Humanities: Prevention of Religion - Related Violence in Mideast and North Africa

Department: Religion / Political Science

Supervising Faculty Member: Jerry White

Specialization: Prevention of Religion-Related Violence in Mideast and North Africa

Research Focus: Students will learn to evaluate effective international social impact campaigns designed to prevent and reduce religion-related violence, particularly the ways in which governments, religious actors and civil society have tried to reduce violent conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. Students will center their research on strategies to address three main targets of religion-related violence: narratives, heritage, and communities. Students will research the preferences and positions of religious actors, policymakers, and civil society to develop evidence-based recommendations to mitigate violent conflict. Qualified students will learn analytic computer modeling skills to assess optimal outcomes. 

Position Description: Students will do research that linking my semester course on Religion, Violence and Strategy to the emergent UVA research initiative on Religion, Politics and Conflict (RPC). There will be research on institutions and stakeholders in the field of religion and peacebuilding, including networks of scholars specializing in this field. Students will track media and research for particular cases of Mideast violence, conducting baseline literature review of conflict in Egypt, Libya, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. Basic research will survey pre-existing literature and identify scholars at UVA and organizations worldwide working on similar research.  During the fall 2017 semester, the focus will likely be on Egypt, Israel and UAE.

Required skills: Some understanding or previous coursework on Mideast history and politics would be helpful. Need willingness to learn new easy-to-use software  for game-theory computer simulations applied to conflict mitigation in the Mideast. Excellent research, writing and communication skills required. Flexibility, initiative and sense of humor expected.

Computer software: Can learn new giStrat technology platform on the job.  Familiarity with Excel and Statistical Modeling helpful but not required.

Training/certification: Nothing needed but initiative, strong writing skills, with preference for computer/software programming and statistical modeling skills

What you will learn: 1) Research and assess current approaches to religion-related conflict and peacebuilding across the Middle East. 2) Research and write up country-by-country analyses of underlying causes of conflict and stakeholder landscapes in the Mideast. 3) Develop skills in game-theory computer software simulations to model the impact of policy decisions and .

Web site link to research: