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Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno is director of the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) at the George Washington University. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and creator of, a user-driven web and television project that highlights innovations in sustainability.

As SMPA director, Sesno leads a faculty of nearly two dozen world-class professors who research and teach journalism, political communication and the impact of digital media in international affairs. Sesno teaches classes on environmental multimedia reporting, ethics in journalism, documentary and “The Art of the Interview.”

Sesno's diverse career spans more than three decades, including 21 years at CNN where he served as White House correspondent, anchor, and Washington Bureau Chief. He has covered a diverse range of subjects, from politics and conventions to international summits and climate change. He has interviewed five U.S. presidents and literally thousands of political, business and civic leaders — ranging from Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and broadcast legend Walter Cronkite.

Reuben E. Brigety

Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety II is dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University and previously served as the appointed Representative of the United States of America to the African Union and Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Prior to this appointment, Amb. Brigety served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs from November 14, 2011, until September 3, 2013, with responsibility for Southern African and Regional Security Affairs. From December 2009 to November 2011, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. In this capacity, he supervised U.S. refugee programs in Africa, managed U.S. humanitarian diplomacy with major international partners, and oversaw the development of international migration policy.

Amb. Brigety is a 1995 distinguished midshipman graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a B.S. in political science (with merit), served as the Brigade Commander and received the Thomas G. Pownall Scholarship. He also holds an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Cambridge, England. Amb. Brigety is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a recipient of the Council’s International Affairs Fellowship.

Steven Livingston

Steven Livingston is Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs with appointments in the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) and the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) at the George Washington University.

He was founding director of the Public Diplomacy Institute (PDI) at GW in 2000 and served as the chairman of the Board of Directors until 2008.  PDI is now the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. Livingston's research and teaching focus on media/information technology, national security and global politics. He is particularly interested in the role of information technologies and media on governance, development, accountability and human rights.

From 2015 to 2016 he was a visiting senior research fellow at the Free University of Berlin; a Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand; a Visiting Scholar at the Brookings Institution in governance; a visiting professor at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland; and a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge in Britain. Beginning in the fall of 2016, Livingston was also appointed a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University.

The New Global Landscape

John Shattuck

John Shattuck is Professor of Practice in Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Tufts University, specializing in transatlantic affairs and US foreign policy, and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, focusing on the contemporary crisis of democracy in the U.S. and Europe.  

From 2009 to 2016, he was President of Central European University, a U.S. and European global graduate institution of social sciences, humanities, law, business and public policy in Budapest, Hungary. Before coming to CEU in 2009, he was CEO of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation, an international public affairs center in Boston, and Senior Fellow at Tufts University, where he taught human rights and international relations.

He served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor under President Clinton, participating in the Dayton Peace Process that ended the genocidal war in Bosnia, and helping establish the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Later, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic. From 1984 to 1993, Shattuck was a vice president at Harvard University and taught at Harvard Law School. He began his career as national staff counsel and Washington Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, representing victims of the civil liberties abuses of the Nixon Administration.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of Humanity in Action, and chair of the international advisory board of the Center on Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University. His many publications include Freedom on Fire, a study of the international response to genocide and crimes against humanity, Rights of Privacy, and articles on higher education, human rights, foreign affairs and international security.

Documentation & Fact Based-Discourse

Christina Varvia

Christina Varvia is an architect, researcher and the Research Coordinator at Forensic Architecture.  She graduated from the Architectural Association with a previous degree from Westminster University. Her previous research includes studies on digital media and memory as well as the perception of the physical environment through scanning and imaging technologies, research that she deploys through time-based media. After working in architectural practice, Christina joined Forensic Architecture in 2014, where she developed methodologies and undertook video analysis that led to the Rafah: Black Friday report, unpacking one day of the war in Gaza, 2014. She has since coordinated the Saydnaya project, Reporting from the Front, and many other projects and exhibitions.

Malachy Browne

Malachy Browne is a senior story producer at The New York Times, where he specializes in a pioneering form of visual investigation that combines eyewitness media, open source reporting and community engagement.

In 2017, he led investigations that identified Turkish security guards who assaulted protesters a mere mile from the White House, tracked bombs made in Italy that killed children in Yemen, and reconstructed the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

A former computer programmer, Malachy began his career in journalism in 2006 as a reporter for the Irish current affairs magazine, Village, where he ran digital features for the magazine's website, From 2011, Malachy was news editor of Storyful, the first social media news agency. Immediately prior to the Times, he worked at, the social journalism arm of First Look Media.

