Project on the Political Economy of Security

  • Who We Are

    Our Directors are BU Professors Rosella Cappella Zielinski and Kaija Schilde.

  • What We Do

    Read the latest news and updates on Project on the Political Economy of Security here.

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 for the Study of Political Economy of Security was founded in 2014 to advance academic and policy-relevant knowledge regarding the intersection of economics and security.

The domain of political economy of security encompasses those studies that link political economy and security studies. The unifying ethos is that to understand security one must include political economy. This intersection of study has its roots in liberal economic thought and the relationship between wealth and the pursuit of power. The study of political economy of security has waxed and waned. During the Cold War it appeared as if the intersection of these two areas was dwindling as two distinct spheres of scholarly pursuit arose – international political economy and security studies. In recent decades, this distinction has faded and the subfield has grown to constitute a major research agenda spanning across all intellectual traditions in international relations.

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, and peacemaking. The subfield has also expanded to incorporate many works in which security variables are used to understand the realm of political economics such as statebuilding, tax structure the distribution of wealth, and financial crises.

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.

schilde_thumbnail Kaija Schilde is an Assistant Professor at the Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies. Her research interests involve European and transatlantic security, the political economy of defense and security markets and industries, EU lobbies and interest groups, and the role of private nonstate actors in national and international security.

Her book manuscript, Embedded in Brussels: the Political Economy of European Security, is an investigation of the relationship between EU institutions and interest groups, with a focus on security and defense interests, including the formation of EU internal and external security policies such as Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and immigration and border security. Her other research investigates the causes and consequences of military spending cuts, defense reform and force transformation, arms exports under conditions of dependence and austerity, and the international diffusion of domestic and border security practices. She has a policy background in defense reform and transatlantic security.

cappella_thumbnailRosella Cappella Zielinski is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of political economy and national security. She is interested in explaining how domestic economic pressures shape national security decisions and how the financing of national security regimes redistributes wealth within a domestic economy.

She is currently in the process of completing her book manuscript entitled The Political Economy of War Finance, which provides a framework to explain how states have financed interstate wars from 1800 to the present. Her other projects investigate the role of inflation and war from the onset of the conflict through its duration as well as the causes and consequences of inflation in counterinsurgency warfare.

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

To propagate the study of political economy of national security and facilitate courses at the graduate and senior undergraduate level we provide syllabi and teaching materials for interested scholars.

Sample Syllabi

General Political Economy of Security

Foreign Economic Policy


Defense Industry

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.

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

Feb. 2016: Speaker Series

May 2016: Academia-Policy Bridging Workshop

Past Events

ISA 2015: A New Research Agenda of Military Power, War, and Peace in an Era of Austerity

April 9, 2015: Mai’a K. Davis Cross, Northeastern University, “European Security Integration: The Role of a Military Epistemic Community”

April 22, 2015: Boston Area Working Group Launch, Boston University, Pardee School of Global Studies

April 24, 2015: Jennifer Erickson, Boston College, “The Politics of Arms Export Control”