Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict

Our Mission

Our Vision

Modern-day asymmetric conflicts often seem to be both endless and pointless, with the innocent suffering from brutal violence as well as the degradation of civil society brought about by constant threat. States, while remaining the most effective providers of security and prosperity to their citizens, have tremendous difficulty coping with non-state adversaries while maintaining their international—and even domestic—legitimacy. We believe that a better understanding of the origins and dynamics of these “fourth-generation” conflicts can enable faster and more constructive conflict resolution, greater social resilience, and ultimately a more peaceful world.

Our Mission

The Institute for the Study of Asymmetric Conflict will conduct broadly interdisciplinary research on the factors that promote and prolong conflicts, the ways in which conflicts can be successfully resolved, and strategies for coping with ongoing conflict; we will actively seek alliances with other organizations and individuals in order to help develop this field of study. ISAC will educate the general public as well as security and government professionals through website publications, lectures, and workshops. We will also provide advice to government bodies regarding constructive, effective strategies for conducting and resolving asymmetric conflicts.


We plan to act on a number of fronts to further our mission:




We will design, develop, and populate databases pertaining to asymmetric conflicts, including general data such as state and organization profiles, conflict descriptions, and the like, with “drill-down” capabilities to the level of individual fatalities and detailed social network analysis of non-state organizations. We will work with other institutions to create and promote common standards for conflict data reporting, with the goal of producing a reliable, comprehensive, and up-to-date global conflict database populated by experts in each region and conflict. We will work with experts in the field of social network visualization, data mining, and other advanced techniques in order to further the science of conflict database design, population, and reporting.


We will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to developing our understanding of modern conflict, drawing on fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, economics, computer science, and military strategy. We will work to develop a broad international network of experts and institutions devoted to this field of study. We believe that no single discipline can encompass all aspects of the “wicked problem” of modern asymmetric conflicts; the best approach to the field is thus to avoid the compartmentalized thinking that comes with over-specialization.


We will establish a website providing articles and reference materials to both the general public and specialists in the field. We will participate actively in already-existing refereed journals dealing with asymmetric conflict; if developments indicate the need, we will establish a new refereed journal to help advance the field. We will also publish in other venues as appropriate.


We will seek academic affiliation and a role in teaching and curriculum development; we will also actively participate in lecturing and leading workshops for government, security, and industry professionals seeking an understanding of “fourth-generation” conflict.