Erica Chenoweth

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Erica Chenoweth (Ph.D., University of Colorado) "is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. She also directs Wesleyan’s Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research, which she established in 2008. Chenoweth is an Associate at the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, and she is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

"Chenoweth’s research interests include terrorism, the outcomes of nonviolent and violent protest, the consequences of political violence, democratization, and repression. Chenoweth’s doctoral dissertation investigated the reasons why non-state actors resort to violence in democracies despite the availability of legal methods of protest. Her findings suggest that political competition within democracies compels conventional interest groups to compete, causing a “cascade effect” in which groups escalate their tactics to outbid one another for power. A book manuscript in progress (tentatively entitled Why Democracy Encourages Terrorism) reports these and other findings related to the dissertation.

"In another project, The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (with Maria Stephan), Chenoweth is researching the conditions under which nonviolent resistance methods are more effective than violent methods in achieving strategic goals such as regime change, expelling foreign occupiers, or achieving self-determination.

"Chenoweth is also co-lead investigator on a project entitled Dealing with the Devil: When Bargaining with Terrorists Works (with Laura Dugan). This project assesses the efficacy of different counterterrorism policies in the Middle East since 1980 as part of a broader set of projects under the auspices of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at the University of Maryland.

"Chenoweth has taught courses on war and peace, terrorism, and post-9/11 American values at the University of Colorado, and has also been a teaching fellow for introductory international relations courses at Harvard University and the University of Colorado. In addition to teaching, Chenoweth has conducted informal seminars and working groups on topics such as political violence, case study research methods, and terrorism.

"Chenoweth has presented her research throughout the United States and Europe at academic conferences, government workshops, and international nongovernmental organizations, having recently delivered lectures in Turkey, England, Slovenia, and Albania. She has provided security analysis as both a consultant and a commentator, with appearances on several domestic and foreign radio programs.

"Chenoweth has received research support from Wesleyan University, Harvard University, START, the Jebsen Center for Counter Terrorism Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the University of Colorado, the American Association of University Women, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, and the University of Dayton.

"Her work is published in International Security, Defense and Security Analysis, Review of Policy Research, Terror and Conflict Monitor, International Criminal Justice Review, the BCSIA Discussion Paper Series, and e-Extreme. She has also contributed chapters to several volumes, including The Making of a Terrorist: Recruitment, Training, and Root Causes, ed. James Forest (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2005), Homeland Security: Protecting America’s Targets, ed. James Forest (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006), Countering Terrorism in the 21st Century, ed. James Forest (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2007), Coping with Contemporary Terrorism: Origins, Escalation, and Responses, ed. William Thompson and Rafael Reuveny (Buffalo, NY: SUNY Press, forthcoming), and The Politics of Defence: International and Comparative Perspectives, ed. Ike Wilson and James Forest (London: Routledge, forthcoming)." [1]

  • Co-chair of advisory board, ICNC
  • Research Consultant to International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, Washington, DC, 2006-present. [2]
  • Lead Investigator, “The Effects of Tactical Choices on Strategic Outcomes: Evaluating Nonviolent and Violent Insurgencies,” International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2009-2014 ($399,162).
  • Advisory Board, Waging Nonviolence [3]

She attended the first conference of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation & Political Violence.


    • “Does Democracy-Promotion Reduce Terrorism and War?” in Patricia Springborg, ed., Exporting Democracy, Exporting Terror (under submission to Routledge).

Grants Under Review

  • Lead Investigator, “Countering Terrorism in the United States” (with Laura Dugan), National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, 2011-2015 ($150,000).
  • Lead Investigator, “Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research” (with Orion Lewis), Department of the Navy, 2011-2015 ($630,000).
  • Lead Investigator, Speaker Series on “U.S. Foreign Policy in Central Asia,” Center for the Study of Public Life, 2011 ($3,600).
  • Lead Investigator, “PTIR Summer Research Internship Program,” Wesleyan University Center for the Study of Public Life, 2011-2012 ($32,000).


  • Ph.D., University of Colorado, Political Science (International Relations), May 2007

Committee: Colin Dueck, Steve Chan, Susan Clarke, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Leonard Weinberg.


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Erica Chenoweth, Wesleyan University, accessed November 18, 2008.
  2. CV, Wesleyan University, accessed November 18, 2008.
  3. Waging Nonviolence Advisory Board, organizational web page, accessed December 8, 2013.