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

Breaking the Stalemate: Biden Can Use the U.S.-Taliban Deal to Bring Peace

Breaking the Stalemate: Biden Can Use the U.S.-Taliban Deal to Bring Peace

Thursday, February 25, 2021

By: Scott Worden

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Taliban agreement, Afghanistan remains unfortunately far away from peace. The historic agreement paved the way for a full U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the start of intra-Afghan talks on a political settlement of the conflict. As the May 1 withdrawal deadline nears, the Biden administration is undertaking a rapid Afghanistan policy review to determine its overall strategy toward the slow-moving intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar. A key reason for the lack of movement in talks is that both sides are anxiously waiting to see what Biden decides. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Months After Protests, Nigeria Needs Police Accountability

Months After Protests, Nigeria Needs Police Accountability

Thursday, February 25, 2021

By: Emily Cole

In Nigeria and more than a dozen nations—the United States, Brazil and Japan are others—public protests erupted in the past year against police brutality. Across the globe, police violence traumatizes the marginalized, spares the powerful and remains unaddressed until the abuse is illuminated to broad public view. While brutality is typically rooted among a minority of officers, it persists because weak systems of police accountability offer impunity, even to repeat offenders. In Nigeria, as in other countries, the solution will require building strong accountability mechanisms—both within police agencies and externally, in the communities they serve.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law; Democracy & Governance

Libya: Amid Hope for Peace, Regional Rifts Still Pose Hurdles

Libya: Amid Hope for Peace, Regional Rifts Still Pose Hurdles

Friday, February 26, 2021

By: Simona Ross; Stefan Wolff

Libyans and the United Nations advanced their current effort to end almost a decade of instability and war this month when a U.N.-backed forum nominated an interim government to prepare nationwide elections by the end of 2021. The new transitional government brings hope that this process—the third major U.N. peace effort in Libya—might lead to stability. Still, achieving lasting peace will require that the process address the main underlying driver of conflict: the divisions among Libya’s three main regions, notably over how to organize the government. It also will need the United States and other countries to support the transitional government and hold Libya’s contesting sides accountable.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Democracy & Governance

Can Markets Help Foster Civil Society in North Korea?

Can Markets Help Foster Civil Society in North Korea?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

By: Anthony Navone

After North Korea’s planned economy faltered in the 1990’s, resulting in a devastating famine known as the “Arduous March,” citizens turned to an informal market system for survival. Desperate for some semblance of stability, the North Korean state initially tolerated these rudimentary transactions as a financial necessity. These markets have grown in scale and complexity over the last two decades—and in the process, have facilitated the growth of unofficial economic networks that exhibit signs of a nascent semi-autonomous public sphere that is unprecedented in North Korean society.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

North Korea in Africa: Historical Solidarity, China’s Role, and Sanctions Evasion

North Korea in Africa: Historical Solidarity, China’s Role, and Sanctions Evasion

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

By: Benjamin R. Young

North Korea serves as a mutually beneficial partner for many African governments. Although these ties are often viewed solely through the lens of economic and security interests, this report shows Pyongyang's deep historical connections and ideological linkages with several of the continent’s nations. North Korea–Africa relations are also bolstered by China, which has been complicit in North Korea’s arms and ivory trade, activities providing funds that likely support the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions and allow it to withstand international sanctions.

Type: Special Report

Democracy & Governance

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