About Us

The Empirical Studies of Conflict (ESOC) is a multi-campus, interdisciplinary network of scholars engaged in research on politically motivated and organized criminal violence worldwide. Currently headquartered at Princeton University, it launched in 2009 at Stanford University in collaboration with the University of California Institute on Conflict and Collaboration (IGCC). ESOC was initially inspired by a desire among its founders to provide evidence-based  prescriptions to practitioners wrestling with the challenges of reducing violence and stabilizing conflict zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries facing terrorist threats.  

As ESOC has grown, its substantive focus has broadened. Today, ESOC’s affiliated scholars have broad interests ranging from sub state political violence (e.g., terrorism and civil wars and their effects) to great power conflict, spanning gray zone activities such as disinformation and cyber attacks, and support of governance through economic and political tools. 

We share a commitment to blending theory with careful empirical analysis to generate scholarship of the highest quality, and to training the next generation of conflict scholars. Beyond academic research, ESOC is committed to supporting evidence-based policy-making and works with a variety of public agencies and international organizations to improve the efficacy of interventions to reduce conflict and restore order.

ESOC is actively pursuing five lines of effort:

  • Maintaining a network of relationships which link scholars and practitioners, enabling an exchange of policy-relevant research insights and access to data. 
  • Supporting novel programming such as the Bridging Divides Initiative, the Irregular Warfare Initiative, and the Future of Conflict program at the International Crisis Group, which are empowering the next generation of scholars, policy-makers, and military leaders to confront an array of conflict settings.
  • Mentoring younger scholars and those from under-represented groups, particularly those with limited access to research resources and mentors, so that they can realize their full scholarly potential.
  • Promoting conflict studies by providing venues for scholars to present their work in an active Working Paper series; an Annual Meeting; and other meetings held throughout the years.
  • Executing and facilitating ESOC-related scholarship by supporting high-quality research projects and hosting fellows.