George Mason University
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George Mason University

S-CAR Activity Recap – May/June 2019

July 25, 2019

S-CAR's monthly Activity Recaps highlight the ongoing contributions being made by S-CAR students, faculty, and alumni to the field of conflict analysis and resolution. Each Activity Recap includes publications, presentations, and awards from the previous month.

Are you a member of the S-CAR community? Send your publication, presentation, and award updates to so that we can include them in our Activity Recaps.


At the end of June, S-CAR’s Kevin Avruch finished out his term as dean of the school. S-CAR is grateful to Professor Avruch for his contributions to the school and the field, and welcomes him back onto the teaching faculty. You can read more about his impact as S-CAR’s dean in this tribute by Richard Rubenstein.

Throughout May and June, multiple S-CAR faculty members, students, and alumni published a wide range of academic work, including one book and two academic articles. S-CAR community members were either featured in or published articles in a variety of news publications, and multiple alumni and faculty were featured in televised talks and interviews. These included twenty-nine print articles, two television appearances, and one podcast appearance. Throughout May and June, four PhD candidates successfully defended their dissertations: Elizabeth Degi DuBois, Fakhira Halloun, Margarita Tadevosyan, and Sarah Rose-Jensen. Following the successful defense of his dissertation proposal, Joel Amegboh entered PhD candidate status.

We are sad to announced that on May 17, Ambassador (Ret.) John McDonald passed away at the age of 97. Ambassador McDonald served as an emeritus senior advisor at S-CAR and provided mentorship to numerous S-CAR students, including at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD), which he co-founded. In December 2018, S-CAR News featured an article by his wife Christel McDonald about the establishment of a peace corridor between India and Pakistan on which Ambassador McDonald and the IMTD had worked tirelessly for a decade.

You can read the in memoriam article from Mason News here. Ambassador McDonald made an indelible impact on S-CAR, and he will be greatly missed.

Awards & Accolades

Vanessa Brake (MS ‘07) was awarded the UU Humanist Person of the Year Award on June 21, 2019, for the distinction of being the first Humanist chaplain at an American university to serve as an Associate Dean and for working to support and promote university religious and spiritual life broadly conceived.

Susan Allen was awarded the Fulbright Flex Award in June for research and teaching in Tbilisi, Georgia, during the 2019-20 school year. Her work will be based at Tbilisi State University and will be focused on Georgian–South Ossetian conflict resolution. She was also awarded a grant from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 2019 for a Georgian–South Ossetian dialogue.

Academic Publications

Books and Book Chapters

Bridget Moix (PhD ‘16). Choosing Peace: Agency and Action in the Midst of War. Rowman & Littlefield. Published April 2019.

Journal Articles, Papers, and Reports

Susan F. Hirsch co-edited (with David Zammit and Ibtisam Sadegh) a special issue of the Journal of Mediterranean Studies titled “Religious Marriages in the Mediterranean” and co-authored the editors’ introduction.

Rajit Das (MS ‘16). “2019 Election and the Debate Around the Issue of India’s Identity: A ‘Hindutva’ India or ‘Sarvadharma Sambhava’ India?” South Asia Journal. Published May 22, 2019. 

Ibrahim Fraihat (PhD ‘06). “China and the Middle East after the Arab Spring: From Status-Quo Observing to Proactive Engagement.Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. Published March 16, 2019. 

Christian Taylor (PhD Student), Tanner Semmelrock (MS Student), and Alexandra McDermott (MS Student). “The Cost of Defection: The Consequences of Quitting Al-Shabaab.” International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 13. Published May 22, 2019.

S-CAR in the News

Print Interviews

Min Zaw Oo (PhD ‘10) was interviewed for an article by Ben Dunant titled “Waking peace talks from ‘hibernation’: An interview with Dr Min Zaw Oo,” published by Frontier Myanmar on May 2, 2019. 

Remaz Abdelgader (BA ‘17) was interviewed for an article by Ikran Dahir and Kassy Cho titled “A Blue Profile Picture Has Become A Symbol of Solidarity With Sudan,” published by Buzzfeed on June 13, 2019

Mohammad Cherkaoui was interviewed for an article in Arabic titled “The heated debate over a Moroccan ministerial decision hinders academic and cultural activity in universities” by Al-Quds, published May 8, 2019. He was also featured in a piece titled “AJCS Fellow lectures in Tunisia on “Morocco’s Rif Conflict: Reconstructing Solidarity between Ibn Khaldoun, Hegel, Volkan, and ‘Fukuyama’” for Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, published in June 2019. Additionally, he was interviewed for an article titled “American newspaper reveals the forcing of an official in the US State Department to resign for its association with the emergency plan in Iran. What are the implications?” published by East and West on June 7, 2019.