Aric Toler

Aric Toler is a writer and journalist who writes for Bellingcat, an open source investigative network. Before starting with Bellingcat, he worked as an intelligence specialist in the private sector after graduating with a Master's in Slavic Languages & Literatures from the University of Kansas in 2013. Aric writes, edits, researches and translates articles related to Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. Additionally, he conducts training workshops for Russian-speaking journalists in open source investigation, verification, and digital forensics. He focuses on emerging Russian-language open source research communities along with his own investigative efforts.

Haishan Fu

Ms. Haishan Fu is the Director of the Development Data Group, in the Development Economics Vice Presidency, at The World Bank. Previously, she had held positions as Director, Statistics Division of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Chief of Statistics at the Human Development Report Office of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Senior Research Associate at the Guttmacher Institute in New York and Population Affairs Officer at the United Nations Population Division. Ms. Fu had also worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania and Visiting Research Collaborator at the Office of Population Research, Princeton University. She is a former member of the Executive Committee of IAOS, the Advisory Committee on Ethics of ISI and the Statistical Advisory Panel of the Human Development Report (HDR) of UNDP. Ms. Fu has published a number of research papers in leading academic journals and contributed as core team member, team leader or executive editor to major international and regional reports. A native of China, Ms. Fu holds a doctoral degree in Demography from Princeton University and a bachelor degree in Economics from Peking University.

AI Effects

Aviv Ovadaya

Aviv Ovadya is Chief Technologist at the Center for Social Media Responsibility at the University of Michigan School of Information where he works to ensure our online information ecosystem has a positive impact on society. This involves identifying, measuring, and mitigating indirect harms of social media and related technologies that affect public discourse.

Aviv earned a bachelor's and master’s degrees in computer science at MIT and has done software engineering, product design, and research in organizations including the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Quora, Google, and innumerable startups. In his efforts to improve our information ecosystem, Aviv also helped co-instigate Credibility Coalition standards work, consults for a prominent fact-checking organization, and was a Knight News Innovation Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia. His work has been reported on by publishers including the Washington Post, the LA Times, CJR, and The Hill.

Robert Pless

Robert Pless is the Patrick and Donna Martin Professor and Chair of Computer Science at George Washington University. His research focusses on large-scale machine learning and image analysis, with applications to security, medical imaging, and social justice questions. Dr. Pless has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from Cornell University in 1994 and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, CollegePark in 2000, and received the NSF CAREER award in 2006.

David Doermann

Dr. David Doermann joined DARPA in April 2014. His areas of technical interest span language and media processing and exploitation, vision and mobile technologies. He comes to DARPA with a vision of increasing capabilities through joint vision/language interaction for triage and forensics applications.

Dr. Doermann joins DARPA from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was the director of the Language and Media Processing (LAMP) Laboratory. In that role, he organized and led research projects developing new technologies for the analysis and processing of electronic and document images and the analysis, indexing and retrieval of information from a range of sources including images, video and audio. Dr. Doermann was also president and co-founder of Applied Media Analysis, Inc., and he has extensive consulting experience for customers in government agencies, high-technology corporations and legal firms.

Dr. Doermann holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in computer science and a Master of Science degree in computer science from the University of Maryland, College Park. He has authored more than 250 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers and book chapters and is the co-editor of the Handbook of Document Image Processing and Recognition. In 2014, Dr. Doermann was elected a Fellow of the IEEE for contributions to research and development of automatic analysis and processing of document page imagery.

Douglas Guilbeault

Douglas Guilbeault is Ph.D. student focusing on computational social science at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, where he is a member of the Network Dynamics Group and DiMeNet (Digital Media, Networks, and Political Communication). He is also a member of the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute. His research has appeared in the International Journal of Communication and the Journal of Cognitive Linguistics, and his journalism has appeared in outlets such as The Atlantic and Wired.

Contested Narratives (1)

Laura Roselle

Laura Roselle is Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies at Elon University where she is currently a senior faculty fellow. Roselle holds degrees from Emory University (Math/Computer Science & Russian) and Stanford University (Ph.D. Political Science). She has served as president of the International Communication Section of the International Studies Association and of the Internet Technology and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. She is the author of Media and the Politics of Failure: Great Powers, Communication Strategies, and Military Defeats (Palgrave, 2006 & 2011), and with co-authors Alister Miskimmon & Ben O’Loughlin Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order (Routledge, 2013) and Forging the World: Strategic Narratives & International Relations (University of Michigan Press, 2017). Roselle is co-editor of the journal Media, War and Conflict, and co-editor of the book series, Routledge Studies in Global Information, Politics and Society. She won the 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Communication Section of the International Studies Association.

