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UNB’s Pacey Lecture examines how jihadi terrorists are made

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Feb 12, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton

How do seemingly ordinary people become jihadi terrorists? Dr. Lorne Dawson’s extensive research on radicalization and terrorism has led to surprising findings.

Dr. Lorne DawsonDr. Dawson, a professor in the departments of sociology and legal studies and religious studies at the University of Waterloo, will deliver the annual W.C. Desmond Pacey Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at UNB Fredericton. His presentation, entitled “Who Becomes a Jihadi Terrorist, How and Why?”, will highlight key research findings and discuss the influences on the choice to become a violent extremist.

“The study of homegrown jihadi terrorist radicalization has veered from early efforts to theorise what was happening, which were often insufficiently grounded in empirical evidence, to a reticence to theorise much at all, given the perceived complexity of the phenomenon,” says Dr. Dawson. “Yet knowledge acquisition and mobilisation in this relatively new field remains acutely dependent on how we conceptualise what is happening and integrate our findings.

“My lecture provides an argument for adopting a fairly straightforward ecological approach to organising and extending our grasp of the social and psychological factors influencing the radicalization of potential jihadists.”

In addition to his challenging research studies and published works, Dr. Dawson is the co-founder and director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society. The group is an international partnership that works to promote policy-relevant research and evidence-based policies on all aspects of violent extremism.

“We must humanize those who would seek to harm us in order to understand and prevent acts of terrorism, while being aware of the very real limits of our knowledge and ability to ever eliminate this threat.”

The W.C. Desmond Pacey Memorial Lecture is an annual lecture presented by UNB Fredericton’s faculty of arts. Dr. Dawson will give the 2020 lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 5:30 p.m. in Tilley Hall 102, UNB Fredericton. The lecture is open to the public and free to attend.

Media contact: Kelsey Pye