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Erin Kearns

Adjunct Instructor
Department of Justice, Law & Criminology

  • Erin Kearns is a PhD student in Justice, Law and Criminology at American University, with a minor in Public Policy. Her primary research seeks to understand the relationship among terrorism, counterterrorism and security policy, and human rights. Erin’s work has received national attention, and has been presented at numerous conferences. She has authored an article on torture in counterterrorism. She has also co-authored an article about why groups lie about terrorism, a book chapter on military tactics in civil war, and a book chapter on the comparison of the cross-national study of both homicide and terrorism. She is currently working on projects on perceptions of counterterrorism practices and why most terrorist attacks are not claimed. She is also actively involved in the Political Violence Working Group.

    Erin's dissertation project addresses two key puzzles about interactions between immigrant communities and the police, specifically with regard to counterterrorism efforts. The first puzzle that she will address is: Why do some people alert police to crime – specifically potential extremist violence - while others do not? This leads into the second puzzle: Why do some police departments develop positive relationships with immigrant communities at greater risk of radicalization while many others do not? She is using quantitative, experimental, and qualitative methods to examine these puzzles. This project is funded in part by the American University Dissertation Improvement Grant.

    Erin has received research grants to conduct a series of experiments on perceptions of counterterrorism policies. The National Consortium for the Study of and Responses to Terrorism (START) has also funded her work. She holds a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a BA in Political Science and Psychology from Miami University.

    Erin has received additional training at ICPSR (Time-Series, Bayesian, R, and Qualitative) and from Stata (Estimating Average Treatment Effects). She has worked as a consulting researcher for the Department of Justice, and received a Certificate of Research in Violent Behavior from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. Erin has taught in-person, hybrid, and online courses on Criminology Theory, Research Methods, Torture in Counterterrorism, and Terrorism in the 21st Century. Previously, she served as a teaching assistant for undergraduate and graduate courses involving terrorism and counterterrorism, statistics, and research methods.
  • Degrees

    M.A. Forensic Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    B.A. Psychology and Political Science, Miami University
  • Languages Spoken:

    English; Proficient in French; Basic Spanish; Learning Farsi


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  • Summer 2015

    • JLC-496 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Torture in Counterterrorism
    • Description
    • JLC-496 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Terrorism in the 21st Century
    • Description
    • JLC-696 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Torture in Counterterrorism
    • Description
    • JLC-696 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Terrorism in the 21st Century
    • Description
  • Fall 2015

  • Spring 2016

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Media Appearances

"Dramatic depictions of torture increase support for it," December 12, 2014, Op-Ed in the Washington Post with Joseph Young, AU's School of Public Affairs.

"Does Hollywood have an effect on torture," December 10, 2014, Appearance on CNN.

"Can Jack Bauer Convince You to Torture," January 5, 2015, Media Mention in Pacific Standard.

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