Grounded in its founding mandate from Congress, and complementing its work to build peace internationally, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) serves the American people directly, providing resources and ways to engage, and overall helping to expand the American public’s understanding of the U.S. role in peacebuilding around the world.

USIP staff engage with an audience of students, teachers, and parents from 25 U.S. states at the 2018 national competition reception for Academic WorldQuest, a program of the World Affairs Councils of America, which USIP sponsors.
USIP staff engage with an audience of students, teachers, and parents from 25 U.S. states at the 2018 national competition reception for Academic WorldQuest, a program of the World Affairs Councils of America, which USIP sponsors.

Indeed, the American public played a significant role in USIP’s creation in the first place. In the 1970s, everyday Americans spurred on congressional leaders who had served in the devastating wars of the 20th century, supporting their pursuit of a national institution that would help the United States manage and resolve international conflicts.

Today, as a new set of violent conflicts dominate international headlines, it is as important as ever to highlight for the American people the range of practical options that exist to make peace possible, and examples of peacebuilding in action.

This is especially important for younger Americans, who have come up after 9/11 and know only a world where the United States is engaged militarily overseas and threats of terrorism and extremism loom large.

USIP is a resource for the government and for the American people, demonstrating this country’s commitment to peace through practical action. Since the move to its iconic headquarters near the National Mall in 2011, USIP has had a dedicated public education and national outreach program, focused on educating a broad public audience about how international conflicts can be resolved without violence, how peace is achieved, and why it matters.

What We Do

The Public Education program works with schools, universities, national networks, and local organizations across the United States to share USIP’s mission and work, and provide opportunities to learn and engage.

Areas of Focus

  • Engaging K-12 schools nationwide with educational programs on USIP’s work, year-long initiatives that include contests for high school students and the Peace Teachers Program, and additional USIP resources that teach about international conflict resolution and show how peace is possible.
  • Reaching broader public audiences—including local organizations and universities—through initiatives that educate, engage, and inform Americans across the country about USIP’s work around the world.
  • Programs for public visitor groups to USIP (*happening virtually during COVID-19) that introduce USIP’s mission and work to new audiences, and highlight the symbolism of USIP’s headquarters presence on the National Mall as part of the Peace Trail on the National Mall resource.
  • The Peace Day Challenge, which every September 21 engages schools, universities, organizations and individuals across the United States in marking the International Day of Peace with learning and action as part of a broader global campaign.

Reach and Impact

The Public Education program has connections in more than 1,800 K-12 schools and with hundreds of universities and dozens of local organizations covering all 50 U.S. states.

  • Since 2011, the Public Education program has served over 40,000 people through educational programs held at USIP, online or in local communities, introducing them to the critical role the United States plays in reducing violent conflict around the world.
  • Each year, outreach activities bring USIP’s experts and resources to schools and communities in every state:
    • Contests for students engage at least 5,500 school-age Americans over the academic year.
    • Programs for educators directly reach over 500 teachers from across the United States each year.
    • Partnerships with national organizations connect USIP with diverse audiences nationwide, from students to retirees.
  • In 2020, the Peace Day Challenge inspired activities in more than 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Map of the US

The Public Education program brings USIP’s work to audiences across the United States. In the year before COVID-19, this included visits to schools and communities in over a dozen states—from Alabama to Alaska to Tennessee, and beyond. Combined with onsite programs at USIP, virtual outreach activities, and flagship year-long programs, USIP serves the American public in all 50 states.

Latest Publications

 Une ville du Sahel conçoit un moyen d'améliorer les réformes – et l'aide internationale

Une ville du Sahel conçoit un moyen d'améliorer les réformes – et l'aide internationale

Friday, October 15, 2021

By: Jasmine Dehghan ; Sandrine Nama

La recrudescence cette année des troubles violents dans le Sahel en Afrique – des attaques djihadistes élargies, des coups d'État ou des tentatives militaires dans quatre pays, ainsi que le nombre constamment élevé de victimes civiles – souligne que des années de travail pour renforcer les forces militaires et policières n'ont pas réussi à réduire l'instabilité. Pour réduire l'extrémisme et la violence, les pays doivent améliorer la gouvernance, et des analyses récentes soulignent le besoin particulier de renforcer le sentiment des gens que leurs gouvernements peuvent assurer la justice et trouver des résolutions équitables aux griefs populaires. Un tel changement est une tâche extrêmement complexe et une ville du Burkina Faso a élaboré un plan de réformes locales avec un processus pour gérer cette complexité.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Democracy & Governance

A Sahel Town Builds a Way to Improve Reforms—and Foreign Aid

A Sahel Town Builds a Way to Improve Reforms—and Foreign Aid

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: Jasmine Dehghan; Sandrine Nama

This year’s escalation of violent turmoil in Africa’s Sahel—widened jihadist attacks, military coups or attempts in four nations, and continued high civilian casualties—underscores that years of work to reinforce military and police forces have failed to reduce instability. To undercut extremism and violence, countries must improve governance, and recent analyses underscore the particular need to build people’s confidence that their governments can provide justice and fair resolutions of popular grievances. Such change is an immensely complex task—and one town in Burkina Faso has shaped a plan for local reforms with a process to manage that complexity.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Democracy & Governance

In Africa, U.S. Should Focus More on Democracy, Less on China

In Africa, U.S. Should Focus More on Democracy, Less on China

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: Thomas P. Sheehy; Paul Nantulya; Gustavo de Carvalho

Even as the United States draws lessons from its unsuccessful, 20-year effort to build a sustainable peace in Afghanistan, it is shaping policies to engage the political and economic rise of Africa. Both the shortcomings in Afghanistan and the opportunities of Africa underscore the imperative of building policy on a full appreciation of local conditions. Yet on Africa, China’s growing presence has seized Americans’ political attention, and scholars of African politics say this risks distracting near-term U.S. policymaking. A requisite for U.S. success in Africa will be to focus on Africans’ desires—which include an ambition to build their futures by democratic means.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy; Democracy & Governance

Afghanistan’s Economic and Humanitarian Crises Turn Dire

Afghanistan’s Economic and Humanitarian Crises Turn Dire

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: William Byrd, Ph.D.

Two months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the country is grappling with twin economic and humanitarian crises the response to which has been complicated by international aid cutoffs, the freezing of Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves and sanctions on the militants. USIP’s William Byrd discusses the implications of these crises and the challenges to alleviating them.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & Resilience; Economics & Environment

View All Publications