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Meet Our Affiliates

    Brian Britt, Professor and Director of Religious Studies



Dr. Brian Britt
Professor and Director of Religious Studies
Department of Religion & Culture

Religious and cultural conflict in biblical texts and their contemporary afterlives are a central preoccupation of Dr. Britt's research.  One of his main interests is the work of Walter Benjamin, whose "Critique of Violence" is the focus of an essay he published in 2012.  His teaching areas include Religion and Literature; Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; and Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His research relates ideas of authority and writing from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary culture. Based on his use of the biblical story of Korah (Numbers, 16) and the myth of Niobe, this essay argues that Walter Benjamin defines divine violence as inscrutable.  The consequence of this argument is a conception of political change that challenges secularism and political theology alike. 

"Divine Violence in Benjamin and in Biblical Narrative" was published in Gernam, in Profanes Leben: Walter Benjamins Dialektik der Säkularisierung, ed. Daniel Weidner (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2010), 263-286.


    Nicholas Copeland, Assistant Professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies

Dr. Nicholas Copeland
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology

Nicholas Copeland is a political anthropologist and an assistant professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies at Virginia Tech. He has conducted extensive field research in Mayan communities and with NGOs in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. His book project, Bitter Earth, explores how refusals of the violences of neoliberal democracy inform grassroots responses to authoritarian populist appeals. His other research examines local responses to counterinsurgency development programs in Guatemala during the Cold War and Wal-Mart's strategies for managing critique.


Dr. James M. (Jim) Dubinsky
Associate Professor 
Director, Center for the Study of Rhetoric in Society (CSRS)
Department of English

James M. (Jim) Dubinsky is Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing in the Department of English at Virginia Tech (VT) where he directs the Center for the Study of Rhetoric in Society (CSRS). 

From 1998 until 2007, Jim was the founding director of the Professional Writing program, and from 2008-11, he served as founding director of VT’s Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships (CSECP), now VT-ENGAGE.  Much of his earlier scholarship focused on civic engagement and its links to pedagogy.  

Jim is also a veteran, having served in the US Army on active duty from 1977-1992 and in the reserves from 1992-2004 before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.  His current projects include creating a Veterans Studies program at VT, which focuses on an underserved population: veterans and their families. The goal is to study veterans as agents who affect civilian society, though not necessarily in ways society valorizes.   

Jim also serves VT as the faculty advisor for WUVT-FM, the campus radio station, on which he hosts the New River Roots Music Sampler every Friday from 7-9 AM. The show is now in its 12th year.

    Mike Ellerbrock, Professor and Director, Center for Economic Education, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Dr. Mike Ellerbrock
Professor and Director, Center for Economic Education
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Dr. Ellerbrock is Founding Director with UVA and State Agency partners in conducting a year-long program on community and environmental conflict resolution - the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute - currently entering its 13th year.  He also teaches a VT course he developed on Peace Economics and teaches cross-cultural study abroad courses in Eastern Europe and UVA's Semester-at-Sea program.

    Edward Fox, Professor of Computer Science

Dr. Edward Fox
Department of Computer Science

Since its inception in 2009, Dr. Fox has been Director of the NSF-funded project CTRnet. The goal of CTRnet is to build a global Crisis, Tragedy, and Recovery network of people and computers. They aim to collect and archive as much information as possible related to such events, in partnership with the Internet Archive, and to provide tools and services to support researchers and others through the process of community recovery.

He is also Faculty Advisor to the Virginia Tech Reiki Club, "Helping individuals find personal peace, health, and well being."