Ben Nimmo

Ben Nimmo is the information defense fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. He is an analyst of defense and international security, specializing in patterns and trends on disinformation and hybrid warfare. From 1999 to 2011 he worked as a writer and journalist throughout Europe, including five years in Brussels covering EU and NATO issues for Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. In 2011 he joined the NATO press office. His duties involved expertise in fields including NATO-Russia and NATO-Ukraine relations, partnerships, deterrence, and conventional and missile defense. He is a senior fellow of the Institute for Statecraft in London, an associate scholar of the Centre for European Policy Analysis, and is fluent in languages including French, German, Russian, and Swedish.

Kate Starbird

Kate Starbird is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. Kate's research is situated within human-computer interaction (HCI) and the emerging field of crisis informatics — the study of the how information-communication technologies (ICTs) are used during crisis events. One aspect of her research focuses on how online rumors spread — and how online rumors are corrected — during natural disasters and man-made crisis events. More recently, she has begun exploring the propagation of disinformation and political propaganda through online spaces.

Kate earned her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Technology, Media and Society and holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University.

Jonathan Albright

Jonathan Albright is the Research Director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Previously an assistant professor of media analytics in the school of communication at Elon University, Dr. Albright’s work focuses on the analysis of socially-mediated news events, misinformation/propaganda, and trending topics, applying a mixed-methods, investigative data-driven storytelling approach.

He is a co-author of Pew Internet’s recent report, “The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online,” and has undertaken an extensive investigation uncovering and mapping the emergent news ecosystem. He has presented his work at a number of leading international forums, including keynotes and panels at Johns Hopkins University, the International Journalism Festival, London School of Economics’ Polis, the Oxford Internet Institute, and Columbia’s own SIPA. Albright’s work and mapping projects have been featured in The Guardian, The Washington Post, CBC’s Spark, and Fortune Magazine, and cited in The New Yorker, Associated Press Technology, BuzzFeed, Fox Business, Quartz, and the BBC. His network visualizations have been exhibited at the Queensland Art Museum. In addition to his award-nominated work for The Conversation, he has been a contributor to The Guardian, Medium, The Huffington Post, and LSE’s Impact and US Politics and Policy blogs. He is an alumnus of the Oxford Internet Institute’s Summer Doctoral Programme, a past participant at the University of Amsterdam’s Digital Methods Initiative, and has worked for Yahoo, Google, and McClatchy. He holds an MS from the University of Oregon’s SOJC and a Ph.D. from The University of Auckland.

Disinformation/Contested Narratives in Conflict-Fragile States

Catie Bailard

Before joining the SMPA faculty in 2009, Catie received her doctorate in political science from UCLA with concentrations in American Politics, Formal and Quantitative Methods, and International Relations. While the majority of early political communication research focused on the television's impact on electoral outcomes in the United States, Catie’s research agenda has always been focused on broadening the field by focusing on political outcomes beyond elections, beyond the American borders, and media technologies beyond television. As part of this effort, Catie was the first to research the effect of mobile phones on corruption in Africa, the first to conduct a comparative analysis of the internet’s impact on democratic attitudes, the first to demonstrate empirical effects of crowdsourced election-monitoring in Africa (with colleague Steve Livingston), and the first to implement field experiments testing the effects of ICT on democratic attitudes in developing countries. In acknowledgment of this pioneering work, Catie received the Sanders-Kaid award from the International Communication Association for best paper published in political communication in 2012, for her study, “Testing the Internet’s Effect on Democratic Satisfaction: A Multi-Methodological, Cross-National Approach.” She was also awarded the 2015 Best Book Award by the American Political Science Association in the field of Information Technology and Politics for her book, Democracy’s Double-Edged Sword: How Internet Use Changes Citizens’ Views of their Government.

Nic Dias

Nicholas Dias is a senior research fellow at First Draft News, a nonprofit research organization devoted to supporting truth and trust on the internet. His research foci include the use of bots to gain a disproportionate voice on social networks. He recently graduated from the Columbia Journalism School and specialized in data and computation.

