or other identity-based link that could make the risk of war greater or lesser in the absence of that identity issue. One example would be MIDs between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan over claims in the South China Sea, where the conflict between the two nations is affected by shared ethnic identities between their respective populations. ICOW project data sets have already been used by dozens of scholars studying international conflict and conflict management, shedding light on the situations where armed conflict is most likely as well as the most effective ways that these situations can be managed or settled peacefully.


REUNational Science Foundation, Research Experience for Undergraduates

The UNT National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) program on Civil Conflict Management and Peace Science is funded with grant of $358,000.00 for the period 2017-2020 (now in its fourth grant cycle since 2010). The program is the only political science NSF-REU site in the country, and is dedicated entirely to issues related to Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Peace Science. The aim of this program is to provide research experiences for undergraduate students from all majors with an introduction to research in the broad area of civil conflict management and peace science. This eight week, in-residence program at the UNT campus in Denton, Texas, includes workshops on theory building and Geographic Information System (GIS), research design and analysis, research ethics, and graduate school preparation. Further the program includes opportunities to present participant research results at local and national conferences. Dr. John Ishiyama is Director of the program.

Correlates of War National Material Capabilities Project
Andres Enterline and Michael Greig direct the COW National Material Capabilities project, maintaining the data set that is the most widely used academic resource for measuring the power capabilities of nation-states and the changes in those capabilities over time (dating back to 1816).

International Justice
Professors Kimi King and James Meernik have developed a series of research projects on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court and other institutions of transitional justice throughout the world. Professor King and Meernik's research has focused on reconciliation after conflict, judicial decision making and sentencing decisions at the tribunals, crimes of sexual violence and gender issues, and the development of the first systematic database on the experiences and opinions of 300 witnesses who testified before the ICTY. Their book, The Witness Experience was recently published by Cambridge University Press. Professors King and Meernik are currently researching witnesses' views on the nature of international justice, consequences of witness tesimony and the development of a database on the decisions of the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber..


Professor Glen Biglaiser is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His areas of specialization include comparative politics, Latin American politics, and economic and political issues in the developing world. His research falls into the following areas: 1) the effects of political institutions (e.g., respect for the rule of law and property rights protection) on foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio investment, and sovereign bond ratings; 2) the influence (and success) of economic sanctions on FDI; and 3) the impact of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on expropriation, FDI, and the shaping of economic policies in borrower nations. His current research projects investigate issues including: 1) the effects of the threat or imposition of economic sanctions on stock market prices in targeted countries; 2) the impact of different foreign firm modes of entry on labor rights; 3) the effects of bond ratings and/or IMF programs on social spending; 4) the role of conflict and mediation in U.S. humanitarian aid; and 5) the impact of the IMF on terrorism in the developing world.

Professor Regina Branton is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Texas. She specializes in thestudy American Politics: race and ethnicity, political behavior, electoral politics, and methods of social science research. Among her more recent publications are "Perceived police performance, racial experiences, and trust in local government." (With Diego Esparaza, Valerie Martinez-Ebers, and Andrea Silva.); "Violence, Trust, and Public Support for the Colombian Peace Agreement." (With Diego Esparaza, Kimi King, and Valeria Martinez-Ebers, Jim Meernik) and "Violence, Voting & Peace: Explaining Public Support for the Peace Referendum in Colombia." 2019. (With James Meernik, Jacquelin DeMerrit, and Amalia Pudilo).

Professor Marijke Breuning's research employs role theory, which was originally developed in sociology and uses metaphors derived from the theatre. Rather than thinking in terms of "big powers" and "small states," role theory recognizes that decision makers actively shape the state's role(s) in international affairs. She investigates the tension between the "great power" aspirations of Russia and China and the regional power aspirations of Ethiopia, on the one hand, and their role as sending countries in international child adoption on the other. The latter role is widely perceived by decision makers as dissonant with the state's power aspirations. Decision makers often worry that participation in intercountry adoption detracts from their power aspirations. Professor Breuning's study focuses on when, why, and how the conflict between each state's power aspirations and its role as a sending country became an important political problem, as well as how decision makers resolved it. She shows that decision makers are deeply concerned about their international image, although the economic benefits derived from participation in intercountry adoption matter as well. The best interests of children, on the other hand, are less prominent in decision making.

