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

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

After nearly 20 years and across three successive U.S. administrations, it is clear that a bipartisan consensus exists among senior foreign affairs leadership that engaging religious actors to advance key American diplomatic, national security, and development objectives needs to be a priority. With some 84 percent of the world’s population expressing a faith affiliation, the role of religion as a social force around the world—and one that figures centrally in many peacebuilding contexts—cannot be ignored in our foreign relations.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

Knox Thames on the State of Global Religious Freedom

Knox Thames on the State of Global Religious Freedom

Monday, November 30, 2020

By: Knox Thames

As global restrictions on faith reach all-time highs, USIP’s Knox Thames say the United States must continue to be a vocal leader in combatting persecution and pursuing religious freedom, saying, “I think the time is right … anything we say goes out like a megaphone to the rest of the world.”

Type: Podcast

Religion

Ethiopia’s Problems Will Not End with a Military Victory

Ethiopia’s Problems Will Not End with a Military Victory

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

By: Aly Verjee

As violence continues over control of the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, Ethiopia’s future remains unsettled, even if the conflict ends soon. Achieving the federal government’s security objectives in Tigray is unlikely to resolve both new and entrenched political challenges, and already delayed national elections, now expected in 2021, may prove a severe test of Ethiopia’s political order, and consequently affect broader regional stability. Reconciling the electoral process with efforts for reconciliation and national dialogue is now even more imperative.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Human Rights Education as the Solution to Religious Persecution

Human Rights Education as the Solution to Religious Persecution

Monday, November 23, 2020

By: Knox Thames

Persecution on account of religion or belief confronts every community somewhere around the world—and it is an increasing trend. Challenges range from terrorist violence against minorities, such as ISIS’ depravations against Yazidis, to persecution by authoritarian governments, with China’s targeting of all faiths a prime example. To organize a defense of freedom of conscience and belief, the United States convened the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2018 and 2019, bringing together a virtual congress of nations and civil society activists from around the world. The third ministerial, organized by Poland, was held virtually in mid-November. Discussions identified challenges but also solutions. One consistent answer to the vexing problem of persecution was proffered: educating youth about human rights and pluralism.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion; Education & Training

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By: Scott Worden

The Taliban’s tactic of running out the clock on the U.S. troop presence may bear fruit after the announcement on Tuesday that U.S. forces will reduce to 2,500 by January 15. The Trump administration successfully created leverage by engaging directly with the Taliban to meet their paramount goal of a U.S. withdrawal in exchange for genuine peace talks and counterterrorism guarantees. This strategy brought about unprecedented negotiations between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban in Doha. A walk down a conditions-based path to peace, long and winding as it may be, had begun.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

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