David R. Smock

Former Vice President, Governance, Law & Society and Director, Religion and Peacebuilding Center

Note: This is an archived profile of a former U.S. Institute of Peace expert. The information is current as of the dates of tenure.

David R. Smock is the vice president, Governance, Law & Society and director of the Religion and Peacebuilding Center. Previously he served as director of the USIP's Grant Program and coordinator of Africa activities.

He has worked on African issues for more than 30 years and lived in Africa for 11 years. As a staff member of the Ford Foundation from 1964 to 1980, he served in Ghana, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria and New York.

From 1980 to 1986, Smock served concurrently as director of the South African Education Program, a scholarship program that brings black South African students to U.S. universities, and as vice president for program development and research for the Institute of International Education. After serving as executive associate to the president of the United Church of Christ from 1986 to 1989, Smock became executive director of International Voluntary Services, supervising development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

He received master’s of divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary and a doctorate in anthropology from Cornell University.


Expert In the News

Articles & Analysis from this Expert

January 7, 2015

His career was rooted in college friendships with a Ghanaian and a Nigerian. It propelled him through posts in four foreign countries and a peace mediated in a local community in Africa that has held for more than 10 years. David Smock, USIP’s vice president for Governance, Law & Society and director of the Institute’s Religion and Peacebuilding Center, retires at the end of this week after more than 24 years at USIP, an organization that itself is only 30 years old.


October 1, 2012
Facilitating Dialogue presents seven case studies of the United States Institute of Peace’s facilitated dialogue efforts in Iraq, Kosovo, Israel/Palestine, Colombia, Nigeria, and Nepal. Covering a variety of conflict situations and peacemaking efforts—from the tribal reconciliation in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, to a justice and security dialogue in Nepal—the cases tell stories of peacebuilding successes, efforts in progress, limitations on what can be achieved, and lessons learned.
USIP has found the documentary film "The Imam and the Pastor" useful as a resource for workshops and training programs exploring themes of religious peacebuilding and inter-group reconciliation. As such, we commissioned religion and peacebuilding specialist David Steele to produce a facilitator’s manual so that others might use this documentary, and the follow-up documentary" An African Answer," in their own training and workshops. This manual is available for download free-of-charge here.
May 4, 2010
Recent incidences of ethno-religious violence in northern Nigeria have alarmed the international community to the point where Nigeria is now perceived as a potential breeding ground for transnational terrorism and violent religious extremism. According to Nigeria expert John Paden, this characterization is false. If anything, Nigeria is a hotbed of Islamic moderation.
August 1, 2008
This handbook provides a methodology for mediating interstate and intrastate conflicts. Each of the six chapters covers a different step in the process, identifying what needs to be done at that step and how best to accomplish it. This handbook is part of the Peacemaker’s Toolkit series, published by the United States Institute of Peace.