Nathan Black


Nathan Black is the John and Elaine French Environmental Fellow at Harvard University, supported by the Harvard University Center for the Environment and the Government Department within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Since August 2012, he has been working on two projects exploring how climate change might increase the risk of violent civil conflict in the developing world, and what governments might be able to do to manage these risks. The first project examines the response of the governments of Haiti, Mexico, and Uruguay to increased natural resource scarcity -- of the kind we are likely to see in the future due to climate change -- and the differential effects of those responses on the likelihood of political violence in each state. The second project looks at the relationship between increased renewable resource scarcity, non-renewable resource dependence, and conflict risk.

In June 2012, Nathan received his PhD in political science from MIT. His dissertation, now a book manuscript at the "revise and resubmit" stage at a major university press, introduced a novel explanation of why violent civil conflicts sometimes spread across borders. The dataset developed as part of this dissertation project has been published in the Journal of Peace Research.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, Nathan was a Predoctoral Fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His research has been funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation and the Tobin Project.

He earned a B.A. in History from Rice University in 2006, and worked in journalism and management consulting prior to academia.


Chapter 1: The Puzzle of Substate Conflict Contagion. Dissertation. (pdf).

Chapter 2: State Action Theory. Dissertation. (pdf)

Chapter 3: Explaining Actual Cases of Substate Conflict Contagion. Dissertation. (pdf)

Chapter 4: Testing the State Action Explanation in Central America, 1978-1996 (pdf)

Chapter 5: Testing the State Action Explanation in Southeast Asia, 1959-1980 (pdf)

Chapter 6: Conclusion, Policy Implications, and Next Steps (pdf)

Chapter 7: Dissertation Appendix (pdf)