Arthur Romano was featured in an article by Mariam Aburdeineh titled “Connecting the Classroom to the World,” published by Mason News on June 18, 2019. The article also featured Rebecca Layne (MS ’17) and Ryan Mu-Chiao Chu (MS student).

Margarita Tadevosyan (PhD ‘19) was profiled in an article by Mariam Aburdeineh titled “The conflict in Armenia sparked her drive for peaceful resolution,” published by Mason News on May 14, 2019. The article also quoted Susan Allen.

Khairi Shammo (BA student) was featured in an article by Mariam Aburdeineh titled “When ISIS attacked, Mason student Khairi Shammo took action,” published by Mason News on June 11, 2019. The article also quoted Richard Rubenstein.

Print Articles

Ernest Ogbozor (PhD ‘18) wrote an article titled “Protectors or Outlaws” for Africa Defense Forum, published on May 3, 2019.

Pamina Firchow wrote an article titled “What Afghan Women (and Men) Really Want” for Foreign Policy, published on May 9, 2019.

Richard Rubenstein wrote an article titled “Who is Our ‘Adversary’? A Question of Language” for Counterpunch,published on May 14, 2019. He also wrote an article titled “Breaking a Taboo: Thank Donald Trump for Not Making War” on his self-titled blog, published on June 21, 2019.

Yasmina Mrabet (MS ‘12) co-wrote an article with Mario Murcia titled “Baltimore tenants organize against billionaire slumlord” for Liberation, published May 15, 2019.

Adeeb Yousif Abdel Alla (PhD '18) wrote an article titled “Sudanese protesters frustrated by divisions after al-Bashir ouster” for Stamford Advocate, published May 22, 2019.

Cheryl Duckworth (PhD ‘09) wrote an article titled “Towards Human Security For Our Public Schools” for Medium, published May 22, 2019.

Jalen Sherald (BA ‘15) wrote an article titled “The Buzz: What We Miss When We See ‘Firsts’” in The Inclusion Solution on June 13, 2019.

Ibrahim Fraihat (PhD ‘06) wrote an article titled “The ‘deal of the century’ as a deliberate deception” for Al Jazeera, published on June 29, 2019.

Roj Eli Zalla (PhD candidate) wrote a piece titled “'No easy solution’ for French ISIS fighters: Fmr ambassador” for Rudaw, published on June 6, 2019.

Mohammed Cherkaoui wrote a six-part series in Arabic for Arab 21 news in June: “America and the Muslim Brotherhood and the War on Terror: Religion and Politics (Part 1),” published on June 10, 2019; “Islamization projects of Arab societies: References religion and thought (Part 2),” published on June 11, 2019; “Moroccan: Muslim Maghreb divergence from the Muslim Brotherhood (part 3),” published on June 12, 2019; “The reality of the Islamists of Morocco missed the opportunity to remove them from the political scene (Part 4),” published on June 14, 2019; “Islamists and ballot boxes and legitimacy: Different positions (Part 5),” published on June 15, 2019; and “Why do Muslims of Morocco succeed and the Islamists of the Orient falter? (Part 6),” published on June 17, 2019.

Talha Kose (PhD ‘10) wrote a piece titled “US needs to leave Obama legacy behind to move forward with Turkey” for Daily Sabah, published on June 26, 2019.

Dominika Econa (MS ’19, incoming PhD student) wrote an article titled “Fissures and fault lines in domestic politics” for S-CAR News, published on May 1, 2019.

Sheherazade Jafari (Director, POV) wrote the introduction for an article titled “First-of-its-kind course explores how to create inclusive communities at S-CAR” for S-CAR News, published on May 15, 2019. The article featured writing by the following S-CAR students: Tamara Smiley Hamilton (MS student), Chelsie Kuhn (MS ‘19), Twayne Hickman (PhD candidate), Diane Farineau (MS ‘19, MOL), and Emma Lee Schmelzer (MS ‘19).

Antti Pentikainen (Research Professor) was profiled by Audrey Williams (Storyteller / News Editor, MS student) in an article titled “Training insider reconcilers in pursuit of sustainable peace” for S-CAR News, publishedon May 15, 2019. The article featured quotes from Susan Allen, Marc Gopin, and Kevin Avruch.

Brandon S. Brown (MS student) wrote an article titled “The Cop and the Con” for S-CAR News, published on June 3, 2019.

