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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy

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Terrorism Research Initiative Awards Dissertation Prize to Former Sié Postdoc Steven T. Zech

September 3, 2017

Perspectives on Terrorism— Former Sié Center Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Steven T. Zech (2015- 2017) has been awarded a prize for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of terrorism and counter-terrorism studies. The Terrorism Research Initiative identified Dr. Zech's dissertation Between Two Fires: Civilian Resistance During Internal Armed Conflict in Peru as having demonstrated originality in terms of introducing new data, theory or methodology, and manifesting novelty/uniqueness in its findings. Dr. Zech was among the first class of Sié Post-Doctoral Fellows, and the Sié Center congratulates him on this remarkable achievement. Read more>>  


Cullen Hendrix Receives 2017 J. David Singer Data Innovations Award

September 1, 2017

American Political Science AssociationThe American Political Science Association recognized Cullen Hendrix and colleague Idean Salehyan with the 2017 J. David Singer Data Innovations Award at its Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The award, given every two years, recognizes the best data contribution to the study of any and all forms of political conflict, either within or between nation-states. Professor Hendrix and Idean Salehyan received the award for their work on the Social Conflict Analysis Database. A number of graduate and PhD students work alongside Professor Hendrix on the Social Conflict Analysis Database project, which is housed at the University of Denver. 


Resistance in Denver: DU's Erica Chenoweth on Activism in the Trump Era

August 29, 2017

Westword— Erica Chenoweth can tell you that the average nonviolent protest movement achieves its goal in just three years, three to four times shorter than violent campaigns. The University of Denver professor is also quick to cite her finding that nonviolent campaigns have double the rate of success of their bloody counterparts.

Denver's seen plenty of nonviolent protests this year. According to the Crowd Counting Consortium, a project Chenoweth co-directs, the 42 protests in Denver following the 100,000-person Women's March in January have been attended by an estimated 34,500 people. And the recent counter-protests against white supremacists in Charlottesville and Boston irrefutably underscored the importance and risks of political demonstration. Westword spoke with Chenoweth about what her research on political violence and peaceful resistance tells us about today's protesting and how Denver can engage in activism.  Continue reading >>


Trump Risks Backlash in Farm Belt States if NAFTA Gets Scrapped

August 23, 2017

CNBC— "In general there's a disconnect between Trump on the campaign trail, which is the Trump we see at these rallies, and Trump in the Oval Office," said Cullen Hendrix, a nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think tank. "He tends to make pretty bold claims and then we see little in the way of follow-through on the policy side."

Hendrix added: "My guess is once he gets back to Washington, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue or [Commerce Secretary] Wilbur Ross will reacquaint him with the electoral map, which shows that leaving NAFTA would put the hammer to many of his supporters and GOP strongholds in the Great Plains. He's going to need those senators to support any renegotiated NAFTA."  Continue reading >>


An Intimate History of Antifa

August 22, 2017

The New Yorker— There is a moral logic to this notion of anticipatory self-defense, but the progression, from writing letters to fighting with guns, is worrisome nonetheless. Right-wing militiamen in Charlottesville made a point of displaying force, and this was reportedly "unnerving to law enforcement officials on the scene." Should anti-Fascists start toting AR-15s, like the right-wing Oathkeepers? The idea can seem naïve in an American context, where, practically speaking, only white people can carry guns openly without fear of police interference. Bray mentions a few pro-gun antifa groups, including the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, and a collective with the punning moniker Trigger Warning; he quibbles with liberal scholars, including Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, who dismiss violent protest as an ineffective tool for garnering public support. But it is unclear from the book whether he thinks that brandishing guns is an ethical concern as well as a tactical one, or whether he worries about an escalation of violence. Postwar antifa, as Bray details in earlier chapters, has largely been a European project, in which opposing sides sometimes beat each other senseless and stabbed one another to death. They didn't have assault rifles. The Battle of Cable Street was fought with rocks and paving stones.  Continue reading>>


American Politics Are Becoming Violent. But Peaceful Movements Have Power

August 22, 2017

The Guardian— It looks like we may have to expect growing violence on the part of Trump's ever shrinking yet increasingly emboldened supporters. That's a troubling prospect, especially with an administration that fails to differentiate between neo-Nazi aggressors and civilian groups seeking to defend themselves.

Yet now more than ever, it's important to remember that meaningful and lasting change has rarely been brought forth by the hands of young men who carry out violence, but rather by the people bravely moving forward in nonviolent resistance.