Recent publications include: "Social Media Use by Government: From the Routine to the Critical." Government Information Quarterly 29(4): 480-491, (Andrea L. Kavanaugh, Edward A. Fox, Steven D. Sheetz, Seungwon Yang, Lin Tzy Li, Donald J. Shoemaker, Apostol Natsev, Lexing Xie, 2012); "Between a Rock and a Cell Phone: Communication and Information Use During the Egyptian Uprising. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2012). Apr. 22-25. Vancouver, Canada (Kavanaugh, A.L., Sheetz, S.D., Hassan, R., Yang, S., Elmongui, H.G., Fox, E.A., Magdy, M., Shoemaker, D., 2012); and " Microblogging in crisis situations: Mass protests in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt. Workshop on Transnational HCI held in conjunction with the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'11). May 7-12, 2011, Vancouver, Canada (Andrea Kavanaugh, Seungwon Yang, Lin Tzy Li, Steven D. Sheetz, and Edward A. Fox., 2011).

    Matthew Gabriele, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture, Coordinatory of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Dr. Matthew Gabriele
Associate Professor
Department of Religion and Culture
Coordinator, Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Associate Faculty Principal, Residential College of West Ambler Johnston

Dr. Gabriele's research focuses on the intellectual origins of religious violence during the European Middle Ages and those ideas' echoes into the modern world. 

Recent publications include “Against the Enemies of Christ: The Role of Count Emicho in the Anti-Jewish Violence of the First Crusade,” in Christian Attitudes toward the Jews in the Middle Ages: A Casebook, ed. Michael Frassetto (Routledge, 2006), 61-82; “On the Language of Christian Violence in Contemporary American Society: From Iraq to Virginia Tech,” in Denkmuster christlicher Legitimation von Gewalt, ed. Theo Riches and Gerd Althoff (Ergon Verlag, 2012), forthcoming; and An Empire of Memory: The Legend of Charlemagne, the Franks, and Jerusalem before the First Crusade (Oxford UP, 2011).

    Paul Heilker, Associate Professor of English; Presidential Global Scholars Program

Dr. Paul Heilker
Associate Professor
Department of English
Presidential Global Scholars Program

A central tenet of Dr. Heilker's recent research is that rhetoric is a way of being in the world through language, that discourses and their constituent genres require us to inhabit and enact strikingly different ways of being in the world through their distinctive matrices of invention, structure and style.  Traditional western argument, for instance, forces us to be in the world through sublimated warfare: claiming a position, defending it against attacks, then counter-attacking and defeating the opposition.  He maintains that we cannot effectively re-imagine the human condition as less violent using the same discursive tools that created our currently hostile conditions, that we cannot bridge our deep disagreements and divergent worldviews using the same schemas of discourse that constructed today's antagonistic realities.  To create a less hostile and violent future, he says, we need a less hostile and violent discourse, and we need to teach these alternative ways of being in the world to students.

"On Genres as Ways of Being."  Writing on the Edge 21.2 (2011): 19-31.

"The Essay, Communication, and Conflict."  Global Conference on Communication and Conflict.  Prague, Czech Republic, 4 November 2011.


Dr. Jordan Hill
History; Religion and Culture; Urban Affairs & Planning

As an interdisciplinary trained public historian, Dr. Hill seeks to do work in the local community that addresses issues of social justice through both
public engagement and personal reflection.  He works to connect local issues with campus resources in order to foster dialogues that offer the
possibility of envisioning new and more just futures.  As a certified mindfulness instructor, Dr. Hill promotes contemplative education at Virginia Tech
and has incorporated it broadly into his teaching and public outreach. In his research, Dr. Hill has addressed issues of cultural memory, the politics of
commemoration and public history in his dissertation, “Realms of Remembered Violence: The Emergence of Mass Murder Memorials in the United States, 1986-2012,” which investigated the new American tradition of constructing mass murder memorials.  He also is a multi-year participant in the “Summer
Peacebuilding Institute” at Eastern Mennonite University, and completed a Master’s degree from Naropa University in “Peace Studies and Conflict
Resolution,” where he wrote a thesis entitled “Teaching 20th Century Nonviolence to 21st Century Students.”  


    Dr. James Ivory, Professor of Communications

Dr. James Ivory
Associate Professor
Department of Communications

Dr Ivory's primary research interests deal with social and psychological dimensions of new media and communication technologies, particularly the content and effects of video games, virtual environments, and simulations.  One focus of this research deals with the potential influence of video games and other media on antisocial outcomes such as aggression and violence, as well as the implications of that research for policy and psychological factors that influence public perceptions of negative media effects.

