Michael Don Ward (born August 24, 1948) is an American political scientist and academic. He is professor emeritus of political science at Duke University, an affiliate of the Duke Network Analysis Center, and the principal investigator at Ward Lab, a website that creates conflict predictions using Bayesian modeling and network analysis.[1][2]


Ward received a B. A. (Hons) from Indiana University in 1970 where he studied with Dina A. Zinnes and John Gillespie. He served with the 287th Military Police (Sep) in the Berlin Brigade from 1970 to 1972. Subsequently, he earned a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University in 1977 after which he was the Gordon Scott Fulcher Research Fellow where he worked with Harold Guetzkow from 1977 to 1979. He then joined the Science Center Berlin, working with Karl Wolfgang Deutsch and others for two years building a global political model. After leaving the Science Center, he was appointed Associate Professor of political science at the University of Colorado in 1981, where he was Director of the Center for International Relations. He later moved to the University of Washington in 1997. He was a founding member of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, and served on its executive board for a decade. In 2009, he joined the faculty of Duke University, and established wardlab.[3]

Academic work and receptionEdit

Ward is the author of two books on statistical methods and one book on world geography, as well as editor or co-editor of three books on political science and political geography.[3]

Ward is the principal investigator at Ward Lab, a research lab of graduate and undergraduate students at Duke. It is also a website that creates conflict predictions using Bayesian modeling and network analysis.[2] The lab also runs Predictive Heuristics, one of the foremost blogs on global political forecasting and conflict forecasting.[4]

Ward's article "The perils of policy by p-value", along with Brian D. Greenhill and Kristin M. Bakke,[5] was included by political scientist Jay Ulfelder in his list of suggested readings for political forecasters.[6] Phil Schrodt commented that this work is "in terms of political prediction using formal models, easily the most important work in the past quarter century."[7]

Ward is also known for having a relatively optimistic outlook about the ability to forecast potential conflicts and crises, putting him at odds with Jay Ulfelder, as expressed in an article by Ulfelder for Foreign Policy and a response by Ward and Metternich in the same magazine.[8][9] Ulfelder later clarified his position and indicated that the disagreement was less deep than it seemed.[10] A paper co-authored by Ward and others at Ward Lab[11] received a mixed review from Ulfelder, who agreed with the author's goals and their assessment of the importance of the scientific value and policy relevance of forecasting, but considered the author's attempt in the paper to be overly ambitious.[12]


  1. ^ Ward, Michael D. "Home". Archived from the original on September 13, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Members". Ward Lab. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Curriculum Vitae for Michael D. Ward" (PDF). August 13, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 1, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  4. ^ "Predictive Heuristics". Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  5. ^ Ward, Michael D.; Greenhill, Brian D.; Bakke, Kristin M. (March 19, 2010). "The perils of policy by p-value: Predicting civil conflicts". Journal of Peace Research. 47 (4): 363–375. doi:10.1177/0022343309356491.
  6. ^ Ulfelder, Jay (March 13, 2013). "Some Suggested Readings for Political Forecasters". Dart-Throwing Chimp. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  7. ^ "asecondmouse". asecondmouse. Retrieved 2015-12-21.
  8. ^ Ulfelder, Jay (November 8, 2012). "Why the World Can't Have a Nate Silver. The quants are riding high after Team Data crushed Team Gut in the U.S. election forecasts. But predicting the Electoral College vote is child's play next to some of these hard targets". Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  9. ^ Ward, Michael D.; Metternich, Nils (November 16, 2012). "Predicting the Future Is Easier Than It Looks. Nate Silver was just the beginning. Some of the same statistical techniques used by America's forecaster-in-chief are about to revolutionize world politics". Foreign Policy. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  10. ^ Ulfelder, Jay (November 9, 2012). "It's Not Just The Math". Dart-Throwing Chimp. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  11. ^ Ward, Michael D.; Metternich, Nils; Dorff, C.; Gallop, M.; Hollenbach, F. M.; Schultz, A.; Weschle, S. "Learning from the past and stepping into the future: The next generation of crisis prediction". International Studies Review. 15 (4).
  12. ^ Ulfelder, Jay (December 6, 2012). "Forecasting Round-Up No. 3". Dart-Throwing Chimp. Retrieved June 24, 2014.

External linksEdit