Megan Shannon photoI am an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department of political science. My research explores how international institutions influence human and interstate security. International and civil violence occur because relevant political actors cannot commit to ceasing violent behavior. I show that international law and organizations help actors give up the use of violence and commit to peace agreements.

My recent work explores the causes and effects of personnel shortfalls in United Nations peacekeeping missions. It builds on my research with Lisa Hultman and Jacob Kathman which reveals the effectiveness of UN peacekeepers in mitigating violence in civil wars. We show that United Nations peacekeepers reduce battlefield violence (American Political Science Review 2014) and violence against civilians in civil wars (American Journal of Political Science 2013). UN peacekeeping is an "imperfect but indispensable instrument", something to bear in mind as the United States administration considers cutting funding to the UN peacekeeping budget. 

I received an undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota in 1999 and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Iowa in 2005. I joined the faculty of the University of Colorado in the fall of 2014.