About Our Research Lab

Webster University’s Global Policy Horizons Lab is a policy-focused research entity where students, lab researchers, affiliated faculty and members of the policy community from across disciplines, can explore national and global security issues, generate original research and produce peer-reviewed policy papers and commentaries. The lab pursues innovative research focusing on unconventional threats, identity and security, role of technology in security, economic security, as well environmental and food security. The goal of the lab is to become a knowledge hub that informs national governments and other members of the global policy community on contemporary and future security challenges.

The lab currently focuses on the following research streams:

  • Unconventional Threats and Institutions
  • Identity and Security
  • Technology and Security
  • Economic Security
  • Environmental, Health and Food Security

Our Publications

Developing countries that receive peacekeeping operations exhibit gender disparities within their educational systems. The period spanning from the 1980s to the 2000s has witnessed a notable rise in the level of educational achievement among female students. I am interested in understanding the role of peacekeeping operations in facilitating the transition to peace and post-conflict reconstruction in various nations that encourage educational development. Is there evidence of a societal shift with regards to the prominence of women peacekeepers in leadership roles, and if so, does this have a positive impact on the educational aspirations of young girls? The deliberate selection of secondary education is attributed to the fact that it encompasses a significant developmental phase for adolescents, spanning from ages 11 to 12 and extending to 18 to 19. This period represents the most substantial gap in education and a crucial time of transformation for this demographic. The study aims to examine the potential impact of female peacekeepers on the educational outcomes of secondary school girls, and if this shift in gender roles influences young girls both prior to and following intervention.

Read Full Research Paper by Naima Dawid (PDF)

We have more to blame on global warming than just rising seas or increases in severe weather. The Arctic, a once untouched landscape, is now at the forefront of geopolitical tensions. Due to the increase in overall global temperatures, the Arctic ice cap and the Greenland ice sheet are melting. The receding ice, once a formidable barrier to human activity, is giving way and countries around the world are keen to take advantage of the Arctic’s ever more accessible sea lanes, and lucrative resources. Arctic states have increasingly found themselves in competition for these resources and regional politics, once known for their idyllic cooperation and communal sense of purpose, are now strained. The institutions made for a once exceptional Arctic are failing to adequately respond, and mounting pressure from countries beyond the traditional Arctic states, (the United Sates, Denmark, Russia, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland) in particular from China, has made management via current governance difficult. Thus, the question is not whether reform is needed, but how best to manage that reform. Conflicting views among the Arctic states regarding security and access have led to two immediate arguments. One advocating for stricter controls on Arctic access, in particular regarding China and rising non-Arctic states. While the other advocates for greater global cooperation and inclusion surrounding the Arctic, especially in light of climate change. Though China is undoubtedly a challenger to the current rules-based order, the Arctic nations have more to gain by cooperating with rising non-Arctic states such as China, than they do by excluding them. Exclusion will only increase what is already taking place, active efforts to subvert current governance and navigate outside of it (Doshi et al., 2021). Effort put forth to actively exclude nations from the Arctic, be it in the form of trade or security policies, will be effort wasted and effort that could have otherwise been used towards building stronger legally binding agreements. Agreements that are created through cooperation and inclusion, not exclusion.

Read Full Research Paper by Blake Browning (PDF)

The October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks that resulted in the massacre of at least 1200 Israelis has again made an incredibly tough issue one of the primary concerns of policymakers focused on international security. The attacks were extremely gutting due to the barbaric nature of the murders and horrific images and stories that continue to come out every day. Because of the life altering events that took place that terrible day, it was understandable and most definitely expected what the response of the Israeli government would be. Despite the recent political turmoil in Israel, including an extremely controversial and un-democratic judicial overhaul, corruption charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the never-ending cycle of parliamentary elections that left no clear winners, the government was able to quickly unite to form a war cabinet. Despite this united front, there are real questions about how the Netanyahu government missed the many clear warning signs about the attacks, as well as the confirmed report that Egypt warned Israel about the attacks not long before they happened. It is widely expected that Netanyahu will be forced out following the conclusion of the initial stages of the war effort, but the Prime Minister seems to have as many political lives as a cat so that is unclear. There are also real questions about what the actual objectives of Israel should be and are in their military operation in Gaza. This paper will consider this question, but it is also necessary to understand what drove Israeli foreign policy before this. This paper will not dictate what Israeli foreign policy should be, but it will investigate what is possible while still reflecting the decades long foreign policy of Israel. This paper will argue that Israeli foreign policy, conducted through regional hybridism, is primarily driven by the state’s desire for survival, which explains their posture towards their Arab neighbors, state and non-state actors alike.

