Grant Context

Since the establishment of the United Nations system and a rules-based international order after World War II, several major global events have profoundly altered the development of the peacebuilding field. The end of the Cold War, the genocides in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and the 9/11 attacks on the United States, in different ways, were pivotal challenges to the existing international order, added new dimensions to the challenges of peacebuilding, and stimulated new thinking, approaches and tools in efforts to understand conflict and advance peace.

The world today is once again facing a turning point with potentially far-reaching implications for the peacebuilding community. The liberal international order is being tested as it contends with questions about the responsiveness and efficacy of the UN system and international law; the future prospects of the European Union and NATO; and intensifying major power competition and tensions. Attendant with these questions, the international community is confronted with the consequences of state fragility and a range of highly correlated challenges related to international peace and security:

  • record numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons—many fleeing violence in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe—and the related unprecedented humanitarian crises and complex emergencies;
  • terrorism, armed non-state actors, and asymmetrical warfare;
    the impact of transnational crime;
  • injustice, growing social and political polarization, and rising or more visible nationalism and xenophobia; and
  • the intersection of violent conflict and resource scarcity, availability and management;

Adding to the complexity of these challenges are the changing dynamics of the international order, including international institutions and regimes:

  • backlashes against a liberal economic order, democracy and democratic institutions;
  • the erosion of national sovereignty;
  • the weakening of legal and normative instruments to prevent, mitigate and respond to violent conflict;
  • a potentially expanding role for multilateral and regional organizations;
  • the rise and influence of international NGOs, local civil society organizations, and more inclusive institutions and processes; and
  • the rapidly expanding development and use of information and communication technology—from the proliferation of cell phones and social media to electronic financial flows and cyber security.

Grant Description and Competition

In this uncertain and fluid context, USIP is inviting innovative proposals from U.S.-based academic institutions, research and practitioner organizations, and others for collaborative projects that reflect on, help clarify, and flesh out one or more key issues and propose new approaches and responses to peacebuilding challenges. USIP encourages proposals that draw on creative, multidisciplinary research and engage a diverse set of specialists from different institutions in a conference, workshop or roundtable series or other focused, deliberative program to: 1) better understand the evolving international order; 2) in that context, explore one or more of the challenges emanating from fragile states and assess the implications for efforts to prevent, mitigate and manage violent conflict and promote peacebuilding; and 3) suggest ways forward to achieve those goals, be it actionable policy recommendations, specific guidance about new field program design, or ideas for deeper, more focused policy-oriented research.
Competitive proposals will draw upon and engage scholars, policy specialists, practitioners, including those with on-the-ground peacebuilding experience, and journalists in the deliberative process. USIP also strongly encourages proposals that engage or are from specialists at minority and historically underserved institutions that bring critical perspectives to the deliberations. Funded projects are expected to disseminate their results and findings as conference or workshop papers or reports that target the policy and practitioner communities.

In addressing the aforementioned themes and trends, applicants should take into account the following questions in narrowing the substantive focus of and designing their proposed initiatives:

  • As shifting global power relations and changes in the international system unfold, what are the themes, conceptions, dynamics and approaches central to the prevention, mitigation and resolution of violent conflict and the advancement of peacebuilding that are in most need of reexamination?;
  • In the evolving global landscape, what new understandings or approaches can be brought to bear on efforts to advance peace over the next decade, and what guidance or policy recommendations can be generated that would best contribute to these efforts?;
  • In what ways can the lessons from recent cases be a guide in addressing these current and emerging challenges?; and,
  • How can the growing body of research on conflict be more effectively conveyed to and utilized by policymakers and practitioners seeking to strengthen their understanding of conflict and efforts to advance peace?

USIP expects to make 2-3 grants in the general range of $60,000 - $80,000 each with a general implementation period of 10 – 18 months. Award notifications will be made by mid-September 2017.

Eligibility and Guidance

  • Non-profit and academic institutions are eligible to apply for funding, provided they are duly registered organizations with demonstrated capacity to manage U.S. government funding. Private sector for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply. USIP does not make grants to individuals.
  • Support cannot be provided to government agencies or to employees thereof.
  • Those working on USIP-funded projects or contracts may not be eligible to apply. Please contact with any questions.
  • USIP does not provide funds for the creation of a new organization, the construction or maintenance of an office, direct social services, or micro-enterprise projects
  • Grant funds are not available for degree-related work. Requests for dissertation research support should be directed to USIP’s Jennings Randolph Peace Scholarship Dissertation Program.
  • Applications that list as participants, consultants, or project personnel any members of USIP’s Board of Directors, staff or fellows will not be accepted, nor will applications that list USIP as a collaborator in the project’s activities.
  • Please review the Grant Application Process ( and Frequently Asked Questions “FAQ” ( sections of the website.

Notice to Applicants

Please follow the system registration instructions detailed in this document and on USIP’s website. If you do not hear from USIP after registering, please contact to confirm the status of your registration. Registration via the online system is a requirement for consideration in this competition. The Institute is unable to retroactively review incorrectly submitted registrations, concept notes, or applications after the relevant deadline. Please do not hesitate to contact with any questions about the system or registration process.