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Why “Transdisciplinary Security Studies”?

The post-Cold War, post-9/11 world faces a greater multiplicity of increasingly interdependent, globalized and complex threats to human security on individual, national and international scales. These threats have now become global crises, in that 1) their impact is now felt and experienced across the world even if their origins may have been local or regional, and 2) their impact has reached critical points in terms of their destruction of human and natural life, and is increasingly likely to pass critical points-of-no-return whose import is unknown.

Global crises now encompass almost every sphere of human activity, including social, political, economic, cultural, ethical and psychological dimensions. Scientists and scholars agree that as these crises escalate, they are increasingly likely to aggravate one another over the coming years and decades. Expert projections suggest that the problems of climate change, hydro-carbon energy depletion, water and resource scarcity, declining food production, inter and intra-state conflict, escalating impoverishment and inequalities, growing instabilities in the global economy, social malaise and declines in well-being, the rise of political extremism and normalization of political violence, do not only follow their own individual developmental trajectories, but are inherently interconnected and feedback into each other in ways that are already little understood and increasingly difficult to predict on the basis of conventional modelling techniques in the social and physical sciences.

At worst, the scale of these crises is such that they threaten the long-term viability of modern industrial civilization. As the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported conservatively in 2007, at current rates of global warming the Earth will be uninhabitable by the end of this century.  These circumstances represent an unprecedented and dangerous new security landscape requiring concerted innovative strategies based on fresh thinking, original analysis, and dynamic research methodologies capable of moving beyond conventional paradigms.

The IPRD provides a globally unique, unrivalled and truly independent forum for this endeavour, bringing together academics, scientists and researchers working at the cutting-edge of their fields under a single transdisciplinary research agenda that aims above all to develop practical solution-based responses to protect human security into the 21st century.

Based on the expertise of its founding members and academic advisors, the IPRD argues that the complex interrelations between multiple social and global crises on differential spatial scales can only be grasped by interrogating their relationship not only to the failures of specific national and international policies, but further to the structure of the global political economy and the prevalence of neoliberal ideology and values, in the context of which policy is formulated. Seemingly diverse and tangentially related global crises – such as the threat of international terrorism, climate change, resource depletion, mental illness and global financial instability – are in fact intimately related processes. The failure to understand this relationship is a function of a wider failure to integrate human knowledge across the social and physical sciences into a holistic comprehension of the human condition, both philosophically and sociologically.

Aims & Objectives

To promote equality, sustainability and security, the IPRD works to:

1) Investigate the origins and impact of social and global crises as threats to individual, national and international security, especially in terms of their systemic interrelationships and convergence;

2) Monitor in detail the pace, direction, probable and plausible developmental trajectories of social and global crises over the next century;

3) Examine the structure, ideology and values of the global political economy and the manner in which they are related to these social and global crises;

4) Explore the ideological dynamics of social and global crises by conducting comparative analysis of the role of social, economic, political and religious ideas in accelerating or inhibiting them, with respect to differential regional and international contexts;

5) Facilitate constructive debate and dialogue on these issues by networking with expertise across disciplines and providing an open forum to activists and researchers to engage in critical interaction with the research process;

6) Develop a technologically, ecologically, inter-communally viable and sustainable vision for human social organization that will protect human security into the 21st century, safeguarding human civil, social and economic rights on a world scale in a harmonious relationship with the natural environment.

IPRD Research Products

The Institute hosts two research centres – the Centre for Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (CISS) and the Centre for Philosophical and Ideological Studies (CPIS).

Each research centre is home to a series of IPRD Research Programmes. These are thematically-focused clusters of reports and briefings that focus on specific subjects. IPRD research products are selected and commissioned to the highest standards of scholarship with the advice and assistance of the IPRD’s trandisciplinary network of academic advisors.

IPRD publications consist of Reports and Briefings:

1) Reports provide detailed and comprehensive analysis based on original research and extensive documentation, and are subject to rigorous peer-review, facilitated in-house by the IPRD Board of Advisors, as well as through external institutions if possible;

2) Briefings are concise and tightly argued overviews, summarising important evidence and fact, and focusing on a particular issue, event, or question, authored by experts. These are selected or commissioned in consultation with the IPRD’s academic advisors and thereby screened by IPRD staff for accuracy and precision in argument.

The IPRD also provides a regular news-monitoring service designed to provide the best, most useful and relevant news updates on social and global crises. News updates draw the most insightful stories from across the worldwide web on foreign policy, social cohesion, the environment, energy issues, the economy, and other diverse areas.

Centre for Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (CISS)

The CISS encompasses research in a wide variety of social sciences, predominantly international relations; political science; security studies; conflict analysis; environmental studies; economics; development studies; history; sociology. Research is designed to bridge the gap between these and other different disciplines through a focus on strong empirical and historical research, to explore the social, political, and economic macro-structural dynamic of global crises. The end-goal is to develop viable practical solutions, both for grassroots communities as well as at the level of national and international policy reforms.

Research Programmes:

The relationship between the rise of international terrorism, the militarization of western societies, and the escalation of global ecological, economic and energy crises.

  • Democracy with Guns: Human Rights and the War on Terror
  • Our Civilizational Crisis
  • Western Conflict Dependence
  • The Globalization of Insecurity
  • A Hidden History: Covert Operations and Military-Intelligence Policy Post-World War II
  • The Energy Politics of the War on Terror
  • The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Causes, Consequences, and the Impending Abyss

Centre for Philosophical and Ideological Studies (CPIS)

The CPIS encompasses research on the role of ideas, values and beliefs in the structures of the global political economy, the instrumental role of human agency at different spatial and institutional scales, and the manner in which global crises are accelerating in the context of regressive ways of constructing the social world. Research aims to combine social theory with the systematic study of epistemology, philosophy, ideology, religion, theology, culture, literature, ethics and values. The end-goal is to develop a body of work that can contribute to not only grasping the ideational causes of global crises, but also the elaboration of a positive, alternative vision for better societies that are more inclusive, equal, diverse, sustainable and safe.

Research Programmes:

Exploring the ideological assumptions and value system that underlies the way western institutions of power govern the international system, and their linkage to policies that are destructive of social life.

  • Another World is Possible: Toward a New Vision of Life and Society
  • The Hidden Value-System of Capital Accumulation