About Us


Nobuhiro Ihara

My name is Nobuhiro Ihara. I started my academic career at Kobe University from July 2011 as a research associate and was later employed at the same institution as an assistant professor. I currently teach two courses in English and instruct students on academic presentation skills at the Public Communication Centre (PCC), where I strive to help students gain the skills necessary to pursue their own research goals.

I earned my Ph.D. at the School of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Melbourne in 2010. My doctoral dissertation examines the history of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with a particular focus on its early formative years. Before attending the University of Melbourne, I received a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Political science from Kobe University in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

The spring course I teach in the PCC, “The History of Regional Integration,” is designed to provide students with a basic historical awareness of international cooperation in Southeast Asia during the Cold War period. It mainly examines the background and processes behind the establishment and development of ASEAN. The autumn course, “Politics in East Asia” offers an introduction to international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, with an emphasis on the post-Cold War period. Both courses examine the basic principles and norms of regional cooperation under ASEAN that have characterized today’s regional cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. In these courses, students have group discussions and make presentations in English. In doing so, they are given the opportunity to improve their academic output alongside their linguistic ability.

I am looking forward to meeting you in person here at Kobe University.

Pickering, Steve David


Steve Pickering has taught International Relations at the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, and the Department of Government, University of Essex.


Steve's research uses geographic information systems (GIS) to look at a variety of social phenomena. Current projects include:

  • The relationship between climate change an riots/ protests in Africa: collaborative research with Ismene Gizelis (Essex) and Henrik Urdal (PRIO).

  • Municipality mergers and the distribution of public goods in Japan: collaborative research with Seiki Tanaka (Syracuse) and Kyohei Yamada (Yale).

  • Rugged terrain and war - how does terrain relate to conflict? This research argues that it is a mistake to use the word "mountain" in conflict. research, as the term is surprisingly loaded. Additionally, the majority of current research uses the state as its unit of analysis. As such, this research a) develops a new method for quantifying the ruggedness of terrain, with a new linear scale, thus breaking the mountain dichotomy; b) disaggregates from the state. In so doing, it finds that territorial conflicts are strongly related to the ruggedness of terrain.

  • Map and war - maps also present numerous issues which must be addressed by conflict researchers. As part of a wider research project, Steve has created digital maps for every state and every year between 1946 - 2004.

  • Borders and war - the nature of borders is fascinating, yet with the spread of Westphalia (facilitated, in part by the spread of the Westphalian map), an impression has been created that all political borders are equal. This is far from the case. Numerous metaphysical understandings of borders exist, all of which have real-world, political analogues.

  • Distance and war - the relationship between proximity and conflict has been long understood, but the exact nature has been surprisingly elusive. This was in part due to the lack of a complete minimum interstate distance dataset. Accordingly, a complete minimum distance dataset was created for all states, reflecting changes to state boundaries between 1946 and 2010. Additionally, several new measures of distance were included in the dataset, including minimum-capital and average distance, which give new insights into the relationship between distance and conflict.


  • Gleditsch, K. S. and Pickering, S. (2013). 'Wars are becoming less frequent: a response to Harrison and Wolf.' Economic History Review. Accepted for publication.

  • Pickering, S. (2012). 'Proximity, maps and conflict: new measures, new maps and new findings.' Conflict Management and Peace Science. Vol. 29, No. 4.

  • Pickering, S. (2012). 'The terrain of war: how using the word "mountain" biases conflict research.' In Chatterji, M. (ed.), Contributions to Conflict Management, Peace Economics and Development Volume 19. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

  • Pickering, S. (2011). 'Determinism in the mountains: the ongoing belief in the bellicosity of 'mountain people'.' The Economics of Peace and Security Journal. Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 21--25.

  • Geyer, R. and Pickering, S. (2011). 'Applying the tools of complexity to the international realm: from fitness landscapes to complexity cascades.' Cambridge Review of International Affairs. Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 5--26.

More information

More information is available at stevepickering.net.


  • Graduate School of Law and the Faculty of Law, Kobe University
  • Kobe University