The Institute

What makes the world an unsafe place and how do we deal with this? What are the societal conditions for peace? And what kind of international order and security policy do we need in an increasingly interconnected world? Such questions are at the heart of our work. Our researchers look for answers by drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives that combine research expertise in both the social and natural sciences.


Peace and Security Research
The IFSH researches the conditions for peace and security in Germany, Europe and beyond. We examine challenges to the constitution and maintenance of peace, study the causes of crises and escalatory dynamics, and analyse foreign- and security policy processes at the national and international level. The IFSH conducts its research autonomously and independently. Established by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg we work closely with the University of Hamburg as well as with institutions in the Hamburg metropolitan area and academic institutions at home and abroad.

The Cold War, revolutionary upheaval in Central and Eastern Europe, terrorism and radicalisation: for the past five decades, we have been researching topics that shape our world.

The Institute was established in 1971 at the suggestion of then Federal President Gustav Heinemann. The Institute’s first director Wolf Graf von Baudissin laid the foundation for that which continues to define the Institute today: the combination of scientific research with current topics in security policy and policy consultation.  



Our focus
Our research applies a broad and comprehensive understanding of peace and security issues. The European peace project and Europe’s international role for peace and security are of particular importance to our work. We combine research on the core aspects of European peace and security frameworks with issues concerning societal peace and internal security. As a leading research institution, the IFSH advises and supports the work of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Arms control is another main focus of ours. Technological developments such as autonomous weapons and cyberattacks require constant reassessment of the challenges in this sphere. The repercussions of climate change on security policy, as well as the causes and effects of political and religious extremism, provide further focal points for our research.


How we work
Research. Teaching. Outreach. The IFSH is synonymous with excellent research, interdisciplinary teaching and practice-oriented knowledge transfer. Our research covers a broad spectrum of theoretical, methodological and empirical approaches. We work in cooperation with national and international partners on joint research projects and are supported by research funding organisations such as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
In cooperation with the University of Hamburg the IFSH offers a master programme in Peace and Security Studies. Our programme has an international focus and combines the fundamentals of peace and security science with practice-oriented education. Graduates of the programme have found successful employment at universities, in international organisations or in the media.
As a research institution with a consultancy mandate, we impart our expertise and research findings to politics and society. The IFSH advises the federal government, members of expert panels in the Bundestag and international organisations. We also pursue dialogue with the general public and regularly take part in public events and discussions.