Some representative publications include:

"Sex role stereotyping is hard to kill: A field experiment measuring social responses to user characteristics and behavior in an online multiplayer game" Computers in Human Behavior, 35, 148-156 (Holz Ivory, A. H., Fox, J., Waddell, T. F., & Ivory, J. D);

"Genetic, maternal, school, intelligence and media use predictors of adult criminality: A longitudinal test of the catalyst model in adolescence through early adulthood" Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma (Ferguson, C. J., Ivory, J. D., & Beaver, K. M., 2013);

"Video games make people violent – Well, maybe not that game: Effects of content and person abstraction on perceptions of violent video games' effects and support of censorship." Communication Reports, 22, 1-12 (Ivory, J. D., & Kalyanaraman, S., 2009).;

"The effects of technological advancement and violent content in video games on players' feelings of presence, involvement, physiological arousal, and aggression." Journal of Communication, 57, 532-555 (Ivory, J. D., & Kalyanaraman, S. 2007).


    Dr. Maria Jimenez, Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Dr. Maria del Carmen Caña Jiménez
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Dr. Caña Jiménez's research focuses on how violence is inscribed in contemporary Central American, Colombian, and Peninsular narrative, cinema, and culture. Her research attempts to tease out the various forms by which violence gains a presence, such as in the cases of environmental, economic, and phenomenological violence. 

Her recent and forthcoming publications include: "An Unavoidable Past: Memories of Castration in La Regenta," published in Spanish in Ojáncano 34 (2008):43-62; "Time/Space, Memory/Narrative: The End of Century Novel in Spain," published in Spanish in Letras Hispanas 8.1 (2012): 34-45; "Héctor Abad Faciolince's Walk through Auschwitz," forthcoming in Spanish in Romance Notes (2014); and "Of Perverts, Voyeurs, and Madmen: Towards a Phenomenological Violence in Evelio Rosero," forthcoming in Spanish in Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (2014).


    Marian Mollin, Professor of History

Dr. Marian Mollin
Associate Professor
Department of History

Dr. Mollin's research explores the connections between gender, protest, activism, and culture, with a focus on the history of American social movements. In Radical Pacifism in Modern America: Egalitarianism and Protest (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), she examines the complex nature of men's and women's political protest within the radical wing of the American peace movement from 1940 through 1970. She has published related articles in Oral History Review, Radical History Review, and History Compass, and have contributed to a variety of digital history projects, including the NEH-funded Digital History Reader.

Mollin's current book project, The Power of Faith: Understanding the Life and Death of Sister Ita Ford, is a historical biography of one of the four North American churchwomen murdered by the El Salvadoran military in December 1980. This project explores the historical questions raised by Ford's life and death, placing Ford squarely within the context of postwar U.S. women's history, social movements and the "global sixties", the history of women religious, the dynamics of the late Cold War, North American and Latin American Catholic history, and the history of gender, missionaries and empire.

She is a board member of the Peace History Society, serves as Book Review editor of Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research, was a founding co-editor of H-Peace ( part of the H-Net consortium of academic listservs), and helped create the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention on the Virginia Tech campus.



Dr. Thomas H. Ollendick
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Clinical Psychology
Director, Child Study Center at Virginia Tech

Dr. Ollendick is the author or co-author of over 300 research publications, 100 book chapters, and 30 books, including the Handbook of Interventions that
Work with Children and Adolescents
(Wiley) and Clinical Handbook of Assessing and Treating Conduct Problems in Youth.  He is the past editor of The Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (2002-2006) and Behavior Therapy (2009-2013) as well as the founding and current Co-Editor of Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.

The recipient of several NIMH grant awards, his clinical and research interests range from the study of diverse forms of developmental psychopathology
(e.g., conduct problems, anxiety, and autism) and the treatment and prevention of these child disorders from a social learning/social cognitive theory
perspective. He holds honorary adjunct professorships at Roehampton University in London and Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Stockholm University in 2011 and was awarded the Career/Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in 2013.             

