Policy Briefs


Ford Institute Publication Series

The primary purpose of this publication series is to offer a tiered outlet in order to incentivize informed engagement on issues of human security by faculty, students and practitioners at the various levels and stages in research development. This series is intended to be distinct from the standard academic journals by having a more applied, policy-driven focus. In addition to stimulating informed engagement, the Ford Institute would like to provide opportunities for students to develop crucial professional skills in analysis, writing and explication. Finally, it is hoped that readily available printed, peer-reviewed publications will increase the job prospects of graduating students. Productive ideas and research premises will be fielded and encouraged by the series editor and the Director.


Policy Briefs

“Policy Briefs” are intended for educational purposes thus addressing a wide audience, including students, practitioners, donors, laypersons and politicians. The objective is to provide a short, concise summary of a policy issue, highlighting why it is important, why it is controversial or unresolved, and what needs to happen in order to move the policy dialogue forward. Unlike other traditional policy briefs, the objective is not to provide specific policy recommendations, but rather to shed light onto a policy issue. Students whose Policy Briefs are chosen for publication will be entered into an annual competition, for which a monetary reward will be given.



  1. The brief should open with a summary of the particular policy issue in question.
  2. The subsequent sections should be headed by a section heading in the form of a question.
  3. A current real world example should be presented as a separate section from the rest of the document.



  1. The policy brief page range should be 5-6 double spaced pages (approximately 1500-1700 words)
  2. The brief should provide a comprehensive, concise explication of a contemporary issue related to human security.
  3. The brief should be written in plain language that non-specialists can understand.
  4. The brief should have an applied focus largely absent of theoretical discussions and jargon.
  5. The brief should provide a very concise overview of the necessary background information.
  6. The brief should weigh the pros and cons or the contending arguments around the policy issue.
  7. The brief should identify the holes in the debate or questions that need to be addressed that will move the dialogue forward.
  8. A contemporary well-known context should be presented that provides an example of the described characteristics of the policy in question.


The following questions should be answered throughout the brief:

  1. What is the policy issue?
  2. What is the necessary background required to understand the issue?
  3. What is the debate? (Depending on the issue in question, this can take any of the following forms:)
    1. What are the contending arguments?
    2. What are the different policy options that have been available and the pros and cons of these different options?
  4. Why is it controversial or complicated?
  5. What needs to happen to move the dialogue forward?


All submissions will be peer reviewed by a committee of students and faculty members. Authors will be involved throughout the editing process.


Submissions and questions can be directed to Ford Institute at fihs@pitt.edu


Ford Institute for Human Security
3930 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260