The power of nonviolent civil resistance has been convincingly argued by professors Erica Chenoweth and Maria J Stephan in their now classic 2014 essay, Drop Your Weapons: When and Why Civil Resistance Works (an update of their 2011 book, Why Civil Resistance Works). Chenoweth then updated that analysis, sharing it in a lengthy interview with the Nation in February on the most effective tactics for confronting the Trump regime.  Continue reading>>


Indivisible Denver Hosts Workshop Aimed at Confronting White Privilege and Supremacy

August 20, 2017

The Denver Post— Following the events in Charlottesville, Va., the Movement for Black Lives called for white people and non-black people of color to gather and address how they can help dismantle white supremacy.

The request spurred Indivisible Denver, along with University of Denver professors Erica Chenoweth and Marie Berry, to plan a last-minute workshop. Chenoweth thought it would attract 40 or so people. But on Saturday, the Shorter Community AME Church's pews, which seat about 1,000, were nearly full.

"It's a time when people of privilege have to step up and denounce racism and white supremacy in all of its forms," Chenoweth said. "This was one tiny action I could take in fulfilling that responsibility." Continue reading>>


In the Age of Trump, Resistance Isn't Futile

August 15, 2017

5280 Magazine— Six months into President Donald Trump's administration, protests (and counterprotests) to his policies and agenda are only increasing, and Denver is taking a leading role in the resistance.

Over the weekend, violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a group of so-called white nationalists descended upon the college town for a planned "Unite the Right" rally. On Saturday, one person was killed and more than a dozen were injured when a man drove his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters.

While the disorder witnessed in Charlottesville isn't uncommon in our national history of political protests, University of Denver professor Erica Chenoweth says that nonviolent mass mobilization is traditionally a more powerful way to create lasting change. Continue reading>>


Mercenaries Aren't a Solution to Afghanistan's Forever War

August 9, 2017

The Washington Post— "Everything we know about successful counterinsurgency tells us that it requires close integration between political goals and forces. It is the tethering of force to common and shared concerns that begin to build its legitimacy and thus the political buy-in on which stable governance is built," wrote Deborah Avant of the University of Denver. "But with [private military companies] you often trade integration away. This has been particularly true with U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."  Continue reading>>


Erik Prince's Private Air Force in Afghanistan Faces Many Legal Hurdles

August 6, 2017

Military Times— Prince's proposal may also violate the spirit of the Montreux Document — an international agreement that outlines best practices for private military companies. The "U.S. Government's support of the Montreux Document is active and continuous, according to the Department of Defense.

"Under best practices outlined in the Montreux Document, a contracting state should both be responsible for the actions of its contractors and take steps to avoid potential disaster," Deborah Avant told Military Times.

"Those steps would include ensuring that they don't assign to contractors activities that [International Humanitarian Law or the Law of Armed Conflict] assigns to state actors – I think bombing would fall in that category," she added.  Continue reading>>


Violence Against Female Politicians

July 11, 2017

Council on Foreign Relations— Even in situations where quotas or legislative measures exist to increase the number of women in office, female politicians can face grave danger. Marie E. Berry, a professor of sociology at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, whose work focuses on women in political office in sub-Saharan Africa, observes that in Kenya, despite a court-issued two-thirds 'gender rule,' which stipulates that no elected body in the country can be more than two-thirds one gender, "women running for political office face profound impediments to their success and many face extraordinary rates of violence, both while running for office and once in political office."  Continue reading>>


Mexico is No Longer No.1 U.S. Corn-Buyer After Trade Tensions

July 6, 2017

Bloomberg NewsMexico's attitude toward the reliability of U.S. agricultural suppliers will help set the tone of NAFTA renegotiation, said Cullen Hendrix, a professor of international relations at the University of Denver and a fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics in Washington.

"Agriculture for the most part likes NAFTA and would like as little disruption as possible," he said. "But if you start seeing ag used as a poker chip in the negotiations, with concessions made to get something in another sector, you'll see Mexico work even harder to diversify."  Continue reading>>


Why Farmers Are Anxious About NAFTA

June 29, 2017

The EconomistNAFTA has also created surprisingly integrated supply chains. Consider pork, writes Cullen Hendrix of the University of Denver in a paper for the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think-tank. In 2014 America imported 3.9m eight-to-12-week-old piglets which had been born and weaned on Canadian farms. These were fattened up on farms in Iowa, Minnesota or Illinois until they were ready for slaughter and processing. Many of the resulting pork cutlets were then exported back into Canada. 


What you should know about Cory Gardner's meeting with accused human rights abuser Rodrigo Duterte

June 6, 2017

The Colorado IndependentOliver Kaplan, a professor at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies who specializes in human rights and did field work in the Philippines, said he was a bit surprised when he heard about Gardner's meeting with Duterte.