Christina Fink 

Christina Fink is a professor of practice of international affairs at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.  She is a cultural anthropologist who has combined teaching, research, and development work throughout her career, much of which has focused on Myanmar and Thailand.   She received her B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social/Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.  She has worked extensively with Thai and Myanmar-based civil society organizations and as a consultant to international development organizations. She is the author of Living Silence in Burma: Surviving Under Military Rule (2009) and of more recent journal articles and chapters on political reform, legislative institution building, civil society development, and land rights in Myanmar.

Sharath Srinivasan

Dr. Sharath Srinivasan is the founding director of the University of Cambridge's Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR) and the David and Elaine Potter Lecturer in Governance and Human Rights in the Department of Politics and International Studies. He is also a Fellow in Politics at King’s College, Cambridge. 

He co-founded and is director of Africa’s Voices Foundation, an award-winning non-profit spun out of many years of research at Cambridge that utilizes new digital communications and cutting-edge social and data science methods engage and listen to diverse and dispersed populations across Africa, providing social evidence to development and governance actors. Separately, Sharath’s research interests extend to the domestic and international politics of war and peacemaking in Sudan and South Sudan. His book, When Peace Kills Politics: International intervention and recurrent war in the Sudans, will come out with Hurst & Co in 2018.

Challenging Disinformation in Conflct-Fragile States through Digital Technologies

Camber Warren

Camber Warren is currently serving as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Prior to arriving in Monterey, he served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the International Conflict Research (ICR) group and the Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS) at ETH Zurich, and at Princeton’s Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, after graduating with a Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University, with concentrations in International Relations and Quantitative Methods. His research focuses on the study of international security, conflict processes, ethnic politics, statistical methods, and computational modeling. I am particularly interested in building new linkages between micro- and macro-level evidence in the study of armed conflict, both within and between states.

Emile Bruneau

Emile Bruneau is a research associate and lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab. Bruneau is also the lead scientist at the Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab. Prior to his formal training in neuroscience, Bruneau worked, traveled, and lived in a number of conflict regions: South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to Democracy, Sri Lanka during one of the largest Tamil Tiger strikes in that nation's history, Ireland during "The Troubles," Israel/Palestine around the Second Intifada.

Bruneau is now working to bring the tools of science to bear on the problem of intergroup conflict by (1) building methods to better characterize the (often unconscious) cognitive biases that drive conflict using explicit, implicit and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques, and (2) critically evaluating efforts aimed at transcending these biases. These efforts have focused on three psychological processes relevant to intergroup conflict: empathy, dehumanization, and motivated reasoning, and involve target groups that are embroiled in intractable conflict (e.g., Israelis and Palestinians), or subject to extreme hostility (e.g., Muslims in the U.S., the Roma in Europe).

Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown is the executive director of Over Zero. Any number over zero cannot be divided, and Over Zero supports societies to resist division and create long-term resilience to identity-based conflict. She is the author of “Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech”, which brings together insights from diverse fields of expertise — from marketing to cognitive neuroscience — to support practitioners seeking to design communications-based interventions for atrocity prevention.

She was a 2014 Genocide Prevention Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide (where she developed Defusing Hate) and has led trainings and project design workshops on counteracting dangerous speech for a variety of organizations globally. She has spoken on counteracting dangerous speech at international conferences and events, including as a PopTech 2016 speaker, and her work on counteracting dangerous speech was profiled in the Christian Science Monitor.

Rachel also founded and is the former CEO of Sisi ni Amani-Kenya (SNA-K), a Kenyan NGO that pioneered new strategies to build local capacity for peacebuilding and civic engagement, most notably through the creation of a text-messaging model and platform to support community-based efforts. She was recognized as a 2012 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow for this work, and the organization was profiled in the documentary Peace In Our Pockets. Rachel holds a B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University.

Craig Hammer

Craig Hammer is a Program Manager at the World Bank and Secretary of the World Bank’s Development Data Council. He specializes in governance reforms, and in particular on open government and open information initiatives. His work at the World Bank has included strengthening laws, policies, and regulations focused on access to information, open government data, and data-driven decision-making for improved public service delivery to traditionally marginalized and underserved communities in more than 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, South Asia, and Central Europe. He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a Member of the Society for the Policy Sciences; a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science; and a member of the Council of Editors for the Journal of Law and Politics. He has published books, chapters, and refereed journal articles on topics including governance, law, and development.

Keynote Address

Lt. Gen. James Clapper (Ret.)

Lt. Gen. James Clapper (ret.) served as the fourth U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) from August 9, 2010, to January 20, 2017. In this position, Clapper led the United States Intelligence Community and served as the principal intelligence advisor to President Barack Obama.

