Research Agenda

Research Agenda


In the decades ahead, the greatest opportunities and challenges to U.S. overseas interests will lie in the Indo-Pacific region. With the continued rise of China, Russia’s growing assertiveness, increasing threats from North Korea, and major geopolitical changes taking place in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean the United States must be prepared to successfully navigate complex security dynamics across the region. U.S. understanding of Asia can be expanded and deepened through the different but complementary perspectives of the government and academic communities.

The NARP 2019 research agenda addresses these challenges head on. The agenda comprises four broad categories of proposed topics for research and writing. The topics below are illustrative of the pressing policy issues identified by NBR, NDU, and senior advisors to the NARP in their conversations with policymakers. Prospective candidates are not expected to address all topics and are free to propose additional topics within the four categories. However, successful candidates must demonstrate how their proposed topic is relevant to U.S. policymakers.

Geopolitics and grand strategy

Great-power competition in the 21st century
Role of military power, economic power, and “soft” power
Indo-Pacific countries’ responses to pressure to choose between China and the United States
Alliances and partnerships versus other models of security cooperation
Regional institutions and Indo-Pacific security architecture
—The role of formal and informal institutions on regional security dynamics
Spheres of Chinese and Russian influence
—Impact on U.S. interests
—Differing Russia and China tools and approaches
—Central Asia states’ mechanisms for maintaining sovereignty and opportunities for the United States
Cooperative/collaborative possibilities between the United States and China or Russia
Belt and Road Initiative case studies—successful and unsuccessful projects; best practices for recipient states
U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) Strategy
The return of Japan to great-power politics
The rise of India; its preferred regional and world order

International security and military modernization

China’s military modernization
North Korea’s security challenges
—Implications of a North Korea with nuclear weapons, yet with a restrained foreign policy/economic reforms for regional security
Maritime challenges (SCS/ECS maritime militias)
Militarization of space and/or cyberspace
—Implications for U.S.-China, U.S.-Russia relations
—Restraining competition/mechanisms for stability
Nuclear security/strategic stability
—China-India-Pakistan nuclear dynamics
—China-India border security
—Regional counter-proliferation and arms control initiatives
Technological innovation (artificial intelligence, quantum computing, revolution in military technology) and military power
Importance of Oceania
Potential for conventional arms races in the Indo-Pacific
Regional counter-terrorism cooperation

Domestic transitions and transformations

Regime changes in Southeast Asia and effects on relations with China
Domestic developments in Myanmar and its regional role
Domestic drivers of economic growth/sustainability
Democratic backsliding
Social/political/religious extremism and terrorism
Domestic political stability and risks of unrest/civil conflict (political violence & sectarian strife)

Nontraditional security issues

Implications of demographic trends and policies for economic growth, national power, and regional stability
Trade/investment as tools for national security
Impact of U.S.-China competition on regional economic integration and potential impact of “disentanglement” on regional production networks, U.S. allies, and partners
Regional perceptions of/strategies to influence global financial institutions
Energy security
—Energy security and great power/regional competition
—Role of nuclear energy, renewable forms of energy, or new technologies for energy security
Economic strategies and statecraft
—Economic competition, regional trade and investment patterns, regional production networks, and intra-regional trade and investment
—Tools for advancing economic interests
—Developing Indo-Pacific countries
Food/water security and its impact on regional competition or cooperation
Preparations for/mitigation of the impacts of climate change
Plans to address pandemic and endemic disease