His research team was also recently awarded a seed grant from the CPSVP.


Anthony Peguero, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Dr. Anthony Peguero
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology

Dr. Peguero holds that addressing violence and bullying that occurs within schools is paramount toward sustaining an educational system that facilitates U.S. educational progress and economic sustainability. Establishing and sustaining healthy and safe learning environments as well as socially just policies in U.S. schools in order to develop contributing members of a democratic society is key. Moreover, understanding and addressing vulnerabilities of marginalized youth in U.S. is an essential towards achieving peace, justice, and equity in society.

He has recently published a number of articles on the role of bullying victims' gender and ethnicity: "Schools, Bullying, and Inequality: Intersecting Factors and Complexities with the Stratification of Youth Victimization at School;" “Racial and Ethnic Stereotypes and Bullying Victimization;” "Routine Activities and Victimization at School: The Significance of Gender;" and "Victimizing the Children of Immigrants: Latino and Asian American Student Victimization."

    Katrina Powell, Associate Professor of English and Sociology; Director, Women's and Gender Studies

Dr. Katrina Powell
Associate Professor
Department of English, Department of Sociology
Director, Women's and Gender Studies

Dr. Powell has written extensively on the effects of displacement on personal narratives and identity. In her current research she is collaborating with scholars from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Virginia Tech's Dean Sue Ott Rowlands ( Liberal Arts and Human Sciences), and Professor Ann Kilkelly of VT's School of Performing Arts and Cinema, creating hands-on programs for developing personal narrative out of the experience of displacement. Another key area of expertise for Dr. Powell is the ethics of research.

Current work related to these areas includes two books:Practicing Research in Writing Studies: Reflections on Ethically Responsible Research. With Pamela Takayoshi. (edited volume); and The Anguish of Displacement: The Politics of Literacy in the Letters of Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park (funded with a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, 2005-2006).

Dr. Powell has also recently published a number of articles, including, “Rhetorics of Displacement: Constructions of Identity in Forced Relocations”College English 74.4 (March 2012): 297-322; and “The Moral Appeal of Environmental Discourses: The Implication of Ethical Rhetorics,” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. (September 2012 - with Dannenberg, Clare, Bernice Hausman, Heidi Lawrence).



Dr. Brett Shadle
Associate Professor
Department of History

The focus of Dr. Shadle's research is Africa: gender, legal studies, colonialism, and forced migration. A significant part of his current research concerns the history of sexual violence in Kenya, particularly the way it is defined, debated, and punished in the court systems.  In addition, as part of his research into white settlers in early colonial Kenya, he examines the meaning and uses of interpersonal, extra-judicial violence against Africans. Dr. Shadle is currently working on a book, The Souls of White Folk: White Settlers in Kenya, 1900-1920s (near completion).

Recent publications on violence include: “Sexual Offences in Kenya Courts, 1960s-2008,” Kenya Law Review 2 (2008-10), and "Rape in the Courts of Gusiiland, Kenya, 1940s–1960s," African Studies Review, Vol. 51, No. 2, Sept. 2008, P. 27-50. He also published Introduction: Towards a History of Violence in Colonial Kenya with Matt Carotenuto, in International Journal of African Historical Studies 45 (2012): 1-7.

    Donald Shoemaker, Professor of Sociology

Dr. Donald Shoemaker
Department of Sociology

Dr. Shoemaker's area of expertise is crime and delinquency, with particular interests in youth deviance and youth culture.  He has been a co-PI on two recent NSF grants totaling $700,000 and has received over $70,000 in evaluation research grants involving drug court evaluations, youth needs assessments, and non-violent communication techniques at a youth residential facility.  He has published widely in the area, including two books on juvenile delinquency: Theories of Delinquency, now in a 6th edition, published by Oxford University Press, and Juvenile Delinquency, published by Rowman/Littlefield, second edition, 2013.  He is currently working on research projects concerning fraternity violence on university campuses in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.   Since 2007, he has been involved in a research project involving collections and distributions of digital information on human tragedies and natural disasters, funded by the National Science Foundation.  Part of this research includes collecting data on the importance of social media  during social unrest and  political revolutions.