Clapper retired in 1995 after a distinguished career in the U.S. Armed Forces. His career began in 1961 when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and culminated as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. His intelligence-related positions over his 32 years in uniform included Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at Headquarters, U.S. Air Force during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and Director of Intelligence for three combatant commands: U.S. Forces, Korea; Pacific Command; and Strategic Air Command. He served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47’s over Laos and Cambodia.

Following his retirement, Clapper worked in the industry for six years as an executive in three successive companies with the Intelligence Community as his business focus. He also served as a consultant and advisor to Congress and to the Departments of Defense and Energy, and as a member of a variety of government panels, boards, commissions, and advisory groups. He was a senior member of the Downing Assessment Task Force which investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, was vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia on the subject of homeland security, and served on the NSA Advisory Board.

Clapper returned to the government two days after 9/11 as the first civilian director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA). He served in this capacity for almost five years, transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as it is known today.

Prior to becoming the Director of National Intelligence, Clapper served for over three years in two Administrations as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, where he served as the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on intelligence, counterintelligence, and security matters for the Department. In this capacity, he was also dual-hatted as the Director of Defense Intelligence for the DNI.

Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate in strategic intelligence from the then-Joint Military Intelligence College.

David Ensor

David Ensor is the Director of the George Washington University's Project for Media and National Security, which works with journalists to deepen media understanding of complex national security issues. The Project convenes face-to-face meetings between reporters and senior national security officials.

Ensor has been an award-winning network television journalist, a U.S. diplomat, a businessman and a Federal official. He served as the 28th director of the Voice of America, 2011–15, during which VOA enjoyed an almost 40 percent growth in its global audience. As CNN’s National Security Correspondent, 1998-2006, Ensor was among the winners of a Headliner award for CNN’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks. In eighteen years as a television correspondent for ABC News, he covered major news involving Cold War politics, the collapse of Communism in Europe and wars in Bosnia and Chechnya. From 1975–80, he was a reporter for National Public Radio (NPR).

Contested Narratives (2)

Gregory Asmolov

Dr. Gregory Asmolov is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Russia Institute, King’s College London. His work focuses on how information technologies, specifically social media and crowdsourcing platforms, constitute the role of individual users and crowds in crisis situations. His current project titled “Participatory Warfare: the Role of ICTs in Modern Conflicts” explores how ICTs change the everyday lives of users who are remote from a zone of conflict, and how ICTs contribute to the participation of their users in warfare. Asmolov started his career as a journalist. He has worked as a Middle East correspondent for Russian newspapers Kommersant and Novaya Gazeta, and served as a news editor and security analyst for Israeli TV. Gregory holds a BA in Communication and International Affairs from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an MA in Global Communication from George Washington University, and Ph.D. in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Samantha Bradshaw

Samantha Bradshaw is a D.Phil. Candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and a Researcher on the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Canadian International Council contributing to the Cyber Security and Polarization streams of research. Samantha’s research has been featured in a number of media outlets including the Washington Post, CNN, and Bloomberg. She holds an MA in Global Governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and a BA in Political Science and Legal Studies from the University of Waterloo.

Natalia Chaban

Natalia Chaban is Professor and Jean Monnet Chair at the National Centre for Research on Europe/ Department of Global, Cultural and Languages Studies at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She has published on image and political communication studies within international relations contexts involving the EU in numerous journals.  She is internationally recognized as a leading expert in the field of EU external perceptions within EU foreign policy studies. Professor Chaban is the President of Ukrainian Studies Association of Ukrainian Studies of Australia and New Zealand, a co-editor of Australian and New Zealand Journal of European Studies, and an Executive Member of the Advisory Board of the New Zealand EU Centres Network contributing to the development of the national strategy in researching and teaching European and EU Studies in New Zealand and wider region.

Ben O'Loughlin

Ben O’Loughlin is Professor of International Relations and Director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is co-editor of the Sage journal Media, War & Conflict. His latest book is Forging the World: Strategic Narratives and International Relations (2017, University of Michigan Press). He was Specialist Advisor to the UK Parliament’s Select Committee on Soft Power, producing the report Power and Persuasion in the Modern World. In 2016 he won the Walter Lippmann Award for Political Communication at the American Political Science Association (APSA). He is currently completing a book on the 2015 Iran peace deal and narrative diplomacy and a series of projects on communication, culture and conflict in Ukraine.

