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

South Sudan’s people have spoken on peace. Is anyone listening?

South Sudan’s people have spoken on peace. Is anyone listening?

Friday, April 16, 2021

By: Ola Mohajer; David Deng

The United States played a key role in the emergence of South Sudan as an independent state 10 years ago. Yet today, U.S. policy toward the country is insufficient to address the continued violence or promote sustainable peace. Even so, it is not too late for U.S. policymakers to embark upon a renewed push for peace. To move forward, they should listen to what South Sudan’s people said in the recently concluded National Dialogue and incorporate its recommendations in diplomatic, humanitarian and development strategies for the country.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan: End to an Endless War?

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan: End to an Endless War?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

By: Scott Worden; Johnny Walsh; Belquis Ahmadi; Ambassador Richard Olson

President Joe Biden formally announced on Wednesday that the United States will withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks that led to the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban. The decision comes a month after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looked to jump-start the moribund intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar with a sweeping set of proposals. Although the withdrawal would mean an end to America’s longest war, the implications for Afghanistan’s hard-won progress are immense and many fear the possibility of a rejuvenated civil war after U.S. troops leave.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

The Intertwined Futures of Climate Action, Fragility and Peacebuilding

The Intertwined Futures of Climate Action, Fragility and Peacebuilding

Thursday, April 15, 2021

By: Anthony Navone

Crises are often described narrowly; clearly differentiated by the aspect of society they impact, such as the economy or national security. But the COVID pandemic and looming climate crisis have shown that lines distinguishing one crisis from another aren’t as distinct as they may seem, and that underlying issues like COVID can impact a number of sectors simultaneously. Navigating the intersection of health, economic, governance and humanitarian issues has become the defining challenge of the pandemic response...

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Fragility & Resilience

It Is Time to Rethink U.S. Strategy in the Sahel

It Is Time to Rethink U.S. Strategy in the Sahel

Thursday, April 15, 2021

By: Kamissa Camara

Close to 10 years after the French military intervention pushed al-Qaida affiliated fighters out of northern Mali, the Sahel region continues to make headlines with the world’s fastest growing Islamist insurgency and one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises. Across the region, insecurity and socio-political instability continue to reach new heights. Yet, unrelenting setbacks in the fight against terrorism are undermining political support for international actors within a region where a donor “traffic jam” is currently at play. For these reasons, a change in international policy toward the Sahel is not only necessary, it has become inevitable.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Conflict and Crisis in South Sudan’s Equatoria

Conflict and Crisis in South Sudan’s Equatoria

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

By: Alan Boswell

South Sudan’s civil war expanded into Equatoria, the country’s southernmost region, in 2016, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee into neighboring Uganda in what has been called Africa’s largest refugee exodus since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Equatoria is now the last major hot spot in the civil war. If lasting peace is to come to South Sudan, writes Alan Boswell, it will require a peace effort that more fully reckons with the long-held grievances of Equatorians.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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