Selected articles:

Kavanaugh, Andrea, Steven Sheetz,, R. Hassan, Seungwon Yang, H. Elmongui, Edward. Fox, M. Magdy, and Donald. Shoemaker, “Between a Rock and a Cell Phone: Communication and Information Technology Use during the 2011 Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.”  Forthcoming in the International Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, special issue on social media.

Kavanaugh, Andrea, Edward.A. Fox, Steven Sheetz, Seungwon Yang, L.T. Li, Donald Shoemaker, A. Natsev, and  L. Xie, “Social Media Use by the Government: From the Routine to the Critical.” Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 29, 2012:480-491.

Donald J. Shoemaker, “Conduct Problems in Youth: Sociological Perspectives.”  Pp.  21-47 in Rachael C. Murrihy, Antony D. Kidman, and Thomas H. Ollendick (eds.),  Clinical Handbook of Assessing and Treating Conduct Problems in Youth, 2010.  New York: Springer.



Max Stephenson, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning; Coordinator, International Policy and Governance

Dr. Max Stephenson, Jr.
Department of Urban Affairs and Planning
Coordinator, International Policy and Governance
School of Public and International Affairs

Max Stephenson Jr. serves as Professor of Public and International Affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs and Director of the Institute for Policy and Governance at Virginia Tech. His research interests in peacebuilding are nested in broader interests in the changing contours, forms and functions of governance in post-disaster and post-conflict nations and scenarios. Stephenson is particularly interested in the roles that non-governmental and community-based organizations play in peacebuilding efforts, in strategies aimed at changing the social imaginaries in communities that are experiencing conflict and in developing more robust descriptions and theorizations of peacebuilding dynamics and contexts.

Recent publications include: Max Stephenson Jr. and Laura Zanotti. Peacebuilding through Community-Based NGOs: Paradoxes and Possibilities Sterling, Va.: Kumarian Press. September, 2012.

Marcy Schnitzer , Max Stephenson Jr., Laura Zanotti and Yannis Stivachtis. “Theorizing the Role of Sport for Development and Peacebuilding,” Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics. Published On-Line First, June 6, 2012, DOI: 10.1080/17430437.2012.690410.

Max Stephenson Jr. and Laura Zanotti. “Implementing the Liberal Peace in Post-Conflict Scenarios: The Case of Women in Black- Serbia,” Global Policy Vol. 3 (1), February 2012, pp.46-57.


Dr. Deborah Tatar
Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science

Dr. Tatar is currently working on an interdisciplinary research team under a grant from REU, studying violence. Of her work with the group, she says, "There are many wonderful things about the highly distributed, connected world that we live in.  The current work starts with the observations that the potential for objective violence (in what I take to be Žižek's terms, that is, violence perpetuated in the context of the normal) is considerable and that designers of technology may have more considerable latitude than they typically perceive.  We create laboratory conditions that create very small-scale interpersonal dilemmas and observe the range of skills and behaviors they bring to their solutions.  In particular, we bring couples into the lab and ask them to hold a discussion about something they disagree about in one of a number of technological conditions.  We analyze these interactions drawing primarily on conversation analysis techniques."

    Sophie Wenzel, MPH, Assistant Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Research, Department of Population Health Sciences, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

Sophie Wenzel, MPH
Assistant Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Research
Department of Population Health Sciences
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-8173 -- Email:

Ms. Wenzel's main interests related to violence prevention are the primary prevention of intimate partner violence and promoting youth healthy relationships.


Dr. Laura Zanotti
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science

Dr. Zanotti's research and teaching include critical political theory as well as international organizations, UN peacekeeping, democratization and the role of NGOs in post-conflict governance.  Her book, entitled Governing Disorder: United Nations Peace Operations, International Security, and Democratization in the Post Cold War Era, Penn State University Press (2011), addresses the political imaginaries and unintended consequences of peacekeeping in Haiti and in Croatia.

