Carnegie Mellon University

Sean Zeigler

Sean Zeigler

Lecturer, Institute for Politics and Strategy


Sean Zeigler is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C. and also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. His research interests include political violence, civil wars, alliance politics, terrorism, and civil military relations.  

From 2016 to 2017 he worked in the Office of the Secretary for Defense (Policy) as an advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy & Force Development. Prior to joining RAND in 2014, Sean was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sean has taught seminars on International and Civil Conflict, Political Violence & Terrorism, as well as International Political Economy.

Sean earned his PhD in political science from Duke University in 2013 and a Masters in economics from Johns Hopkins in 2007. Prior to graduate training, Sean was an officer in the United States Navy from 2000 to 2004. His undergraduate degrees are in mathematics and economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Selected Recent Publications:

“External Threat, Internal Rivalry, and Alliance Formation” with Emerson Niou. Journal of Politics, Vol. 81 (2): 571-584. 2019.

“From Ballot-Boxes to Barracks: Votes, Institutions and Post-Election Coups,” with Arturas Rozenas. Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 56 (2): 175-189. 2019.

“The U.S. Army and the Battle for Baghdad: Lessons Learned And Still to Be Learned” with D. Johnson, A. Schaefer, B. Allen, R. Cohen, G. Gentile, J. Hoobler, M. Schwille and J. Sollinger. RR-2249-A, Santa Monica: RAND. 2019.

“Terrorism Before and After 9/11 - A More Dangerous World?” with Meagan Smith. Research & Politics, Vol. 4 (4): 1-8. 2017.

“Limited Intervention: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Limited Stabilization, Limited Strike and Containment Operations,” with S. Watts, P. B. Johnston, J. Kavanagh, B. Frederick, K. Mueller, A. S. Cevallos, N. Chandler, M. Smith, A. Stephenson, and J. Thompson. RR 2037, Santa Monica: RAND. 2017.

“Terrorism, Dynamic Commitment Problems, and Military Conflict,” with Navin Bapat. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 60 (2): 337-351. 2016.

“Competitive Alliances and Civil War Recurrence,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 60 (1): 24-37. 2016.

“War and the Re-election Motive: Examining the Effect of Term Limits,” with Jan Pierskalla and Sandeep Mazamder. Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 58 (4): 658-684. 2014.