About Gabriella Gricius

I am a Ph.D. student in Political Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO where I also act as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and an InTERFEWS NSF Trainee. My research focuses on Russian studies, Arctic politics using a framework that brings together ontological security, great power competition, & securitization theory. I also work with Dr. Wilfred Greaves at the North American and Arctic Defense and Security Network (NAADSN), focusing on human security, and am the main database architect on a cross-national selection of polls focusing on national security and foreign policy of Arctic states. 


In my spare time, I write for a variety of online publications including Foreign Policy, Global Security Review, and Riddle Russia amongst many others. 

I am fluent in English and German and am professionally proficient in Dutch and Russian. Recently, I received certification in both Indigenous Awareness and Indigenous Communication & Consultation from Indigenous Awareness Canada. Furthermore, I have experience coding in HTML, CSS, Ruby on Rails, Python and Javascript. When I'm not busy, I also teach yoga classes, am certified as a RYT-200 Hour Vinyasa teacher with Yoga Alliance, run marathons and do kick-boxing in my spare time. 

To see more of my publications and learn more about her experience, download my resume below.


My Latest Projects

Judge's Table

The Virtual Human Rights Lawyer

I worked as the Co-Coordinator for the Virtual Human Rights Lawyer project (VHRL) within the Public International Law & Policy Group as part of a collaboration with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Legal Assistance Centre in Namibia and InterCidadania Institute in Brazil in 2018-2019. The VHRL project was designed to help victims of serious human rights violations obtain access to justice and redress. This project aims to build an innovative web application-based chat-bot that enables users to find out how they can access existing global and regional human rights mechanisms in order to obtain some form of redress for the human rights violations they face. 

Image by Avel Chuklanov

Measuring the Effectiveness of Lustration & Vetting Policies in Ukraine and Georgia

Many of the world's conflicts today are self-sustaining and ongoing, making the application of transitional justice measures difficult. Particularly in Central & Eastern Europe, namely Georgia, and Ukraine where the terminology of 'frozen conflicts' is still very relevant, the question of whether or not transitional justice will be successfully utilized is very much still under debate. My research asked the question of whether or not lustration and vetting policies were effective in the aftermath of Russian armed conflict in Ukraine and Georgia. I presented this research at the Fourth Annual Tartu Conference on Russian and East European Studies and the Third ECPR Conference on Organized Crime in Sofia. It was published in the Journal of Liberty and International Affairs in 2019.

Image by Markus Spiske

Corrupting or Stabilizing: The Political Economy of Corruption in the Donbass

A wide range of normative implications exists between corruption and the stability of de-facto states. While some claim that corruption inherently disrupts institutional development and stumps economic growth, others argue that corruption in some cases acts as a stabilizing factor for authoritarian regimes. Regardless, corruption generally plays a role in the political economy of any state. In de-facto states that still live under the auspices of a 'frozen conflict,' corruption tends to play an outsized role, either or equally impacting the exercise of political authority or the allocation of public goods and services. My research aimed to examine the case study of the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics (LPR and DPR) and the relationship between corruption and governance in these two regions to better understand how corruption and stability are interrelated. Because of the difficulty of obtaining information, I relied on open-source data for the LPR and DPR and other available data from humanitarian organizations. This research was published with the Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal in 2019.

Russia’s New Soft Power: Financial Diplomacy and the Mir card system

After the onset of Western sanctions in 2014, the Russian National Card Payment System (NSPK) and its corresponding Mir bank cards launched the following year. Five years later, estimates show that 56 million people are using Mir cards, making up more than 20 percent of Russia’s bank card market and will be operational in twelve foreign countries. Traditionally, scholars have examined Russian financial diplomacy as a branch of its soft power approach as an attempt to integrate post-Soviet countries with Russia and Central Asian countries through promoting beneficial economic and cultural relationships. With the Mir card system, Russia is seeking to evolve its soft power and financial diplomacy approach to primarily become less dependent on a dollar-dominated financial system, but also to avoid potentially increasing US sanctions and to overarchingly seek to build a multipolar system. My research investigates how and why Russian financial diplomacy, as a part of its soft power strategy, has evolved over the last two decades and what the advent of the Mir card system portends. This research was published in the Journal of Liberty and International Affairs in 2020. 


Populism and Authoritarianism

Over the last few years, authoritarian populist parties and politicians have emerged in many different and varying parts of the world. Trump in the United States. Orbán in Hungary. Duterte in the Philippines. Most if not all of these leaders have come to power by utilizing a form of populism. This trend in authoritarian populism is notable in two respects. First, it encompasses a wide swath of the world’s large and powerful countries, many of which are democracies. Second, the trend has broad support in each country’s respective populace. For example, in the United States, Trump was chosen by large portions of the American electorate.


When promises of increased economic growth failed to materialize, globalization has instead resulted in deindustrialization, accelerating inequality and dramatic economic restructuring, political unrest, and a rise in nationalism. These trends were intensified during and after the 2008 financial crisis, making many populations worldwide dissatisfied with the world order. The electoral successes of authoritarian populist parties beg the question if authoritarian populism and its leaders can ever result in truly progressive policies and if populism can be democratic at its core? This chapter is currently in the peer review process.

Image by Tom Hermans

The Canadian Navy and Human Security​

Originally proposed in 1994 by the UN’s Human Development Report, the concept of human security has greatly enlarged the way many scholars and policy-makers think about security. From a military perspective, human security offers an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, it allows a more comprehensive approach to addressing threats and permits a more nuanced understanding of security. On the other hand, the military is an agent of the state and therefore emphasizes state security above people.


As one of the original states promoting human security as a guiding principle of foreign affairs, Canada presents an interesting case for looking at human security in the military. Although human security is no longer the buzzword that it once was, it played an important role in changing the orientation of Canada’s foreign policy. Given the history of incorporating human security into governance, it is worth asking the question of whether this policy trickled down to naval policy. Does the Royal Canadian Naval (RCN) adhere to human security principles today? More importantly, should an institution such as the RCN adopt human security as part of its principles, or is this outside its mandate?

This article was published in 2021 here.


Decolonizing IR? 

In a field that claims to study the international, scholars and education in International Relations (IR) often focus on the world as perceived by the West. However, education is inherently political and knowledge production can never be neutral. A decolonial approach to IR begins with the acknowledgment that “entrenched and deeply rooted social and political hierarchies based on exclusionary practices shape both geopolitics and the production of knowledge” (Adamson 2020, 131).


What would IR look like if it was built of voices from below? Would development or peace-making projects have the same naturalized positive narrative that they have today? How would war and international trade appear? This research will argue why IR should be decolonized and what one possible agenda could look like. It was published in New Voices in Postcolonial Studies Magazine 2021  

Colonial Identities: Ontological Security in the Arctic​

Traditional readings of state-centric security in the Arctic center questions of physical security, political security, and economic security as the primary issues for states. I argue that Arctic states do not just seek traditional security needs – such as survival and physical security – but that they also seek the security of the continuation of their own self-identity, i.e. ontological security (Mitzen 2006). In the case of states in the Arctic, many of the states are former colonial or current neocolonial powers, making the continuation and security of self-identity intrinsically connected to continual colonial behaviors and actions that perpetuate social and political hierarchies from colonial empires. 


In this research, I seek to explain how in the Arctic, the ontological security of the United States and Canada relies on following pre-determined patterns of behavior – so-called ‘off the shelf’ approaches to wilderness spaces. This research will be published in the Polar Journal in 2022 and presented at ISA-Northeast, IS-ISSS, and NPSA. 

gabriella.gricius@gmail.com |  +1 703 223 3952