Jessica Ludwig

Jessica Ludwig is a research and conferences officer at the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. In this capacity, she serves as the managing editor of the International Forum’s Power 3.0 blog, which explores how authoritarian governments survive and thrive in the globalized information age, and how democracies contend with this challenge. She is a contributing author to the report, “Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence” and her writing has been published in Foreign Affairs. She holds a master’s degree from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and an undergraduate degree from Baylor University.

Robert Orttung (Moderator)

Professor Orttung came to George Washington University in 2011 after working at the Open Media Research Institute, EastWest Institute, American University's Transnational Crime and Corruption Center and the Jefferson Institute. Orttung works as the assistant director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies. In correlation with his work at GW, Orttung is also a visiting fellow at the Center for Security Studies of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.


Alexa Koenig

Alexa Koenig, Ph.D., J.D, is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Center, winner of the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, and a lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she teaches classes on human rights and international criminal law.

She co-founded the Human Rights Investigations Lab, which trains undergraduate and graduate students to use online open source methods to support human rights advocacy and accountability.

Alexa administers and is a member of the Technology Advisory Board of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, is an advisory member of FemTech, and is an advisor for ARCHER, a UC Berkeley-established nonprofit that leverages technology to make data-driven investigations accessible, smarter and more scalable. 

Her research and commentary have appeared in such diverse outlets as the Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Foreign Policy, Foreign AffairsUS News and World Reports, and elsewhere. She has won numerous honors and awards for her work, including the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement, the Eleanor Swift Award for Public Service, and a fellowship with the American Association of University Women. She is often called upon to speak about the role of emerging technologies in human rights practice.

Kathryn Sikkink

Kathryn Sikkink works on international norms and institutions, transnational advocacy networks, the impact of human rights law and policies, and transitional justice. Her publications include The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics (awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Center Book Award, and the WOLA/Duke University Award); Mixed Signals: U.S. Human Rights Policy and Latin America; Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (co-authored with Margaret Keck and awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas for Improving World Order, and the ISA Chadwick Alger Award for Best Book in the area of International Organizations); and The Persistent Power of Human Rights: From Commitment to Compliance, (co-edited with Thomas Risse and Stephen Ropp).

She holds an MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Sikkink has been a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina and a Guggenheim fellow. She is a fellow of the American Philosophical Society, the American Association for Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the editorial board of the International Studies Quarterly, International Organization, and the American Political Science Review.

Scott Edwards

Scott Edwards is Senior Adviser in Amnesty International’s Secretariat. He has written and consulted extensively on complex humanitarian crises, protection, and armed conflict. Current professional activity focuses on innovations in human rights compliance monitoring, and human rights implications of new technologies. Scott previously served as Amnesty’s Advocacy Director for Africa, and Director of the Science for Human Rights Program, and is a Professorial Lecturer at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs. He completed his doctoral work in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, focusing on causes and consequences of violent political conflict, with specialization in complexity modeling of forced displacement.


Babak Bahador

Babak Bahador is an associate research professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University where he teaches a course on Media and Peacebuilding. He is also a senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Babak was an executive member of the International Communication (ICOMM) section of the International Studies Association (ISA) from 2013 to 2017, serving as section chair in 2015-16. Babak is also the founder of Peace News, a start-up media organization covering peacebuilding efforts in conflict zones. At GW, Babak is spearheading the Media and Peacebuilding Project which aims to bridge the gap between academic research and peacebuilding practice.

Before becoming a full-time academic, Babak was an entrepreneur in Toronto where he started a market research company, Millennium Research Group, that grew rapidly between 1998 and 2005 before being acquired in early 2006.

Sushma Raman

Sushma Raman is Carr Center's Executive Director. Sushma brings a rich and diverse background in philanthropy, human rights and social justice through her work in the U.S. and globally with the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, as well as her experience leading human rights programs, philanthropic collaboratives, and social justice foundations. 

Sushma has served as a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy Center’s international human rights award, a prestigious award given annually to a courageous leader working to end injustice and improve the human condition. She has also taught graduate public policy courses on global civil society, the state and the NGO sector; inter-sectoral leadership; as well as nonprofit policy and management at the University of Southern California and University of California at Los Angeles.

Sushma has been an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School for the past two years, after graduating from the mid-career MPA program from HKS in 2013, where she was awarded the Lucius N. Littauer Fellowship in recognition of her academic achievements and leadership role within the HKS community. 


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