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Scott Atran


Scott Atran is currently Research Professor and Presidential Scholar at the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Visiting Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is tenured as research director in anthropology at France’s National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, and he is also senior fellow and co-founder of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflicts at Harris Manchester College and the Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford. He has experimented extensively on the ways scientists and ordinary people categorize and reason about nature, on the cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion, and on the limits of rational choice in political and cultural conflict. He has repeatedly briefed NATO and members of the U.S. Congress and the National Security Council staff at the White House on the Devoted Actor versus the Rational Actor in Managing World Conflict, on the Comparative Anatomy and Evolution of Global Network Terrorism, and on Pathways to and from Violent Extremism. He has worked with the UN Security Council on problems relating to youth and violent extremism and he has been engaged in conflict negotiations in the Middle East, and in establishing indigenously managed forest reserves for Native American peoples. Atran is a recurrent contributor to The New York Times and Foreign Policy, as well as to professional journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Behavioral and Brain Sciences. His publications include Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science; In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion; The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature; and Talking to the Enemy. His work and life have been featured around the world, including a cover story in The New York Times Magazine, “Darwin’s God.” Scott Atran received his B.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University.

Past Programs Featuring Scott Atran