She has published in numerous peer reviewed journals, such as Alternatives, International Peacekeeping, The Journal of International Relations and Development, Security Dialogue, Third World Quarterly, Global Policy and Sport in Society and contributed chapters to several edited books. More recently, she has co-authored a volume on NGOs in post -conflict societies entitled Building Peace and Human Security through NGOs: Paradoxes and Possibilities for Kumarian Press (2012) and co- edited a book on walls and security entitled Building Walls and Dissolving Borders: Social Imaginaries and the Challenge of Alterity, Ashgate (2013) with Max Stephenson. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Zanotti worked for ten years at the United Nations in New York and in peacekeeping operations. She has spent time in Haiti both as a UN official and more recently as a scholar and researcher. 


Kristian Lum, Corporate Affiliate, Datapad

Kristian Lum
Corporate Affiliate -- Datapad

Kristian Lum is a data scientist at DataPad, where she develops intuitive ways to analyze data, and a consultant and long-time collaborator with the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), where she develops code and methodology to estimate the number of uncounted casualties in violent conflicts. Previously, she was a research assistant professor at the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (NDSSL) at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech; she received her doctorate in Statistical Science at Duke University in 2010. Her research interests are quite broad, ranging from data visualization to Bayesian statistics to agent-based modeling.

Selected Relevant Publications:

Lum, K., Swarup, S., Eubank, S., & Hawdon, J. (2014). The contagious nature of imprisonment: An agent-based model to explain racial disparities in incarceration rates. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, forthcoming.

Lum, K., Price, M. E., & Banks, D. (2013). Applications of Multiple Systems Estimation in Human Rights Research. The American Statistician, 67(4), 191-200.

Mitchell, S., Ozonoff, A., Zaslavsky, A. M., Hedt‐Gauthier, B., Lum, K., & Coull, B. A. (2013). A Comparison of Marginal and Conditional Models for Capture–Recapture Data with Application to Human Rights Violations Data. Biometrics, 69(4), 1022-1032.

Lum, K., Price, M., Guberek, T., & Ball, P. (2010). Measuring elusive populations with bayesian model averaging for multiple systems estimation: A case study on lethal violations in casanare, 1998-2007. Statistics, Politics, and Policy, 1(1).

Guberek, T., Guzmán, D., Price, M., Lum, K., & Ball, P. (2010). To count the uncounted: An estimation of lethal violence in Casanare. A Report by the Benetech Human Rights Program.


    Dr. Thomas Ratliff, Arkansas State University

Dr. Thomas N. Ratliff
Director of Criminology
Assistant Professor of Criminology
Department of Criminology, Sociology, & Geography
Arkansas State University
Research Affiliate -- Ratliff Peace Center

Dr. Ratliff’s research examines the dynamics of social control and social change, particularly challenges to authority exhibited in various forms of dissent, from rallies and sit-ins to cinema and subcultures. His research has been funded by the National Institute of Justice, National Science Foundation, and Arkansas State University, with publications appearing in Humanity & Society, Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, & Change, and Social Forces.

Dr. Ratliff is the PI on a recent National Institute of Justice grant, "Radicalization on the Internet: Virtual Extremism in the U.S. from 2012-2017" (with Co-PIs Jim Hawdon of Virginia Tech, David Snow at UC—Irvine, and two Arkansas State University colleagues). This three year, $769,906 grant will: (1) identify active online extremist groups based in the U.S.; (2) create “virtual” profiles and elaborate “frames” of extremist groups; and, (3) discern how and to what degree online extremist material impacts individuals who see that material. Two products of the study will be the academically targeted book Virtual Extremism and an online counter-extremist handbook that can be used in communities by parents, teachers, and law enforcement to educate youth about the shortcomings of these hateful ideologies with a sincere and realistic counter-narrative that reframes the seeds of intolerance.

