The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) must be a committed learning organization to achieve its mission to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict around the world. The complexity of conflict contexts and ever-changing patterns of violence means that peacebuilding work must be iterative to make a difference. With each new investment, we must draw lessons from our past successes and failures and apply them to our future work for greater impact.

The Policy, Learning, and Strategy (PLS) Center works to capture, organize, and disseminate evidence and learning from the Institute’s work for the purposes of informing better peacebuilding programs, policy and strategy. Four PLS teams work to accomplish these goals: Gender Policy and Strategy; Global Policy; Learning, Evaluation, and Research; and Program Development and Operations.

Key PLS activities include:

  • Serving as USIP’s hub for institutional standards on project design, monitoring and evaluation, learning, gender integration, and applied research.
  • Strengthening the institutions and practices for capturing, sharing, and leveraging knowledge across USIP to enable learning and improve decision-making.
  • Integrating gender perspectives into the policies and strategies of the Institute by enabling learning across USIP programming centers, convening communities of global experts, and providing thought leadership on gender-sensitive peacebuilding.
  • Forging external partnerships to shape global policy on conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
  • Engaging with peer U.S. Government interagency partners, on behalf of the USIP centers to maximize the impact and effectiveness of USIP’s country and theme based programming to prevent violent conflict.
  • Guiding the annual and strategic planning processes of USIP.

For more information on how PLS operates, including information on all four teams, please see the section below.

Gender Policy and Strategy (GPS)

The GPS team oversees the systematic integration of gender considerations into the policies and strategies of the Institute. The team focuses its efforts through the USIP Gender Framework (hyperlink) and offers technical support in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of USIP’s programs and projects. GPS also takes an active role in USIP’s external outreach as an international thought leader on gender, peace, and security topics. The team does this by contributing to policy-shaping processes in Washington and by facilitating global partnerships among gender experts, practitioners, government organizations, civil society, and academia.  All of these efforts help ensure a cross-sectoral approach to gender in peacebuilding, which in turn helps USIP achieve its mission.

Global Policy

The Global Policy team leads the Institute’s policy engagements (within the U.S. Government and internationally) to enable foresight, insight and action on the most pressing global challenges to attaining peace.

The team accomplishes these objectives by convening, influencing, and partnering. As a convener, the team brings together leaders in the field for exchanges of views that help inform more coherent policy. As an influencer, the team shapes policy debates by highlighting the latest evidence and providing leadership on emerging priorities. As a partner, the team builds relationships with both external organizations that seek to convert policy into meaningful action for the peacebuilding community and with USIP programs that seek to use policy to advance their work. 

The Global Policy team draws from a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s mission, theory of change, strategic goals, planning priorities, and program center initiatives. The team works in partnership with the other PLS teams to achieve the broader center goals and objectives, all of which strengthens the Global Policy team’s capacity to deliver sound policy insight and analysis.

Learning, Evaluation, and Research (LER)

The mission of the LER team is to make USIP a more committed and dynamic learning organization by serving as the Institute’s hub for project design, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), knowledge management, research, and learning. LER defines a learning organization as one where staff at all levels continuously gather feedback and results, turn these results into lessons learned, and ensure lessons are disseminated and incorporated into the next generation of activities.

At the project and programmatic levels, LER provides direct technical assistance to USIP programs to strengthen research, design, M&E, and learning. At the organizational level, LER manages the Institute’s knowledge management systems and tools for learning at USIP so that evidence and learning are used to inform strategic-level decision-making. These activities help ensure that USIP is producing and leveraging stronger evidence so that staff can learn from that evidence and apply it to their work moving forward.

Program Development and Operations (PDO)

The PDO team serves as a coordination and business development hub on both internal and external fronts to ensure unity-of-effort and to maximize the Institute’s overall impact. Internally, PDO works closely with program centers and support units to enable effective collaboration and coordination on projects and operations. Externally, PDO helps to forge sustainable partnerships with peer U.S. Government agencies, including the Department of State, USAID, and Department of Defense. PDO also serves as a trouble-shooting agent for a range of operational and administrative challenges with cross-Institute impacts.  Working with other PLS teams, PDO harnesses Institute learning to maximize the potential that USIP’s interagency work is effective and impactful.

Current Projects

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Featured Publications

Tilting Iraq and Syria Toward Stability—and Away From ISIS

Tilting Iraq and Syria Toward Stability—and Away From ISIS

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

By: USIP Staff

With last year’s military rollback of the ISIS-declared caliphate, U.S. security and Middle Eastern stability require some way to establish governance in Iraq and Syria that meets the needs of their peoples, according to U.S. administration and military leaders, Iraqi officials and regional experts speaking on April 3 at USIP. During a day-long examination of strategy to stabilize the region and prevent a revival of ISIS, U.S. special presidential envoy Brett McGurk said President Trump’s March 30 order to freeze spending on post-combat recovery efforts in Syria “is not hampering our work in the field.”

Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance

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