"Ideally the United States should be strongly pressing Duterte on human rights issues," he says. "So to the extent that Gardner did that it's a good thing. But to the extent that it's not really verifiable and that it wasn't done more publicly, it's not clear why a senator is going over there alone doing that."  Continue reading>>


The Industry of Inequality: Why the World is Obsessed with Private Security

May 12, 2017

The Guardian —At Denver University, Prof Deborah Avant said the private security industry had surged with contracts during the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when "an army of private workers flooded in to do all sorts of things".

Afterwards, she said, companies "began to look elsewhere ... at private security domestically but also for people living abroad, and for the private sector; for companies".

Growing economic inequality was also part of the story, she said. "You have a ton more [money] than everyone around you, so you want to protect it. Getting [security] from the private sector is an obvious way to do it." Continue reading>>


Experts on Authoritarianism are Absolutely Terrified by the Comey Firing

May 11, 2017

VoxComey's firing sparked immediate questions in the press — Is this Watergate? Will Trump be impeached? — all of which are legitimate and serious questions. But they're not answerable now. In the meantime, all we have to go on is what we know to have happened: The president fired the person who was investigating him and his associates.

To people who study the rise of authoritarian leaders, just those facts alone are terrifying. 

"This is very common — in semi-authoritarian and authoritarian regimes," Erica Chenoweth, a professor at the University of Denver, tells me. "Purges, summary firings, imprisonment: These are all things that authoritarian leaders do when they attempt to rid themselves of rivals within government."  Continue reading>>


How Abnormal Was Comey's Firing? Experts Weigh In

May 10, 2017

The New York Times —F.B.I. directors' 10-year terms are in place "precisely to avoid undermining the directors' independence in investigating high officials," said Erica Chenoweth, a professor of international studies at the University of Denver.  Continue reading>>


NYTimes Trump matrix Just How Abnormal is the Trump Presidency? Rating 20 Events

February 27, 2017

The New York Times —President Trump posts often on Twitter, sometimes against the preferences and without the advice of aides, about policy ideas and reactions to things he sees on TV. "Trump's off-the-cuff tweets have dramatically increased the amount of uncertainty in the world, especially when his appointees and staff contradict the positions he articulates in tweets," said Erica Chenoweth, professor of international studies at the University of Denver.  Continue reading>>


ISA Protest International Relations Scholars Protest Travel Ban

February 27, 2017

Inside Higher Ed —International relations scholars met for their annual convention last week against the backdrop of a Donald J. Trump presidency. Scholarly business to a large degree continued as usual, with panel sessions on the future of a liberal world order and change in world politics taking on special urgency. Hundreds of sessions covered topics like climate and energy policy, global governance institutions, the rise of populism, terrorism and counterterrorism, and the politics of nuclear weapons.  Continue reading>>


USAID report USAID Publishes Struggles from Below: Literature Review on Human Rights Struggles by Domestic Actors 

February 27, 2017

A literature review authored by Erica Chenoweth, Tricia Olsen, Kyleanne Hunter, Pauline Moore, and Heidi Reynolds-Stenson has been released. In 2016, USAID's Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance launched its Learning Agenda—a set of research questions designed to address the issues that confront staff in USAID field offices working on the intersection of development and democracy, human rights, and governance. This literature review—produced by a team of economists, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists—synthesizes scholarship from diverse research traditions on the following Learning Agenda question: What do we know about the role of citizens, social movements, and other domestic civic actors (as opposed to transnational actors or government officials) in advocating for particular human rights outcomes in their country? And what can we learn from the successes and failures of their activities?  Continue reading>>


 AP Photo / Alex Brandon How to Topple a Dictator 

February 24, 2017

The Nation —As hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in efforts to resist Donald Trump, Professor Erica Chenoweth has been obsessed with one question: How many people exactly? Erica Chenoweth is one the leading scholars on authoritarian regimes and how to overthrow them. In her book Why Civil Resistance Works, she compiled 323 cases of nonviolent and violent campaigns in order to assess which were more successful in achieving their stated goals of regime change. Much to her surprise, Chenoweth discovered that nonviolent campaigns were nearly twice as effective as armed campaigns over the past century.  Continue reading>>


AwardErica Chenoweth of the University of Denver and Laura Dugan of the University of Maryland win CFPJ Best Paper Prize  

February 17, 2017

David Carment, editor of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal (CFPJ), announced that Erica Chenoweth and Laura Dugan have won the 2016 CFPJ Best Paper Prize for "The Canadian Way of Counterterrorism: Introducing the GATE-Canada Data Set.:
The paper is freely available on the CFPJ website and its affiliate policy website.
The prize is awarded annually for the best article published in the CFPJ. Each refereed contribution is eligible for consideration and members of CFPJ's editorial and international advisory board judge the articles based on scholarship, contribution to knowledge and debate, writing style and audience accessibility. Continue reading>>


Forbes March How is GIS Being Used to Map Resistance and Political Protests? 

