Joanna Spear

Headshot of Joanna Spear

Joanna Spear

Research Professor of International Affairs

Full-time Faculty


Email: Joanna Spear
Office Phone: 202-994-1088
Fax: 202-994-7761
1957 E St. NW, Office #605J Washington, D.C. 20052

Dr. Spear is a Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of the FAO Regional Skill Sustainment Initiative. She was previously Director of the Elliott School’s Security Policy Studies Program and the Founding Director of the National Security Studies Program. Prior to joining GW, she was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.

Dr. Spear has held fellowships at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, the Royal United Services Institute, the Institute for Defence and Security Analyses, New Delhi and was a visiting scholar at Chatham House.

Dr. Spear has published on a variety of subjects in international security, including arms control, U.S. foreign policy making, post-conflict peace building and arms exports.  Her work can be found in Arms Control Today, Contemporary Security Policy, Security Studies, Strategic Analysis, Review of International Studies and World Politics Review.

She has two strands of current research. First, she is investigating the history of two British armament firms, Armstrongs and Vickers, their relationships with the British state and their independent foreign policies towards international customers. Second, she is beginning a reevaluation of the international responses to post-Cold War civil wars, considering the impact of scholarship on post conflict peace building and the issues that have impacted the success of those international peace building efforts.

Dr. Spear is a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. She sits on the editorial boards of the RUSI Journal and the National Defense University’s PRISM journal of complex operations.

History of the international arms trade, U.S. and UK arms export controls, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), security and development.

Books and Monographs:

Armstrongs and Vickers: Selling Arms at Home and Abroad, 1855-1955 Currently under review.

With Paul D. Williams, Security and Development in Global Politics: A Critical Comparison Georgetown University Press, 2012. 

Market Forces: The Political Economy of Private Military Companies, FAFO, Oslo, 2006.

The Spread of Reconnaissance Satellites and their Potential Implications for Long-Range United States National Security, for Project 2015: Strategic Vision, United States’ Joint Chiefs, 1995.

Carter and Arms Sales: Implementing the Carter Administration's Arms Transfer Restraint Policy, Macmillan, 1995.

With Martin J. Smith, The Changing Labour Party, Routledge, 1992, Reissued in 2019.


Chapters in Edited Books:

"United States’ Export Control Policies and Practices" in Laurence Lustgarden (ed.), International Arms Export Control Policies, Hart Publishers 2020, in press.

"Counterinsurgency" in Paul D. Williams (ed.) Security Studies: An Introduction, revised Third Edition, Routledge, 2018.

"Organizational Survival: NATO as a Pragmatic Functionalist" in Ian Shapiro and Adam Tooze (eds.), Basic Documents in World Politics: The NATO Charter, Yale University Press, 2018.

"The Militarization of United States Foreign Aid" in Stephen Brown and Joern Graevingholt (eds.), The Securitization of Aid, Palgave Macmillan, 2015.


Ph.D., University of Southampton (UK)