Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D. is Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where she teaches courses on international relations, terrorism, civil war, nonviolent resistance, and contemporary warfare. In addition, she has held research positions at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Stanford University, UC-Berkeley, and the University of Maryland. Her book with Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2011), won the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, given annually by the American Political Science Association in recognition of the best book on government, politics, or international affairs published in the U.S. in the previous calendar year.
Before coming to DU, she taught at Wesleyan University, where she received the Carol A. Baker Memorial Prize recognizing excellence in junior faculty teaching and research in 2010. Chenoweth has presented her research all over the world at various academic conferences, government workshops, and international governmental organizations. She is currently a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Chenoweth’s research program involves three main questions: why do non-state groups use political violence, what are the alternatives to political violence, and how can states best combat non-state political violence? Her current book project, tentatively entitled Why Democracy Encourages Terrorism (under contract with Columbia University Press), investigates 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. The research for this project was partially funded through a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from 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.
In another project on civil resistance, Chenoweth researches 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. The project investigates how the tactical evolutions of nonviolent and violent insurgencies have affected their strategic outcomes.
Chenoweth is also co-lead investigator on the Government Actions in Terror Environments (GATE) Data Project, with Laura Dugan of the University of Maryland. This project collects data on state-led actions toward non-state actors and their constituents in twelve countries since 1987 as part of a broader set of projects affiliated with START. Their research on Israel suggests that conciliatory policies can be more effective than repressive ones in reducing Palestinian violence.
Chenoweth’s work is published in International Security, The Journal of Politics, American Sociological Review, Political Research Quarterly, Defense and Security Analysis, and Review of Policy Research. She also co-edited Rethinking Violence: States and Non-State Actors in Conflict (MIT Press, 2010) with Adria Lawrence of Yale University and has contributed chapters to numerous edited volumes.
In 2008, Chenoweth established the Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research, a think tank that produces policy-relevant research on the causes and effects of insurgency, terrorism, and strategic nonviolent resistance. The center, now part of the Sie Cheou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the Korbel School, houses multiple projects and provides students with opportunities to engage in research related to the program’s mission.
Chenoweth has provided security analysis to a variety of private, government, and educational groups. Her research and commentary has been featured in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Economist, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. She hosts a blog called Rational Insurgent, co-hosts an award-winning blog called Political Violence @ a Glance, and is an occasional blogger at The Monkey Cage.
Chenoweth received an M.A. and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in political science and German from the University of Dayton.