Our Approach

Our strategic approach to creating policy change is the product of continuous, careful thought. At the core of all our work is an unending commitment to global cooperation and collective action.


Our vision is for all people to share and sustain a secure and enduring peace with freedom, justice, and dignity.

Our mission is to catalyze just and sustainable solutions to critical issues of peace and security by driving policy progress, advancing effective global governance, and advocating for collective action.

Since our founding more than 65 years ago, the Stanley Center has addressed global challenges that present a profound threat to human survival and well-being. But as the world has changed, so has the focus of our work and our strategic approach for deciding what goals to pursue. (To learn more about the evolution of our work from 1956 to the present, read about our story and explore a timeline of landmark Stanley Center moments.)

Today, we pursue impact in three main issue areas where policy progress is vital in order to realize our vision of a secure and just peace. Mass violence and atrocities fundamentally disrupt societies, creating spillover effects into neighboring countries and regions. The use of nuclear weapons—whether through accident, miscalculation, or deliberate act—could cause human harm on an unimaginable scale. Climate change, while directly threatening more people than perhaps any other global challenge, is also a threat multiplier.

Our focused work in each of these issue areas is motivated by our general theory of change. We believe we should concentrate our efforts not only where peace and human lives are at risk, but also where collective action and improved global governance are essential to policy progress—two aspects we know are central to creating tangible, lasting change.

We believe that change will not happen by accident but through strategic, thoughtful, sustained advocacy for policy progress. Because of this, we pursue strategies in each of our three issue areas that:

  • Provide a unique value add to addressing global challenges. We devote our time and resources where we believe we can make the most difference.
  • Champion collective action. We believe meaningful policy progress cannot happen without action by multiple actors. We bring diverse stakeholder perspectives to the table and ensure their voices are heard.
  • Elevate outside perspectives. We question assumptions and seek innovative approaches to today’s most pressing challenges. We take risks and learn from our mistakes.
  • Look to the frontier of our issue areas. We seek opportunities to explore less-conventional, more-nuanced topics.
  • Take an agile approach. As a private operating foundation, we have the freedom and flexibility to change course when it makes strategic sense, so we never miss a chance to create impact.
  • Encourage free and independent reporting. We believe rigorous and independent reporting is critical to strong global governance. We provide journalists with training and resources that help them build better informed societies and more-accountable institutions.
  • Consider the real-world context of global events and circumstances. In all our work, we meet communities and stakeholders where they are and work with them to chart a path forward.

How We Work

We apply our strategies through several core approaches.

Policy discussions

The strategic forums we convene around the world allow for collaboration among diverse stakeholders, the generation of new ideas, network building, and analysis of policy progress, among other things. We ensure every conversation incorporates a range of perspectives and voices.

Policy analysis

When we see the need for new analysis, we commission and disseminate recommendations and ideas from leading experts to further policy progress.

Driving policy action

When we put forth recommendations, they are often rooted in collective approaches and collaboration across and within sectors.

Journalism and media programming

We help journalists tell important and complex stories related to our three issue areas through programs and trainings held across the globe.