Project on the Political Economy of Security

The past decade has been rife with economic crises, austerity measures, and increased financial globalization. This economic climate has had serious and sometimes counterintuitive ramifications for national and international security. The study of the intersection of economics and security requires an interdisciplinary approach, involving insights and tools from the fields of Political Science, Economics, History, Sociology, and Anthropology, among others. Our goal is to expand and promote the study of the relationship between economics and security by fostering a network of academics and supporting policy-relevant academic research and teaching. 

A research program of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, the Project on the Political Economy of Security (PPES) was founded in 2014, with the goal to advance academic and policy-relevant knowledge regarding the intersection of economics and security. Since then, PPES has invited numerous academics and graduate students from regional and international universities to present their ongoing research. These events have centered on presentations of academic work at various stages of completionranging from final papers to early manuscript workshops.  

The unifying ethos of the subfield of political economy of security is that to understand security one must include political economy. In recent yearsespecially accelerating after the impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis, this intersection of study has grown in significance In an era when many states face ballooning deficits, austerity measures, and increased financial globalization, understanding the relationship between political economy and international security is more important than ever. Currently, the subfield includes numerous distinct topics such as mobilization for war, the defense industrial base and defense spending, various forms of statecraft the most notable being economic sanctions, the rise and fall of major powers, the capitalist peace, peacemaking, migration, and climate change. The subfield has also expanded to incorporate many works in which security variables are used to understand the realm of political economics such as state building, tax structure, the distribution of wealth, and financial crises.  

schilde_thumbnail Kaija Schilde  (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) is Assistant Professor at the Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies. Her primary research interests involve the political economy of security and transatlantic security. Her book, The Political Economy of European Security (Cambridge University Press, 2017) investigates the state-society relations between the EU and interest groups, with a particular focus on security and defense institutions, industries, and markets. Her research interests span multiple dimensions of the historical institutionalism of security organizations, including the causes and consequences of military spending; the relationship between spending, innovation, and capabilities; defense reform and force transformation; the politics of defense protectionism; and the international diffusion of internal and border security practices. She has published articles in the  Journal of Common Market Studies, European Security, and theJournal of Peace Research. 

cappella_thumbnailRosella Cappella Zielinski  (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania) is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston University who specializes in study the political economy of security. Her primary research interests include the mobilization of resources for war, defense spending, and conflict dynamics. She is the author of How States Pay for Wars (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016) winner of the 2017 American Political Science Association Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award in International History and Politics. Her other works can be found in the Journal of Peace Research, Conflict Management and Peace Science, and the Air and Space Power Journal. 

There are a number of well-established scholars in the Boston area whose research lies at the intersection of political economy and national security including Sue Eckert at the Watson Institute at Brown University and Peter Dombrowski at the U.S. Naval War College.

To propagate the study of political economy of national security and facilitate courses at the graduate and senior undergraduate level we provide syllabi and general teaching materials, both from Boston University and other institutions, for interested scholars and graduate students. 

Sample Syllabi

General Political Economy of Security

Foreign Economic Policy


Defense Industry

General Political Economy of Security Teaching Materials

There are a myriad of works that review the subfield for graduate students.  Jonathan Kirshner’s “Political Economy in Security Studies after the Cold War” and Norrin Ripsman’s “The Political Economy of Security: A Research and Teaching Agenda” both provide an excellent review of the subfield with the goal of drawing attention to the false distinction that political economy and security studies have existed separately. Susan Strange’s “International Economics and International Relations: A Case of Mutual Neglect” and Michael Mastanduno’s “Economics and Security in Statecraft and Scholarship” both explore why security studies and international political economy progressed as separate activities. Norrin Ripsman, Rosella Cappella Zielinski, and Kaija E. Schilde’s Oxford Handbook chapter “The Political Economy of Security” provides an overview of he key economic dimensions of contemporary United States security policy dilemmas in an age of austerity, movement towards multipolarity, and global popular discontent.  

Ethan Kapstein’s The Political Economy of National Security: A Global Perspective, provides an overview of topics covered within the subfield that is excellent for undergraduates.  

Upcoming Events 

  • April 13, 2018: Nancy Hite-Rubin, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, “”A Corruption, Military Procurement and FDI Nexus?”
  • April 20, 2018: Andrea GilliBelfer Center, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Mauro Gilli, Center for Security Studies, ETH-Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), “Run Loud, Run Shallow: Does North Korean Ballistic Missile Submarine Program Hold Water”
  • April 25, 2018: Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Boston University, “Forged By War”

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Past Events