Hidden Costs of Security Project

How are scholars and counterterrorism practitioners affected by exposure to violent material? As scholars or managers in the field, we simply do not know the answer. The expertise that the counterterrorism workforce possess have protected and strengthened our country from evolving foreign and domestic threats. However, insights from multiple disciplines, notably counseling, indicate it is possible that practitioners experience vicarious trauma through repeated exposure to violent materials.

The purpose of this project is to develop a baseline understanding of how practitioners are affected by exposure to violence and the implications this may have on the resilience of and future development of the homeland security workforce. Considering exposure levels, a key outcome of the project is the development of survey instruments to establish whether vicarious trauma is affecting the counterterrorism workforce. A second key outcome is developing tools to mitigate these potential harmful impacts on the counterterrorism workforce to increase US homeland security.

This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Grant Award Number, 20STTPC00001-03 and the U.S. National Science Foundation under Grant Award Number 2331399. 

The views and conclusions included here are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Current Team Member Bios:
Professor Joseph K. Young’s research examines the causes and consequences of political violence. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles across academic disciplines, including political science, economics, criminology, and international studies. His work has been funded by the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, USAID, and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Daisy Muibu is an Assistant Professor of Security Studies at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Her work is focused on counterterrorism, countering violent extremism, and security sector governance in conflict-affected states. Prior to joining the Africa Center, Dr. Muibu was a Research Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama. Dr. Muibu holds a Ph.D. in Justice, Law and Criminology from the American University in Washington, D.C. (2020)

Michael H. Becker is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology at American University. His research focuses on individual and group correlates of support for, and participation in violent extremism, process and outcome measures in P/CVE programming, and theoretical testing. His work has been featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the European Journal of Criminology, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Criminology & Criminal Justice, and Terrorism and Political Violence.   

Daniel Gutierrez, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Counselor Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is also the lead to a transdisciplinary research group focused on improving the quality of life for BIPOC families, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor. His research focuses on community mental health and individual and community thriving.

Sarah M. Lynch is a doctoral student in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology at American University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her fields of study are Criminology and Political Violence, with a research focus on how extremists move through the justice system, as well as practitioner trauma. 

Ethan P. Ferguson is an undergraduate student at The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). He is currently pursuing a degree in Security Studies through New College, an interdisciplinary department of The University of Alabama. His research interests are in the provision of humanitarian aid to conflict areas, counterterrorism, and workforce resiliency in National Security. He also currently serves as a combat medic in the Alabama Army National Guard.

Lindsay Barclay is a doctoral candidate in the School of International Service at American University. She holds a master’s degree in international Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University. Her research focuses on state-building, territorial politics, and political violence. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a governance development specialist for USAID-funded programs at DAI.

Dr. Willow Kreutzer  is a Senior Researcher for the Hidden Cost of Security project at American University. Her research is focused on civil conflict, women’s rights, and international institutions. Her work has been published in the peer-reviewed academic outlets Politics and Gender, International Interactions, and Disasters as well as the public-facing outlet The Conversation. Dr. Kreutzer holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Iowa.


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