His current book project, The Stage of Change: Protest and Policing from the Battle in Seattle to the Age of Obama, documents a fundamental shift in the U.S. social movement sector and a “new” style of policing. The three day protests in Seattle, Washington, against the World Trade Organization in 1999 mark the defining moment in a new (and continuing) cycle of protest which Dr. Ratliff argues has shaped the landscape of protest and policing of dissent in the U.S. to this day. Beginning with the protests against globalization and sweatshop labor in the wake of NAFTA through the more recent Occupy and Tea Party movement mobilizations, this book analyzes tens of thousands of newspaper articles in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times to tell the story of protest and policing in the U.S. from 1999-2012.

He is also Director of Criminology and Interim Coordinator for Distance Education in Criminology and Sociology at Arkansas State University where he has worked to reorganize and develop the curriculum at eight Degree Centers and Instructional Sites across the state of Arkansas in order to provide access to high quality education for underprivileged populations and underserved areas.

Recent Publications (student authors denoted with an asterisk*):

2014     Thomas N. Ratliff and Lori Hall*. “Practicing the Art of Dissent: Toward a Typology of Protest Activity in the United States.” Humanity & Society, p. 1-27.

2013     Stephen Paulson, Thomas N. Ratliff, and Emily Dollieslager*. “‘You have to Fight! For Your Right! To Party!’ Structure, Culture, and Mobilization in a University Party Riot.” Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change, Volume 36: 271-305.

2012     Thomas N. Ratliff and Karl Precoda. “Aesthetic or Movement? Fascism, Italian Neorealist Cinema, and Social Activism through Film.” Pp. 439-462 in Shawn Bingham’s, The Art of Social Critique: Painting Mirrors of Social Life. Lexington Books.



Affiliated Graduate Students:

Brian Gresham
Primary advisor – James Hawdon
Ph.D. Student - Sociology.
Mr. Gresham is a doctoral student specializing in organizations and global political economy. His current research focuses on the institutional mechanisms that facilitate U.S. spending on its nonconventional weapons arsenal.

Lori Hall
Primary advisor – James Hawdon
Ph.D. Student - Criminology/Sociology.
Lori Hall is the Graduate Student President of the Crime and Deviance Club as well as Students for Non-Violence (SNV). 

Lindsay Kahle
Primary advisor - Anthony Peguero
Ph.D. Student - Sociology
Ms. Kahle is a 2nd year Ph.D. Student, specializing in areas of crime/deviance and women and gender studies. Her master's work involved investigating the effects of bullying and cyber bullying victimizations on adolescent cigarette and alcohol use. Current and future dissertation work focuses more directly on the health and well being of LGBTQ students affected by bullying. She recently co-authored an article that was accepted for publication: Peguero, Anthony A., Edwardo L. Portillos, Jun Sung Hong, Juan Carlos González, Lindsay L. Kahle*, and Zahra Shekarkhar*. Forthcoming. “Victimization, Urbanicity, and the Relevance of Context: School Routines, Race and Ethnicity, and Adolescent Violence.” Journal of Criminology, Special Issue on School Bullying and Victimization.

Christian Matheis
Primary advisor – Dr. Brian Britt
Ph.D. Student – Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought
Primary Field: Ethical Thought
Secondary Field: Political Thought
Mr. Matheis is a doctoral student at Virginia Tech studying ethics and political philosophy in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought (ASPECT).  He holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Applied Ethics with minors in Ethnic Studies and Sociology, both from Oregon State University.  His professional history includes work as a community organizer, human relations facilitator, university faculty, and consultant.  Among his research interests, he includes ethics, political philosophy, epistemology, feminist philosophies, and philosophies of race.  In his dissertation research he argues for an understanding of different conceptions of solidarity as “relational,” primarily a matter of what happens to people when they relate to one another, and in doing so he critiques modern and contemporary attempts to foster and sustain solidarity through theories of identity, recognition, and intersectionality.

Kristin Richardson
Primary advisor – James Hawdon
Ph.D. Student - Sociology
Ms. Richardson's graduate work focuses on deviant and criminal behavior, with a basis in social psychology,. Her research interests center around the exploration of social influences on mass violence.

Sara Stallings
Primary advisor – Sarah Ovink
M.S. Student - Sociology
Ms. Stallings is currently working on her thesis, entitled: "Giles High School Graduates at Virginia Tech: Investigating the Relationship between Appalachian Identity and the College Experience." Her main academic interests focus on Appalachian Studies, Criminology, Social Control, Social Structures, and Evaluation Research.

Jose Torres
Primary advisor – James Hawdon
Ph.D. Student - Sociology
Mr. Torres' dissertation topic looks at community policing and no-trespass policies within public housing communities. It involves survey research that gauges public housing residents' perceptions of community police officers, their community, and no-trespass policies. He also utilizes qualitative approaches via interviews with public housing residents, community police officers and public housing officials which allow for a full scale analysis of how public housing communities are being policed. This work  questions measures such as no-trespass policies which target minorities, in areas such as public housing, and prohibits non-residents from being in public housing neighborhoods by banning them or arresting them on site. Thus my work encompasses issues of race, crime, social policy, social justice, and social control. 

Robert Wood
Primary advisor – James Hawdon
Ph.D. Student - Sociology

International Affiliates:

University of Turku, Finland
Contacts: Pekka Räsenen, Professor of Economic Sociology:, and Atte Oksanen, Docent of Sociology:

Atte Oksanen has studied the wellbeing of young people in changing cultural and societal situations. His doctoral dissertation in social psychology (2006, University of Tampere, Finland) explored violent and vulnerable identities in contemporary culture. Oksanen’s research interests and projects have centered on the fields of social psychology, sociology and cultural studies. He has published in a variety of areas including youth studies, drugs and alcohol use, mass shootings, and cultural studies. Oksanen is is currently working as senior researcher at the National Research Institute of Legal Policy. He has received docentships at the Universities of Tampere (2008), Turku (2011) and Helsinki (2011). He recently led the Emil Aaltonen funded research project Everyday Life and Insecurity, together with Professor Pekka Räsänen. Currently Oksanen and Räsänen are leading a Kone Foundation Project Hate Communities: An International Comparison.

Pekka Räsänen is a professor of economic sociology in the Department of Social Research at the University of Turku, Finland. He has studied consumer behavior, mass violence and media, and attitudes towards various welfare issues for more than ten years. Räsänen has experience in comparative research methods and in analyzing large-scale quantitative data. He has published widely in international scholarly journals. He recently completed a project analyzing the social responses to mass violence in two Finnish towns that experienced school shootings.  His current research focuses on how new information technology influences modern life, including how online hate groups operate and influence youth.  He has also conducted extensive research on ICT use, new media, and ageing.


Voice for Community Organization (VCO/Rwanda)
Contact: Innocent Masore:,
Head Office: Remera/ Gisimenti, Rwanda -- Tel: 0788436774, 0728436774

VCO /Rwanda is a Non-Governmental Organization legally registered to operate in Rwanda since 2008. VCO operates in different districts countrywide and seeks to make positive behavioral and attitudinal changes. Their mission is to end and prevent gender-based oppression and promote peacebuilding through advocacy and transformational development programs. Tolerance and acceptance are taught through community dialogue. Men and women participate equally in these processes; however, VCO especially seeks to engage men and boys to promote positive change in their communities, opposing gender-based violence, as well as teaching HIV prevention, nutrition, and Community Health. VCO also advocates for the rights of two of the most vulnerable populations: children and sex workers. Project activities include educational workshops with men and women, young boys and girls, and local authorities and stakeholders to address some of the biggest societal factors driving gender inequalities and community conflicts through active and non-discriminatory engagement.


The Springhouse Community School  --
Contact: Jenny Finn:  (540) 745-4673
188A EcoVillage Trail NE,  Floyd, VA  240starting point to learn concepts in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and other subjects. With an emphasis on hands-on, real-world learning experiences, this approach increases achievement, helps students develop stronger ties to their community, enhances students' appreciation for the natural world, and creates a heightened commitment to serving as active citizens."