Professor Jacqueline DeMeritt is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. Professor DeMeritt's research focus on human rights, including explanations for rights violations as well as opportunities for international actors to protect vulnerable individuals. Her current projects focus on why low-level perpetrators participate in government killing events as well as on their responses to international intervention.

Professor Diego Esparza is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His research focuses on police, intelligence, civil-military relations, and Latin American politics. Dr. Esparza is developing a book manuscript comparing the evolution of police in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States. The focus of this work investigates the correlation between organizational structures within each police system and their malfeasant practices. He currently has research projects analyzing public opinion of the armed forces and crime victimization under review. His work has been published in Comparative Political Studies and the Annual Review of Political and Military Sociology.

Professor Andrew Enterline is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His research focuses on interstate behavior, interstate war, counterinsurgency strategies and conflict outcomes.

Professor Michael Greig is Distinguished Teacher Professor at the University of North Texas in the Department of Political Science. His research interests include international conflict, security, and conflict management. Currently, Professor Greig's work focuses upon international mediation, peacekeeping, and the onset and termination of civil conflict.

Professor Paul Hensel is Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His research concentrates on international conflict, conflict management, territorial claims, and international river management. His research has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Conflict Management and Peace Science, GeoJournal, International Negotiation, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, and Political Geography. He is also Co-director of Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) research project (

Professor John Ishiyama is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas. His area of research is democratization and political parties in post communist Russian, European, Eurasian and African (especially Ethiopian) politics, ethnic conflict and ethnic politics, the scholarship of teaching and learning. He is the Principal investigator, along with J. Michael Greig, for the National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) grant "UNT Civil Conflict Management and Peace Science" that funds one of only a few NSF-REU political science sites in the country. He is also an executive board member of both the Midwest Political Science Association and of Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honorary society) and on the advisory board of the Minorities at Risk (MAR)Project, the largest database on ethnic groups and conflict in the profession. Professor Ishiyama is also President Elect of the American Political Science Association.

Professor Kimi King is Distinguished Teacher Professor in political science at the University of North Texas. Her research looks at international criminal tribunals, gender and international justice, victims and international justice, and endangered languages and political conflict. She is co-author of The Witness Experience (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and Judging Justice (University of Michigan Press), both co-authored with James Meernik.

Professor Ko Maeda's research interests center on political institutions of democratic countries. One of the questions he asks in his research is how/why/when democratic political systems are terminated by, for example, military coups. In his 2010 Journal of Politics article, he demonstrated that military coups' chances are strongly linked with economic conditions and that presidential systems are more likely than parliamentary systems to experience a termination initiated by a democratically elected political leader. In his 2016 article published in Democratization, he showed that newly democratized countries initially experience a honeymoon period with low termination risks but the risks then increase until the eighth year after democratization before going down afterwards.

Professor Valerie Martinez is Distinguished Research Professor in political science at the University of North Texas. She specializes in research on race, ethnicity and politics (especially Latino politics), public policy (especially education and immigration), and survey research. She is co-author of Politicas: Latina Public Officials in Texas (2008); Making it Home: Latino Lives in America (2010) and Latinos in the New Millennium: an Almanac of Opinion, Behavior and Policy Preferences (2012). She also edited Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity and Religion: Identity Politics in America (2009) and a co-principal investigator for the Latino National Survey. She is Director of the Latino and Mexican American Studies program.

Professor Idean Salehyan is the Director of the Social Conflict Analysis Database (SCAD) project which tracks social and political unrest in Africa and Latin America. Using SCAD, he is working on a project which examines decisions by governments to repress their citizens, and another project that looks at the determinants of election-related violence. In previous research, he has used SCAD to look at how environmental factors contribute to social conflict and the tactical choices of dissident organizations. Dr. Salehyan is also editing a special issue of the journal, Journal of Peace Research, on the topic of Forced Migration and Conflict, which will appear in print in 2019. This special issue brings together researchers from the United States, Switzerland, Colombia, the UK, Norway, and
Turkey to shed light on the nexus between refugee flows and conflict processes.

Thinking about UNT?

It's easy to apply online. Join us and discover why we're the choice of over 42,000 students.

Apply now