Ian Spears

Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Phone number: 
519 824 4120 ext.52182
MCKN 535
Education (doctoral degree): 
McGill University

Ian Spears (Ph.D., McGill 1998) is associate professor of political science.  His research interests focus on the obstacles to the resolution of violent conflict.  His research draws from experiences of violent conflict primarily in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.  His most recent research links the prospects of conflict resolution with political development and, specifically, to different types of state formation in these regions. 


Ian Spears is the author of Believers, Skeptics and Failure in Conflict Resolution (Palgrave, 2019) and Civil War in African States: The Search for Security (Lynne Rienner, 2010). He is co-editor, with Paul Kingston, of States Within States: Incipient Political Entities in the Post-Cold War Era (Palgrave 2004).  He has published numerous book chapters as well as articles in scholarly journals including Global Change, Peace & Security, The Journal of Democracy, Third World Quarterly, The Review of African Political Economy, African Security Review, The African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review, The International Journal, and Civil Wars.


He has made presentations to the Parliamentary Subcommittees on Human Rights: on Somalia (2017) and Ethiopia (2022).  He has lectured on the challenges of conflict and conflict resolution to community and student groups in South Africa, Israel, Canada, and on public broadcasts.


Ian is an award-winning teacher who teaches courses in International Relations (POLS*2200), Conflict and Conflict Resolution (POLS*3940), the Politics of Africa (POLS*3000) and Nationalism, State Building and Identity (POLS*4340).



Ian S. Spears, Believers, Skeptics and Failure in Conflict Resolution (New York: Palgrave, 2019):



Ian S. Spears, The Search for Security: Strategy and Civil War in African States (Boulder: Lynne Rienner/First Forum, 2010):



Paul Kingston and Ian S. Spears ed. States-Within-States: Incipient Political Entities in the Post-Cold War Era.  (New York: Palgrave: 2004):



Books Chapters and Journal Articles


Ian S. Spears, Patrick Wight, “Sudan and South Sudan: Accounting for Their Intractable Conflicts,” African Conflict & Peacebuilding Review, Volume 5, Number 2, (Fall 2015), pp. 143-158.

Ian S. Spears, “Africa’s Informal Power-Sharing and the Prospects for Peace,” Civil Wars, vol. 15, no. 1 (2013), pp. 37-53.


Ian S. Spears, “The Ethiopian Crisis and the Emergence of Ethiopia in a Changing State System,” in G. Bruce Strang ed. Collision of Empires: Italy’s Invasion of Ethiopia and Its International Impact (Ashgate, 2013), pp. 33-51.

(Link: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409430100).


Ian S. Spears, “The State System and Africa’s Permanent Instability,” Chapter 10 in James Hentz ed. Routledge Handbook of African Security (Routledge, 2013), pp. 113-121.

(Link: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415682145/)


Robert O. Matthews, Elisabeth King, and Ian S. Spears, eds., “A New Agenda for Peace,” International Journal, vol. 67, no. 2 (2012).


Ian S. Spears, “The False Promise of Peacebuilding,” International Journal (Spring 2012), pp. 295-311.


Ian S. Spears, “Human Security and the State in Africa,” African Security Review, vol. 16, no. 2 (June 2007), pp. 14-25.


Ian S. Spears, “When Good Governments Go Bad: Leadership and the Limits of Intervention in Africa,” International Journal (Spring 2007), pp. 344-361.


Ian S. Spears, Elisabeth King and Hevina Dashwood eds., “Durable Peace” Special edition of International Journal in honour of Robert O. Matthews vol. LX, issue 4 (Autumn 2005).


Ian S. Spears, “Anarchy and the Problems of Power Sharing in Africa,” in Sid Noel ed. From Power Sharing to Democracy: Post-conflict Institutions in Ethnically Divided Societies, ed. (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005).


Ian S. Spears, “Debating Secession and the Recognition of New States in Africa,” African Security Review, vol. 13, no. 2 (2004), pp. 35-48.


Taisier M. Ali, Robert O. Matthews and Ian S. Spears, “Failures in Peacebuilding: Sudan (1972-83) and Angola (1991-1998)” in Robert O. Matthews and Taisier M. Ali eds. Durable Peace: Challenges for Peacebuilding in Africa (Toronto: University of Toronto Press: 2004).


Ian S. Spears, “Reflections on Somaliland and Africa’s Territorial Order.” Review of African Political Economy, No. 95 (Winter 2003), pp. 89-98.


Ian S. Spears, “The Limits of Power-Sharing.” Journal of Democracy. Vol. 13. No. 3 (July 2002), pp.123-136.


Ian S. Spears, “Building Confidence Amidst Africa’s Civil Wars: The Opportunities and Constraints.” Civil Wars. Vol. 3.  No. 2. (Summer 2000), pp. 23-50.


Ian S. Spears, Confidence-Building in Africa. The Non-Proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Government of Canada (March 2000).


Ian S. Spears, “Understanding Inclusive Peace Agreements in Africa: The Problems of Sharing Power,” Third World Quarterly. Vol. 21. No. 1 (2000), pp. 105-118.


Ian S. Spears, “Angola’s Elusive Peace: The Collapse of the Lusaka Accord,” International Journal. Vol LIV. No. 4 (Autumn 1999), pp. 562-581.


Ian S. Spears, “Power-Sharing and Conflict Resolution in Africa: A Review of the Case Study Literature,” International Journal.  Vol. LIV. No. 3 (Summer 1999), pp. pp. 525-532.

Teaching and Learning Excellence Award, University of Guelph, 2013


Central Student Association (CSA) Teaching Award, 2012


University of Guelph Faculty Association, Distinguished Professor Award, College of Social and Applied Sciences, 2010.


Last Lecture, University of Guelph, 2010.