January 31, 2017

Forbes —Despite Conway's remarks, a Google Doc started by Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut and Erica Chenoweth of the University of Denver soon began to collect crowd-sourced estimates from the Women's Marches on January 20, 2017 organized by city, state and country. As they say on the public spreadsheet, "We are not collecting this data as part of a research project. We are doing this in the public interest. We are not affiliated with any other efforts to collect data on the demonstrations." Over at Vox, graphics reporter Sarah Frostenson turned their data into a static map. Other researchers also weighed in. Doug Duffy, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, made an interactive map of Pressman and Chenoweth's data here and posted the visualization to his GitHub page. He even cleaned the data for easy download and reuse (with attribution) by others.  Continue reading>>


Vox March The Women's Marches May Have Been the Largest Demonstration in US History

January 31, 2017

Vox —According to data collected by Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut, marches held in more than 600 US cities were attended by at least 4.2 million people. "Even using a conservative estimate, it was the single largest day for a demonstration in the US," Chenoweth, an expert on political protests and civil resistance, told us. Every state in America hosted a Women's March, as you can see in the map above. The events ranged from tiny gatherings in small town squares to throngs of more than 500,000 people clogging streets in cities like Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.  Continue reading>>


Womens March The Secrets to a Successful Protest

January 31, 2017

Radio National —The first ten days of Donald Trump's presidency saw large protests across the United States and around the world including the Women's March on inauguration weekend, protests against the executive order on immigration and British protests against his state visit. Professor Erica Chenoweth studies the success or failure of protest movements. She explains the factors that will determine whether this movement will lose momentum or grow into a powerful political force. Listen now>>


Planet Jackson Hole Moments vs. Movements

January 31, 2017

Planet Jackson Hole —Erica Chenoweth is a professor and associate dean for research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. (She also happens to be performing a global head count on the women's marches along with two colleagues.) As an expert on civil resistance and nonviolent action, her research demonstrates the efficacy of civil disobedience, and points to the importance of this moment in which so many are eager to engage. Participation, Chenoweth says, is key to the success of nonviolent movements, and part of what makes the women's marches so historic. "The capacity for mass mobilization has been expressed ... the marches send a clear message that many do not have faith that their government will represent them," Chenoweth told PJH. Continue reading>>


Five Thirty EightPolitics Podcast: The Beginning of the Trump Presidency

January 23, 2017

FiveThirtyEight —Donald Trump's first few days as president were marked by executive orders, "alternative facts" and mass protests around the country. This week, the FiveThirtyEight politics podcast crew breaks down Trump's inauguration speech and chats with contributor Julia Azari about what presidents can accomplish in their first 100 days. Plus, University of Denver professor Erica Chenoweth discusses the Women's Marches, which drew more than 3 million people across the United States, and her research on the hallmarks of successful protest movements.  Listen now>>


Womens March Atlantic The Exhausting Work of Taylling America's Largest Protest

January 23, 2017

The Atlantic —Chenoweth studies emerging political movements, so she jumped on the opportunity to watch a new one perhaps begin to unfold here in the U.S. But more fundamentally, she said, the act of counting itself is an important one. "It's a really empowering thing to be noticed and to be tallied," she said. "That actually came to be much more evident to me when people started emailing us and tweeting at us, reporting that they had two, five, seven, 12 people in their tiny outpost."  Continue reading>>


Women's March Time See Just How Big Over 200 Women's Marches Were All Across the Country

January 23, 2017

TIME Magazine —Jeremy Pressman of the University of Connecticut and Erica Chenoweth of the University of Denver gathered both the lowest and highest estimates for 605 U.S. cities and came up with a range for each city.
Of those 605 cities, Pressman and Chenoweth estimate that at least 1,000 people showed up in 209. The following visualization shows how large the protests are estimated to be in each of those cities, while the total counts include remaining smaller protests as well.  Continue reading>>


CCNY logo Carnegie Corporation of New York Awards Sié Center $1 Million to Study Inclusion

January 13, 2017

The University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies today announced that the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy, a leading research center at the School, was awarded a $1 million, two-year grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The grant is toward a "Bridging the Academic-Policy Gap" program that will generate and disseminate policy-relevant research on pressing global issues. It follows an earlier, $1 million grant from the philanthropic foundation in support of the initiative.  Continue reading>>