Fall 2015

Fall 2015

September 18- Days of Rage -with Bryan Burrough

Bryan Burrough is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair magazine and has been writing for them since 1992 where he has reported from locales as diverse as Hollywood, Nepal, Moscow, Tokyo and Jerusalem.  Additionally, he is the author of six books, including the No. 1 New York Times Best-Seller, Barbarians at the Gate, which spent 39 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and his latest, Days of Rage. He is also a three-time winner of the prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism.

Bryan was raised in Temple, Texas, and received his B.A. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1983. From 1983 to 1992 he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he reported from Dallas, Houston, and Pittsburgh.

In addition, he has also done consulting work for “60 Minutes” and various Hollywood studios including on the set for the classic film Public Enemies, which was released in 2009, based on his book, Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI. Bryan has authored numerous book reviews and OpEd articles in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. He has appeared on “Today,” “Good Morning America,” and in many documentary films as well.

October 9- Debating the Meaning of Symptoms Among Guantanamo Detainees with Dr. Neil Aggarwal

Dr. Neil Krishan Aggarwal is a research psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and a assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. Aggarwal is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, received his Master’s from Harvard University in South Asian religions and anthropology, and completed his psychiatry training at Yale University. .   His research interests are in cultural psychiatry, psychiatric anthropology, and global mental health, particularly among South Asian and Middle Eastern populations. 

Aggarwal recently authored an article on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report regarding American use of torture this past December entitled, Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, where he explores government accountability in relation to detainee interrogations. His most recent work is the book entitled, Mental Health in the War on Terror: Culture, Science and Statecraft, which analyzes the relationship between the government and mental health professionals in advancing national security interests. Bioethical debates are examined in terms of whether mental health professionals should do no harm or participate in interrogations.  Additional debates center on the meanings of detainee mental health symptom in the Guantanamo tribunals, the focus of today’s presentation.  The book explores the theory that the War on Terror has pushed American government officials to treat terrorism as a military problem requiring new forms of mental health knowledge, practice, and institutions rather than a law enforcement problem handled through extant institutions. His next book, The Taliban’s Virtual Emirate, is scheduled for release in 2016.

October 30 – Palestinian Division and the Struggle for Statehood  with Khalil Shikaki

Khalil Shikaki is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, Palestine. Since 2005 he has been a senior fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University in 1985, and taught at several Palestinian and American universities. Between 1996-1999, Dr. Shikaki served as Dean of Scientific Research at al Najah University in Nablus. He spent the summer of 2002 as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. Since 1993, Dr. Shikaki has conducted more than 200 polls among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and dozens of joint polls among Palestinians and Israelis since 2000.

 Between 1998-1999, Dr. Shikaki led a group of more than 25 Palestinian and foreign experts on Palestinian institution building. The findings of the group were published in a Council on Foreign Relations’ report, Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1999). Shikaki and his colleague Dr. Yezid Sayigh were the principal authors of the report.

 Dr. Shikaki’s research has focused primarily on the peace process, Palestinian state building, public opinion, transition to democracy, and the impact of domestic Palestinian politics on the peace process. He is the co-author of the annual report of the Arab Democracy Index and a member of the Steering Committee of the Arab Barometer, two initiatives led by the Arab Reform Initiative. His recent publications include; The Future of Israel-Palestine: a one-state reality in the making, NOREF Report, May 2012; Coping with the Arab Spring; Palestinian Domestic and Regional Ramifications,  Middle East Brief, no. 58, Crown Center for Middle East Policy, Brandeis University, December 2011; Public Opinion in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Public Imperative During the Second Intifada, with Yaacov Shamir, 2010; and Palestine 1993-2006: Failed Peacebuilding, Insecurity and Poor Governance.

November 13  – Black Swans and Burstiness: Countering Myths About Terrorism with Gary LaFree

Gary LaFree is professor of criminology and criminal justice and director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. During 2005-2006, Dr. LaFree served as president of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) and was named a fellow of the ASC in 2006. He has also served as the past president of the ASC’s Division on International Criminology, the chair of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Crime, Law and Deviance, the Executive Board of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the Executive Committee of the Justice Research Statistics Association. While at the University of Maryland, Dr. LaFree has been a founding member of the Democracy Collaborative and an invited member of the National Consortium of Violence Research.  Dr. LaFree has written over 80 articles and book chapters and five books, mostly looking at criminal and political violence His most recent book, titled Criminology Theory and Terrorism: New Applications and Approaches, was co-authored with Dr. Joshua Freilich of John Jay College.  He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University in 1979.

December 4 –  State of Play: ISIS on Social Media with J.M. Berger

J.M. Berger is a nonresident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy. With roots in newspaper journalism, Berger is an author and analyst studying extremism. He is the author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the first definitive history of American involvement in jihadist movements, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror, with Jessica Stern. Berger has written extensively on the evolution of Al-Qaida and the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS). He interviewed American al-Shabab member Omar Hammami at length and published a widely read account of their interactions after the jihadist was killed by his former allies in 2013.

Berger is especially known for his research into the tactics of extremists on social media. In addition to important articles on the subject for The Atlantic and Foreign Policy, he co-authored the 2013 study Who Matters Online: Measuring influence, evaluating content and countering violent extremism in online social networks, which introduced new analytical techniques for understanding extremist social networks. He expanded on these techniques in 2015 with The ISIS Twitter Census, published by the Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. 

In 2004, Berger founded Intelwire.com, a website publishing investigative journalism, analysis, and primary source documents on terrorism and international security, including exclusive declassified documents on the September 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing.

Berger has written for Politico, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Daily Beast Nature, and the CTC Sentinel, and previously worked as a producer for National Public Radio and Public Radio International. He also trains and consults for law enforcement and government agencies on issues related to countering violent extremism and advanced social media analysis.