Read Full Research Paper by Josh Hayes (PDF)

In the post-Cold War era, the global landscape has witnessed a surge in Western democracy promotion efforts, with international organizations (IOs) playing a significant role. However, recent trends have revealed a paradox: states transitioning to democracy under the influence of these IOs are experiencing a rise in illiberalism. This research delves into this complex relationship, focusing on the tendencies toward democratic backsliding and autocratic reversion despite membership in democracy-promoting IOs such as the European Union and the Organization of American States. While IOs generally advocate for democracy, it is argued that they have inadvertently contributed to setbacks in democratic progress in emerging democracies. By exploring the nuances of this phenomenon, this research sheds light on the challenges and contradictions within the realm of international democracy promotion.

Read Full Research Paper by Zin Mar Khing (PDF)

Disinformation campaigns are as destructive in strong states in the west of Europe as in weaker states in the Southeast of Europe and at the EU-Russian border. There are flaws in the current strategy of the EU to limit the effects of disinformation campaigns launched by Russia. This can be observed by researching the causes of societal friction that can be a result of foreign influencing public opinion with malign intend. The article is structured into four sections: an explanation of concepts such as the gray zone and Russia's modus operandi, an overview of current strategies countering Russian disinformation in the EU, and an analysis of the current shortcomings in these strategies. Lastly, a proposal for a strategy based on societal resilience for liberal democratic nations is presented, along with recommendations for altering strategies in the EU and liberal western democracies like the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

Read Full Research Paper by Leon Wiskie (PDF)

With the collapse of Soviet Union and the subsequent end of Cold War era superpower confrontation, the continued relevance and survivability of NATO has been put into question. While many predicted that alliance would cease to exist, it has not only weathered the storm of changing geopolitical landscapes but has also emerged stronger. Given that, this study will offer a comprehensive analysis in answering an important question: what explains NATO’s resilience in the post-Cold War era, considering the complexities and challenges it has confronted? For background, this study presents a selected roots of NATO and explores the merits of its longevity before offering broader policy implications of this narrative. It then argues that NATO, far from being a historical artifact, stands as a dynamic and indispensable organization in the contemporary global security architecture. Its ability to evolve while preserving its fundamental principles underscores the alliance’s enduring relevance, positioning itself as a crucial force in maintaining peace and stability in the ever-changing world.

Read Full Research Paper by Zin Mar Khing (PDF)

This study examines Japan's immigration policy, highlighting its deep-rooted societal and historical uniqueness. Advocating for a shift, it suggests Japan consider an approach resembling Germany's multicultural model. Utilizing the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), the research delves into the intricate dynamics of Japanese immigration, emphasizing the pivotal role of advocacy coalitions in shaping policy outcomes. The ACF theory indicates that policy changes stem from diverse actors' interactions, each driven by their distinct beliefs. The paper contrasts Japan's conservative stance with Germany's progressive, inclusive policy, underscoring the profound influence of advocacy coalitions in both contexts. The findings offer potential insights for shaping future immigration policies in Japan.

Read Full Research Paper by Kenneth Valenti (PDF)

The relationship between the European Union (EU) and the Russian Federation (RF) can be characterized as a complex fusion of conflict and cooperation. This research paper argues that the two political entities should prioritize maintaining a constructive relationship and amiable foreign relations. The three chief areas of economic and energy security, international security and regional stability frame the nature of the EU-Russia partnership. A potential framework to navigate that relationship should address both areas of cooperation and conflict, while promoting transparency, security and stability. By examining the complex relations of the EU and Russia on different levels of cooperation, policymakers can benefit from a better understanding of the partnership between the two entities. Future research initiatives could focus on identifying precise policies that can further advance the relationship between the EU and the Russian Federation.

Read Full Research Paper by Denitsa Raichkova-Pena (PDF)

