Research areas within the peace engineering field are distinguished from discipline-specific research by their holistic consideration of factors that contribute to violent conflict, and by their reliance on expertise from both social and applied sciences. Each area will emphasize the development of graduate students as researchers and practitioners, while providing additional opportunities for undergraduate students to work with graduate students, professors, and peacebuilders through the STAR program.

Teams of faculty and external partners will develop cross-discipline areas of research and prepare proposals, as demonstrated by the following:

Sensing, Data, and Information

This team will develop pragmatic digital toolkits to enable peacebuilders, human rights advocates and relief workers to gather and analyze accurate, situationally relevant data, and to present information in ways that further peacebuilding efforts.

Example projects:

  • Crowdsourcing data for organizing, monitoring, reporting protests, and for election monitoring
  • Monitoring and countering hate speech in social media and data communication networks
  • Financial forensic analysis for detecting government corruption
  • Searching and creating online advertising for delivering counter-narratives to extremists

Systems Dynamics

This team will investigate how systems engineering can enable more effective planning, design, implementation and management of peacebuilding activities by deploying a structured analytic process that models interacting social, technical, and environmental systems, and helps stakeholders proceed from concept to implementation.

Example Projects:

  • The development of system models that predict how disparities in health, education, and access to resources affect the dynamics of interacting economic and social systems and that lead to conflict
  • To understand the implications of sudden population change, such that occurs with refugees, on economic and social systems in communities that absorb the population
  • To determine how systems analysis can improve interagency (e.g., U.S. Army and UN) collaboration during stability operations and assessment

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)

This team will investigate how to extend technological and social organization capabilities to ensure equitable provision WASH infrastructure that is accessible to all and sustainable with changing climate, demand and demographics.

Example Projects:

  • Providing reliable and accessible information management tools and accounting platforms for the establishment of jointly managed WASH infrastructure
  • Securing WASH services to vulnerable populations, particularly disabled individuals who need modified designs to access infrastructure
  • Understanding the ways WASH infrastructure instability affects agricultural production, energy and social organization, such as educational opportunities, employment, and attitudes towards group affiliation
  • Predicting how changes in climate and demographics drives conflict by impacting water quality, quantity and accessibility

Education and Technology Extension

This team will investigate how to create a culture of peace within engineering and to develop programs and learning experiences that will inspire more engineers to participate in peacebuilding efforts.

Example Projects:

  • Leverage the human and technological capacity of the university to promote peacebuilding efforts in the community through Urban Technology Extension workshops 
  • Conduct oral history interviews with exemplar engineers to determine what enables and inspires them to engage in peacebuilding, and then leverage our findings to create those conditions for more engineers
  • Develop educational materials for engineers at all stages of their careers to promote learning gains and professional identity development
  • Leverage the human and technological capacity of the university to promote peacebuilding efforts in the community through Urban Technology Extension workshops, STAR student projects, and freshman and senior design

Hands of Drexel Students and members of a community in Africa