Picture of Michael M. Lawrence

Michael Lawrence’s research focuses on the emergence of non-state patterns of governance in the midst of conflict and insecurity. Where the ‘security-development nexus’ of the last decade links security to development and underdevelopment to insecurity, his work focuses on the generation of unconventional development trajectories amidst chronic insecurity, and the development of non-state security systems in purportedly ‘underdeveloped’ areas. In this vein, his Master’s Research Project utilized concepts from the complexity science to examine the drug war in Mexico as a struggle between the state and the drug trade as rival systems of resource extraction competing to impose their favored patterns of social order. Michael’s planned PhD research will extend this analysis to consider the adaptations of Central American security institutions as Mexico’s drug war surges southward. Ultimately, his work aspires to better operationalize a ‘security as resilience’ paradigm.

Michael’s professional experience includes an internship with the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines and Mines Action Canada in Manizales, Colombia; designing and co-instructing an interdisciplinary graduate seminar on Human Security and Culture at the University of Toronto; working as a researcher in the Global Security Program of the Centre for International Governance Innovation; conducting fieldwork in Sierra Leone for the project ‘Vertical Integration in UN Peacebuilding’; and co-teaching a seminar in Berlin on the intersection of art, history and politics in the city’s twentieth century. He is an Associate at the Security Governance Group, where he is working on the project ‘Non-State Security Providers and Political Formation in Conflict-Affected Societies,’ and he is a Student Member of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation where he is researching the psychology of dehumanization.

Academic / Professional Awards

  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship Recipient, 2013-2014
  • DND Security and Defence Forum Internship Scholarship, 2011-2012
Conflict and Security
  • Master of Arts in Global Governance, University of Waterloo, 2011
  • Honours Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Toronto, 2008


  • Michael Lawrence and Timothy Donais. 2013. Vertical Integration in UN Peacebuilding: A Case Study of Sierra Leone,. presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention 6 April 2013 San Francisco.
  • Michael Lawrence. 2012. https://www.cigionline.org/publications/2012/5/towards-non-state-security-sector-reform-strategy target=_blank. Towards a Non-State Security Sector Reform Strategy SSR Issue Paper no 8 Waterloo: Centre for International Governance Innovation May 2012.
  • Michael Lawrence. 2012. https://wici.ca/resources/occasional-papers/ target=_blank. WICI Occasional Paper no 1 Waterloo: Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation January.
  • Geoff Burt and Michael Lawrence. 2011. https://www.ata-sec.org/homepage-main-news/199-atlantic-voices-launches target=_blank>Can NATO Leave Behind a Literate Afghan Police Force?.
  • Mark Sedra, Geoff Burt and Michael Lawrence. 2011. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/the-afghan-exit-strategy-is-fraught-with-peril/article4238618/ target=_blank>The Afghanistan Exit Strategy is Fraught with Peril,.

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2017-10-07T11:22:51-04:00PhD Students|