When examining the social fabric of the United States and Canada, it becomes clear that there are notable differences in the basic tenets of being an American or a Canadian. It is intriguing to witness the divergent methods employed in states that provide citizenship via birth, ancestry, and the process of becoming a citizen when it comes to incorporating immigrant communities. This study investigates the intricate relationship between the societal structures of destination nations and efforts to engage immigrant populations. This essay examines the abstract representation of a destination state as a melting pot and mosaic society and how it affects the relationships and affiliations of diaspora citizens. This research examines the impact of diversity and assimilation models on how the diaspora perceives opportunities and their ability to take action in the country they have migrated to. The objective of this study is to ascertain if a melting pot setting fosters assimilation and diminishes affiliations with the home state, or if a mosaic society may foster the preservation of cultural identity and deeper links to the diaspora's homeland. Furthermore, the paper explores the potential securitization of diaspora groups as a result of their alignment with the objectives of the host nations. This article will specifically examine immigration post-9/11. We will analyze the process of incorporating the immigrant communities into the social and economic fabric of both the United States and Canada. We shall analyze if there is a rise in the securitization of this diaspora. The objective of my thesis is to examine how the structure and organization of society influence the degree to which immigration is treated as a matter of national security. Will the absence of adequate assimilation in a multicultural society result in heightened marginalization among immigrant communities? When examining mosaic societies, will it become apparent that the preservation of cultural identity and encouragement of variety might provide obstacles to attaining full integration while also addressing security concerns?

Read Working Paper by Naima Dawid (PDF)

The Populist Democratic Backsliding Model, or the PDB Model, has been developed to illustrate a connection between populism and democratic backsliding. This is explained through the lens of securitization and populism's role within the external context of the securitization process. The PDB model argues that the use of a populist political style indicates a greater risk of democratic backsliding.

Read Working Paper by Samantha Ramay (PDF)

Daniel Yergin’s "The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations" provides a comprehensive analysis on the intersection of global energy landscape with the broader geopolitical and economic engagement and competition among states. Through detailed narratives and historical contexts, the author explores the transformational impact of the shale revolution, the subsequent shifts in energy dynamics among major states like the U.S., Russia, China, and the Middle East, and the intricate interplay between energy supply, demand and geopolitical tensions. Although the book delves deeply into the geopolitical aspects, it encounters criticisms for its limited focus on certain demand-side countries, minimal attention to climate change urgency, and insufficient exploration of potential long-term implications of renewable energy transitions. Despite these limitations, "The New Map" offers valuable insights into the complex relationship between energy, geopolitics and global security, making it a compelling read for researchers, policymakers and readers interested in understanding the intricate web of energy and international relations in the modern world.

Read Full Review Paper by Zin Mar Khing (PDF)

Brief Description and link

Brief Description and link

Four headshots of Dani Belo, PhD; Jim Curtis, PhD; Alison Gorga, PhD; and Naima Dawid

Panel Presentations — The Anatomy of Disinformation: Examining the Russian Playbook

Four headshots of Dani Belo, PhD; Jim Curtis, PhD; Alison Gorga, PhD; and Naima Dawid

This student-moderated panel discusses the implications of Russian disinformation campaigns and features presentations from Dr. Dani Belo (International Relations), Dr. Jim Curtis (Cybersecurity), student Naima Dawid (International Relations), and Dr. Allison Gorga (Criminology), moderated by student Blake Browning.

Director and Researchers

Dr. Dani Belo

Dani Belo, PhD

Director, Global Policy Horizons Research Lab

Dr. Dani Belo is a teacher and scholar of international relations, specializing in conflict management and security. He is currently an Assistant Professor of International Relations and leads the Global Policy Horizons Research Lab at Webster University in St. Louis, USA. Belo is also a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI) and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. His research focuses on gray-zone and hybrid conflicts, transatlantic security, grand strategy, NATO–Russia relations, ethnic conflicts and the post-Soviet region. He also worked as a policy analyst for the Government of Canada.

Belo's research on unconventional conflicts was featured at the U.S Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the Royal Military College of Canada, University of Pennsylvania Law School Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and the European Commission. He led international research projects in Poland and Estonia, focusing on inter-ethnic relations and security. Several of his publications and presentations were used to inform international policy development at the U.S. State Department and Global Affairs Canada in relation to the conflict in Ukraine.


Devin Courville

Devin Courville

Undergraduate Political Science Student at Webster

Devin Courville is an undergraduate student in Political Science at Webster University, St. Louis, USA. His areas of specialization are great power politics, the transformation of the economic-political global order, and the impacts of nationalism. In the lab, he is focused on researching great power politics between the United States and China. The purpose of his research is to produce policy-focused solutions to inform the policy-making community on future conflicts and methods to mitigate such conflicts between the two states. Looking ahead, Courville hopes to work in the foreign policy and diplomatic field.

Naima Dawid

Naima Dawid

Third-Year International Relations Major at Webster University

Naima Dawid is a third-year international relations major at Webster University in St. Louis, USA. She is utilizing Clive Hamilton's "Silent Invasion: China's Influence in Australia" to write a research paper on a comparative analysis of the securitization of diaspora groups in China (Australia) and Russia (Ukraine and the Baltics).

