Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Spotlight On: Molly Melin

Molly Melin, Associate Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, is the author of The Building and Breaking of Peace: Corporate Activities in Civil War Prevention and Resolution by Oxford University Press.

 Molly Melin, PhD, associate professor and Graduate Program Director of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, recently published The Building and Breaking of Peace: Corporate Activities in Civil War Prevention and Resolution (Oxford University Press, 2021). Using original data and in-depth case analyses of corporate actions and outcomes in Colombia, Northern Ireland, and Tunisia, the book examines corporations’ conflicting roles in building and preventing peace.

 

Melin’s research and teaching interests are in the areas of international relations and foreign policy decision-making, with an emphasis on international conflict and conflict management. Her current research focuses on third-party interventions in ongoing international conflicts, the role of the private sector in conflict prevention, and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping.

 

Additionally, Melin regularly teaches classes on international conflict processes, business and world politics, and conflict management, as well as an introductory International Relations course. She runs short study-abroad courses to Colombia and Northern Ireland to teach students about civil war and peace building.

 

“Among the enduring values of a Jesuit education is to foster deeper understanding to advance justice, peace, and reconciliation,” says Peter J. Schraeder, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago. “Dr. Melin’s scholarship and teaching, most notably her recent book, offers a cutting-edge approach to applying these values, in that she tests peace and conflict theory related to a very unique actor in international relations – multinational corporations – by undertaking statistical analysis of a global data set and impressive field research on actual corporate practices in three countries.”

 

In The Building and Breaking of Peace, Melin examines the conflicting roles corporations can play in both building peace and obstructing it. Corporations engage in peacebuilding when there is a gap in the state's capacity to enforce laws, Melin finds, but they also weigh the opportunity costs of peacebuilding and respond to the need for action when conditions enable them to do so.

 

Private corporations are uniquely positioned to raise the cost of violence, and in this way can proactively increase the years of peace in a country. At the same time, an active private sector can make it harder for countries with ongoing conflict to reach an agreement, because they can often act as an additional veto player in the bargaining process.

 

Melin includes original cross-national data of peacebuilding efforts by firms in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa from 2000 to 2018, and in-depth case studies of corporate actions and outcomes in Colombia, Northern Ireland, and Tunisia. She illustrates how corporations help prevent violence but not resolve it. In examining corporate motives for peacebuilding and the implications of their activities for preventing violence and conflict resolution, the book builds a more holistic picture of processes of peace and conflict.

 

Melin will present the findings virtually to the Loyola community through Loyola’s Baumhart Center November 5.