Seth D. Kaplan


Seth D Kaplan Photo


Professorial Lecturer, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University

Senior Adviser, Institute for Integrated Transitions

Senior Consultant, World Bank and USAID




Dr. Seth Kaplan is a leading expert on fragile states, political transitions, conflict prevention, political risk assessment, political economic analysis, state building, governance, and human rights. He is a Professorial Lecturer in the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, Senior Adviser for the Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT), and consultant to multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, United Nations, U.S. State Department, USAID, African Development Bank, and OECD as well as bilateral donors, developing country governments, think tanks, and NGOs.

He is the co-author of the United Nations – World Bank flagship report Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict (Winter 2017-18) and USAID’s Fragility Assessment Framework (Fall 2017). He was the lead author, coordinator, and managing editor of both an eight country comparative study for the United States Institute of Peace on social contract formation in fragile states and a 100-page flagship publication for IFIT articulating a new approach to regime transitions in post-conflict and post-authoritarian countries. Dr. Kaplan is the author of two books on fragile states—Fixing Fragile States: A New Paradigm for Development (Praeger Security International, 2008); and Betrayed: Promoting Inclusive Development in Fragile States (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)—and one book on human rights and culture, Human Rights in Thick and Thin Societies: The Universal Declaration and Bridging the Gap (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Dr. Kaplan has published widely on development issues in publications such as The Washington Quarterly, The American Interest, Orbis, Policy Review, National Affairs, Journal of Democracy, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He writes regularly for and manages the influential blog Fragile States Forum, with 10,000 unique visitors monthly. He has spoken on development issues in major forums around the world, including the Global Economic Symposium (GES) in Kiel, the World Bank in Washington, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, the Overseas Development Institute in London, and the Aga Khan Foundation in Ottawa. He serves on an advisory committee rethinking Israel’s role in the development field, as well as on the Board of Directors of three nongovernmental organizations in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Kaplan has 20 years on-the-ground experience managing projects in developing countries, and he has worked for several large multinationals, including Procter & Gamble, Compaq Computers, and Komatsu. During his seven years in Shanghai, Dr. Kaplan founded four companies. He has a PhD from the University of Utrecht and a Master in Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Palmer Scholar. In the last ten years, Dr. Kaplan has visited over 70 countries and done research in countries as disparate as Somalia, Yemen, Bolivia, Pakistan, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Syria. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.

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