Josh Hayes

Josh Hayes

Don Maland Researcher in International Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Josh Hayes is an undergraduate student studying in Political Science at Webster University in St. Louis, USA. His research focus is on stability in the Middle East, specifically in Israel and Palestine. With his policy-oriented research, he hopes to provide analysis for the underlying conflicts that have shaped the region for centuries as well as propose a framework for future pathways to peace and stability. Additionally, he is working on a research paper that explores the foreign policy of Israel and its impact on the broader region and global stakeholders.

Paul Hoeffken

Paul Hoeffken

Undergraduate Business Administration Student at Webster

Paul Hoeffken is a an undergraduate student studying Business Administration at Webster University, St. Louis, USA. While working at the lab he is focused on researching the Baltic-Russia energy security and interdependence. His current focus is the relationship that existed before the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Samantha Ramay

Samantha Ramay

Don Maland Researcher in International Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Samantha Ramay is an undergraduate student in history at Webster University in St. Louis, USA. In the Lab, she is researching Iran's conflictual relations with Israel and assessing policy scenarios. She is also researching the effects of populism on democracy and populist leaders' contributions to democratic backsliding.

Join the Research Lab

Dr. Dani Belo sits with two research assistants at a table with laptops, talking animatedly

Come Work With Us!

Dr. Dani Belo sits with two research assistants at a table with laptops, talking animatedly

Here's your chance to make a difference, working with Dani Belo, PhD, researching international security pursuing research streams like:

  • Unconventional Threats and Institutions
  • Identity and Security
  • Technology and Security
  • Economic Security
  • Environmental and Food Security

Research Assistant in International Security

On-Campus Student Employment, Department – History, Politics and International Relations

10 hours per week, January to May 2024.

Eligibility: Webster University undergraduate domestic students.

The Purpose of the Research Assistant Position

The purpose of the Research Assistant Position is to pursue a research project under the supervision of Dr. Dani Belo.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

The work of the Research Assistant will consist of two major tasks. The Research Assistant will pursue a research project examining how contemporary civil and security institutions in the transatlantic security community can be adapted to better deter hybrid and unconventional security threats. Students will conduct qualitative analysis of policy and/or peer review material from databases and open sources, as well as produce two policy papers on case studies.

By the end of the work contract, the Research Assistant will produce a 20-page policy-focused report of publishable quality on their findings based on peer-reviewed, scholarly policy material, and reports.

Furthermore, the Research Assistant will help in the formatting of submitted publications to be posted on the Global Policy Horizons website.

The Research Assistant will be given individual office space, where they will be expected to work throughout their employment and be available for meetings.

This position is an Experience with the Impact Center. Impact Center Experiences guarantee skill development and allow you to earn digital badges, which can help showcase your achievements and contribute to your future employability. In addition to applying for this job, contact the Impact Center at impactcenter@webster.edu to find out more about the Experiences.

Required/Preferred Qualifications

The position is open to all Webster Colleges, Departments and Campuses. As students will be required to work with databases of peer-reviewed publications, experience with library-based research is an asset. The student will have access to Webster University staff to assist with research. Qualified students must possess excellent writing, reading and analysis skills.

Physical Demands

Light office work.



Application Instructions

To apply, submit:

  1. a cover letter discussing your background and interest in the position, and relevant experience working with contemporary policy issues (either in classes and/or outside the University),
  2. a current resume or CV, and
  3. one letter of recommendation of no more than 300 words from an instructor, supervisor, advisor or mentor.


Applicants must submit documents through the Handshake system. Log in or create an account using your Webster email.

In your cover letter, please explain why you would like to participate in this opportunity and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Lack of experience will not count against you; we simply want to know what skills you have developed already and what skills you want to develop. Please submit your application through Handshake, Webster’s web-portal for job postings.

  • What is your major?
  • What excites you about this opportunity?
  • What do you hope to learn (skills, content, etc.)?
  • What do you hope to contribute? What experience, if any, do you have in this arena?

Request that your letter of reference touch on similar themes: your strengths, weaknesses and fit for the position. Please have your reference email their letter directly to Professor Dani Belo at danibelo@webster.edu

Review of applications will begin immediately and proceed until the position(s) is filled.

Entryway filled with dark wood, stained glass windows and table with chairs
Research assistant Josh Hayes sits at table, talking with fellow student
Room with pale green painted wood and floral wallpaper with red couches and chairs
Room with desks, chairs, bookshelves and world map on wall
Dani Belo sits with research assistant Samantha Ramay at lab cubicle desk
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