SUMMER 2021 Security and Political Economy Lab Summer Intensive

The Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab conducts interdisciplinary policy-relevant research on the issues at the intersection of climate change, security, and economic development.  Based at the University of Southern California, their research projects provide undergraduates with the opportunity to develop their data science and other research skills.  SPEC is currently welcoming undergraduate applicants to their 8-week intensive summer research program.  The program includes training in research methods and works as a research assistant on faculty-led projects related to the political economy of security. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation. All participants will receive free housing on-campus housing at USC along with travel reimbursements and a stipend.   If the COVID-19 situation prevents in-person programming, they will conduct the program remotely. The program will run from June 7 – August 6, 2021.

The deadline to apply is February 21, 2021.

Program Details

This year, the focus of the program is economic interdependence between allies and competitors alike.  his heightened economic interdependence between allies and competitors alike both shapes the costs of military conflict and makes available new tools of economic statecraft and coercion. SPEC’s goal is to equip future scholars with an understanding of the economic dynamics that drive conflict and to help them come up with proposed solutions.

All participants will have the opportunity to work on one of the ongoing projects, which include:

  • The creation and analysis of disaggregated, network-based measures of economic interdependence and the identification of exploitable asymmetries in dependence
  • An analysis of states’ ability to employ military coercion for economic gain, including by means short of outright conquest
  • Analysis linking the local effects of climate change and environmental degradation to societal conflict including protests, riots, and war

Other projects are likely to be added to this list and REU students may also have the opportunity to contribute to our “Consulting for Social Change” team, which provides pro-bono, research-focused consulting services to NGOs, including the National Foster Youth Institute and the Law Enforcement Work Inquiry System (LEWIS registry).

In addition to their project work, students will participate in workshops in project design and applied data science. In total students will be expected to work 30 hours a week.


  • Applicants must be U.S. Citizens due to funding constraints from the NSF.
  • This opportunity is for undergraduate students only.
    • Applicants of rising junior and senior-level are more preferred.
  • Prior research experience is not required, but this opportunity is intended for those interested in pursuing a career in social science research. Applicants with such intentions are prioritized.
  • SPEC encourages first-generation college students, minority students, and other students from underrepresented groups to apply.
  • It is not required but highly recommended that students provide a letter of recommendation.

For more information and to apply, click here.


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