Curtis Bell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor International Programs
Curtis Bell faculty photo


Curtis Bell is an associate professor of maritime security and governance and the co-director of the Maritime Security and Governance Staff Course. Professor Bell is also the founder of Stable Seas (, a transnational, nongovernmental organization that produces innovative maritime-security research and collaborates with global partners to improve maritime governance. He has worked on five continents and has presented to audiences including the African Union, International Maritime Organization, and United Nations. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, and several leading academic journals.

Areas of Expertise

  • Africa
  • Asymmetrical Warfare
  • Civil War
  • Foreign Policy
  • International Relations
  • Irregular Warfare
  • Maritime Strategy
  • Piracy
  • Security Cooperation
  • Terrorism

Professional Highlights


Associate Professor of Maritime Security and Governance

International Programs Department, U.S. Naval War College

Creator and Director, Stable Seas

Designed, created, and scaled a new and impactful global maritime security research organization that advised the United Nations, African Union, International Maritime Organization, and others.

Associate Director of Research, One Earth Future

Led a non-governmental political conflict research team on a wide variety of impactful research projects.

Research Associate, One Earth Future

Designed and built an innovative political event forecasting system that has appeared on the cover of The Economist, in the New York Times, and elsewhere.

Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Tennessee

Instructed courses ranging from large undergraduate surveys to doctoral seminars on topics including civil war, international relations theory, and ethnic conflict.

Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Colorado at Boulder

Specializations in International Relations, Comparative Political Systems, and Research Methods


Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, Political Science

M.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, Political Science

B.A. (with honors), Willamette University, Politics

C.V. or Resume

Research Contributions and Publications

“Oil Discoveries, Civil War, and Preventive State Repression”
Journal of Peace Research, Forthcoming
Authored with Peter Carey (University of California, Merced), Emily Ritter (Vanderbilt University), and Scott Wolford (University of Texas).

“ViEWS 2020: Revising and Evaluating the ViEWS Political Violence Early Warning System”
Journal of Peace Research, Forthcoming

Stable Seas: The Caribbean
Stable Seas, One Earth Future, Forthcoming
Authored with Ian Ralby (I.R. Consilium) and Laura Burroughs and Lydelle Joubert (both of Stable Seas).

Pirates of the Gulf of Guinea: A Cost Analysis for Coastal States
Stables Seas, 2021
Lead Author. Authored with Jay Benson, Jon Huggins, Lydelle Joubert, Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, and Tarila Marclint Ebiede.

Violence at Sea: How Terrorists, Insurgents, and Other Extremists Exploit the Maritime Domain
Stable Seas, One Earth Future, 2020
Authored with Christopher Faulkner (University of Central Florida) and Meghan Curran, Tyler Lycan, Michael Van Ginkel, and Jay Benson (all of Stable Seas).

Stable Seas: The Gulf of Guinea
Stable Seas, One Earth Future, 2020
Managed the Project, Authored by Team of Direct Reports.

Stable Seas: The Bay of Bengal
Stable Seas, One Earth Future, 2020
Managed the Project, Authored by Team of Direct Reports.

Stable Seas Maritime Security Index
Stable Seas, One Earth Future, 2018-2020
Lead Author and Project Creator. Codebook Authored with Sarah Glaser.

Soft Targets and Black Markets: Terrorist Activities in the Maritime Domain
Stable Seas, One Earth Future, 2019
Managed the Project, Authored by Meghan Curran (Direct Report).

Stable Seas: Sulu and Celebes Seas
Stable Seas, One Earth Future, 2019
Authored with Alexandra Amling, Asyura Salleh, Jay Benson, and Sean Duncan (all of Stable Seas).

“The Rise Predicts the Fall: How the Method of Leader Entry Predicts the Method of Leader Removal in Dictatorships”
International Studies Quarterly, 2018
Authored with Jun Koga Sudduth (University of Strathclyde).

“Minority Languages in Dictatorships: A New Measure of Group Recognition”
Political Science Research and Methods, 2018
Authored with Amy Liu (University of Texas) and Jennifer Gandhi (Emory University).

“Conditional Relationships Between Drought and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa”
Foreign Policy Analysis, 2018
Authored with Patrick W. Keys (Colorado State University).

“Can the Red Queen Help? A New Approach to Explaining the Formation of Interest Groups in the USA”
Interest Groups & Advocacy, 2018
Authored with Anthony J. Nownes (University of Tennessee).

“Coup d’Etat and Democracy”
Comparative Political Studies, 2016

“The Causes and Outcomes of Coups During Civil Wars”
Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2015
Authored with Jun Koga Sudduth (University of Strathclyde).

“Oil Discoveries, Shifting Power, and Civil Conflict”
International Studies Quarterly, 2015
Authored with Scott Wolford (University of Texas).

“Buying Support and Buying Time: The Effect of Regime Consolidation on Public Goods Provision”
International Studies Quarterly, 2011

External Memberships and Associations

Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity, Marine Corps University
Non-Resident Fellow

Security Institute for Security and Governance in Africa (SIGLA), Stellenbosch University
Research Fellow

Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime
Expert & Network Member

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