Television Appearances

Ibrahim Fraihat (PhD ‘06) appeared on Al Jazeera International discussing if Saudi Arabia has secured the support it needs from the Arab League summit to confront Iran, posted May 31, 2019. He was also was interviewed on Al Jazeera International discussing “The American-Iranian Crisis and Whether Sanctions Will Resolve the Problem,” posted June 23, 2019.


Sara Cobb was interviewed on “Episode 95” of the Stats + Stories podcast, posted May 9, 2019.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

Joel Amegboh – “Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism: A Focus on Central and Northern Mali [Proposal].” May 3, 2019.

Dissertation Defenses

Elizabeth Degi DuBois – “Retaining Families, Renewing Cities? The Promises and Pitfalls of Urban Upper-Class Retention Policies.” May 28, 2019.

Fakhira Halloun – “The Collective Identity and Discourse of Struggle of Palestinian Citizens of Israel.” May 29, 2019.

Margarita Tadevosyan – “Multidimensional Roles of the Local Non-Governmental Organizations in Creating Reconciliation Spaces in the South Caucasus.” June 24, 2019.

Sarah Rose-Jensen – “From Frogs in the Lake to Learning to Stand Up: Land Rights Social Mobilization in Cambodia.” June 26, 2019.

S-CAR Events, Presentations, and Public Lectures

The Center for Peacemaking Practice hosted a conversation amongst S-CAR practitioners at the S-CAR Practitioners Meeting on May 1 at Smith Hall on Mason’s Arlington Campus. Both faculty and students were welcome and were asked to bring their ideas, challenges, and dreams to share.

Daniel Rothbart launched his book State Domination and the Psycho-Politics of Conflict: Power, Conflict, and Humiliation on May 2 in Smith Hall on Mason’s Arlington Campus. Kevin Avruch and Richard Rubenstein also spoke at the event.

On May 9, S-CAR held a Celebration of Dean Kevin Avruch’s Service at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Arlington. Faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends of S-CAR were invited to thank Kevin Avruch for his dedication to S-CAR and acknowledge his important contributions to the school, as well as welcome him back to the teaching faculty.

On May 16, S-CAR held the convocation for its Spring 2019 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree graduates at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. The convocation ceremony featured remarks from Kevin Avruch, Mara Schoeny, Agnieszka Paczynska, and Terrence Lyons. The rector of the University of Malta, Alfred J. Vella, presented remarks and recognized graduates of the UM-GMU Dual Degree master’s program. The convocation also featured remarks from student speakers Alexander Cromwell (PhD ‘19), Emma Lee Schmelzer (MS ‘19), and Kyle Ferris (BS ‘19).

On May 17, a celebration of the Malta Dual Degree program was held at Smith Hall on Mason’s Arlington Campus. The event celebrated the 10th anniversary of the University of Malta–George Mason University Dual Degree Program. The University of Malta’s Alfred J. Vella and Omar Grech, and S-CAR’s Kevin Avruch, Richard Rubenstein, Susan AllenSusan Hirschand Julie Shedd, spoke at the event, which celebrated the program’s alumni and accomplishments. The event also celebrated the launch of the University of Malta’s new Centre for the Study and Practice of Conflict Resolution and the opportunities for future collaboration in research, learning, and practice.

In May, Suzanne de Janasz designed and led the first women-only, three-day Mason executive development program, titled “Engaging and Succeeding in Negotiations.” The highly interactive and research-based program, held on the Arlington Campus, was well-received (scoring a 4.9 out of 5.0) by the participants, who represented a variety of sectors, companies, and functional areas. The program enabled participants to address underlying fears, understand gender differences in willingness to engage, and practice strategies that improve confidence, competence, and creativity in negotiations—including those that are particularly helpful for women. The next programs are scheduled for October 15-17, 2019, and March 24-26, 2020, along with a special hands-on session (free with pre-registration) on Wednesday, August 21 in Van Metre Hall from 6:00-7:30 pm for returning or prospective participants.

Susan F. Hirsch delivered a paper titled “New Rules: Law Reform and the Transformation of Kenyan Families” on a panel titled “Community, Family, and Law(s) in the Global South and its Diasporas” at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., May 30–June 2.

Mohammed Cherkaoui was featured on a panel titled “Islam and Europe: Overcoming differences and sharing paths,” hosted by the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies and the Institute for the Dialogue of Civilizations on June 29, 2019.

In June, Suzanne de Janasz chaired and presented a symposium titled “Conflict ahead: A workshop on conflict and negotiation pedagogy” at the Eastern Academy of Management International Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia.