Oliver Kaplan

Associate Professor

  • Faculty

What I do

I study and teach on human rights and civilian protection issues, with a focus on civilian agency and how communities organize to protect themselves from wartime violence using nonviolent strategies.


Foreign Policy Analysis, Human Rights, International Security Studies, Peace Studies

Professional Biography

Oliver Kaplan is an Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of the book, “Resisting War: How Communities Protect Themselves” (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which examines how civilian communities organize to protect themselves from wartime violence. He was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and previously a postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University in the Woodrow Wilson School and at Stanford University. As part of his research Kaplan has conducted fieldwork in Colombia and the Philippines. His research has been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Smith Richardson Foundation and other grants and has been published in The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Conflict Management and Peace Science, Stability, The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, CNN, and National Interest. Kaplan received his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and completed his B.A. at UC San Diego.


  • Ph.D., Political Science, Stanford University, 2010
  • BA, Political Science—Public Policy, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), 2001

Professional Affiliations

  • American Political Science Association
  • International Studies Association
  • Latin America Studies Association


Kaplan's research examines how civilian communities organize to protect themselves from wartime violence. He has also published articles on the conflict-related effects of land reforms and ex-combatant reintegration and recidivism. As part of his research, Kaplan has conducted fieldwork in Colombia, Iraq, and the Philippines.

Areas of Research

Human Rights
civilian protection
Social Movements
state fragility

Key Projects

  • Cross-national Data Collection and Analysis of DDR Programs
  • Global Security for the 21st Century: Mitigating Violence and Fostering Resilience
  • Inclusive Approaches to Violence Prevention and Reduction
  • Taking Development (Im)blance Seriously: Using New Approaches to Measure and Model State Fragility


  • J. David Singer Book Award, International Studies Association, Midwest Region
  • Human Rights Section Best Book award--Finalist/Runner-up, International Studies Association
  • Short-listed/ finalist, Conflict Research Society (CRS) Book of the Year Prize
  • Diskin Dissertation Award (honorable mention), Latin American Studies Association
  • Term Member, Council on Foreign Relations