Securing the future of world society

New Institute looks to understand the biggest  global threats and learn  the lessons of the past.

Iran blames West for talks failure. EU clinches deal on  2014 budget. PM to lead trade delegation to China.  Read the news headlines on any given day and a  common thread is clear. Our global community is more  interconnected than ever before – a world society without a  world government, leading to a raft of positive consequences  alongside tension and potentially disastrous conflict.

The need for a greater understanding of what  living in this global city means for us all  prompted the launch of the University’s  Institute for Conflict, Cooperation  and Security (ICCS) in 2012,  with the purpose of developing  a multidisciplinary approach  to the study of conflict and  security in the modern world.


'The imperative for  international cooperation has  never been greater,’ explains  Professor of International  Relations Nick Wheeler,  Director of the ICCS. ‘There is a  need for political, economic and  social structures to manage global  security issues such as nuclear  proliferation, climate change, and  population growth. Creating a humane global  policy without it leading to a situation where the threat or  use of violence is an ever-present factor is the challenge  that informs the Institute’s work.’ 

Within its four themes – Mediation and Conflict  Management; Cooperation and Trust-building; Intervention  and State-building; and Science and Global Security – the  ICCS draws in research from across the University, including  the International Development Department; the School of  Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences; and the  Centre for War Studies among others. Professor Wheeler  explains: ‘The Institute is bringing together existing strengths  at Birmingham and this is what makes our work special.This interdisciplinary approach and focus on the challenge  of cooperation is unique.’

One project already under way is investigating the  implications of using remotely piloted aircraft – better known  as drones – in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The work includes a Birmingham Policy Commission  (bringing leading figures from the  public, private and third sectors  together with Birmingham  academics) chaired by Professor  Sir David Omand, the UK’s  former Security and Intelligence  Co-ordinator and Director of  Government Communications  Headquarters (GCHQ).

‘This research, investigating how  conflicting perceptions of drone use  is shaping the propensities for conflict  and cooperation between and within  states, shows we are right on the cutting edge  of global security issues,’ says Professor Wheeler. 'This is very important. We are committed to producing  world-leading research, but our work must also speak  to practitioners from the Foreign Office and Ministry of  Defence to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).’  As well as internationally relevant research, the Institute  also has an evolving programme of teaching and training.  ICCS Manager Catherine Edwards explains: ‘The existing  toolkit is underdeveloped because it doesn’t speak to the  challenges at a global level, which is where our training  differs. Our programme will help us attract the best and  brightest young researchers, as well as doctoral researchers,  Birmingham Fellows, and more established scholars who  can add experience and depth of intellectual engagement.’ 

With a remit focused on real impact the Institute has a  clear ambition: to put the University on the map for anyone  addressing the challenge of international cooperation. 

Opportunities at the ICCS include:

Postgraduate study: MSc in Global  Cooperation and Security; PhD programme  (coming soon), MOOC (Massive Open Online  Course) in Cooperation (coming soon) 

Training: Five-day intensive programme; bespoke  training programme (up to ten weeks) on Diplomacy,  Negotiation and Mediation; short-term, voluntary  work placements within the ICCS; regular  seminar series (also available as podcasts)

Sharing: Alumni can contribute to the  regular ICCS Brief or choose to  write posts for the blog