A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Executive Director presents at the United States Institute of Peace


Executive Director presents at the United States Institute of Peace

March 31, 2015

On March 24, executive director William Braniff had the opportunity to speak at the United States Institute of Peace. The program, titled “Towards a Knowledge-Based Approach to Countering Violent Extremism,” featured presentations and discussion from four experts in the field of CVE and focused on how research is key to tackling issues of violent extremism. He touched on a few key points, including START’s efforts to further research in this area:

  • START’s Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) database includes over 150 variables on approximately 1500 individuals who have radicalized in the United States across ideologies, and will also generate qualitative case studies to test different theories about behaviors or characteristics associated with individual radicalization.
  • Ideology serves as the bridge between beliefs and individual behavior, making it important to identify the specific components of ideology that spur an individual to take specific, observable actions, which may serve as warning signs to concerned community members.
  • Researchers should evaluate and assess CVE programs to include engagement programming, prevention programming, intervention programming, and rehabilitation and reintegration programming.
  • Experimental psychology may help us understand what makes certain militant narratives and counter-narratives more or less compelling than others.
  • Thinking geographically – instead of focusing our research efforts on only ‘who’ the next person to radicalize may be, perhaps we should be asking ‘where’ the next hot-spot of radicalization may occur, borrowing from criminological research on “hot-spots.”