Solving the problems that matter most

The School of International Service houses a number of research centers and initiatives that provide a focal point at which diverse researchers come together to tackle the world's most complex problems. Covering a broad, interdisciplinary range of research and programming activities, our centers are at the vanguard of the research agenda and provide enriching experiences for faculty, staff, students, and members of the SIS community alike.

The Accountability Research Center (ARC) is an action-research incubator based in the School of International Service at American University. ARC collaborates with partners to contribute to global thinking on how to improve public accountability and build more inclusive societies. ARC’s two main goals are to help improve the organizational effectiveness of our partners and inform agenda setting within the global transparency, participation, and accountability field. By working together on the real-world challenges our partners face, ARC provides both technical and analytical support for research and learning. ARC seeks to contribute to international discussions about change strategies by disseminating our partners’ research and insights.

Bridging the Gap promotes scholarly contributions to public debate and decision making on global challenges and US foreign policy. Bridging the Gap equips professors and doctoral students with the skills they need to produce influential, policy-relevant research and theoretically grounded policy work. We also spearhead cutting-edge research on problems of concrete importance to governments, think tanks, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and global firms. Within the academy, we are driving changes in university culture and processes designed to incentivize public and policy engagement.

The Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology (CSINT) is dedicated to critical engagement with the most consequential impacts of emerging technologies across a wide range of research areas. Situated in a hub of global leadership and policymaking, we are a diverse group of individuals striving to produce actionable results from our research. The center is a forward-thinking collective that leverages research, engagement, and a community of scholars to find optimal, humane solutions.

The Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment is an initiative of the Global Environmental Politics program in the School of International Service at American University. The Forum is concerned with the social, political, and legal implications of climate engineering technologies. The Forum’s public outreach efforts are guided by the observation that, to date, the conversation about climate engineering’s development, deployment, and implications has been confined to a relatively narrow set of voices.

The Institute for Responsible Carbon Removal is an initiative of American University’s School of International Service. It was founded in 2018 in response to growing scientific and political attention to carbon removal technologies and practices. The Institute grew out of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, a separate research initiative dedicated to assessing the social, ethical, political, and legal implications of emerging technologies that fall under the broad rubric of climate engineering.

The Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) prepares transformative disability policy leaders. IDPP serves as a collaborative think tank on disability policy for the ASEAN region through an unparalleled network of 20 leading universities and four outreach partners, with founding and sustained support from The Nippon Foundation.

Founded in 2020, the Research on International Policy Implementation Lab (RIPIL) investigates pressing topics in international peace, security, development, and humanitarian response with the aim of translating scholarly research into real policy solutions. RIPIL's research model of co-creation centers on building partnerships with policymakers and practitioners to identify important research questions, conduct rigorous research on these questions, and engage partners throughout the research process. RIPIL is an affiliate of Bridging the Gap.

American University’s Transatlantic Policy Center, a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence, is dedicated to studying and promoting a greater understanding of the crucial partnership between Europe and the United States. It strives to do so by:

  • Engaging with the policy community through a regular high-level speaker series;
  • Educating the next generation of transatlantic scholars; and
  • Evaluating and researching major common policy challenges, in order to foster the development of common diagnoses on both sides of the Atlantic.


Programmatic Centers in SIS

American University’s ASEAN Studies Initiative, the first of its kind to be established in the United States, was formally launched at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 14, 2009. The ASEAN Studies Initiative conducts research into various aspects of ASEAN, including economic, political, security, socio-cultural activities and cooperation, institutional development, ASEAN’s relations with the US and other major powers, and its impact on international relations of the Asia Pacific region. The Initiative works collaboratively with the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta and with US government agencies, think tanks, and research institutes in Washington, DC, as well as with Southeast Asia institutions and other ASEAN research centers in the United States and abroad.

Model G20 (MG20) Initiative is an innovative academic program designed by the School of International Service to advance the understanding of the G20 and international economic cooperation by fully simulating a G20 Leaders' Summit. Recognizing the G20's global influence, MG20 seeks to prepare young leaders to successfully face current and future global challenges.

Over the course of three days, the MG20 Summit at American University offers a unique learning experience that supplements the classic Model UN circuit. Designed in concert with a former high-level G20 diplomat, this is the first US-based complete and accurate simulation of the G20. The program includes an MG20 Symposium of high-level practitioners, speakers and experts, followed by a G20 simulation that begins with the initial negotiation process and leads up to the G20 Leaders' Summit itself.

The North American Research Initiative is an initiative launched by American University’s SIS and Center for Latin American and Latino Studies to promote and disseminate cutting edge social science research focused on processes of North American integration. The Initiative convenes a select group of early career scholars who explore North American progress toward the ideal of integration championed by the late SIS Professor Robert A. Pastor. By supporting the production, exchange, and dissemination of innovative social science devoted to the region and its potential, the Initiative places American University’s at the forefront of a long-term research agenda that will inform future policy on North America.

The U.S. – Sister2Sister Exchange Program’s overarching goal is to empower Pakistani female college students to overcome cultural limitations that inhibit their participation in pursuing competitive and lucrative careers. These young women will be equipped with the professional, educational, and leadership skills and confidence essential to overcome the socio-cultural impediments inhibiting their entry into the workforce and enable their contribution to Pakistan’s economy, government, and civil society. AU and its partners will achieve this goal through the following objectives: (a) Preparing 60 young Pakistani women for future career opportunities over three years from 2021 to 2023 by enabling their participation in U.S. university summer undergraduate courses, most of which will be in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields; (b) Developing mentorship programs and connecting young Pakistani women to academic and professional networks for educational and career advancement.

The U.S. – Sister2Sister Exchange Program is a public-private partnership wherein the U.S. Department of State and public and private universities join hands to support and ensure Pakistani female college students' entry and retention in STEM fields. Learn more here.

Transnational Challenges and Emerging Nations Dialogue (TRANSCEND) is an initiative of the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance established at SIS in 2011. It is a worldwide network of academic research centers, policy think-tanks, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations dedicated to developing new approaches to global governance. It specifically aims to forge a shared understanding among the developed and developing countries of how to manage the current diffusion of world power in the face of growing transnational challenges. TRANSCEND creates a collaborative research, teaching, and training framework to study the nexus between transnational challenges and emerging nations and to help scholars and policymakers from the emerging nations better understand and respond to these challenges.